This 7 part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.
Let’s unpack Part 1 of this series called:
Plan to Fall
To plan to fall—to anticipate what could happen during the step you are about to take and having the very next step picked out just in case. It’s about being mentally prepared and practiced so that you will react with beautiful adjustments—stepping gracefully forward.
As my feet fly down the trail over rocks and roots I stutter step, hop, glide and skid without thinking about it. But when she asked, “How do you do that and not fall?” I began to pay attention and realized that it is all just planned falling.
In terribly slow detail here is what essentially happens. I step out for what looks like a good place to step. It looks like it will hold my weight and not move under me. It looks like I can push off of it for the next step while controlling the direction and speed.
Then as I run, in the same split second, I am picking out the next spot with that same criteria and one more—where am I going if I start to fall? If the first step isn’t solid and something under my foot moves, I have a plan. If I can’t push of it like I had hoped, I’m ready.
This process of selecting good footing is slow at first but with practice it will come much more quickly.
It is not only the selection of the footing itself but it is that your body is ready to react. You don’t know which way your ankle or knee will need to adjust but you are ready for any adjustment. It feels a little bit like playing outfield in baseball or softball. You assume a ready position with your legs bent, your weight slightly forward and evenly distributed down into the balls of both feet—ready to spring in any direction to catch the ball.
Muscle memory develops with repetition and your body “knows” what to do to adjust.
Ideally you will pick a spot that is solid but in the event that you don’t your body will be ready to make the adjustments and move to the next step because you picked it out and because your body is practiced at quick adjustments.
I used to think that it was just a natural athletic ability but it can be learned. Be grateful if you have it and you don’t have to think about it or practice, but if you are like my Honey who used to trip on flat sidewalks, you will have to practice and think it thorough but it can be learned.
My Honey is the proof. Her confidence and speed has risen and she is so much more relaxed. She’s having more fun and so can you. It’s an easy process that can be learned.