All last week I was running from fast approaching deadlines. After frantically typing on my computer hours on end, I finally reached a stopping point. I got up from my desk and headed into the other room for something. But only steps from my office- I stopped. What had I gotten up for? After a few moments of standing like a deer in headlights, I gave up and returned to my desk. However, I could not concentrate. The fact that in less than ten seconds my mind wandered off so far that it could not find its way back was bothering me. Before I could say “how could this happen,” I looked down at my desk. Spread out In front of me were three completely different projects, at my right was two full page “to do” lists and in the distance a radio was playing, dogs were barking and there was a maddening banging next door as my neighbors were getting their house re-roofed. My mind was cluttered with all that I was doing, as well as pressured with all that I needed to be doing. It was no wonder the smallest additional distraction could cause a mini mental meltdown. I needed a break.
My favorite break is to spend a little time hiking, biking or running on a trail with mother nature. As a professional speaker on work/life balance, stress and wellness, I live what I present. Even when traveling and Keynoting for corporation and association meetings and conventions, I will search out local trails.
On the trail, when the conditions are right, I feel like I am moving through the woods like a predator on the hunt. When the conditions are right, Mother Nature’s sights, sounds and smells can force me to hum the soundtrack to “What A Wonderful Life.” When the conditions are right, even dodging my way through the strollers and skaters at the local park can be the best part of a good day. However, if the conditions are not right, time on the trail can quickly go from energizing and fun to frustrating and painful.
Last year, preparing for my usual Wednesday trail run, a cool breeze persuaded me to wear my favorite cotton pullover. Now cozy warm, I started down the trail on this beautiful, brisk fall afternoon and I felt totally energized. What I did not know was that this was as fun as this run would get. Only five minutes into the run I started warming up and realized I had made a typical early fall mistake. I overdressed. I pulled off the pullover and tied it to around my waist. But as soon as I started cooling off it started to sprinkle. This sprinkle quickly turned into the perfect storm. In moments, endless sheets of rain left me soaked and very cold. In an attempt to stay warm I put my pullover back on. The upside of this was I felt a little warmer, but the downside was the rain quickly enlarged this cotton garment to the size of a small circus tent. My shoes, now also soaked, started feeling a little “floppy.” This floppiness allowed my feet to move around in my shoes, which was producing a loud squeak with each step. This squeaking soon was joined by a burning sensation as blisters started to form on my heels and toes. As I limped back to the car, flopping, squeaking and trying not to step on my now six-foot sleeves, I felt like a demented trail running Bozo the Clown.
Being prepared for outdoor activity is only smart. Below are two simple, achievable actions that will help you be better prepared so you can get the most from your time with Mother Nature.
Step 1: Check the weather
I don’t know about your part of the world, but in Arkansas the weather can change quickly, especially in the spring and fall. With advances in technology and the Internet you can get up to the minute forecasts. I point my browser to my favorite weather site: http://www.wunderground.com.
Step 2: Wear “Wicking” Base Layer Clothing
The type of clothing you need can vary depending on the weather. However, wearing good base layer clothing is one thing that will help you no matter what the conditions. Base layer clothing is whatever you wear that is in direct contact with your skin; including shirts, underwear, shorts, socks, etc. Technology has helped us here as well. New man-made fabrics, such as Cool-Max and other performance fabrics, are fantastic for outdoor activities because they are very light, comfortable and retain their shape when wet. But the most important function of these fabrics is that they move (wick) sweat away from your body to the surface of the material where it can evaporate. Wicking moisture away from your skin will help your body better regulate its temperature in either hot or cold climates, reduce your chance of blisters and chaffing and increase your enjoyment immensely.
The next time your mind becomes cluttered with the responsibilities of daily life, be prepared, GET OUT! and let Mother Nature take the pain away.