At some point, it happens to all of us. We don’t think about it, we don’t plan for it, we get so used to going out and living our life in the routine we have developed that it doesn’t even cross our mind as a possibility. And then, inevitably, it happens when we are absolutely unaware of any chance of it occurring…
This Saturday, it happened to me.
I was out on a long run with a group of ladies, in a beautiful Portland neighborhood – great homes, a view of the forested hills and the river – I was putting my iPhone back in my belt pouch after taking the this photo:
When … Bam! I hit the ground. In less than a second, my position was changed from running to completely stopped after a very short slide onto concrete. After landing, I slowly came to the realization I was no longer in motion, I recall looking around, picking up my phone and bus pass that had been thrown from my waist belt in the sudden motion, when I recalled the unsettling crack sound my knee made when contacting the sidewalk. I was lying on my stomach, propped by my right hand, left arm outstretched, legs fully behind me… Yes, I fell. I fell while running. To my credit, it was not level ground; the sidewalk jutted up nearly three inches where my right toe made contact sending me flying Superman style before gravity brought my human body to the concrete Earth that was once below my feet.
As I slowly picked myself up from the ground, my running mates, who were all ahead of me and heard me fall, suddenly at my side, inquiring about my well-being.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine”
“No, really are you ok? You fell pretty hard.”
“Yeah, I’m alright. [looks at knees] Well, mostly.”
“Your knee. It’s swelling. Why don’t we walk it back from here.”
I was trying to make sense of the mix of emotions running through my head. I couldn’t feel my knees. They were stinging a little but it wasn’t that bad. I ran through a list of positives. I was grateful for wearing capri pants rather than shorts, and my knee scrapes weren’t too bad. I was grateful for my hands being unscathed since I still had my gloves on, even though I was wearing a tank top. I was tremendously grateful for being out with my friends on this run. They were full of helpful information: remember to ice and take ibuprofen to reduce the swelling, I could sue the people who own that house with the tree-root induced bump (although this is not my intention or desire), and they were encouraging that it wasn’t my fault as my frustration with the fall turned to anger at myself and yes, I started to cry.
6.5 miles into an 8 mile run, and crash, boom, done. The negatives found their way in to my train of thought. Now I was making everyone else walk. And I would have to delay the start of my “serious” marathon training to heal. Not to mention the fact that I may have actually really done damage to my cartilage. I felt defeated, that I had stopped our forward motion, pissed that I had screwed up the rest of the workout. Why on Earth did I fall!?!?
I had experienced the runner’s worst nightmare: damaging my legs. Worse yet, my knees.
Fortunately for us, the weather was gorgeous, and the walk back to our starting location was a very nice distraction and an exercise in staying positive. I got to speak more with my running mates, observe the neighborhood, and we met this adorable puppy:
And it has been an interesting reminder to take better care of my body. I move more slowly. Tonight I took a bath to ease tight muscles. I choose clothes deliberately so there is less friction over my knee (I have learned I really like very long skirts… And I could really use one that stops above the knee!). And every night for the next month this is what the end of my evening will look like:
Well, minus the band-aid. The knee covered by ice is turning a lovely blue-purple, getting more colorful each day. This event has acted as a reminder that my “normal” condition – healthy, able-bodied, and active can be changed in a second has renewed my appreciation for how I am living.
Have you experienced set-backs in your work-out routine? Do you feel you have to back up your training schedule when something like this happens?
I am very grateful for being healthy and that my body will heal itself, and climbing up the four flights of stairs to my apartment will once again be easy in a few more days. With icing and taking care, there’s even a chance I’ll be running again in a couple of days.
And hopefully, I won’t try to fly like Superman again anytime soon on my outdoor adventures.
As always, with joy in running (even when we fall),