Sometimes group runs can go wrong and when that happens, it can be awkward, depending on the group and what happened.

Yesterday I ran 24km with our Sunday run club group. It was a tough route with some snowy, off-road trails, and a lot of incline. Early on, one of the people in our group of five dropped back and at about 7km, the rest of us waited while he caught up.

He was having a tough run with difficulties breathing, likely as a result of the cold and dry air. He was fine with us continuing on without him, but it’s always odd to leave someone behind and to watch them go from being part of group run to a solo run. I’ve been on the other side of that as well, and it’s also awkward to be the person holding the group back. Those runs back to the start alone are tough mentally.

Then, on what was the very last turn on the run, one of the guys fell and hit their face on the ground. The result was a bloody nose, a split lip and a lot of blood. We quickly assessed the damage with him to ensure it was just superficial – no damage to the teeth, no head injury or concussion. It looked worse than it was, but still, nobody wants to see someone injured like that.

It was an awkward end to a great run. I’m sure he felt as weird about it since he fell and had the embarrassment of that whole thing.

Looking out for each other

One of the things about a strong group of runners is that we look out for each other. If needed or wanted, one of us would have run back with the person who had the breathing issues and cut our run short to support them. In this case, they were fine to finish up solo, but even that offer to let the rest go on, and to offer to finish up alone is a great example of what I’m talking about.

As far as the fall goes, I’ve fallen myself (alone), and it’s a really bad feeling to go down on a run. We all sprung into action, concerned for our friend and fellow runner. There was a real sense of relief that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been and also that we were so close to the finish where there was a towel and other stuff needed to clean up and really figure out if he was okay or not.

Out on the run, runners will always look after each other. I’ve stopped in marathons to check on people or had a quick chat with another runner who was struggling just to make sure they were still okay.

I’ve had tough runs where friends supported me by hanging back and helping me push through or by going on without me and leaving me to my own misery (when that’s what I asked them to do).