Now that the kids are back in school, the routine returns, including some self-care to balance out all of the self-abuse that summer can inspire.

It’s time to amp up the cardio with days of running, especially now that the mornings stay cool through noon, offering a delightful prance through the neighborhood, complete with cool breezes. Not only can I suddenly climb every hill, but I have enough energy to smile and say good morning to others out on the street. Plus, it no longer takes a gallon of water throughout the day to replenish fluids and stave off cramps from one run.

It’s time to do a dietary cleanse of some sort to wash away all of the salt and processed meats found on most summer cookout grills. A good week of juicing should do the trick, complete with vitamins, Emergen-C, and ginger tea rather than hot dogs and lemonade washed down with copious amounts of beer.

It’s time to return to yoga, to stretch out those injuries from the late-night rides after a long day working, from the epic Sundays, the races followed, not by stretching and water, but beer and little sleep. Yoga will do wonders for that aching lower back, crippled from pushing strollers and fitful nights of sleep in a tent on a Therm-a-Rest only to be woken at 5:30 a.m. by eager campers under the age of 8. I’ve been back to yoga for two weeks and can already tell the difference. The first class made me laugh out loud while everybody was concentrating on their yujaya breath whilst balancing on their heads. I, a gymnast, had no balance whatsoever, never mind funny breathing. I was thankful I’d remembered to first spit out my gum. The class brought me through my body of misery and the realization of how much I’d slipped in three months. I’m thankful for a new set of issues to unravel between now and November when the self-care flies back out the window in lieu of holiday preparations.

It’s time to eat some steroids to clear up the nasty poison-ivy, which leaves its scars for months. Prednisone might make you crazy, but it also really makes the sloppy joints feel miraculously healed while pounding them across the pavement. The first shot the nurse wanted to give me in the bum, I knocked to the floor by squeezing my buns of riding steel and shot it directly into my ankle joint while she got another. Only in my rendition of it later, of course.

It’s time to bring the bike into the shop to replace the seat, which now has an entire chunk missing from the left cheek side, causing me to use my right leg more. The chain is stretched and now holds more dirt than lube. The derailleur slips, no matter how many twists of the tension screws. The brake pads have been squealing down the steep hills, which have admittedly been a good bear repellent. The paint is chipped and worn. The new Pivot I rode won’t leave the back of my head no matter how much the wallet complains.

So as the season comes to a rallying end, and the final races are won, remember that none of it is possible, or nearly as fun, without self-care.