3 Lessons from a Hard Fall
Well, it finally happened. After 6 1/2 months of running, I tripped and fell on Sunday afternoon. It could have been much worse, I’m sure, but I scraped up my right knee pretty badly, my right forearm had a bug (and very tender) bump on it, and I had a not-unimpressive bruise on my right foot. Because of this, I’ve learned a few things about running, falling, and continuing to run.
Work Hard Enough and Eventually You’ll Fall
I’ve been running for more than six months now, three days a week almost every week (I take the week after a race off as a reward/milestone marker). All of this is on sidewalks and streets. That’s 81 running session—conservatively, more than 200 miles, maybe as many as 250+. I give my all to every run, pushing myself as hard as I can. I don’t know how often other runners fall, but I figured it was probably going to eventually happen to me. I’d had a couple of close calls before Sunday, but that was the first time I actually hit the pavement.
If I didn’t run as much as I do, or push so hard, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have fallen—at least not completely. But that would have meant I was playing it safe, not giving it my best, and not stretching myself to go beyond what was comfortable.
As you run the race marked out for you, you have two choices, give it your all or play it safe. If you play it safe, you’ll probably never get hurt by people because you loved too much, never depend on the Lord for His provision because you gave too much, or not have enough time for yourself because you served too much. You’ll also miss out on the most incredible blessings that come from loving, giving, and serving.
I ran hard and I fell. The easiest thing to do would be to back off. But I ran again Tuesday and gave it everything I had. Not because it was easy; because I’d given too much to an important goal to back down now.
Falling Makes the Next Steps Harder
When I fell Sunday, I jumped right back up and finished my run for the day. I chose to ignore the pain until I was finished. But that doesn’t mean it was a piece of cake Tuesday. It wasn’t. I was in some pain. The areas I’d scraped and bruised were sensitive and tender. And I was coming off my post-race rest week so the only running I’d done in nine days was “that Sunday”.
I had to fight for every step of my run on Tuesday, especially the second mile, and it was nowhere near what I’d been doing. I was sore and tired at the end of a run that almost any other day would have been a breeze. But I was wounded, I was tired, and I was out of practice. There was also probably some subconscious fear that I might fall again.
The next run after a fall where you’ve been injured is hard. It’s normal and natural to not want to be injured again, and the wounded places on your body don’t work exactly the way they’re supposed to until they heal. It’s important to care for them, treat them, and not intentionally do something that you know will hurt them worse while they heal. Taking care of the wounds and getting past the fear (even if it’s “just” apprehension) means the next run will be hard.
When you fail in any area of life, it makes taking the next step harder. You lose your job. A relationship goes south. The money you’d been saving suddenly gets wiped out in an emergency. The addiction you thought you had conquered rears its head.
In that moment, you question your competence, your direction, your abilities, even your identity. That’s why having a solid grasp of your Supernatural Kingdom Identity is so critical. It’s the one thing that can’t be taken away from you, and as long as you hold to that you can recover from anything else. From there, you have a foundation where you make deposits of success in other areas while God works in and through you to rebuild the damages one(s).
Sure, depending on the nature of the failure or struggle, you may need to take time to care for the wounds, bind them up, and put some protection in place so they don’t get worse. A lot of that can come through spending time with God and with other believers. But at some point—probably sooner than you’d like—it’s time to start risking again, to step out and run again.
It will be hard at first. The injuries, and the memory of them, will be fresh. But get out there anyway. Allow God to work through your pain to forge in you something that would have been impossible without it. And that’s something He can’t do unless you’re willing to take the next steps.
Making Sure You Never Fall Again Also Means You’ll Never Win Again
No one likes to fall and get hurt. I know myself and I know I will fall again on a run eventually—hopefully not for another 200 or 300 miles at least! There’s only one way to make sure I never trip and fall again during a run: don’t run again.
I have a problem with that, though. If I never run again, I’ll never complete another race. I’ll never set a new personal record. I’ll never get another medal. Making sure I never fall again means giving up the ability to win—to complete races and accomplish personal milestones. And I refuse to accept that. So I will run. I may fall, but I’ll also win.
However you may define success, you’ll never have it if you play it safe and avoid the risk of falling. The only way to have success is to risk failure. For me, success is defined as “the progressive realization of worthwhile goals—chief and primary among them to grow in my relationship with God and be a good steward of the gifts, talents, skills, abilities, and passions He’s entrusted to me.” To have success by this definition I have to risk failure—stepping out in faith, living out my personal mission in spite of the risks, holding fast to my values even when it would be easier to compromise.
There are many ways I could fail, and many times I will fall short as I pursue this success but get distracted, delayed, diverted, or discouraged. It would be easy at those times to decide it’s not worth the time, effort, and risk, and give up. But I refuse. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” That is worth far more than any risk.
Question: Think about a time when you have failed/fallen. How did you recover and rejoin your race? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.