Bumps. Bruises, And Falling On My Face

Alternate titles for this rant:
Using your head to break your falls: A tutorial
Reasons Someone Should Buy Me A Helmet
Rocks: The Foots Natural Enemy

It’s no new story that I have a tendency to fall, in fact I’ve written about it several times, starting with some stories about backpacking through NH this summer, training for a 50k that didn’t happen, running in the snow, and the all to frequent stumble over a benign obstacle, which, for some reason, is the most likely cause of injury for me. Yes, that’s correct, when I take a spectacular digger, think the kind of fall that would make for a great outtakes reel, I never get hurt, but an errant pen cap on a technical trail, now that’s dangerous!

Where am I going with this? Well I had been talking about my tendency to fall on my face/ass more often than I would necessarily like, and was talked into writing a post about it, but with one stipulation, I had to fall again, that way there are some fresh scrapes/bruises/embarrassment to fuel the rant. Today, the trail decided to provide me with exactly that opportunity.

Descending from the mountain, after 4 consecutive summits, feeling good, somehow the idea that “this would be a great time for me to take a digger” slipped into my head, this is usually how things happen, I’m tired, often a little over-zealous, and more often than not, I have the road/my car within sight (yes, it’s ALWAYS this close to the end of the run) and blam! my face, on a rock. Fortunately, today’s digger was uninjurious, excepting the token bump/bruise/scrape, we’ll call those battle scars. Now while still ranting, let me explain why I have a love/hate with falling on my face. The Hate part is easy, falling hurts, usually a lot, every so often you get off scoff free, but more often than not there are at leas some bruises to answer to, and not to be a sissy, it just simply sucks. The Love part however, is a little more complex. For starters, falling is funny, there have been entire TV shows based on this premise (America’s funniest home videos?) as long as you don’t actually get hurt, a fall is never not funny… Also, falling, in my opinion is indicative of improvement. Strange? Yes, it may seem so, but if you think about it, falling implies that the person eating dirt took a risk that didn’t pay off, this is a learning experience, and is simple proof that you’re going out of your comfort zone. Without pushing the limits, we never improve, which easily translates to, if you don’t fall on your ass a few times, you’re not getting faster.

Now for a recap of some of my favorite spills/diggers/opportunities to eat shit from the past year.

July: Mahoosuc mountain range, descending a steep dew covered rock face with a 30 lb pack on my back, I lost my footing, and fell face first into the dirt. The only thing that stopped me from going over a ledge was my forehead conveniently connecting with a rock. I proceeded to take 6 or so more diggers in that day alone, but the first is always the most memorable.

July: Same day as before, Mahoosuc Notch, Bouldering with a 30 lb pack, after stowing my trekking poles, I leaped off of a rock, and lost my balance on the landing, narrowly avoided slamming my head on a rock (this may be a trend) and subsequently fell on my butt, Another benign landing, but it certainly made me think twice.

August: Schooleys Mountain, On a second ascent towards the overlook, a slip caused me to roll my ankle and land sideways on a few rocks. Not a particularly spectacular fall, but the ankle twist affected my mileage for several weeks afterwards

November: Powerline trails, I tripped on an errant piece of wire, landing directly on my knee, keeping me off the trail for several days… this would be a prime example of embarrassingly simple obstacles laying me out for a few days.

December: Today’s fall.. Near the end of the trail, I tripped on what I think was a rock… All I can really say for sure is that my left shoulder, knee, and chin took the brunt of the impact, I think I laid there for a few minutes simply stunned at the absurdity of it, and surprised that I was completely fine

So fortunately everything is behaving normally, although I expect a little soreness tomorrow, but for now, I think a solid smoothie, some Yerba Mate, and a couple of delicious beers should wrap up the day pretty well.

Weekly Update 11/6-12

Sunday 11/6
7.03 miles 59:20 Ran around the local hills on the road, nice to get out and see the area on foot.
Monday
AM 4.85 miles 46:23 Often when I don’t have a lot of time to run on a particular day, and want to get on trail, I’ll run the paths for the power lines local to my house. They’re surprisingly technical, covered in medium sized rocks that challenge my running technique, and the paths right by my house essentially go straight up, and down hill. I did however, take a rather hard fall tripping over an embarrassingly small obstacle, which resulted in my knee being sore for a few days, and my foot still being sore today.
PM 1 mile 10:54 slow, almost barefoot(vibram) mile to shake out the stiffness from the mornings fall
Tues 0 Knee and Foot very sore
Wed 0 Foot very sore, limping noticeably (still!)
Thurs 4.85 46:45 Ran the same power line trail as Monday, foot still feels awkward landing on technical downhills
Fri 6.2 miles 1:40
Ran to High Point with Brian mostly through Appalachian Trail, we decided beforehand to take it rather easy, and split the difference between running and hiking, particularly with regard to my sore foot, I’m not sure how much we ran, and how much we hiked (i figure 1/3 hiking 2/3 running). As a runner, we spend a lot of time training in solitude, and it’s nice to have the chance to be social again, especially since my rehearsal schedule has prevented me from our usual Thursday runs with the Highlands Hashers.
Sat 0
Came down with head cold, probably for the better to keep me off the trail, as my foot is still substantially sore, and negotiating rocks/roots isn’t the best game plan to recover.
Totals:  23.93 miles, 4:25 Looking forward to my foot healing some, and getting myself back into the 60’s 70’s/wk

Here are some photos from High Point, Brian and I both decided to wear hydration packs, a deviation from my usual “bring nothing” M.O. With the mercurial weather predicted for the day, it seemed prudent to bring a couple of extra layers, especially knowing that our pace would vary, and that it wasn’t terrain that either of us were intimately familiar with. So, while I prefer nothing more than a handheld water bottle (and boy did the sloshing of the bladder annoy me) sometimes, bringing more is the best plan

Winter Running

If you read any of the running blogs from the Mountain time zone, you’re well aware that they’re already beginning to experience the joys, and perils of winter running, and here on the East Coast, as a result of an unprecedented October snow storm, we have as well.

Many of my friends, both casual runners, and non-runners often ask me how I maintain mileage over the course of the winter, especially as a trail runner, and since last weekend I remembered just how awesome winter runs can be, as well as the oft forgotten downsides of running in sub-freezing temperatures.
So, since many runners I know tend to reduce their mileage, or go towards the treadmill during the winter, I figure I’d try to explain as best as I could, how I maintain my mileage through season. First, attire, everyone has a different approach to cold-weather running, and much like my summer runs, I try to keep things very simple. A pair of tights (yes tights) lightweight baselayer, and a running wind breaker seem to be the most I wear during winter months. A lightweight pair of gloves, and a hat also are helpful. Many runners tend to overdress for cold weather, and end up actually being too warm. The downside of dressing as I do, is that you WILL be cold for the first few miles, the purpose is comfort in the long run, not in the first few miles.

Now, winter runs have their upsides and downsides, the most obvious downside being the negotiation of temperature/wind, hence the windbreaker and other attire mentioned above. The other, less obvious downsides are the shrinking roads as a result of snow (they get so much thinner!) which of course, makes avoiding cars much more of a problem (run trails). Trails however, get faster it seems, especially in the snow, which seems to fill in the changes in terrain, making for fast downhills, and less worry regarding rock avoidance with the extra cushioning. There is, of course, a lack of traction. I’ve found that on normal circumstances, I fall every ~300 miles or so when running technical trails, usually as a result of some mud, wet rocks, or a concentration lapse. On snowy trails, I fall roughly 1.5 times for every 10 miles, this obviously is a result of poor traction, and i expect the ratio to go down as the season progresses, and I get used to it. 
So why run in Winter? Well, here:

Trail Head
Tights and my Merrell Mix Masters
Snowy Bridge on Columbia trail

Blurry Picture, Deer in Snowstorm

Trail heading up Schooley’s Mountain

Long Valley

My Head