Last Tuesday I had a loooooong day. I got up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a train to New York. I spent four hours on the train, four hours in a conference room, then four more hours on the train home. Maybe this is all in a day’s work for some of you road warriors, but for me, sitting all day like this is torture.
Then, because I didn’t have time to do any real work on Tuesday, I had to spend most of Wednesday catching up. My legs were stiff, and my eyes and neck hurt because I had been at my computer for so long. Finally, at about 2 o'clock I needed to move.
I could have gone to the gym to work it all out in an intense treadmill session, but the day was too beautiful. I had to get outside.
I took a short drive to Hamlen Woods. To work up a sweat, I started with a light jog. The path itself was fairly flat and pretty easy to run, but trail running is tricky. You need to constantly watch for twigs and rocks so you don’t turn an ankle, or worse. Also, if you’re looking down the whole time, you miss out on the sights. Hamlen Woods has a beautiful pond, a few streams and great log steps.
So I stopped jogging and just walked the trail. And I found that I could still get in a good workout. I ended up inventing my own in the woods: I did squats, ran up hills and jumped over logs. I was grateful I was alone, because I must have looked a little strange.
But I wasn’t alone. As I made my way on the muddy loop around the pond, the silence was broken when a great blue heron took off from the pond.
That’s when my workout got really fun. As I tried to track that heron, I felt like a kid again. I was outside, playing in the fresh air, having a made-up adventure. I actually forgot I was there to exercise. It seemed impossible that I had been in New York just the day before.
And that’s the beauty of hitting a trail. Once I’m outside and moving, my stresses seem to melt away. I know I have to face work and family and other responsibilities once my feet hit the pavement again, but exercising out in nature gives me the strength I need to face them.