Running Accidents: Asphalt 1 – Ginkgo 0.

Nope, this didn’t happen dismounting a balance beam or losing a hockey fight. One foot in front of the other … splat!

It’s said that all stereotypes have some truth to them, and for me, at least one is true: long distance runners tend to be a bit klutzy. Running takes mental toughness and lots of endurance, but of all the sports out there, it doesn’t require the most of coordination. Simply one foot in front of the other, right?

When we think of running we don’t think of traumatic injuries that are more common in contact sports or more dangerous sports like gymnastics or platform diving. Running accidents aren’t exactly as common as collisions on the cycling or car racing circuit, right?

Maybe they’re rare, but running accidents do happen. Take last Monday, for example.

I had Monday off from work (woot!) and was so excited to get a nice, longer crisp fall morning run under my belt. I took our Weimaraner puppy, Otto, along with me, thinking he could enjoy the leisurely and scenic trot around the New Albany running trails. He loves people, and when two speed-walkers approached us, he darted toward them, unable to handle the excitement. I lost my footing and had a fight with the asphalt. Guess who won that battle.

I couldn’t be upset with him, even if I tried. Just look at that face!

So much for a peaceful day off, huh!? Five hours later with a temporary cast and vile of ibuprofen and Vicodin, I learned I had fractured my radial bone, which connects to the elbow.

Looking at the bright side, it was my left arm, I didn’t need surgery, the temporary cast was downgraded to a sling to keep my elbow mobile for the next several weeks, AND my fiancee Sam bought me a loaded Starbucks gift card as a “get well” present. A pumpkin spice latte makes all my troubles disappear – at least for a few minutes.

As for Otto, I most certainly couldn’t be mad at him. No way. I swear he knew he did something wrong, though. Weimaraners sure are smart! He laid in his kennel most of the evening and snuggled up on the couch with me later, licking the cast.

Unfortunately, despite avoiding all contact sports this isn’t a freak occurrence in my life. Accident-prone, that’s me. I’ve broken my ankle; had to wear a walking boot for six months. This happened when I was bumped at a Cleveland Cavaliers game, lost my footing and tumbled down the cement stairs. No, I was not drunk. I’ve busted my knee; had to get lots of stitches for that bad boy. I was putting something away to store in the basement, went to reach for the light, stumbled on a ceramic flower pot and crashed into it directly, only to soon notice fragments of the pot were stuck in my knee. (Please note: the below images are not for the weak of stomach!…ha!)

Just a tad swollen.
Oh yes, my little incident with a ceramic flower pot. 13 stitches later…

On a more serious note, having injuries that sideline me from my daily runs has been  a struggle. With my history of exercise addiction, taking several days off from running is a challenge for me. Even if I can only squeeze in two miles before work, my mental attitude and outlook on the day just somehow improves as long as I get a little jog in my regimen. I’ve learned, though, that rest is good. Days without running are OKAY.

I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this kind of traumatic injury on the run, but maybe you can learn from my experience to avoid your own mishap.I don’t know about you, but the more fatigued I become on a run, the higher my chances of eating asphalt whether from tripping on a shoelace, hitting a root on a trail, or simply getting tangled in my own two feet. Besides being extra cautious late in a run when you’re tired here are some more tips for avoiding a traumatic injury on the run:

1.) Use Common Sense. Take a minute or two to do a safety check. Do you know the route? Do you have a headlamp if it’s too dark to see well? Are your shoes double-knotted?

2). Pay attention to the surface you are running on. Take note of debris in the road or roots in the trail.  Be extra cautious in the winter when ice may be lurking in your path.

3.) Limit your distractions. If you’re like me, running with an ipod might be a challenge. Just like driving and talking on the phone can be distracting, so can running while fumbling with an ipod.

4.) Wear the appropriate footwear for the surface you’re running on. If it’s icy, wear yax tracks or screw shoes. If you’re planning to run technical muddy trails, opt for trail shoes which will better grip the terrain.

4.) Watch out for cyclists and other runners.  I could have prevented my fall if I had paid closer attention to the two approaching speed walkers who so quickly attracted my puppy’s attention! If you have to get out of the way of someone at the last minute you’re more likely to run into something or otherwise hurt yourself.

5.) Carry your phone. Really, if you’re going on a long run (or are going to break an arm and possibly need to call for a ride back home), this could come in handy!

6.) Make sure you’re visible. A car hitting you is much worse than you hitting the pavement. Get in the habit of wearing bright or white colored clothes, regardless of the time of day. I’d suggest hot pink, personally.

Now, if you’ll excuse you me, I think I’m going to get myself another pumpkin spice latte.

Have you ever experienced a fall when running? Any tips for avoiding falls you’d like to share?

I'm a new momma, full-time non-profiter, and coffee lover. I write about healthy body image, half marathon training, and recovery from eating disorders. I'm currently training to maintain fitness throughout the winter and break 1:27:00 in my next half marathon.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I’ve fallen a bunch of times on the run! I fell at 8 months pregnant on the trails a couple of years ago. I hit a root with my toes and slid along my side down the trail and laid there crying like a baby feeling like a horrible mother! And then while pregnant this time, I fell twice on the trails and then tripped and went careening forward only to stop myself by a log (all in the first trimester!) before giving up on the technical trails I love. There’s something about my pregnancy shuffle that makes me klutzy!

    My worst fall of all came in 2011. I was (THANKFULLY!) running with my husband. We were running in downtown Cleveland. We were running in the street against traffic and came upon a short downhill. The next thing I know I stepped on a wire ring that flipped up and wrapped around my ankles. I was airborne sailing into traffic. When I hit the road I slid down that hill. It was awful! Thankfully the truck coming saw me! And thankfully I was just scraped and bruised badly. My whole body ached for a couple of days. It was awful. So, you’re definitely not alone! Thanks for sharing your story and for the great tips!

    1. Ha! When I first saw the teaser for this on your Facebook feed, I thought somebody had slipped on ginkgo! A definite hazard, as the fruit under those trees can be pretty slimy. I once tripped over the seemingly low hanging chain on a chain post fence as I jumped over it during a run. Didn’t break anything, but I was picking gravel out of my palms and elbows for days afterward. Gotta lift those knees!

  2. I hope you are starting to feel better!!! I once had a terrible fall on the sidewalks at Ohio State. I can’t even blame it on being tired because I had just started my run. My face went into the ground and I ended up with scraps all over my body, a black eye and stitches in my face. The funny part was that I couldn’t remember how I fell so they kept thinking I had blacked out, but really it was just my inability to pay attention 🙂 Of course, classes started the next day and I looked like I had gotten into a major fight. I like to think it earned me some street cred.

  3. I never had a fall until I was a few years into marathon training. I think I became more of a shuffler when I started running longer distances. Uneven sidewalks get me every time!! Enjoy your pumpkin spice and a few days off!

  4. Good tips! Sorry that you had to experience this topic to write about it.

    I tripped and fell on the first day of track practice my senior year of high school. I had these stupid Nikes that had extremely long shoelace and I had to double knot them. The double knot came untied, and I tripped on the loop of the shoelace. I landed on my right knee, and scraped up my hands trying to brace the fall. I then had to run 2-something miles back to the school. Since it was cold and I was wearing tights, I couldn’t see the damage until I was done running. I didn’t rip my tights, but I ended up with a badly scraped-up knee and the trainer had to help get some gravel out. Not sure how that worked. Because of where the damage was, the wound re-opened every time I moved my knee. I still have a scar, 15.5 years later.

    I once fell while running with my dog. It was winter, so the snow covered where the sidewalk met the grass. I stepped off the sidewalk, twisted my ankle and went down. The snow cushioned my fall, so I wasn’t hurt. My dog took advantage of my being down to wriggle out of her harness and run away. She did come back, but when I got home I told my husband that I know knew the answer of what would happen if I got hurt while running with the dog – she’d make a break for it.

  5. Wow. Sorry you hurt yourself but I hope it heals well.

    I’ve fallen twice in the 3 years I’ve been running. Both times resulted in skinned knees or legs, scraped palms, and embarrassment. One of my co-workers did his first half Ironman in Fall 2011 and first Ironman in Spring 2012. There were a lot of days when either I was running at lunch time or he was. One day I got back (we don’t run together because he’s much much faster) and he was sitting there with a big bandage and broken glasses. He faceplanted, breaking his glasses and cutting about a 3 inch slash on his forehead. Now he’s got a scar. That second time I fell was about 3 days later so I considered myself lucky.

  6. Hope you are on the mend soon!

    I am the queen of falling, and it’s not really limited to running. My worst running fall was back in college – I was running in the rain on a bike path, and didn’t see this little sawed off edge of a pole sticking up out of the ground. I bit it, and had to get 7 stitches total in my hand and knee. The most traumatic part at the time was that I wasn’t wearing a shirt and I had to sit in the ER forever since it was Labor Day weekend! And my most recent fall was this morning, when I tripped/skidded/something on a walnut and rolled my ankle.