I was feeling wrecked. I kept falling over. I couldn’t lift my feet up properly and so kept tripping on tree roots. The toe of one shoe would catch, and I’d be unable to bring the other leg forward in time. Residual forward momentum would overtake my tardy limbs, and, merging smoothly with liberated gravity, would draw me downwards, in an arc, to the ground.
There always seems to be a long moment of calmness as I go down. A stab of alarm is followed by a sense of acceptance. I am fully committed; I accept my fate; I embrace the fall in all the fullness and its implications – it’s demonstration of Newton’s pitiless laws; the mortal fragility and fallibility of man; the coming pain and bloodshed. Then, because I can’t get my arms out in time, my face abruptly slams into the gritty path.
One Saturday, I fell twice on my run. The first time, I scraped my elbows, knees and the palms of my hands and bled copiously, presumably because my skin is so thin. 10 minutes later, I fell again, this time with my right arm across my rib-cage, and I felt one of my right-hand ribs give. It was sore for a couple of weeks, especially when I ran, breathed deeply, or did my star jumps.
The next day, trotting back from the supermarket, down I went again, full length, and had to be helped up by a wiry, wrinkled bloke, with a face red from sun and beer, who was very sweet and sympathetic. Unusually, I didn’t resent the intrusion but was rather touched. I guess anorexia is making me more emotionally needy. I’d re-opened the scab on the heel of my right hand, which bled, quietly, right down to my elbow and dripped off onto the ground.
A few mornings later, I tripped over the flex from Jo’s work laptop, fell full length on the kitchen floor, bruised my chin on it, and, sliding across the floor, smacked the top of my head, hard, on the door. It gave me a slight headache that’s persisted for 24 hours.
Not long after that, on holiday, I tripped on cobbles and had a total wipe-out in front of a packed restaurant. I went down, full force, knees, forearms, chest and face to the ground, leapt up and continued as if nothing had happened, glancing, sheepishly at the restaurant crowd, who had gone quiet.
I was quite shocked by this. My head got a bad jar and I had a headache, a sore neck and a tender lump on my chin. I felt I was falling to bits, staggering around aching, exhausted, on the edge of emotionless tears, feeling bewildered, fevered, and alarmed by nothings. Jo was gratifyingly nurturing and sympathetic and put me in a hot bath, which I got out of just in time for my evening run…