When Sonja Preston told me she was going to walk The Camino de Santiago I was filled with envy! Read this story about what inspired Sonja Preston, and why at 60 she decided to walk The Camino de Santiago – an ancient pilgrimage route over 300 km long. Would you do it? Could you do it? If you asked Sonja she’d tell you ‘you absolutely can’. It’s a great mindset – I hope you enjoy the read.
Jo asks – Where’d this idea come from – to walk The Camino?
I’d never heard of the Camino de Santiago until July 2008 when I was listening to an ABC radio interview with a man who had just walked it. I remember clearly thinking: ‘I’m going to do that!’
I thought I might do it the following year, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and ended up having 20 months of treatment, and the Camino was pushed to the back of my mind. On my 59th birthday my children asked what I planned to do for my 60th, and the idea popped back into my mind: ‘I’m going to walk the Camino!’
Tell us about what drove you to take on such a physical undertaking?
After recovering from cancer, I had a new appreciation for living life with a ‘why not’ attitude… living life fully and embracing opportunities as they arose, and also with an attitude of ‘I overcame cancer, I can do anything I set my mind to!’
How did you go about preparing your body for this undertaking?
I enlisted Jo and her expertise in planning a training program for me – a not real fit, and carrying too much weight 60 year old!
She designed a do-able program with a mix of activities of increasing difficulty and with carrying more weight in my pack.
I did many walks – Cradle Mt, Dove Lake, Mt Field and Mt Wellington as well as everyday walks around town. I also did Aqua Bootcamp, and some yoga.
I heeded Jo’s motto too of “There are no excuses… you walk even if it’s wet or you are tired – no excuses.”
Did you have any high or low points during your preparation?
Highs were the stunning scenery on the walks here in Tasmania. The low point was I injured my back and basically did little exercise for 3 weeks, and then had to re-start training.
Did you have any high or low points during the walk?
So many high points ….. the scenery, the people I met walking from many countries, connecting with nature, the rhythm of walking daily and the meditative effect of that, and remembering to laugh again – I’ve had a lot of challenges over the past 10 years and had gotten a bit too serious, sensible and practical! It was like I re-connected with the ‘real’ me!
And the big high point of reaching Santiago and celebrating that my body and I walked 320km in 3 weeks – how amazing is that!!!
Low points, a tad of tendinitis right near the end of the walk… but NO blisters!
What advice do you have for anyone thinking of doing something like this?
Just do it!!!! Stop thinking about your dreams, and instead take a step every day in the direction you want to go toward that dream.
You can do it too – even at 60!
Emotionally and physically what have you learned about yourself
Emotionally, it was so good to be ‘alone’ with me! There were none of the regular demands of work, family, household, there was just me to care for.
Physically, I’m much stronger than I thought, and I have a new found appreciation for my body, my feet, my heart etc
Got a funny story for us about this adventure?
We had a few massages along the way to relax our tired muscles. The best was with Marco… he was ‘hot’ and gave the best massage. I was grateful that I was lying face down so he couldn’t see the grin on my face, and just hoped I didn’t drool on the carpet… it was really good!
Hmmm, I hear there’s a Camino in Portugal…..