That One Time I Fell While Running

Warning: This post contains graphic photos!

In my 8+ years of running, I’ve never once fallen during a run. I’ve had plenty of close calls, but my reflexes always saved me at the last second. Until they didn’t.

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What had happened was…

I went to the trail near my office on Friday the 2nd. But what I didn’t expect was all the traffic – it took me almost an hour to get there. So when I parked on the side of the traffic-filled road, I didn’t want to waste any time stretching or warming up. No no no. I jumped right into a run, and 4 steps away from my car, my ankle completely gave out under me.

This has happened before. If I don’t warm up my ankles with some jumping jacks or twirls, I get this weird twinge that deadens my whole leg when I start running. But I’m always able to catch myself before I go down. Apparently this time I was going too fast, and in a blink, I hit the ground sliding, at full speed.

To be honest, I was more stunned than in pain. I went down so fast that I didn’t realize what happened until I was on the ground.

The first injury? My ego. I fell in front of about 20 cars filled with people in standstill traffic. My immediate reaction – which took about 7 seconds – was as follows:

  1. I laughed. Out loud, in a very exaggerated way.
  2. Then I made a big show of checking my phone (ignoring the gravel and blood on my hand), and confirmed I didn’t crack the screen.
  3. I then said – OUT LOUD, TO NO ONE! – “Didn’t break! Awesome!”
  4. AND THEN I POPPED BACK UP AND STARTED RUNNING AGAIN.

Guys, I have no excuse. I was shaking and a few spots on my arms and legs burned and felt wet, yet I kept running.  The most gratifying part was when a woman in traffic leaned out of her window as I ran past, asking “ARE YOU OKAY??” to which I replied with a laugh and a wave, “No worries!”

No, dummy. BIG worries.

But instead of stopping, I kept running. To be fair: it really didn’t hurt that bad! It burned a little, but the trail was beautiful! I was going fast! So I kept running. For a mile.

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But apparently, it’s frowned upon to bleed all over the trail, and the concerned looks and questions I got from the people I passed finally made me turn around for a total of 2 miles.

When I finished, I left and stopped off at Target for bigger bandages and Bacitracin, got home and scrubbed it out (and screamed in the shower because holy hell THE BURNING), bandaged it up and called it a day. Then I woke up Saturday and felt like I’d been hit by a bus. A bus that was towing another bus. That was filled with elephants.

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Everything. Effing. Hurt. My neck and shoulders were sore from the impact of hitting the ground at full speed. It felt like whiplash. And the biggest wound on my leg was VERY tender. Every time I stood, the rush of blood made me grit my teeth and hobble. When I went to bed that night, the leg wouldn’t let me sleep. It hurt too damn bad. At first I thought I was being over sensitive, but it just felt like something was wrong. I couldn’t explain it, I just knew.

I tossed and turned for hours in bed, moved out to the living room couch and tossed and turned some more, then finally dozed off at 4:30am. Needless to say, come Sunday, I was a zombie. Later in the day, I snapped this photo for my IG story, and noticed something odd:

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Can you see it too? 

Yeah, that big red circle around the wound. It was hot, achy, puffy, and so tender that I couldn’t even touch the skin around it without tears. I’ve never had a skin infection before, but I knew this wasn’t right.

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One quick trip to Urgent Care later, it was confirmed: this thing was badly infected. Cellulitis. The doctor drew a circle around the infected area – if the redness spread outside the circle, I was to come back for IV meds (or go to the ER). I needed to keep it elevated for 48 hours, spend no more than 2 hours standing per day, and was prescribed Clindamycin 300mg (an antibiotic), 4x a day for 10 days. Oh, and NO RUNNING FOR ALL 10 DAYS.

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tbh that was probably a good call

But after two pills that night, it already looked better the following morning. Day by day, VERY SLOWLY, it got better. The medicine was definitely working, and after 4 days, I was able to walk without shooting pain. I also got to gross my coworkers out. hehe

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Nine days post-fall, the scab has started to shed (ew, I know), the medicine is giving me ridiculous palpitations and heartburn, but I’m feeling 100% ready to run again.

The most important thing I learned from this whole ordeal? Listening to your body pays off. I’ve never had an infection before, but I knew something was wrong, so I went to the doctor and I’m glad I did. The phrase “better safe than sorry” has never felt more true. The thought of having the infection spread while I sat around worrying about being overly cautious, potentially causing much more damage? It makes me shiver. And now that I know just how badly it can hurt – and how dangerous the consequences can be – I’m definitely going to be more cautious going forward.

How about you: have you ever fallen during a run? Has a doctor ever drawn the circle of death on you? Ever taken a nasty spill in front of 20-something strangers?