The other day, I found myself fighting to get to the end of the work day. 5:00 rolled around and all I wanted was to melt into a puddle on the couch.

I thought about holing up in my house after work and calling up old friends to vent about my day (it’s easier to complain to the ones who live far away, they always tell me I’m right).

Instead, I pulled out my phone, texted my friend, and asked “Want to go running?”

20 minutes later, we pulled up to the start of a trail that winds through backyards and small ranches just outside of town. It would take us through sagebrush, Martian sandstone formations, and, my favorite part, plenty of big, big hills.

We started running, hard. The tension in my shoulders eased a little. On the downhills I initiated some hardcore venting about my day, but on the uphills I had to stop—I was breathing too heavily. With the up and down, trying not to trip over branches or on the trail’s soft dirt and hidden holes, my head space changed. I finally broke from the rut of thought circles that had been weighing me down and just enjoyed the run.

Most days, I would tell you that getting out for a big adventure is the best way re-center. Dive deep into wilderness, lose your sense of time during a week or more outside. Forget about those inadequate microadventures squeezed in between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

The problem with big adventures is that they take planning ahead and real commitment. The days when you’re least able to get away are the ones when you need even a drop of wildness the most.

That’s where the running comes in, or really anything that gets us outside. I think of it as our “physical ladies’ night,” our chance to find a little wildness. There’s something visceral about sharing sweat with a friend, and healing about running until your legs burn and she says, “ready for another lap?” No. “Absolutely.” Sometimes it’s easier to say things that are scary, or that hurt, when you have a big open space to scream at and your friend moving right next to you, keeping pace and matching breath.

A physical ladies’ night doesn’t have to be the most intense thing you’ve ever done. A few laps walking around the block will work just as well as a finger-busting climbing session. You just need to team up with your friends and your body to celebrate an activity you love, one that makes you feel strong and breathe deeply.

So for the days when you need to be in the wild, to be wild, find that open space where you can peek between the strips of sky between buildings or in the open fields behind your house. Find a friend to share the extraordinary gift of motion, of just breathing outside. You’ll get surprised by something new every time. Even on familiar routes the clouds are never the same, the smells in the neighborhood change. You can call it a “ladies’ night” if you like, or don’t call it anything at all—just take the time to do it.

Guest Contributor
Molly Herber is a writer who loves the smell of a musty backpack and finding wilderness anywhere. You can read more about celebrating wilderness through adventure on her blog To the Hills.