Daily exercise is usually what keeps me sane.
Lately, though, I return from a run only to have my stress levels skyrocket again as I'm met by the stacks of paperwork on my desk and the piles of laundry all over my house.
So, today, I erased lifting and running from my "to do" list and chose sanity in a different form. I put my kids on the bus, steeped some white-green tea and tucked myself away in my office, not to emerge for three hours.
And it felt great! Though my shoulders were knotted from sitting at a desk and my eyes were tired of staring at the computer screen, my mind was unusually free. Clearing the clutter from my desk simultaneously cleared the clutter from my mind; my life.
By afternoon I decided I'd done enough to deserve a brisk walk around the neighborhood before digging in again. My dog, Luna, deserved a brisk walk around the neighborhood, too.
But the minute I stepped outside and started moving, the endorphins began to flow, the usual drive returning in a rush, the insanity taking hold: Must. Get. Exercise. It must be what a shopaholic feels like when she stumbles across a great purse or the perfect pair of shoes on sale: you just have to have it!
For me, exercise is my addiction and once the urge hits, I am powerless to stop it from taking over. There was no way I was going back into my office before I'd spent some time with an elevated heart rate. That would be insane!
So Luna and I picked up the pace and walked at a good clip for 40 minutes. Afterward, I dropped Luna off at home, panting and satisfied from her walk, and did a quick gear change because, unlike Luna, I was not satisfied with just a walk. Instead, I set out for a quick 1.5 mile loop in my Vibrams; an important part of my training and rehabilitation right now--to make sure barefoot-style running accounts for 10 percent of my weekly mileage.
Feeling better and even more accomplished than I had with merely a clean desktop, I headed home energized and took three steps into my house before turning around and heading right back out the door. The air inside my heated home suddenly felt still and stifling compared to the cool fall air outside. Plus, I needed to stretch. Stretching is the most neglected part of my fitness routine. I once read that if you don't have time to stretch after a run, then you shouldn't run at all. Or, at a minimum, you should shorten your run enough to leave time for stretching afterward. Especially as you enter your "master athlete" years (that is, age 40 and older).
So I stretched in my front yard while I cooled down, and my house was much more inviting upon my return the second time.
It would have been insane to stay inside on such a beautiful day.