1) Witnesses. First and foremost, you MUST have witnesses to the tumble. In fact, the more, the better. Because, as any philosophy major will tell you, if you don't have witnesses, it didn't happen. (Or, would they tell you it did happen? Anywho ...)
2) Race week. If you are going to trip, you must make sure it happens within five days of an upcoming race event. Anything over five days and you are running the risk that you might actually feel okay for the event. Five days or under and it's more of a crap shoot.
3) Invisible debris. A good fall will leave no evidence. (This is especially important if you have fulfilled the multiple witness requirement.) When you - and your witnesses - look back upon the scene of the crime, there should be no earthly indication of what you possibly tripped on. In fact, it is even better if instead of a visible rock or tree root, there is simply a series of divots in the dirt where you apparently hopped, skipped, and jumped your way to your downfall. It gives the witnesses more things to
4) Early in the run. Falling at the end of a run is no good. When that happens you just get in your car and go home. It's much better to trip in the first half mile or so, so that you have a good long time to relive the moment and can spend the rest of the run in a state of paranoid anticipation of falling again. That way you get more bang for your clumsy buck.
5) Get dirty. What good is a fall if you don't come away at least somewhat soiled? Ground-in dirt and grass stains on clothes are good. Pebbles stuck in your hands are even better. This at least can make you feel more badass during the rest of the run, as you - of course - pick yourself up and continue on the journey.
6) Laughter. And lots of it. After all, if you haven't broken anything and you can still run, it wasn't that bad.
So, I had a great run with the Wednesday morning running group this morning. Eight of us took a little field trip to the local state park to run trails. My face-plant, which did occur in the first half mile or so of the run, was luckily just a small part of an otherwise enjoyable five miles. If anything, the fall just makes me shake my head. I tell myself time and time again that I am not allowed to run trails before a race - just one part of my pre-race weirdness - but I didn't listen. I ALWAYS trip on trails the week before a race. This weekend's Run for Home 10K is really just a training run for me. I don't plan on racing it, but apparently it is enough of an "event" to invite trail tripping disaster. When will I learn?