My Feet Hurt and I Haven’t Even Started Yet

Okay, I’m leaving for the Camino in two weeks and I’m really freaking out about my feet. My two reliable pairs of shoes that I trained in were worn out by my training. And so I’ve been back and forth to REI, trying out all kinds of shoes.

After tons of advice and many fittings, I settled on two new pairs: Hoka Challengers and a pair of hiking boots: Lowa Renegades. I’ve been trying them out around my house and in walks around the neighborhood, experimenting with different thicknesses of socks, the insoles that came with the shoes and the orthotics I had made for me by a podiatrist last winter when my feet were painful from training.

The other day I made the mistake of taking the new boots a little too far: on a four mile hike in the woods with our yellow lab, Luna, on a trail with tons of ups and downs and steps and tree roots, and by the time I got home, my feet had numerous hot spots and generally felt beat up. As advised, I bought shoes that were a half size larger than I usually do because feet swell in the heat of walking many miles day after day, but in Santa Cruz felt like my feet were rattling around of them. Ouch.

So, I tried the softer Hokas the next day, walking to the grocery store and back on pavement and the Hokas didn’t feel comfortable either.

My two new pairs of shoes are failing or maybe it’s my feet.

I’m starting to panic.

I’m leaving for Spain in two weeks and after months and months of conditioning and training, my feet are going to be my downfall. I’ve developed the stamina, but what about my feet?
I reached out to Andre, one of our hiking guides, who’d offered to talk me through it. She told me that she, too, has been struggling with what to wear on the Camino. “I’ve gone through five pairs of shoes this summer,” she told me. “There’s no magic ball that can tell you what the perfect shoes are for your feet.”

Andre asked me where my feet were hurting, and I told her just about everywhere. Both feet have multiple places that are sore and feeling tender. “Your feet are inflamed,” she told me. “You need to let them heal. You need to take off a few days. You don’t want to go into this hike with an injury. Our feet take a beating as we get older and healing your feet has to be your top priority. You don’t want to go into this hike with an injury.”

As she spoke, I knew she was right. I have 67-year-old feet. They’ve carried me around my whole life. I know I’m lucky they still work and that I’m capable of doing a hike like this. I feel grateful for that every day. I have so many friends who could never consider this hike or anything close to it. I have friends who are struggling to walk. So I know I’m very fortunate.
But my feet are tired. Oh so tired and sore.

Then, it was as if Andre read my mind, “You won’t lose your fitness with a few days of rest. Give your feet a break.”

And so I am. I’m wearing cushy socks and walking sandals and I’m back to driving to the store and not walking everywhere.

I can’t believe that I may need to return yet another pair of shoes to REI—and probably get kicked out as a customer after so many returns. Or that I may need to search for another store and try a different shoe. And that I may be arriving in Spain with an untried pair of shoes. But I can’t think about that now. Right now I have to rest my feet and start up again in another few days.

Buen Camino, indeed! And I haven’t even started!

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