The Paths of Porto
I was excited to run in Porto for the first time. The weather was perfect (slightly overcast, mid-50s), and the Douro River is near our flat. However, my right knee was imperfect and it took some time to warm up my IT band and stop limping.
The gentle downhill (not so gentle) to the bridge wasn’t terrific for my knee, but it stopped hurting when I reached the Ponte do Infante.
I crossed the bridge and turned left into a dirt parking lot (oops), turned around and crossed the street to run uphill towards a train station and what looked like a military base. By then, I’d covered about 1.5 miles and turned back towards our flat. It was a terrific first outing.
I headed out, determined to find the path under the bridges I’d seen earlier in the week. My knee wasn’t cooperating, so I spent more time warming up and started running at the Ponte do Infante. About halfway across the bridge, I spotted the trail that led downhill to the Douro. It looked steep from my vantage point and more so when I started my slow, careful descent. After a detour to a church, I found the river path, which is ideal for runners.
I ran five miles (I didn’t expect to run that far, but the trail was fun). Some of the extra miles came from figuring out how to get home and picking the wrong way. I know, I know, I should use my map, but getting lost sometimes is fun (sometimes).
3rd Run Saga
I couldn’t rally for a run on Sunday, as my IT band and knee were too painful, so I took the day off to recover. The Thai massage Jackie booked for us was helpful, especially when the therapist dug into my right calf and thigh. It felt like an electric current was running through my IT band as I quietly whimpered into the face cradle. My knee functioned better afterward, and I walked without a limp to lunch and then home.
I felt good enough the next day to go out and make up for the missing miles from last week’s running goal (2.7 miles out of 10) and knocked out a 3-miler with only slight lingering pain. I stayed near our neighborhood and avoided the steep downhill/uphill combination of my first two outings. May 1 is Labor Day in Portugal, the streets were quiet, and many shops were closed for the holiday, making it easy to navigate through the city.
What was I thinking? I walked more before beginning my run (the pain in my knee reminding me to warm up more) and then set out towards Gaia across the Ponte Luiz I and the technical downhill waiting in the distance. My shoes were squeaking on the bridge’s dew-covered metal path.
The downhill portion to the Gaia’s riverfront was easier than I thought, and I found myself looking back at the Ponte Luis I as the sun continued its ascent. Rather than running back uphill, I headed to the footbridge underneath the bridge and found a terrific path along the Douro. The nearby lift from the roadway up to Porto’s city center was tempting, but in a forgetful moment, I chose to run the steep uphill cobblestone path nearby. I lasted about a minute before walking the rest of the hill.
This was the hardest 2-miler I’ve done since I started running, and it was worth it for the views of the city and the river.
I follow Porto Secreto on Instagram, and the day before my final run, they posted the top places to run in Porto (yes, my phone is spying on me). I picked the first one on the list, Parque Central da Asprela, because the park was just under 2 miles from our flat, and the climb to get there looked like something I could handle.
The uphill to the park was indeed manageable. The sidewalks near the park, not so much, and I ran in the street more often than I preferred. The trails through the park were terrific, some paved, some DG and several short bridges crossing the streams and a river flowing through the park. The park opened as the city’s new “green lung” in March of 2022, and still shows pride of ownership with the upkeep and maintenance apparent along the trails and paths.
When it was time to turn towards home, I followed the same route away from the park and made one small mistake and missed a turn at a busy intersection. It was a fortunate mistake, as I soon found myself at the Estádio do Dragão. The stadium sits high above most of the city, with stunning views in all directions.
Once I was done soaking up the views, I checked Apple Maps to discover I was still three miles from our flat. Fortunately, my knee and back felt decent, so I ran two of the three remaining miles and walked the final mile as a cool-down.
Now on to tackle the streets of Lisboa!