If you take a tumble

Face first, palms down, I hit the dusty trail. Wincing, I checked the damage: skinned and cut elbows, and a hole in my running tights at the knee. Nothing else but bruises. I got up gingerly, then bounced back off, fine but frustrated. These falls have become all too common in the past few weeks. I’m training for a race, and I don’t want to get injured before I get to the start line.

Irritated, I texted my coach. Why am I falling nearly every run? I don’t feel like I’m recovering well. He encouraged me and reminded me: this is supposed to be the toughest part of training: “You are loaded with chronic fatigue. Battle through! All mental this week! You got it!”

Until he reminded me – this is supposed to be tough – I had gotten so caught up in the rhythm of life I had forgotten what happens when you’re feeling beat down and exhausted- you tend to fall down. That’s why rest and recovery are essential.

I’m the type of person who believes there is a lesson in everything, and I think the perspective gained from falling down can be profound, and maybe even comparable to similar situations not involving a physical fall.

The band Goose says it a lot better than I do:

To the rhythm of life I was walking on by
When I fell straight down my shoes were untied
I don’t want to get up quite yet
There’s something down here I’ve got to get
Down on the ground
You sometimes find
what you wouldn’t have found
If you kept on walking by

I have many scars from falling, both in the physical, spiritual and emotional sense. I think we all have those.

In one sense, to fall is to fail. Something got in your way, and you couldn’t help but get tripped up by it. To fall is also quite human, and it’s humbling. I am reminded of my own imperfections and shortcomings, and I carry some of those scars around on my banged up kneecaps.

The emotional falls are a bit different; those scars aren’t visible, and the pain lingers. I can get so caught up in the movement of life that I miss opportunities to love people well, and instead end up hurting and disappointing them. Instead of getting bogged down in guilt over those missed opportunities, though, I have found it essential to pause and reflect, then keep moving forward. Again, over to Goose:

If you take a tumble, if you take a spill
There is a lesson to learn and a cup to refill
And if you stumble, if your balance you lose
A road lies ahead so tie up your shoes

My dad always compared life to a marathon. You’re going to stumble and fall sometimes, maybe even go down for the count. What matters is the ability to learn from those falls and let them help you grow and change. I don’t want to get so caught up in failures of the past that I stay down on the ground forever. I’m going to tie my shoes, get back up, and keep on running. If you’re reading this, I hope you find the courage to do the same.

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