Praia do Meco
Sesimbra, Lisbon, Portugal
Everything about naked running, for me, started with – and has been linked to – climate. Warm air. Warm water. In most cases a beach. Heat. Body.
While I certainly intended this run to continue this tradition, it was not to be. What I had hoped would be sun-drenched naked runs along Portugal’s first and largest official naturist beach turned out to be a much more substantial physiological and psychological challenge.
When packing my bags on the eve of my departure, I was dismayed to discover a weather forecast filled with days of rain.
What was I to do? Cancel? Carry-on, hoping the rain would be less absolute than forecast – perhaps light showers rather than persistent downpours?
In the event, I decided something radical. For me. I would go. I would run no matter what. Rain or shine. Hot or cold. It was time to run naked in the rain.
Spending 48 hours in Lisbon before heading south, it was great to realise that, despite the downpours, the air was surprisingly warm. In fact MUCH warmer than the air temperature at the two UK 5k naked runs I have completed (the most recent only 14 days earlier).
I could do this, I decided.
I remembered back when I lived in a tropical climate for a few years and – despite despising humidity – how incredible the feeling of walking in warm rain was. Combining that special sensation with the orgasm of the psyche that is naked running… well, suddenly, I wanted to run in the rain!
But Mother Nature had other plans!
As it turns out, the storms didn’t co-operate. Or maybe they did. I ran on three occasions and it was dry each time. I was somewhat relieved yet – to my surprise – partially disappointed.
On the contrary, the beach did not disappoint! Praia do Meco (officially known in two parts as Praia do Moinho de Baixo & Praia d0 Ria da Prata) is spectacular. Being a frequent visitor to Portugal, I do find that its beaches are glorious and underrated compared to the overpopulated and over visited Spanish equivalents. Meco proved itself not to be an exception to this experience. Vast, wide, long and mostly flat, it was what a good beach is meant to be. Unlike my Canary Island runs, the site was surrounded by Pine forests with a band of natural vegetation between the forest and the beach. The predominant vegetation was curry plant, adding a curious scent to the atmosphere.
Add to this the season (cool-ish autumn) and the day of week (weekday) and once again I found myself alone on a massive expanse of beach, this time only 40 minutes from a major capital city. Solitary naked running heaven.
Over the course of three days I ran three times. As I am discovering is typical for me, the first run was short: I use this run to familiarise myself with the surroundings, the running experience (the resistance of the sand, the temperature of the water, the wind, the incline of the beach, the people who are present – on this occasion the locals are walking their dogs in overcoats and scarves while I’m overtaking them naked). My body responds to this information – it knows it is not the focus of that first run, it tires easily, it doesn’t give 100%.
The second run, on a gloriously morning, lasting at least 5k in length was the proper run. No music, no distractions, no discovery or learning about the environment. This is the run where all of the sensations come flowing to me. My feet hitting the damp sand. The spark that becomes a fire in my belly propelling me forward. My body easing past the initial fatigue into a ‘give me more of this’ enthusiasm. I know I can go further with the second run. I know I can push myself harder. But I do not on this occasion. As I’m learning how naked running works for me, I will use this new knowledge next time.
The third run (the third in three days) is less enthusiastic. My body is tired. My feet are blistering from the contact with the sand. My legs feel heavier. I can’t propel myself as fast. Is it because it is the third run? Or is it the glass of beer the previous evening? Or four days of custard tarts? Or, is it the plummeting temperatures (the improving weather was accompanied by lower morning temperatures)? I can’t tell, but the magic is less than inspiring. I listen to my body and call it a day.
It’s time to rush to the airport. And time to plan my next naked run!
Naked Run Facts
Date: 11 – 13 October 2015 (three individual runs)
Location: Praia do Moinho de Baixo & Praia d0 Ria da Prata, Sesimbra, Portugal
Time of Day: 17:30, 10:00 and 09:30
Air Temperature: 18c
Conditions: partly cloudy and windy
Run Length: 1.6k, 5.1k and 3.1k
Duration (h:mm): 0:10, 0:30 and 0:20
Barefoot or Shoes: all barefoot
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