Rubbing Dirt In My Wounds
How A Runner’s First Ultramarathon Led To Stepping Up Her First Aid Kit
Photos and text by professional runner Mo Sjogren. Check out her Instagram page.
I ate it. Hard. After finishing my first ever ultramarathon in 2nd place, a 55K that climbed up a 12,000 foot mountain, the only thing that everyone kept asking me about was the blood streaking down my legs. Running side by side and flying downhill at mile 18 with the woman who eventually won the entire race, my toe clipped a rock and I fell face against the dirt before I even knew what happened. My legs were instantly chewed up like hamburger meat, bloody and swollen. When I ran past the next aid station volunteers offered to clean my battle scars. Instead I rubbed some dirt into my cuts to stop the bleeding, ate a few handfuls of pickles and kept running in an attempt to regain the lead. With 15 miles to go on legs that felt like they’d been through a meat grinder I knew it was a long shot but getting doted on by medical staff would not assist that mission either. While no stranger to falling while running or in races, this was by far the longest I ever have had to compose myself and keep running for after a tumble.
Hours after the race I really regretted my decision to use dirt as a Band-aid. I took a hot shower with Lavender castile soap and painfully scraped the dirt, rocks and debris out of my cuts to speed healing and prevent infection. My well-trained and hard-earned quad muscles swelled up like water balloons, and I spent the remainder of the day sitting with my legs propped up and eating.
A few days later, still scarred from battle a friend reminded me to apply the Green Goo First Aid salve on my legs several times a day. Since I live in my Jeep and don’t have access to frequent showers and luxury items, this sweet smelling elixir hit my legs and felt like instant magic. The proprietary blend of natural oils and herbs instantly hydrated my aching and cracked wounds and within a few days of applying it up to six times a day I noticed a rapid improvement in healing, appearance and the way my skin feels.
Although I never anticipate a fall, letting go (especially on downhills) as my legs fly beneath me is one of the things I love most about trail running, I know my next unexpected encounter between my body and the trail beneath my feet is never too far away. I always keep the first aid balm handy in my Jeep and even in my pack for longer runs and adventures. Since it doubles as a healing ointment for dry skin (like chafing and cracked feet), insect bites, sunburns and even lip balm I can justify the teeny .7 extra ounces of weight that it adds to my simple running ensemble.
A Couple Of The Herbs Working Natural Magic For Your First Aid Needs...
Among the ingredients are herbs such as yarrow and plantain. Read about calendula here.
Yarrow is one of the more interesting and most widely used herbs in the world. It is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory in various forms, and some people even use its oil to treat arthritis. Both the ancient Greeks (3000 years ago!) and more recently Native Americans used this herb to treat external skin wounds and stop bleeding. A few animal studies have even shown yarrow to effectively cleanse wounds, control bleeding of wounds, cuts, and abrasions (Read more).
The different parts of the plantain plant also have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Evidence of people using this plant dates back to 1500s. The leaf’s juices can alleviate sunburns, plus sooth burns and rashes, and it can prevent itching, inflammation, and soreness from bug bites. The leaves also contain “allantoin,” which as antibacterial and germicidal properties, and so can kill germs if applied topically to wounds. Other benefits: It can invigorate and regenerate the skin, reducing scarring; and it treats acne. It’s also a great moisturizer and toner.