An important rule when running barefoot is to avoid running where you can’t tell what is on the ground. I learned that to a new level today. I wasn’t being being careless, but a combination of things lead me to make a wrong decision. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.
- Don’t assume the ground is the same as last time you ran a certain path. I had run this course previously with bare feet. However, over the course of the summer heat and field worker vehicle traffic, the dirt had been ground to a fine powder. It was over an inch deep in some places.
- Be diligent to remove the sunglasses immediately when running through shady areas, particularly if it is dappled or you are going in and out of shade. This may be most important for the aging runner. The shade can make it difficult to see variations and ROCKS in the path.
- Don’t let soft terrain put you off guard. I’m telling you, that powdery dirt was so soothing! It was like running on air, while a million little fairies danced gently on the bottom of my feet. Yeah, fairy dust.
- When you feel something strange, check it soon. This I did do fairly promptly. After the initial blow, there was a delay before the pain really set in. I ran about 50 yards more, out of the dirt and onto the asphalt, and decided to take a look. I was surprised to see it beginning to bleed due to lack of skin integrity. I didn’t think I had hit it that hard! It still hadn’t started to hurt much.
- Don’t hesitant to call for a ride. The photo of the blood stains above was taken by my daughter about 1.5 hours after I had been standing there waiting for a ride. (Thanks, Mom!)
Now, on to a few things I did correctly when faced with my injury:
- Try to avoid scaring the passersby. Prior to being picked up, I walked a few feet off of the walking path, onto a nearby sidewalk. I don’t know why I didn’t really begin to bleed until then. When I saw the puddles forming, I put on my socks and running mocs, which I almost always carry with me in my hip bag. This helped contain the blood and allowed me to put some pressure on it. Now, it was really beginning to ache.
- Grit your teeth and wash out your wound thoroughly when you get home. Even with the amount of bleeding, there was still some debris trapped under the fold of skin, which was trying to re-adhere in a folded fashion. Not good. I put enough water in the tub to be able to soak it. I also created water movement, both by moving my foot in different directions and by swishing the water with some force around my foot. I was “singing” the whole time.
- If possible, put the skin back where it goes. All of that soaking allowed me to finally position the skin back in place, with a sigh of relief. I did have to pick out one last tenacious piece of dirt. I am very proud of myself for doing this all by myself!
- Use Vaseline under the bandage, but over the skin, to prevent it from sticking. Keeping it sealed in that way lets the skin try to heal without so much drying that tends to pull it away from the edges. It also makes changing the bandage less painful.
I may have gotten a little carried away with the bandages in the end, but I never claimed to be a tough guy. It made me feel better.
I guess I’ll take a couple of days off of running, then we’ll evaluate whether or not duct tape can live up to its reputation – meanwhile I’ll be barefoot with bandages at home. There WILL be more chances to see the Nampa Barefoot Lady around town.