Physics of running

I always thought that running was among the safest of my activities. Rock climbing is obviously not in the running. People are killed on road bikes every year. And surely teaching aspiring pilots to land rapidly moving flying objects can’t be considered safe by any stretch. But surely running couldn’t do much damage – it’s just like walking, only faster! Nevertheless, the last few days have proven otherwise.

Last week we lengthened our normal run by trotting down and back on a little-used forest road. I’m normally a fairly level-headed person, but insanity encroached after the third tenuous, sticky spider web engulfed my face. Two days later on our long run through the beautiful forest of Poinsett State Park, something took a tiny chomp out of my leg and injected me with gobs of itch-venom. Another two days later, just as the swelling and itching from that was subsiding, we took the dogs for a short run after a killer bike ride consisting of climbing the same hill five times. (Maybe I did actually go insane last week!) Our little dog. eying our big dog on the far side of Sandi, edged just in front of my feet. Judging by how far away from me she stayed for the remainder of the run, I must have scared her pretty good when I crashed to the pavement almost on top of her.

Thankfully I’ve learned from countless falls that it’s far better to roll with the fall instead of trying to stop it. I rolled, as road rash on my hands, elbows, knee, shoulder and back can attest. But I also had the opportunity to marvel at a bit of applied physics: 120 pounds moving slightly downhill has a considerable amount of momentum, and therefore requires a significant amount of force applied over a measurable amount of time to bring it to rest!

And now back to studying – I think that’s pretty safe! Hope you had a good Labor Day weekend. Here’s to fall and weather below 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity!

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