An Arubian Misstep

I came out of the Celebrate Life Half Marathon back in March feeling pretty good about my progress in running in Vibram Five Fingers. Even though I ran the race slower than what I’d hoped to, I felt that I was getting better at running downhills in my VFFs. Besides, it wasn’t due to my choice in foot wear that caused the slower time, it was a combination of training and a GI issue during race that resulted in an unplanned pit stop that were to blame.

My feet felt great during and after the race and I was starting to feel a little cocky about it. I had a great week of running following the CLHM. I didn’t do a lot mileage but the runs were good quality. That next Saturday I flew to Aruba for spring break.

Arrived in Aruba Saturday afternoon. I was very fatigued and it was very hot so elected not to run that day. The next morning I woke up bright and early and set off on a 7 mile run. I quickly got absorbed in the scenery and weather and hardly even noticed that I was running. I had been a bit concerned how well my feet would do in VFFs running on hot pavement, but I didn’t even notice. This was literally a run in heaven.

On the second morning I again woke early and headed out for a run. It was another absolutely perfect day. Weather was fantastic, sun was glistening off of the beautiful blue water, there was scent of sea air and tropical flowers in the air and life was good.

About 1 1/4 miles into the run I was running along looking out at the sea. Because of an oncoming car I moved to the side of the road and was about to move into the dirt beside it when I felt a sharp pain lance through my right foot. It took a couple hopping steps to come a complete stop, each one, despite barely putting pressure on that foot, hurt more than the last.

It took a few moments to figure out what had happened. I finally realized that I made a cardinal sin of running, I’d stopped watching my footing. As a result when I attempted to leave the road I didn’t get a good placement on my foot and stepped with only outer edge on pavement and the rest came down on dirt. To make it worse the dirt wasn’t flush with the pavement, there was about 2 inch drop in that particular spot.

I hobbled around for a moment trying to decide how serious it was. The initial piercing pain subsided somewhat, but it was still pretty high on the pain chart. I debated with myself whether to keep going, turn back, turn back and walk or to try and hitch a ride. The last option being quickly dropped. After a couple minutes I decided to try and slowly continue on. I’d been able to run through most of my injuries and now that I’d learned how to correctly run in VFFs I figured I could continue without making things worse.

After about 200 yards I was able to limp under a 10 minute pace, but could go no faster. The pain had just become a steady, throbbing ache, the sharpness had gone. I continued on for a little over another mile before giving up. I had hoped the pain would go away or at least become very faint, but it wasn’t. I was still limping and realized I was just going to injure something else if I kept it up, so I turned to head back to the hotel.

The 2 1/4 miles back were less then fun. I could no longer appreciate the paradise I was running in and had to focus instead on running as correctly as I could. After what felt to be an eternity I finally found my self in the hotel parking lot. I went up to my room, grabbed the ice bucket, filled it and spent the next 25 minutes trying to numb my foot. Fortunately I had cold beer close at hand.

I struggled to walk the rest of the day and all of the next. I tried to run again 2 days later, but barely managed 2 1/2 miles at a very slow pace. The flowing day it was a painful 4 miles, the next 3, and the final day I was there an uncomfortable 4 1/2 miles. One careless moment of being too wrapped up in looking around me instead of where I was going cost me a great week of running in a virtual Garden of Eden. I still got some miles in, but they weren’t enjoyable and my foot affected the quality of everything else I did while I was there.

I still had a great time while I was there but was disappointed with myself for having made such a simple stupid mistake. However, I’m still alive, I’ve had worse and there was no permanent damage. Lesson learned, enjoy your surrounding, but always watch your step.

(original post 5/10)


About Douglas Sawyer, MS, ATC

I am an athletic trainer who is also a very avid athlete. My first love is running, but I also love cycling and triathlons and many other activities. I'm not a swimmer though, I just don't drown for 2.4 miles... As a athletic trainer I work with sports injuries. I currently work at a school with athletes in 7th-12th grade in a wide variety of sports. I can be found on twitter at two different names: @IronmanLongRunr - where I tweet about run, bike, tri, & more @Longrunr - where I tweet about athletic training
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