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Falling while Running:

5 Thoughts from the Split Second Before Hitting the Ground

woman with band aids and bandage on knee

Unfortunately, this post is unofficially sponsored by Band Aid and bitterness.

Falling while running is an art I’ve mastered. I have scars covering my entire body honoring my clumsiness. While I’ve never wanted tattoos, it seems that nature had other plans and took care of that for me. My most recent fall landed me in the emergency room with stitches I was promised would leave a nice, permanent design on my knee.

As a side note, if you’ve never had a chance to see the bone of your knee cap, I’d mark it as an experience you should pass up.

This fall was so bad that I was continually asked if I was riding a bike when it happened. No, I kept telling them, this amazing feat of destruction was a result of only my own two feet and a poorly placed speed bump. I try to give 100% of my effort in everything that I do, and I guess falling while running is unfortunately included in that.

As another side note, this is what I was looking at right before I fell. I think it’s fair to blame the beauty of the universe on this one. Mother Nature, expect a call from me this week. How dare you be so beautiful and distracting? So rude.

During my most recent fall that introduced my knee cap bone to the outside world, I had one of those Matrix-like moments where time stops.

beach sunrise

I’ve never seen the Matrix, but everyone who gasps in disbelief when I tell them that tells me there’s some trippy time-stopping magic going on. Anyway, please imagine me as Keanu Reeves for the remainder of this post. In reality, I looked much more like this:

Believe me, I’ve done it enough times to have a solid pile of evidence by now. I’m not going to assume you’re as lucky as I am to have experienced the joy of falling while running as often as I have so, here’s a sampling of what you could expect. Given how often I fall while running, I’ve noticed a pattern. During that split second when I’m midair, before I skid my bare skin across the rockiest road in town, there are a few things that consistently flow through my mind. 

And if you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to grab a copy of my book, Better Running Goals. If you’re going to fall down, you might as well do it in the pursuit of a goal that makes you happy. Trust me, it lessens the sting of your scrapes and bruises. 

I wrote Better Running Goals specifically for busy runners who have a lot of priorities to balance in their lives. Families, jobs, friends, Netflix; where does running fit in? Grab my book and you’ll find out.

Thought 1: Really?! Again?!

I think it’s time I have a chat with the universe and explain that I’ve met my lifetime quota for running falls and that I should get a free pass for the rest of my years on Earth. As you can see, falling was already such a norm even when I was a kid that someone was actually prepared to catch the moment with a camera. That’s not right. That’s too much falling. Universe, take note.

The problem with falling while running is that it’s a vicious cycle. The more I fall, the more I worry about falling, which makes me fall even more. While my list of falls is long, my list of almost falls is even longer.

girl tripping on a rock

You know those moments when you trip while you’re walking and you end up jogging a few steps as though you meant to do that all along? Well, I do that about three times during every run. The problem is that I’m already running, so it looks like I’m trying a new sprinting technique that includes bug-eyes and wildly flailing arms. I swear, it’s the latest training style.

Thought 2: Did I Really Just Trip Over That?

Whenever I fall while running, people assume I fell down a mountain, was tripped by an opossum, or tried to scale a redwood tree. While I’d love for this to be true, my falling expertise lies in the realms of small tree roots, speed bumps, cracks in the sidewalk, and nothingness.

Yes, there have been times I’ve tripped and stopped to stare at the road around me trying to find something, anything, to blame. Even the people that see me fall are amazed by how much damage a whole lot of nothing can do. The woman who stopped to help me during my most recent fall went from a casual good Samaritan to a full on emergency responder once she saw what a simple speed bump did to me.

The doctor in the emergency room told me that I should lay off scrambling up mountains until my knee recovers. Excuse me, but I just landed in the emergency room because of a speed bump. Imagine what would happen if I decided to run up a mountain. I think I’ll leave that to the American Ninja Warriors, or about anyone else with even an ounce more coordination than I have.

Thought 3: S%#&*@#$H&*#@#*&

If you know me, you know that I rarely ever swear. In my mind, there are few situations that can’t be summed up with a good, “gosh darn it.” If you hear me swear, you can assume the situation is either really bad, or I just ran out of peanut butter. I’m also saving all of my swearing for the eventual cancelation of Survivor, as that will be a very sad day. Injury is a rare exception to this rule.

woman in blueberry halloween costume

Every good fall deserves a good helping of swearing. In fact, there’s research about how expletives can reduce pain. Usually this applies after the fact, but, I like to take a more proactive approach. I like to swear in that final half second before I hit the road in the hopes that some pre-swearing will act as a pain shield and turn me into Violet Beauregarde when she puffs up into a blueberry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That way I can just roll down the road to the emergency room for deflation instead of stitches. It usually doesn’t work, but it’s always worth a try.

Thought 4: I Hope I Don't Rip My Clothes

You would think I would be concerned about my skin in the final moments before a fall, but humans are notoriously illogical. Well, I am at least. There’s a reason that a majority of my running clothes consist of hand-me-downs and old tank tops.

Who wants to be wearing a $60 pair of Nike shorts when they go skidding down the road? I love these Nike shorts though, so I do risk wearing them on occasion.

On a side note, I don’t understand expensive running clothes to begin with. Why do I want to spend money on a fancy outfit just so that I can sweat in it? On top of that, I usually head out for my run right after getting out of bed. Are the fancy clothes meant to be a distraction from my crazy hair, mismatched socks, and puffy and half-closed eyes?

That shirt pictured over there is darn cute, but even that pattern is no match for the chaos that is my face when I wake up in the morning. There’s nothing that can distract from that. Alright, back to the point.

The amazing thing about the human body is that it repairs itself. Yes, it’s painful and messy, but it is a fairly efficient and effective repair factory. My clothes are less self-sustaining. No matter how much I love my t-shirts and shorts, love alone won’t fix them, and I’d be hard-pressed to pull out a sewing machine to patch them up myself. 

pink tank top

Once they’re ripped, they’re gone forever. Again, I realize this is crazy, but we tend to think crazy things in the split second before falling. I’m just telling it like it is.

Thought 5: Save the face!

When I was a kid, my family went to an amusement park that had a rafting ride that was determined to soak us. Despite having our cameras, wallets, bags, and jackets in the raft with us, all the focus was on the leftover chicken we had just packed up from the restaurant at lunch. “Save the chicken,” we yelled, as our boat splashed through rapids and floated under waterfalls. While misguided, we knew our priorities.

cartoon duck

Now, the instinct to protect my face and head is probably the only logical thing I consistently think about in that split second before falling during a run. As we all know, falling is a bad thing. But, falling on your face is a really bad thing. During my latest fall, I managed to scrape up every part of my body from my ankle to the top of my shoulder. But, when the doctor asked me if I had hit my head, I proudly said no. In my history of falling, I have yet to even scratch my face or my flowing golden locks.

This is no accident. As you can tell from the length of this post, even a split second is enough time to think a boat load of thoughts. So, here’s some advice from one falling runner to another. In that last moment before you hit the ground, organize your priorities and plan the way you’re going to fall. For me, this often results in a skid and roll technique. While not ideal (no fall ever will be), it lets me protect my first priority—my precious noggin.

If you’ve read any of my books, you know how much I value priorities. They are the building blocks of success, as they allow us to hone in on what’s most important to us. The problem with falling is that you often have more than one priority, and it’s nearly impossible to give each one of them the respect they deserve. While I’m glad I didn’t land on my face, if I could go back, I would have avoided falling directly on my kneecap as well. But, unlike the Matrix, I didn’t have time to stop and analyze every option.

In that split second before you fall, you will likely only have time to save one body part. You’ll have to leave the rest to chance. Let’s hope that chance is on your side.

No one ever wants to fall while running. It’s frustrating to have something you love cause you pain. But, that’s life. I’ve learned in my short years on this planet that anything worth loving is also worth enduring pain to pursue. Whether it be relationships, dreams, careers, or running goals, we learn what’s worth falling down for in the hopes of getting up stronger, wiser, and better prepared for the next obstacle.

boy fallen on ground with easter eggs and basket

To eliminate the risk of falling would be to eliminate the opportunity for growth. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take the risk. Do you have a falling story? Share it with us in the comments below!

You can also read more from me at The Sensory Toolbox.

79 thoughts on “Falling while Running: 5 Thoughts from the Split Second Before Hitting the Ground”

  1. Just took another one this morning. Ouch. Taking comfort from your story as I nurse my sore shoulder, scraped knees and bruised cheekbone (couldn’t avoid the noggin, unfortunately). I had a bad fall last February which involved my dog wrapping us both around a post in the sidewalk, me landing directly on my head, getting three brain bleeds, a broken clavicle and a broken thumb, and spending a week in the hospital. I still have a wacky numb leg and double vision from the experience, so I second your counsel to avoid head-bumping. Unfortunately, by the time my head hit the ground I was apparently already no longer occupying it, since I have no memory of the event. Thanks for your encouragement that falling is just something we do, and then we get up (as soon as possible) and keep running.

    1. Wow, Lorian! I have a lot of respect for you being able to get back out on the roads after a fall like that! It no doubt proves that runners are warriors. I hope that your fall today was the last one for a while.

    2. I fell 2 days ago and ended up in Accident & Emergency. Can’t think what I could have tripped on but my legs went flying and I fell flat on my face and skidded a bit. Not a scratch on my legs, some grazes on both wrist areas but my face is a mess. Some deep cuts and some superficial. I may need to have my nose fixed too and will find out next week. I want to get back to running so that the fear doesn’t set in. Last time I fell was a long time ago but just had some scrapes on my knees.

      1. Hi, Liz! I’m so sorry!! I can completely relate. Getting over that fear is something I struggled with as well, and still do from time to time. If you come up with any strategies for overcoming it, please let me know! I hope you have a speedy recovery and are back in your running shoes soon.

  2. I too – seem to have falling episodes… fell again yesterday (6th in three years). Everything in your article holds true for me… this time I got up and continued running through the pain… to complete my training run. Today I am hurting.. but soon I will forget. My family however – does not… I hate going home after a fall as it is like the grand inquisition. Most times the most I have hurt is my ego – but my family has all sorts of other ideas… They want me to stop running entirely. They think if they run with me I will not fall (like they are going to catch me?)…
    I agree – thank you for your encouragement, falling is just something that happens – and we need to get up (as soon as possible) and keep running!

    1. I need to add a section about family! I know where their concern comes from, but they definitely seem to be able to make a fall more dramatic than it is (I try to spin it as an excuse to buy fun bandaids!). I hope you continue to feel better after your most recent fall and that it doesn’t hinder any future (fall free) runs!

  3. Hi! I’m 76, a runner for more than 15 years, and in the past year or so I’ve begun falling. After multiple barked knees and palms I bought a set of protectors, the kind used by roller bladers. They got their first test this morning, saving knees and palms from any injury. But the elbows got it. (I hadn’t had elbow scrapes before, so figured it’d be safe to leave the elbow protectors at home. Wrongo.) So far, no head trauma, knock wood; (knuckles rapping forehead.) So at last I turned to the Internet for advice, and your blog was the first thing I stumbled (pun? intended) upon. I’m very sorry you’ve had so many and more serious falls, but I must tell you that to read that it can happen to someone so much younger was a vast relief. I thought I was just victim to advancing age, another curse of becoming an old guy. While this may very well be so, I’m off now to search for ways to keep from falling in the first place. If I can’t find any magic potion, from now on I’m gonna to wear the elbow protectors too, vanity be damned.

    1. Hi, Bill! I’m so impressed by your resilience and determination. Vanity be damned, for sure. As a fellow runner, I know that we’ll stop at nothing to keep running every day. From one scraped up runner to another, keep lacing up those shoes every day!

      1. Fell at the 5 mile mark of a 10K last Sunday. Didn’t avoid my face this time sadly though a broken crown beats a broken wrist any day (and I know this because I broke my wrist from a running fall in 2016). I took great comfort from your post and the commenters that I’m not the only one with this nasty habit out here. No idea what caused my fall Sunday but after they were done with me at the medical tent, I walked the remaining mile to the finish line and claimed my medal. Might have to walk the 5K I’m scheduled to run this Sunday but I’ll be running again before the month ends. Have to.

        1. Cheers to your perseverance! You definitely earned that medal. Even I have been amazed at what a shared experience this happens to be. While I wish we could all avoid the tumbles, it’s nice to know that there’s a community to commiserate with.

        2. I fell running down a road. Last year in June. Splintered bones in arm and have a plate. Have been in pt since then to raise arm. I tripped today while walking and have swollen lip and scrapes but ok. I can’t seem to get past the first accident dr thinks I have ptsd. Today just adds to my issues. I just keep thinking I could have prevented all this. Thank you for your help

      2. Training for my first marathon… fell back in Late August , rolled my ankle on an acorn… yep like the matrix everything in slow motion. However, I couldn’t break the fall, face smacked the pavement. Hurt pride and sore body parts. I kept in training. Today, exactly one week from my race… yep, tripped over an acorn again.. same ankle same side of face. ( road rash was a little worse and ended up with an ER visit). Nothing broken and the ER doc said go get it next weekend. I will crawl across that finish line if I have to! Nice to hear others have the same issues. I was afraid something was wrong with me.

        1. Alisa, I can relate to this so much! I remember going to the ER and they were amazed that I had managed to create such a huge injury because of a rough piece of pavement. It sounds like you have a similarly ill fated relationship with acorns. Bravo for your perseverance and feel so much pride crossing that finish line at your race. While everyone celebrates the winners, I always appreciate those who fought the hardest.

        2. I just fell on my 5 mile run and I’m sad. I don’t really consider myself a runner, I started running last year, I run at least 4 times a week and from 3.5 to 6.2 miles, depending on the day and how I feel. I was feeling so good, my time was Awesome and in a split second I saw my legs and my arm going forward, my whole body going down and my face hit the pavement ? I tripped on the trees roots, but I was so embarrassed and the pain was everywhere, specially on my face and hands. I have bruises and scratches on my knees, my hands (deep ones), my side legs, even on my shoulder but the worst one is on my face, my right cheek, eye and eyebrow, it’s not as bad as my hand but nobody wants bruises on their face, right?! Hahahha someone said in the comments that their ego is injured, I feel you, same here. Thank you everyone for sharing your experience, I feel less alone now ☺️

          1. Oh, no, your face!! That is quite the epic fall. I know you said that you don’t really consider yourself a runner, but once you have a good falling story, you are definitely in the running club. Hoping that you recover quickly, Emy!

          2. I must be the only person that fell so hard that I had to have my chin stitched and 4 on my teeth have to be replaced, Help!!!! I don’t even have a chance to catch myself, I trip and go down, my family ask me if I lift my feet when I run, maybe I need to do some drills and change the way I run, this wasn’t the first fall just the worst, which is going to cost me a forture! Any advice?

          3. Oh, Yvonne!! What a fall! I’m so sorry and I hope you heal quickly. I know you’re probably not wanting to add to your medical costs right now, but it might help to do a few sessions with a physical therapist. I did two sessions with a PT who works a lot with runners and he was able to pinpoint a number of quick fixes to my running form that made a big difference.

    2. I’m the same as you, knees and palms.
      I’m 72 and started jogging 3yrs ago…..I’ve fallen 4 or 5 times during that time with the palms bearing the brunt of it the last two occasions. The thing is I couldn’t see anything that could’ve caused me to fall, just the feeling that my lead foot dug in to the tarmac and down I went!
      I think it’s more a case of not ‘picking my feet up’….when I’m walking and there’s is just a slightly raised flagstone…I’ll find it!

      1. I hear you, Ted! I’m the queen of falling over nothing. Though, there’s definitely a common theme of falling once I’m tired or distracted, so you’re right that picking up our feet enough is probably a leading cause.

    3. Hi Bill – I’m 62 and have been running since I was 12. I took a spill this morning – and probably my worst, which is nothing compared to what some of these folks shared, but I definitely have “hamburger hands” right now. I broke my sunglasses into my left cheek so a black eye is on the way, and my shoulder looks way less than pretty. I still feel grateful, and after a small sitting spell to work through some dizziness, I did what every runner does— I ran the rest of my 5 mile route with blood dripping down my hands. We are a stubborn breed. I love that you’re still running at 76, and my plan is to follow you in that goal, but I might just get those guards for my hands.

  4. Hi. Today I had my second bad fall in 2 weeks. Because I banged up my chin the last time, today I decided to save face and land on my hands & shoulder. I was fortunate to be running near a parked fire truck. Some firefighters gave me supplies to clean myself up, and asked if my chin (still healing from my last fall) was ok… I was too embarrassed to say it was from another fall, and I was too bloody head to toe to continue running. My thumb is badly contused so I’m typing with a wrist brace, but nothing’s broken. I took two other bad falls in recent years, one requiring stitches. Although I’ve been falling for decades (I’m 45), they’re becoming more frequent and I can’t help wondering if something is really wrong with me, or am I just clumsy? Could I have a bad gait that maybe a trainer can help me fix? I know no one has the answer, but putting it out there in case you’ve had similar thoughts. My family wants me to quit, and acquaintances may think someone has been beating me… but hey, gotta make it through my fall marathon. Thank you so much for the article! Side note: I recently developed runner’s knee and had taped it up before running today, so I must have looked great hobbling home :/

    1. Wow! I’m constantly amazed by the strength of the runners in this community. Jillian, you are a trooper! I completely understand the need to continue running, no matter how many falls come with it. I would suggest reaching out to your doctor for a PT referral though. I went to a PT for non-falling reasons, but it ended up really helping my overall gait and stride. There may be a few simple adjustments that can make all of the difference. Best of luck with your marathon training!

  5. I have been running since 2006. I’m 53. I fall what I feel is so frequently, I’ve decided to keep a log. In 2018, I fell in Feb, Aug, and Nov. Been doing pretty good this year (unless I forgot to log a fall) until a few days ago when I tripped on what I guess was about 1/32″ of uneven sidewalk. I walked back and forth over the scene of the crime to recreate where my toe connected and it was really hard to find the uneven surface on a sidewalk that was almost as smooth as glass. Sometimes I wonder if some evil spirit sticks his foot out to trip me because I have a hard time finding exactly what is was I tripped on. I KNOW my toe connected with SOMETHING!

    I’m at a point now where I am seriously concerned for my well-being. Sometimes I go down so hard I feel like I fell off a building. I have been wearing fingerless leather workout gloves for years now and let me tell you, it is a HUGE help when your bare palms are not absorbing all the pressure of the fall. It helps alleviate the impact on the rest of your body. Plus it kind of looks cool. Well, better than kneepads would.

    So back in 2019, I was jogging in the grassy area next to the sidewalk and stepped on a circular wire (the kind that keeps hubcaps on the wheel of a car). I stepped on the back end of the wire which tipped up the front end so my opposite foot would become ensnared in it. As luck would have it, it was a t the END of said grassy area and I went down like a sack of potatoes onto the driveway (which was curb height lower from my starting position) which increased the distance of my fall. My head hit the ground, smashed my sunglasses causing a piece of broken lens to gouge into my forehead parallel to my right eyebrow. Blood gushing, filling my eye socket while I looked upwards to minimize bleeding, I called the ambulance. I ended up with 16 stitches and a horizontal scar (still visible today) above my right eye.

    Two bits of advice I can give: 1. Always wear padded gloves. It doesn’t look so bad and it REALLY minimizes the damage when you fall and 2. Don’t run into the sun during dawn or dusk. It really obscures your vision and increases your chances of falling if you don’t see that uneven sidewalk or root. The harsh shadows also disguise things on the ground that can trip you up.

    1. Roy, you are in the falling club, indeed! I’m so sorry to hear how frequently you find yourself on the pavement. If you haven’t been to a physical therapist, they may be able to help. I went to a PT for a non-falling reason, but found that they helped my form so much that I was less prone to trip over my feet. You can’t cure my level of clumsiness, but it did help. I also have a personal vendetta against the evil running spirit that puts things out in front of us, so that’s a different story.

      Those are excellent tips about the gloves! I can’t even count how many times my hands have taken the brunt of my falls. Hands are a better sacrifice than the head, as you demonstrated with that awful fall, but might as well protect the hands if possible. Gloves are something I’ll look into! And the sun is a great tip. We all have a hard enough time with 100% visibility, let alone when we can’t see.

      Thanks for sharing your story and the tricks you’ve learned along the way! I hope you have a fall-free future!

  6. I just fell while running in my neighborhood AGAIN! I’m beginning to see a them.. it’s cold, it’s getting dark fast and I need glasses. So I will only run in the daylight and when everyone is at work- not coming home in droves blinding me with their high beams! I was forced to run on the sidewalk (for safety. Lololol !!!). I usually run in the street to avoid tripping on crooked sidewalks… but that time at dusk I was wearing all black so…..

    1. Yes! So glad you figured that out! I can’t say that I would be as quick to pick up on the fact that it was my visibility. It’s probably a factor I shoudl consider myself. During the day when it’s light outside and the streets are calm sounds perfect.

  7. I’ve had a few close calls on my runs, but have always been able to recover… until yesterday. Took my first hard fall yesterday while running- got some nice road rash on my shoulder, hands & knee. UGH!! Caught my toe on a raised bit of sidewalk, but it still got me freaked out about the cause and future prevention, so of course I ended here after a Google search. 😉 I totally had some of those Matrix-y split second thoughts when I was on my way down. Thanks for the laugh! Here’s to future runs without injury!

    (btw- I work with students with special needs at the elementary level. Gave your IG a follow. Always looking for things to help our kiddos thrive!)

    1. Hi, Kelley! So glad to meet another runner and special needs advocate (even if under these less than pleasant falling circumstances). Thank you for the work that you do!

      Isn’t it always amazing to end up with scratches on your shoulder? I tear up my shoulder every time I fall and am always baffled by “action movie” level of falling dramatics. All of us falling runners have a future in stunt work. I hope that you’re recovering and will be back in your running shoes soon!

  8. After wondering what was wrong with me (tripping on a railroad crossing that I knew was there), I found this post. Seems that I’m in good company! Luckily I landed in a leaf filled gutter and not the street.

    I, too, hate having to go home and explain, “It’s not as bad as it looks. Really, the blood is dried already!”

    1. Yes, I’ve perfected that response to my family too! No matter the amount of falls, they always panic.

      I’m glad you had a “soft” landing. That’s definitely a benefit of running in winter when all the leaves are on the ground!

      1. Not exactly soft. There’s still concrete underneath!

        I went by the same spot this morning and realized there was nothing there. No humps, no bumps, no dips, no pine cones, just my own klutzy feet!

        1. Not one of those pillowy looking pile of leaves they show in the movies?!

          I’ve now developed a story behind tripping over nothing (because it happens all the time) that they must have fixed the enormous crack in the sidewalk right after I fell. My fall must have so bad that it prompted them to fix their sidewalk, so that’s why there’s no evidence. No one has believed this story yet.

          1. So I also turned up here from a Google search as I sit on my couch in Auckland, New Zealand with ice on my knee after another fall. I fell this time last year too and this was feeling frequent, so am relieved to hear this is common for other runners too! Last year I stood on a long flax leaf with one foot and the other foot got caught in it. This time I seemingly tripped on nothing. Just a flat pavement. Because a few years ago I fell down our stairs and broke my arm, I was starting to feel like I’m getting a reputation here! I’m 54 and this morning I had a total
            Matrix moment while falling – I was thinking “oh here we go again, whatever, bring it on” because I’ve had a bad week and this felt like the fitting end to it, and somehow I think that resigned mood made me more relaxed and fall better so I only received grazed and bruises and could carry on running. I hate that fleeting of “oh no, here we go again, please don’t let me break something and have to go through months of rehabilitation”! I will admit I got a little freaked out – did I have a stroke, did I black out” etc. Its encouraging to read your stories. I think I just simply don’t lift my feet enough and I go into another world in my head when running. But yes, the level of injury that can be caused by simply landing on the pavement seems crazy!

  9. Vicki, you’re definitely in good company! I’ve also fallen when caught up in my thoughts or a good audiobook, which only makes it even more shocking to end up on the ground!

  10. Guys I’m glad to see this post but my broken nose is way too fresh to muster up the courage for a run today. Also, it’s doesn’t help that I’m pregnant. I am so annoyed and discouraged. I fell in daylight on a flat sidewalk! Hit knees, hands, and then my face. My glasses hit the bridge of my nose might have made it worse, unsure. I’m 7 weeks pregnant and should definitely be able to run! I am so afraid now. What if it was my teeth? My nose again? My belly? Ughhhh. You guys are so brave. High 5!

    1. omg, I don’t blame you for being nervous, Michelle! I’ve never been pregnant or broken a bone, but even just one of those things would make me nervous to run, let alone both. In my mind, it’s totally ok to go slow and get back to running when it feels comfortable and safe to do so.

  11. I am so glad I came across this! I will be 73 in June, and am training, again, for a 5k. A week ago, running in my hilly neighborhood, I had a nasty fall. I landed on my left side, head first on the curb. Bruised temple, cheek bone, shoulder, elbow, and knee. Got my first ever black eye, and broke my glasses. No broken bones. But my recall of the fall is very sketchy. I started walking back home, got three blocks away when I realized my glasses were not on. And I am VERY nearsighted. I thought age was the culprit, but now I am reassured it is running, not age! My daughter, a runner herself, thinks I’m a bad ass mom, and my son would like me to walk, not run.

    1. Head first! Bad ass seems like the right word, Rebecca. That sounds like quite a nasty fall. I hope you’re recovering well and quickly!

  12. Wow. Glad I found this post and Im not the only one falling while running. I was feeling stressed this morning with all of our coronavirus social distancing situation so i went out for a run i was feeling much better and then just like everyone else i tripped over a minor unevenness on the sidewalk and went slamming. I was able to get my hands out so they took most of the blow. It really knocked the wind out of me so i just had to lay there for a minute. A woman walking her dog saw me but she observed the 6’ rule. I just felt like crying but picked myself up. My hands are cut and bruised (but luckily i was wearing gloves) and I have bruises on both knees. I was thinking i must be getting really clumsy in my old age (57) but i think it was just a random accident. Good reminder to ketp my eyes on whats in front of me!

    1. Oh, Fiona! A fall on top of all of the stress in the world right now. I’m so sorry! You definitely have a community of trippers and fallers here! I’m so glad you were wearing gloves. I’m actually about to post an article about the benefits of arm sleeves, one of which is having something to protect your skin from falls! The number of times my clothing has saved me from horrible scrapes. Hope you’re back out there soon!

  13. Sitting with an Ice pack on my shoulder reading this. I’m a 62 year old male, been running for 35 years. I have taken some spectacular falls, I tend to drag my right foot slightly when I get tired or don’t concentrate. This morning’s fall seemed to be in slow motion, giving me the presence of mind to twist and land on my right shoulder; seemed like good idea at the time. Luckily my wife was not home to see me trying to remove my running shirt, which was stuck on my head for about 2 minutes. Interesting pains throughout my right torso now. Can’t stop though, hoping to back out in 2-3 days.

    1. I can relate to this so much, John! The slow motion, the instinct to fall a certain way, the gratefulness for the spouse not being home to see it (especially this!), and wanting to get back out there as soon as possible. I hope you have a fast recovery and are back on the roads soon!

  14. I’m soo relieved to have found this post! I’m 56 and have been running recreationally since I was 22 and discovered that it was my silver bullet for fun and fitness! I’ve fallen 3 times in 34 years and thousands of miles, but the first time occurred when I was 22 and the last two this month!! Fortunately my family encourages me to stay with it and away from the curbs! I praise God that my injuries to my confidence are much worse than to my body and by his grace and mercy, I’ll keep at it!! Thank you all for your transparency!! Keep running!

    1. Welcome to our little falling club, Wendy! 3 falls in 34 years is a pretty good track record. It’s interesting though that the last two have been so recent! The stars must have been misaligned. I’m so glad that you have such a great attitude and supportive family that keeps you running, even after a spill! Happy running!

  15. Wow, like many others here, I am so relieved that I found this post. I just fell AGAIN on my run a couple hours ago, this time on just a slightly raised plank on a wooden bridge, and had to cut it short and turn back (and it felt like a LONG run back with the pain but more feeling depressed and upset at myself). I have run plenty of times over this bridge with no problems, and it’s not as if the plank was that uneven at all. Ughhh! Right knee and left palm bleeding a bit, left knee skin not broken but kind of red and black and blue swollen. A little bit of wetness coming from my left elbow. My right palm also hit the ground and was hurting for a while, but the skin looks completely unscathed. I also felt my right cheekbone touch the ground, but thankfully my face also looks untouched (unlike the last time I had a bad fall and got a small scrape on my right cheekbone).

    I have been running for 20 years, and this is my 5th significant fall (resulting in broken skin and bleeding). My last significant fall was about 6 years ago. I have the same thoughts as you except I don’t think about my clothes because I run in old, worn-out clothes (since they are getting dirty and sweaty all the time and I have to wash them all the time, they are going to get worn out, so might as well wear something that I don’t have to worry about). Unfortunately this time, like last time, was during warm weather, so I was wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. Why can’t my falls happen in the winter when I’m wearing several layers and there is plenty of snow on the ground?? Oh actually that reminds me, I did have a minor fall onto the snow this past winter that didn’t hurt at all.

    So this time, besides being really upset about the pain, I was more feeling upset and embarrassed at myself for falling and skinning my knees AGAIN after having already done so a few times over the years. I was berating myself for never learning – I do tend to fall when I am tired and/or in the zone and not paying attention to the road – and I often remind myself to keep lifting my knees when I’m tired or watch the road VERY carefully in slippery winter conditions. But this time my mind had just wandered, and the weather was warm and roads were clear, so I must have gotten a bit complacent. And a little tired. But I’m so relieved to see that I’m not the only one who has this falling habit! Thank you for the post and to everyone for the comments. I am no longer feeling so depressed and angry at myself.

    1. Oh, Katie, I hope you heal quickly! I’ve never lived in a snowy area, but softer falls definitely sounds like a perk of running in the winter. I’m glad that this community of fallers could be a pick me up after your most recent fall. Hope you’re back out there soon!

  16. I think we all google “why so I fall” and now feel better reading these! Runner for 18 years, falls are countless. Tonight’s was on a trail, exactly one week after my last fall on another trail. Neither technical either! Ripped my nearly-healed knee back open tonight and my palms that had almost healed. There really is no pattern. I fall running solo, with my dog, on streets, trails, track even the treadmill! Yes I am THAT person who they make the little clip for so that it stops moving when you slip. Oh and I fall every time I hike too. Thankfully I’m usually wearing pants then!

    Here’s to keeping the makers of bandaids and antibacterial ointment in business 🙂

    1. Ah, to fall on almost-healed wounds! That had to sting mentally and physically! I’ve got to say that I’ve done it before too. Glad that our community of fallers could ease the sting a little bit 🙂

  17. I am a 63 year old runner with a good number of years of experience. Lately I’ve been falling. Two falls in the last month or so. Was getting worried u til I found this blog. I think part of the problem was my running shoes, which have kind of chunky, thick soles. I have since ordered a new pair from a different company and think that will help, but who knows? (I also trip at home sometimes but luckily have not fallen.)

    I think I am more likely to trip and fall towards the end of a run. Maybe because I’m more tired at that point? It’s such a bad feeling to know you are going down but also kind of funny. Both times I was able to continue my run home, which is good because i don’t carry a phone with me. The last time I fell I landed in mud and got completely covered. ? I usually ice and take ibuprofen. Give myself a running break for a few days, then start again. Because even with the constant threat of tripping and falling, I need to run to stay mentally, emotionally and physically strong. Especially during this crazy pandemic!

    1. That must have been quite a sight running home covered in mud! Falling does make for good stories. I’m SO with you on the importance of running, especially right now. Despite all of the falls and the pain, running is the best medicine I’ve ever found. Thanks for sharing your story, Beatriz!

  18. I had never fallen on a run until January, then I fell, broke my elbow! OUCH!! Then, a few weeks after getting back to running, I feel again, no brakes! Three weeks ago again, lifted a few layers of skin off my leg and this morning just as said skin had grown back, down I go again! Getting pretty darn bored of it now!! A little comforting to know I am not alone!

    1. Nothing like a broken elbow leading to a string of falls! I can’t say that I’ve ever broken my elbow (knock on wood), but you definitely aren’t alone in the falling runners club, Steve!

  19. HI, I am 63. Last December 2019 I fell while jogging. I hit the ground so hard that my head hit the pavement and bounced off and back onto the pavement for a second lick. I ended up with a huge goose egg on my forehead, two skinned up knees and my left hand was all scraped up too. I walked 1.75 miles home with blood running down my face, leg and my arm. I am sure I was a site for those passing me by. I held my head down so they wouldn’t see the scary site.
    My doctor did an MRI to make sure I didn’t have a brain bleed. I didn’t, but I still have an indentation on my forehead. I had a black eye for two weeks.
    Yesterday I fell again, but fortunately I saved my noggin and got a scraped up left palm and right knee, same place as before. I got up and continued my run, running a negative split to the house. 🙂 I was determined that it would not slow me down. Blood was running down my leg and my friend was freaking out. I told her to forget it and let’s keep on going. My scrapes were stinging numb by then and stopping would only hurt my training. We have to learn to take the licks and keep on going. I am glad to run across your post. Now I don’t feel as if I am the only one who wasn’t named “Grace” for a reason. 🙂

    1. WOW, Faye! You have spectacular stamina! I hitched a ride home after the spill I took in this blog post and it wasn’t nearly as extensive as what you suffered. There’s no doubt that a few running falls won’t keep you down! Very inspiring.

  20. I had my first fall two days ago. I wish I could have seen it as I felt like I had “saved” myself from falling and then wham, I was on the ground. Quite a shock and hard for me to understand what happened as my face took the worst of it. I can only think that since I thought I had saved myself, I didn’t get my arms in front of me.
    Goose egg on forehead, bruised nose bridge, deep cut inside my mouth and bruised chin. Definitely hit my teeth but nothing loose, just can’t bite in front yet. Forearms and hands cut up along with right knee and thigh. Blood, dirt and gravel everywhere…..this was trail….
    I always run with my phone and this was the first time I had to use it to call for help. So glad I had it.
    I’ve laid low these past two days and just gone for walks. Thankfully I have the week off as I wouldn’t want to go to work looking like this. I’ve revisited the scene to see if I could figure out what was different. I’ve run that trail hundreds of times. Nothing stands out.
    I’m so glad to have found this blog and to see others in the same situation. I have been struggling with when to run again. I think a slow run tomorrow will be a good start and I will keep to pavement. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, it has really helped to find this site!

    1. Not your face! I’m SO glad you had your phone. I understand when runners want to be disconnected, but this is such a great example of why it’s important! Hope you recover quickly and are back out there when you feel ready!

  21. I googled Tripping while running and falling forward. I expected nothing but found this great site. At 72 I’m still running 35-40 every week. I’ve been running since high school in the 60s. I’ve tripped over vines, frost heaves, sidewalk cracks, rocks sticking up 1/2 inch, and yesterday a root while trail running. While falling forward, I apparently stretched out my torso, so my abdomen hurts and the classic skinned, bruised knee. I feel so much reassured reading everyone’s accounts. It’s not just me! Thanks for this site. Onward and Stay Vertical!

  22. Feeling very sorry for myself at the moment. Just got back from a super short 2 mile run having fallen over again, for no reason.
    Running doesn’t come easy to me, I’m dyspraxic so Im wondering if my frequent falling has something to do with coordination and balance. Either way, I struggle to do a 5k and am constantly nervous about falling again. Before now I used was able push on because I don’t want to give up. Now, with yet another bruised and bleeding knee, I am ready to give up.
    Feeling very upset and disappointed as I haven’t been able to do something I’ve wanted to achieve.
    Sorry all, just needed to share otherwise I will sit here along weeping for another half hour.

    1. Rowena, I’m so glad you found this post and left a comment! It might be worth reaching out to a PT who can suggest strategies for coordination and balance practice. While I don’t have dyspraxia myself, I’ve had some PTs that have offered some really helpful tips in the past. Hope you heal quickly!

  23. Been running for 25 years and until today never had a fall. Had some close calls but never went all the way down until today. Reading your article had me laughing because everything you related I experienced. From the split second when you are airborne to worrying if I ripped my favorite and expensive running clothes. Good to hear that I am not the only runner to have fallen while just running on sidewalks and roads. Like some invisible trickster tripped me up. Sitting here with an ice pack on the knees and skinned up knees, palms and elbow and worrying how long it will take my knee to repair itself so I can get out and start running again.?

    1. Wow! 25 years of no falls! I’m sorry that today was the day that you broke your no-fall streak. But, hey, 25 years is darn impressive. You are definitely in good company here in the falling runners club. I hope that you heal quickly and are back on the roads soon!

  24. Thanks for all your stories. It helps to know I am not alone. Today is day 204 of my running streak and at 3 miles, I tripped on a patch of uneven sidewalk and face planted. Two ladies in the park came to help me and I was Covid afraid. I accepted tissues for the bleeding from my forehead and then ran 1 mile home. I now have seven stitches in my forehead and my husband has hidden my running shoes. I have been a runner for 45 years. Third fall in past 8 years, first that needed stitches. The ER doc wished me a good day 205.

    1. In the middle of a streak, to boot! I’m so sorry, Sally! I haven’t fallen yet during COVID (knock on wood), and hadn’t thought about how it adds another layer of complication to a falling situation. I’m glad you got stitched up and I hope you’re running again soon!

  25. So glad i found this Blog i fell for the first time today it was such a quick fall one minute i was running the next on the floor was so embarrassed when i got up 🙂 my ego was more bruised 🙂 but after reading all the comments i felt so much better knowing that it happens and it should not stop us from doing what we love.

  26. Relieved to find this community. I have always been too risky for trails but I have fallen 3 times since covid started. I know each time it was because I was distracted and not paying attention to the dang uneven sidewalk. This past Sunday i managed to slide kinda, so my almost healed knees from the last fall are mostly spared. What kind of gait corrections- like lifting knees, landing on ball of feet? I’m thinking about wearing knee pads from now on!

    1. I have also seriously considered knee pads!! My poor knees have been through enough. I hope you haven’t had any more falls since!

  27. Wow, evergreen blog post you have here Diana! I, like many others apparently, am reeling from and trying to cope with a recent fall! to the point of googling “what to do when falling while running” LOL (you’re the first hit on there). Let me tell you about my fall: it was in the first two minutes of my run, on the streets of New York, with plenty of witnesses. I rarely, rarely fall, but had a recent one last week where I came out unscathed even though I was fully splayed on the ground! I wasn’t even embarrassed, more like impressed with myself that I could fall “so well”. Pride goeth before the fall. This time around, I was running, and then tripping, and then tripping closer and closer to the ground. I hit my right knee, left thigh (? I don’t understand the mechanics here), and finally smashed my chin into the asphalt for good measure. One lady offered me a “Clorox wipe” (I think she meant something sanitary). I got up eventually and walked off for a few steps to assess the situation. I tried to continue on the run but decided to just loop around the block like a jackass after I kept wiping blood off my chin (as my mother later told me, “it’s not good to bleed in public”). I went back to my apartment to lick my wounds and cry woe is me. Thank you for sharing and providing this public forum for my healing process <3

    1. Oh, Melanie!! I cringed when I read that you hit the ground directly on your knee and chin…OUCH! Though, I must say that I am extremely impressed by your first graceful fall where you were left unscathed. That’s an art I still have yet to learn! Know that you are in very good company in this community of trippers and fallers! Hope that you recover quickly and are able to lace up your running shoes again soon enough!

  28. Catherine Pasarich

    On March 2nd I was running down a small hill and my left foot slid on a small snowy patch of ice and I fell down on my outstretched left arm. OUCH!! I picked myself up and ran home and put ice on and off the rest of the day. I had no swelling, redness or bruising but some pain. I’ve had osteopathy 3 times , cupping , taping and near infra red biolight treatment and partial hanging on a chin up bar in my laundry room door way, I am still running and now roller blading and still continue to experience some pain in the shoulder area especially the upper bicep area . It’s almost June 2nd and I am healing but I want my upper arm and shoulder area to be pain free. I am an active healthy 72 year old woman who has enjoyed running for many years with a only few minor trips and falls but recovered fairly quickly. I also have been doing hot yoga for the past 12 years and now I can’t do down dog or push ups as it’s painful to put full weight on my left arm. I have been following the arm exercises that my osteopath has recommended and they seem to be slowly helping. Can you think of anything else that could help in the healing process for my left upper arm and shoulder?

    1. Oh, Catherine!! What a painful journey you’ve been through! Sometimes I’ve found it useful to bop around to different PTs, as they all have differing tips and tricks that might work. It sounds like you’re already trying so many good things though! Hopefully it just needs more time. Healing is definitely a long process!

      1. Catherine Pasarich

        Thank you for you supportive reply Diana. Today I pulled out my acuballs that I bought at the Yoga Show a few years ago. I found a wonderful 8minute you tube video on “How to Use an Acuball to Relieve Shoulder Pain” by Dr. Barbara Rodwin who has a clinic in Ottawa. Here’s the website:

        I’ve been working with the acuballs on my yoga mat this afternoon and WOW!!! They really help to relieve my shoulder and bicep pain. Dr. Rodwin is quite an athlete completing several triathalons and marathons as well as cycling! Hopefully I’ll be on the road to more healing with the acuballs as I am a Capricorn determined to succeed. Catherine

  29. Thank you all for sharing your stories. As I sit here with an ice pack on my swollen and bleeding nose from tripping on a sidewalk crack, it helps to know I’m in such good company. I need to learn to practice the advice to “protect the face”!

    1. I’m so sorry, Marjorie! That must have been quite the fall. I bet that “protect the face” will become your new running chant! Hope you heal quickly!!

  30. Add me to the list of this who typed ‘falling while I run’ into my Googler! 🤣 I’m 57, and have been running since high school and have never fallen until last month. I took a tumble while stepping up on a curb- apparently I didn’t lift my foot high enough. Fell ‘ass over teakettle’, as my mom used to say, and broke my right hand trying to catch myself. Between that and a small scrape on the back of my knee(!?) I came out mostly unscathed. My hand is nearly healed- about 90%, so no cast. Yay!! I’m right handed so it was a pain!! Fast forward to today, when I was on mile four and lo and behold, I fall again! This time I was running on a narrow asphalt & gravel shoulder with traffic whizzing by at 50 MPH! I don’t know what tripped me up, but I guess I went sliding into home plate and I was probably called ‘safe!’ I jumped up and shook the gravel out of my singlet & bra and walked it off for a few feet before I assessed the damage. My right elbow had gravel embedded in it and my left knuckles were basically flaps of skin. I was bleeding in both places pretty good, but I had 2 1/2 miles to go, so I finished my run. Luckily, I saved my right hand from more damage, but when I showered, I discovered road rash on both knees, both palms, my left thigh and my left forearm! I’m not sure how it is that I sustain damage in all these weird places when I fall, but it must be a site to watch it happen! I’m just waiting for a post to appear on social media, because inevitably it always happens just when there are cars driving by! Thanks to all who’ve shared their story! …it makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone! Happy trails! 🏃‍♀️

    1. Yikes!! No doubt you are a member of both our falling club and our Googling club, Angie! Those are quite the falls! I’m SO glad that you recovered well from your first fall and hope that the recovery from your most recent fall is quick too. We need to compile a book of all of these falling stories!

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