2 Dec

Spring Forward - Fall Over!

Falling runner cartoonOn the meteorological first day of winter (1 December) runABC writer, coach and athlete Alan Newman was out running with his partner Sue James on a well trodden River Medway towpath route in Kent when she tripped and very nearly fell. Once safety was assured for his loved one our Southern scribe was amused by the thought that with 'Fall' over we did not want anyone to fall over! 

Alan continues his theme with some memorable falls that invariably seem to fall in, well…Fall: “I was reminded of this topic on a recent trip (excuse the pun) to Cyprus with some truly inspirational veteran athletes. Some in their 80’s are still incredibly active but the one thing they all have in common is a fear of falling over.

“One of my memorable base over apex episodes occurred on the same towpath as our latest near miss. We were enjoying a particularly dilatory jog one morning to marshal our local parkrun when in a split second my legs had an argument with each other and I was flat on my back. I insisted that I had fractured my coccyx until I remembered I had put my mobile in my back pocket. The following day I was on a slow coach to Austria for a rather painful walking holiday.

“On another occasion I went flying on a tight bend in a cross country race at Sparrows Den, West Wickham but used my formerly well honed judo skills to tuck, roll and spring to my feet without losing either position or momentum. I swear that the spectators at that point were holding up score boards with perfect 10’s on the next lap!

“Another tumble happened many years ago in a cross country race in Surrey. I closed on a particularly tall opponent around a ploughed field and was about to overtake when he darted to one side, leaving me with the sole remaining fence post in the entire field between my legs. Perhaps fortunately my sternum took the brunt of the impact and I was merely left poleaxed and breathless as well meaning opponents stepped over me with a brief enquiry as to my welfare!

Discussion with fellow trippers has revealed a common theme – we all feel stupid and try to diminish the severity of any injuries. My advice as a coach is to take a moment after a fall to take stock; do not move immediately unless it is even more dangerous to remain; accept any help proffered and never say you are fine when actually you are not. And finally, unless your proprioception skills are tuned to perfection, do not even consider becoming a Fell Runner."