It’s been 1,111 0 days since Don’s last fall on a run.
That’s all I could think about as I was running home last Friday. Actually, I didn’t KNOW it had been 1,111 days since I last got nasty road rash during a run. It’s not like I was keeping count or anything. I just knew that it had been more than 3 years. Then I went all Rain Man and figured out that my previous fall was July 7, 2013 (confirmed in my Google calendar when I got home).
Unlike Rain Man, I couldn’t do the math correctly in my head while running home. Apparently 365+365+366 (that pesky leap year)+15 ≠ 1,000. Whatever…it kept me from fixating on the stinging throbbing sensation emanating from my elbow and back. (But because I’m a nerdy (former) engineer I validated the math on Excel.)
OK, so what the hell happened? And why can I go Total Recall remembering the exact date the last time I fell?
I can remember, probably in large part, because falling on concrete is a memorable and rare (hopefully) event for anyone. In my case, I distinctly remember that it was 2013 and dripping hot out because I was running half naked. Literally. I had no shirt on. It’s not a look I like to sport in public, but at a certain point functionality outweighs my prudish ways. And as I’ve gotten older I grown a little less self-conscious and don’t care much what strangers think of me. So it must have been summer…probably July or August. Definitely July…on a Sunday because I was running in the late morning and not in the evening like I normally do because of work. Now that I think about it was the first Sunday of July, so it had to be July 1-7…in 2013 July started on a Monday so the first Sunday had to be the 7th. It turns out I was correct. (Check out the big brain on Don!!)
Getting back to what the hell happened…I remember running by the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Ave and turning onto Balbo (as I almost always do). There were two pedestrians walking in the opposite direction blocking my usual path.
While I no longer care if strangers see me half naked in public drenched in sweat, I do want to respect their space. So I veered towards the right, daydreaming while I went past them. The next thing I knew I was on the ground.
The damage wasn’t too bad…a cut on my elbow, scrape on my right hand, and shoulder. I didn’t need immediate help and I could still run home under my own power. I was lucky. I could’ve easily hit my head and got a concussion or broke my collarbone. Either of those would have landed me in the Emergency Room.
From that point on I resolved to focus more on the terrain when I ran. I tripped because I was daydreaming for a few moments and missed seeing a crack on the sidewalk. My toe got caught and I tumbled down (in unceremoniously clumsy fashion). I wasn’t going to repeat that mistake again. I was going to focus on the ground 5-10 ft. in front of me at all times during my runs.
That seemed to be working well enough. So well in fact, that I totally forgot about doing it long, long ago. (I mean, it was 3 years ago.) And then BOOM! The same thing happens. I daydream on a run, catch a crack on a sidewalk, and fall over. And the fallout is identical…cut on elbow, scrape on back, etc.
So here I am in the same situation. The only difference is that this time around I recognize that ‘focusing more’ is futile. That will work for a week or maybe a month, but soon I’ll unconsciously go back to daydream running. And that’s fine. I can’t eliminate the possibility of tripping on a run. All I can do is hope to minimize the chances of it happening again…but at what cost?
My most recent fall reminded me that I actually like to daydream on my runs. It’s a temporary escape from life and what gets me out the door almost every day. Spending an entire run focusing on the ground 5-10 ft. in front of me is akin watching the second hand on a watch. It drives me insane within 30 seconds. Doing that makes me want to run less, which is basically throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Life isn’t about preventing falls; it’s about knowing that you may fall but moving forward anyway. And of course, getting back up and running again when a fall happens (cliché as that sounds).
By my estimates I have a 0.5% chance of falling on any given run, which means I’m almost certainly going to fall again some time in the next 2 to 4 years. I’ll take my chances with those odds. Everybody falls.
Thanks for reading,