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Thou Shalt Not Laugh at a Fellow Runner

This week a video of a runner wiping out on a snowy street went viral – if you haven’t seen it yet have a look:

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation.

I’ve been lucky so far this winter. Given the cold, we’ve had snow and ice on the sidewalks for most of the winter so far in New Hampshire, and until today I hadn’t yet taken a spill.

I was running with my dog Jack, and we were 4 miles into an easy run when I hit a patch of sheer ice. The moment I hit the ice the world slowed down. I felt like I was in the Matrix. I knew I was going down, it was only a matter of where and how hard. Somehow I alerted myself to the fact that a minivan was approaching just a bit down the road. They were going to see me fall, there was no avoiding it. The video above raced through my head.

I initially thought there was no way I would avoid plowing into the icy sidewalk. Damage would be done.

Fortunately, Jack hadn’t noticed my predicament and he kept running ahead. He pulled the leash taught and tugged me forward, and I think I was able to get one additional step in as a result. It was enough that it allowed me to propel myself head first into a 3 foot snowbank next to the sidewalk. Crisis averted, but I was a snowy mess. And the minivan witnessed the entire thing.

Today the running gods mad me pay for snickering at a fellow runner. I suppose I deserved it.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. If nothing else, the years since I graduated from high school XC/Track have taught me that if anyone needs to be laughed at, it’s me. There are HUNDREDS of people who I’d have laughed at as being likely slower than me. People in stupid costumes for a 5K, running with form that just looks janky, etc.

    Guess what? I haven’t run in 3 weeks because my stupid foot won’t work right, and guess what? A lot of those people I would have laughed at have been running the whole time–some of them almost as long as I’ve been alive!

  2. I took a spill on ice on an early morning run late this December. Cut up my ankle and hit my hip hard enough that it was hard to walk for a day or too, but I managed to make it through my Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s running streak. Worst part was I car was driving by right when I fell (I actually fell jumping onto the sidewalk to avoid said car) and they didn’t even stop to see if I was OK.

  3. Uh-oh…I didn’t laugh at the woman in the video since she looked hurt, but I did laugh at a visualization of your fall…does having most of the snow you shot with your snowblower landing on you count as payback? Also, I fell three times in the first four miles of a trail race a couple years ago…maybe it was prepaid payback…

  4. Those kids seemed sweet, but come on, they were annoying as hell. Millions of people have laughed at this video. See, so there’s safety in numbers. We’re all united in our schadenfreude.

  5. I see no harm in laughing at them, nor do I feel any bad karma is coming my way. I’ve had many spills myself, and I’m sure I looked every bit as silly to anyone who saw it happen. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously.

    Read her interview – She even laughed at herself. It’s not like she sought to be on TV or the attention, she was already out for a run, and the reporters asked her why she was out. She gave a response, and was still blinded by the camera lights as she ran off and didn’t see the ice we all saw. link to deadspin.com

  6. I wear my cross country spikes in those conditions

  7. A fellow runner friend recently shared this on Facebook with me. I applaud their efforts, but agree that the roads can be treacherous for anyone. I went for a seven mile run a few days ago (I live about 30 miles north of Atlanta) and discovered that running on the side of the road seemed to provide enough traction (I wore the N2 Trail by Pearl Izumi for grip).

    I also started wondering how impact may affect the likelihood of falling. For instance, is this young lady more partial to landing on her heel as the initial point of impact? Most runners land here first. Would landing on your heel first contribute to a higher likelihood of slipping and falling? Would landing more midfoot or forefoot lessen this possibility?

    • I have a feeling that good form and posture will lessen the likelihood of a fall. I focus a lot on form, and balance specifically–doing one-legged stances away from running–and I have yet to fall while running. I’ll sometimes slip, but always manage to stay upright, knock on wood.

    • I find that a shorter, quicker stride helps a lot on ice/snow. Avoid a heavy heel strike.

  8. David Nash says:

    I live in Portland and this was all over our local news. I committed this sin and laughed at my fellow Portlandian. Now that my knee is all heeled up from my last spill, …I must be due for another. Karma.

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