Yes, running is indeed a contact sport. You make contact with tree roots, wet leaves, puddles, children, dogs, cars, bikes, rocks, string, potholes, and even imaginary objects that you think are in your way.
I had a spectacular fall a few weeks ago, while running in the early morning. It happened on a path that I’d run 100s of time is the last 4 years. There I was, cruising along and feeling good. I thought I had cleared all of the roots, rocks and dips on the path, so I took my eyes off of the ground for a split second. Then my big toe hit something and I came to realization that falling was inevitable. There was nothing I could do to stop it, there was no stumbling, no trying to regain my balance, no holding on to something and no slowing down. I was going to fall, and it was going to be bad. I was airborne and I was falling on a downward slope. I immediately tried to think of the best way to minimize the damage that was coming. SoI decided to elongate my body and not use my hands to stop my fall. The result, the pain and the cuts and bruises were evenly spread across my body. Including my face, which I used to stop the sliding after I made impact with the ground. If you can picture a baseball player sliding onto a base with their hands tucked under their body, you’d have a good picture of me, after I came to stop. I’m sure this all happened in less than 30 seconds but it felt like at least 5 minutes. I had the wind knocked out of me, and after mentally scanning my body for broken bones, I rolled over, opened my eyes and found my two running buddies standing over me. All I could do was laugh, I think I told them that I needed a “moment” to lay still on the ground. I eventually got up, I was covered in mud and starting to reflexively chew, since I had a lot of dirt in my mouth. I did another scan for what was bleeding, burning, or broken, then continued my run.
I eventually stopped after 3 miles and decided to head home to clean up, since I had a glowing and growing patch of road rash on my shoulder that started to look a bit menacing. I had the brilliant idea of stopping at a drug store for hydrogen peroxide and band aids to clean up a bit on my way home. I was at least 2 miles away from home and wanted to “wash” some of the dirt away before the 30 minute limp back home. Well, what happens when you pour peroxide on your body and it interacts with the air? You find out exactly how many cuts and bruises you have you received from a fall, in a very painful way! I wouldn’t recommend doing that.
I’m on the mend from that fall, but as I told my story to others, I heard very similar stories from other runners, and them some, did you know that you can get a broken nose from running? I also started to notice the bruises in various stages of healing on other runners. One of my running buddies suffered a similar fall to mine, when I heard her “oomph” squeal, I ran over and saw her getting up and doing the familiar body check. When I asked her what happened she said, “I pulled one of your moves” well now.
It is then that I realized that running isn’t for prissy folks. I’m lucky that my contact was with a tree root and not a car, or a dog or a bicycle or other objects like a piece of string. Yes, I did see someone trip on a piece of string in the road, maybe she thought it was something else, but it was just a piece of string. You know what? It could be that I know a lot of clumsy runners too. In the meantime, be safe and try to not fall while running.