(Left photo source
Right photo source)
If you run exclusively on roads, you might be a bit baffled by the post title, and I don't blame you one bit. I'm not talking about the impact on the road, that initial surprise followed by the stinging, the blood, and yes, the resulting tears. No one likes to tweeze gravel from a palm or knee.
No, what I'm talking about is the trail fall, where danger is imminent and the adrenaline rush like a hit of speed. I'm talking about that initial stumble, slip, or fall on a trail and the first excited wonderings of whether you're about to get seriously injured, many miles from home. I'm talking about hitting trees or rocks or logs, bouncing off and then taking stock. Lying amidst the leaves and dirt, you assess basic bodily functions, check for blood and broken bones, then get up and take that first step. The first step is like Michael Johnson out of the starting blocks, heart pounding, muscles pushing, lungs gasping for air, as the energy surges through your body. It takes several moments for the brain to convince the body to slow down, that you are only several miles into a long run, and, just because you got away with one there, no need to rush into the next dicey situation.
In the last month or so, I've had two really good falls; in both cases neither injured me anywhere near what I deserved. Several weeks ago, while bushwhacking through the woods of a forest preserve (there was no trail), my foot was entangled by old barbed wire, I tripped and smashed my face into a log. Happily, the log was old, soggy, and soft, so I didn't even get a scratch. This past weekend, I tripped over a root and went down on all fours into some serious muck, also without resulting harm. In both cases, as I charged forward before getting myself back under control, it struck me what a thrill each fall had been, what a pleasure it was to pick myself up, discover I was uninjured, and move forward.
Of course, the pleasure of falling exists only when the pain and/or resulting injury doesn't impede forward progress - no one likes to get hurt to the point of danger. But the rush and the pain and the joy of still running, jumping up and over roots, rocks, or logs makes the fall a good reminder of what dirty running fun is on the trail.