I was lucky to grow up in the surroundings of Lagos, one of the most authentic cities of Southern Portugal – the Algarve – involved in a very rich nature of coastal beaches and world famous rock formations but also stunning forests and hills. My parents live about 10km from Lagos, in the country side on a beautiful Portuguese farm. We moved there in 1999 and when in 2008 I moved to Lisbon to study and later to work, I kept and keep visiting the region often to escape my exciting city life.
The air in Lagos is one of the most purest of Europe thanks to its location on the southwest of the continent, far away from industry and embraced by the Atlantic. In fact, when I arrive in Lagos, from a three-hour drive from Lisbon, the first thing I do when I get out of the car is taking a very deep breath and observing the intense blue sky or uncountable stars, when I arrive at night.
Another thing I love doing when visiting Lagos is running on Meia Praia. Meia Praia, “Half Beach” when translated literally, is one of the longest beaches of Portugal with more than 4km in length. The beautiful light sand and calm waters make it a very popular beach with nice beach bars for all tastes. Meia Praia starts in Lagos, right next to the rivers that leads the Atlantic into the Marina of Lagos and ends on its east side in the Alvor Estuary.
I’d like to share some tips for running at Meia Praia, Lagos, Portugal:
- First of all: check the tides. Running on the beach is much easier on the wet sand and to make sure you’ll have plenty of wet sand, choose low tide. Here you can check the tides for Meia Praia, or other beaches around Lagos and optimize your beach run. If you’re looking for true resistance work, soft sand is better, of course.
- Bring enough water for about 8km. I usually run from the Marina of Lagos (check my Strava) to the Meia Praia beach and then all the way to the end, which is about 4km, and back. So, I recommend you bring enough water.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Even if it seems to be cloudy, on the beach the sun is always stronger as there are no trees as the ocean may act as quite a reflector, so I recommend you to use a good sun block and a hat.
- Be prepared for a tough workout. It’s obvious that running on sand is more challenging than running on pavement and you’ll definitely feel your calf muscles during and after the beach run.
- Try some barefoot. As I’m not used to barefoot running I do usually not do the whole 8km with no shoes on, but I like to try and 4km is fine for me. For the true barefoot crowd, Meia Praia is great as it has got no stones or rocks. If you dare to go without shoes, do so with caution because most of the runners are used to support by shoes and even a short beach run may impact your ankles, achilles, calf muscles or the top of your feet.
- Leave your music at home. This is a personal tip, but I really enjoy listening to the ocean, it’s like a natural sound track.
- Stretch and dive. Training on the beach is tough and you have used muscles on a different way than you’re used to. Why not enjoy the beach and take your time for a good stretch session? A dive in the cool ocean is the best award after a beach run. Enjoy!
So, if you’re coming to Lagos or another city in the Algarve soon and fancy to go for a run, I hope these tips on running on the beach help you. Also, drop me line as I may be around and we can go for a run together :)