I wonder if Scott Jurek falls down…I’m sure he has to. Running all those miles on all those trails all over the world, he must trip and stumble every once in awhile. I am not wishing a fall on my most revered of ultrarunners, mind you. But, it seems like knowing this would help me feel better about my frequent falls. Are his knees and elbows scarred? Does he carry around a first aid kit in his fancy Ultimate Direction vest? Or maybe, the rocks, stumps, and fallen trees move out of his way.
For a back of the packer, like me, falling can be very discouraging. When I started trail running, my friends told me to expect to trip, stumble, and fall down. I didn’t really listen to this sage piece of advice. Maybe, they did, but I was sure that I wouldn’t. That’s what I thought, until I found myself lying face up, staring at the sky. Maybe, I should start listening to my friends. In my first trail race, I fell three times. By the third fall, I was infuriated. I mean, seriously?! I was sure I was the worst trail runner ever. How is it that I am one of the slowest, yet I still manage to wipe out so frequently and so disastrously?
One of my worst falls (so far) was on a trail I had run dozens of times, in a spot that seemed innocent. I made the mistake of talking and looking behind me. Thump! Face plant. I lay there contorted and dazed for a moment. As I tried to get up, the pain spread everywhere. When my friend, Megan, asked me what hurts, I replied, um, everything. Blood started gushing. My knee and my elbow were dripping. Pouring water over the wounds didn’t help at all. I don’t remember how, but somehow, Megan got me back to the car and then to a local gas station to do triage in the restroom. A few days later, after I stopped limping a little, I was back on the trail, showing off my battle wounds.
I’m ashamed to admit that there is a little part of me that gets happy when I see front of the packers with ice packs or bleeding knees. It makes me feel like they are human too. In my limited trail running experience, I have seen this at every race. Whether you are at the front or very last, no one is immune to wiping out.
One of the many things I love about the trail is the very reason we tend to fall. There are so many unexpected pitfalls along the way. Even trails we have been on many times can change overnight. A big rain or a simple change in route becomes a whole new experience. A fallen tree or maintenance to the trail can make for unexpected detours. The changing of the seasons can make an oft traveled path into an adventure.
So, maybe, I shouldn’t worry so much about falling down. It’s part of the package in this sport. I’ve read advice that says to keep looking down at the trail to help prevent falling. But, that’s so hard for me to do. I would rather take a risk and enjoy the beauty and the experience. Besides, I might miss getting to watch someone else fall down.
Keep running. Keep falling down. Keep getting back up. And if anyone has any Scott Jurek falling down stories, please share.
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
And that’s my view from the back of the pack.
Thanks for reading!
Posted on 06 Sep 2013