Being a good running buddy when it really counts


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As running buddies we support each other. We run and chat through our problems and worries. We encourage our buddies through the miles when we don’t have the energy or the confidence. Most importantly we get each other out the door on the days where we would create an excuse if we were running alone. Most of the time it all works just great.

There may be a time however where your running buddy will call on you for a little more help. It can happen to any of us, a fall or a trip or some incident on the run where your role as a running buddy will become more than just a sounding board.


Having a very basic knowledge of first aid is helpful so knowing a few simple things.

Be aware of any underlying illnesses or medication relevant to your running buddy. Maybe they have asthma, diabetes, allergies or old injuries which may be important to know.

From our experience in teaching classes, here are the most common unfortunate things that may happen when out for a run. Learn the few simple steps to give your running buddy the best opportunity for quick recovery…


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Weakness / Fainting:

If you are out running with your friend and they tell you they feel faint – Symptoms usually include but are not limited to:

* tunnel vision.
* things getting gray
* Sometimes sounds seem muffled.
* feeling hot
* feeling dizzy

Here are a few things you can do to make them more comfortable.

If you are near a wall lean them up against it, or assist them down to the ground. Get them close to your body, place their head on your shoulder, hold around their chest and guide both of you down to your knees. Once here move them slowly down to lying again supporting their head. Remember they are probably dizzy so don’t have much control.  Don’t put them in a chair / bench that has no arms because they may fall out out of it. You need to make sure their head does not hit off anything.

Best treatment for fainting is to lie a patient down on their back with their legs elevated, rather than the recovery position. Getting the legs in the air will encourage blood to flow back to the brain. You could kneel beside them and put their legs up on your shoulder to do this. You just need to ensure that their airway is open (by tilting their head back) and they’re breathing normally. Most people who faint will come around very quickly. If they have any tight clothing on ask them to loosen it or help them loosen it depending on how much they are able to do for themselves. Keep them down for a little bit and then slowly help them up little by little. Have them sit for a little bit. Make sure they’re okay. They may start to feel faint again, and if they do, you just roll them back to lying down again supporting their head and placing their legs in the air.

If they continue to faint, call for help because something else could be going on. Oftentimes, whatever’s going on will resolve itself after you have the person down and they’ve recovered. Sometimes it won’t. You need to make sure that they have a pulse although making sure someone is breathing is oftentimes easier to spot, you can put your ear to their face to listen and feel for breath, and see if a chest is rising and falling. And if they’re breathing, they have a pulse. Sometimes people have other medical conditions that you don’t know about that could interfere with what’s going on with their consciousness. So, you’re going to need to call for help.

Remember only do what you are comfortable with call for help as soon as you can if things get uncomfortable or you feel you are not helping your running buddy. If you are out in a park often someone else will come upon you to be able to assist. Make sure you don’t let anyone crowd around, they need as much oxygen as possible.

A Fall / Sprain:

If your running buddy does fall during a run there are a few things you can do to help.

Once they fall tell them to stay down, unless it’s in the middle of crossing a road. If they are feeling a pain in either leg, get them to a safe place without putting any pressure on the affected leg. You can support them by putting their arm around your shoulders and have them hop on the good foot if they really must move.

Once they are at a safe location sit them down with their foot elevated. Only elevate a limb if it doesn’t cause any further pain to move it. If you’ve injured an ankle it’s fine to elevate with a bent knee – it means the weight of the leg isn’t entirely on the ankle. Support under the whole leg so the weight is off the injury. Don’t move if it’s causing more pain  – unnecessary movement can cause more damage if there is a fracture. In that case it’s best just to keep it in a position that is comfortable until you need to move. Do not allow them to try to walk it off.

The number 1 sprain we come across is on the ankle. Many runners roll over on their ankle while out for even an easy run.

It’s pretty much impossible to tell just by looking at something if there’s a sprain or a broken bone(fracture). It’s usually the joints that you feel this in if you have a sprain. It’s really impossible to tell just by looking at it.

Sometimes you can get hints if their bones are misshapen. If you’re hearing funny noises when they use their  joints. If they lose sensation, or get numbness or tingling or things feel hot or cold when they shouldn’t this could be a sign. Anything that feels different or strange, they need to check it out with a doctor.

Fractures can seem like they’re nothing. They can seem like something you can just tough out, run off, you’ll be fine. But, it can cause further damage if you don’t get it taken care of right away. You can damage the surrounding tissues. Get them to have it checked out.

Try and get some ice onto their ankle as soon as possible. Either an ice pack or ice from a local pub or shop. Make sure to wrap the ice in something and not to put it directly onto the skin. This could cause a burn.

Try and keep the foot / ankle compressed by wrapping something around the ankle (ideally a bandage but a spare jumper etc can help in the interim.). Ideally you should take the shoe off to check the whole foot, especially if there is any tingling or numbness. Keeping a shoe on can cause too much compression and cause tingling/numbness if the injury swells up a lot, the shoe will restrict blood flow – though if you’re stuck you could leave it on til you get home. When you compress an injured limb, the blood flow down to the toes or fingers should still feel normal – normal colour and no tingling/numbness.

Now get some help. Someone to come and collect you both or if your friend is OK on their own head off to collect the car and come back and get them as a last resort only leave them.

Remember RICE


RICE is great for soft tissue injuries, but if you suspect a fracture you need to get it checked out first. If you suspect a fracture, don’t eat or drink anything until you have it checked out, in case you need an anesthetic. Get them to get the ankle / leg checked out as soon as possible to ensure nothing is broken.

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Nose Bleed:

Noses can bleed for various reasons. If your running buddies nose is bleeding after they have hit their head you need to call a doctor right away. If the bleeding is thin or yellow coloured you need to call someone right away.

If none of the above applies you need to get them to pinch their nose (just at the soft part below the bridge of their using their thumb and forefinger). Lean them forward to allow the blood to flow out.  Pinching the soft part of the nose will cause the blood to stop flowing out as you’re closing the nostrils completely.

Allow the blood to drain for up to 10 minutes or until it stops flowing. Do not try to block the flow. Return to normal and if there is still bleeding repeat for another 10 minutes.

If after they have done this 2 sets of 10 minutes there is still bleeding call for help as there is something more serious than a nosebleed.

When the nosebleed stops, it’s best that the person doesn’t run home or do anything strenuous for a few hours, otherwise the bleeding may start again.

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Asthma Attack:

If you’re out running with someone and they have an asthma attack, the best thing for you to do is to stay calm and to help them out.

Help them sit down. Sitting is the best position for them, rather than lying down. Reassure them, and ask them to breathe slowly and deeply, which should help them control their breathing. Ask them if they have their inhaler (it’s usually blue) on them and help them get it if necessary. If the asthma is brought on by pollen or cut grass avoid sitting on the grass if possible.

Always allow them to use the inhaler themselves as they are much more used to it than you are. It is not recommended to use someone else’s inhaler as even if they contain the same medicine the dosage might be wrong. So if they don’t have their inhaler on them remain calm and slow your breathing down, encourage them to match your breath and relax. Try to get information on where you might get their inhaler and make arrangements to get it to them.

If their breathing does not improve or starts to get worse call for help.  If they become unconscious make sure their airway is open (by tilting their head back) and call for help.

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When you get small friction blisters ideally leave them alone. (No that is not what you use your safety pins for after a race). Let them heal on their own and keep the area around them clean. If your blister does burst, clean it using water. Put some antibiotic ointment on it, cover it with a bandage. Watch out for signs of infection such as excessive pus, redness, swelling, fever, chills, muscle aches, anything like that. Change the bandage daily or use a compede patch until it falls off itself (it is designed to fall off when the blister is healed).

Now discover the source of the blister (if running related) as opposed to high heel related. Good socks help prevent blisters occurring.  Often we assume it is the running shoes that at fault but mostly it’s often socks. Try out a few pairs and see which work best for you.

Some brands we like include:
Decathlon own brand -Kalenji
1000 mile

But remember you don’t have to spend a fortune on socks. Find a pair that works for you and buy a few of the same..they can be a great stocking filler around Christmas time so drop some hints and you will have a few new pairs annually.

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Cuts / Grazes

When treating cuts and grazes start by washing your hands. Try to remove any dirt or grit, but don’t pick out anything that’s embedded in the wound. Rinse out the wound with water or use an antiseptic wipe. Pop a plaster on the wound and make sure you’re up to date with your tetanus.

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Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can be serious and needs to get checked out straight away.

Symptoms can include

  • pale clammy skin
  • rapid weakening pulse
  • nausea
  • cramps

If you’re out for a run and you suspect you or your buddy are experiencing this, you can lie in the shade with your legs elevated, but make sure you get to a doctor as soon as you can, even if you recover quickly.

If you’re at a race, there will be medics on duty, so ask for help.

Drinking water – make sure you stay well hydrated but drink a sensible amount of fluids. Avoid drinking too much too quickly.

Post Run Coffee

Obviously in case you have not heard us say it enough being the best running buddy involves most importantly getting each other out the door and having your post run coffee and treat too



Well done you are a super running buddy!

At Forget the Gym we are very fortunate to have so many of you from all different professions with great advice for us. Special thanks to our Running Chick Susan who is a certified First Aider and who volunteers with St John’s Ambulance on a regular basis for all her input on this.

Susan’s parting words on First aid –  if you’re feeling unwell or have any kind of injury at a race, there are always medics on duty, before, during and after the race. We’re not just there for the big things, we’re always happy to help with anything at all (and we’re well stocked with plasters!)