Day 1,298 – Thankful for Learning How to Fall

Early this morning Becky and I went out for our normal run.  I’m not sure if I was still half asleep, just not paying attention or what, but all of a sudden a giant crack ripped open in the earth and sent the blacktop ahead of me heaving up in the air by well over 12 inches!!!  Or…  I somehow managed to not pick my foot up all the way and caught it in a pothole…  I guess we’ll never know for sure (though I am kind of doubting the spontaneous freak geological event).

Regardless of the reason I found myself hurtling through the air with my torso further ahead of my legs than they could ever hope to catch and re-balance.  In a flash I realized I was going to fall and I accepted my fate.  By the way – isn’t it crazy how time slows down in moments like that?  Pretty sure there’s another blog there for a different day 😉

In a flash my thinking brain defaulted to my limbic brain.  Without any thought I brought my arms up around my head as I tucked my chin to my chest.  Instead of trying to catch myself I rolled into the motion so my body rolled as I hit the ground.  My weight was spread out over almost maximum surface as to not cause serious injury.  Once my body came to a halt I paused and did a quick systems check.  No issues, no pain (other than pride), and no issues.  I sprang back up to my feet and was off and moving again right away.  All of this in a flash, and all of it requiring almost zero focused thought.

As a lifelong uncoordinated clutz I’ve had more than my share of spills and falls.  I’ve tripped over painted lines, fallen without moving, and missed putting my foot where it was intended.  Honest to God, one time I fell into our basement window well after tripping on the landscaping.  Falling is something I’ve done quite a lot.  You know what else I’ve done just as often?  I’ve gotten back up.

When I fell today the lessons of past falls kicked right into gear and helped me get back on track.  As we took off running afterwards I couldn’t help but see the similarities to recent life.  Throughout life there’ve been many falls.  This is another one to add to the list of experiences.  As I have from all the others I am confident that I’ll rise from it (and if I don’t I guess it means I’m not around to worry about not getting back up!).  I started thinking about the reflexes I went through in my fall and realized I have already done some of these same steps in this fall as well as others in the past.

  1. Tuck my head and protect the most vital parts.  If the most important parts of me are broken I can’t get back up.  Protect the core, even if it means sacrificing a limb.
  2. Roll with fall.  If I would’ve tried to stop the fall I would’ve landed right on my face and the impact would have been sudden and abrupt.  By rolling with it I was able to keep my momentum.  In an extreme version of this I had one of the greatest trail running experiences of my life.  I was wrapping up the last quarter mile of a long marathon training run and decided to run at almost a sprint to finish it out.  A tree root obviously decided to humble me and took me out while I was at full speed.  I tucked and rolled and somehow, I swear, I rolled all the way through, ended up back on my feet, and was right back in stride.  God as my witness, it really happened.  I took advantage of my momentum and the fall and used it to my advantage instead of fighting it and was successful.
  3. Do a quick systems check.  It is so important to quickly pause and make sure you’re okay after a fall.  Check what got hurt and seek medical attention if needed.  Know how you’ve been impacted from this.
  4. Get back up right away.  Period.  Even if hurt getting back up moves you forward.  Always get back up immediately, don’t overthink it, just get back up.

This morning while running I was so thankful that the tuck, roll, check, and rise routine had been pounded into my brain.  Whoever would’ve thought that each of those falls were lessons for me to grow from?  In my life I am thankful for each of the falls I’ve risen from in the past, they’ve taught me how to roll through and rise from this one.



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