My remedy for writer’s block, actually my remedy for just about any ailment, is a good aerobic workout. And the workout of choice, of course, is running. But as I mentioned before, I do a lot more cross-training and cycling these days because of age and arthritic knees.
Running had been my panacea long before popular culture started professing how aerobic exercise releases endorphins, which enhances mood and reduces anxiety. In my mind, all the research is just a clinical way of saying that running is a natural and organic way to loosen up the logjam that paralyzes the brain when too much stuff accumulates. And it is an option that is always at a runner’s disposal.
It is no secret to serious runners that a run is invigorating. Regardless how tired and unmotivated, once a runner pushes through the first few miles, most times they are revitalized. It’s a phenomenon, much like writer’s block lifting; I call it runner’s block. In fact, the two terms are so closely related that running is a cure for both.
By the end of last week I was so fed-up with writer’s block, I hopped on my bike and started peddling across Bucks County. I peddled around nearby Lake Galena, up the hill that leads to Peace Valley Winery, out Middle Road, through farm land and past the dairy. There is a point in Dublin (Pennsylvania, not Ireland), where Middle Road turns into Elephant Road.
Elephant Road becomes more remote the further northwest it travels, meandering through corn fields, horse farms and an obscure airfield plopped in the middle of nowhere appropriately named Elephant Path Airport. Just before the road dumps into Lake Nockamixon, I ditched the bike in the woods at the entrance to a trailhead on the side of the road and ran the Elephant Trail.
Midway through the run, I came to a fork in the road, so I followed Yogi Berra’s advice and took it. Immersed in perspiration, surrounded by the forest with the lake off to my left, the writer’s block lifted. Tension I hadn’t known was present, lifted as well. I returned to that elusive, but sanguine place where my mind normally resides and said to no one in particular, “Damn! I’ll write a blog about a cure for writer’s block.”
The benefits of running and other aerobic exercise are not secluded to writers. Anyone who exercises will enjoy more energy, alertness, improved physical health and a better mental outlook. The next time you are physically or mentally sluggish, force yourself out the door and go for a run, take a walk, cycle, garden, or go find a game of pick-up hoops. Regardless what you choose, you will feel refreshed.
Runner’s block—what the hell, I can’t believe I didn’t think of the term long ago.