From Broken to Barefoot

Michael Sandler resting as he lifts himself out of his home hospital bed with a broken arm, and titanium femur and hip in 2006.

Michael rests as he muscles up the energy to pull himself out of his home hospital bed with a broken arm and new titanium hip and femur in 2006.

From RunBare Co-Founder, Michael Sandler.

It was five years ago on April 2nd when I was injured in a near death accident. I’d been out inline-skating, training for a world record ultra-endurance coast-to-coast attempt to help students and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. It’s something similar to what I’d done in 2004, when I rode my bicycle 5000 miles, in 40 days, solo and unsupported across the US to help with the same cause. That effort helped me reach people across the country, and yielded an invitation to speak before members of the House and Senate.

On this fateful day, after finishing training, I’d unlaced and sat down in the cool snow-melt run-off of the Boulder Creek to meditate and pray for safety and guidance. Then I laced up my skates and pushed off. The words from a new CD (Inspiration) from Dr. Wayne Dyer were resonating in my head “Everything happens for a reason”. I told myself to go slow, as I was in a touristy part of town and on a Sunday. However, I never expected what happened next. A tourist/father teaching his toddler son how to walk inadvertently stepped out on the bike path before me. Even with a great brake sponsor, and going slow, there was no time to react.

I would either hit the baby, or hit the deck.

And no one hits a baby.

I threw myself up and back, a move that would have made an Olympic high-jumper proud.

In the air, I wondered if I’d still be able to do my cross-country skate.

And as I landed with a dull, concussive thud, I had my answer.

And yet, I was smiling.

I’d prayed for safety and guidance, and somehow had my answer.

I wiggled my fingers, then toes, looked at the baby I’d avoided, and his dad, then up at the sun above.

Life is good, I thought. Life is good.

It was a moment that changed my life. And I knew it in an instant.

In 2006, doctors put together Michael's hip and femur. Today, he no longer sets off metal dectectors.

In 2006, doctors put together Michael's hip and femur. Today, he no longer sets off metal dectectors.

I’d shattered my femur, hip, and arm, and later found out shards of femur were less than a centimeter from my femoral artery, or a centimeter from death.

But I believed everything happens for a reason, and this event too would help my life.

It’s been 5 years since that event, or the ‘gift’ as I call it. A lot has changed in that time. They were lucky to save my leg, but with a titanium femur and hip (and near 1 inch leg-length discrepancy) told me I’d be lucky to walk again, and to forget about ever running. They were right, too, until I took off my shoes, felt the ground, and began to heal. Now I run 10 – 20 miles a day barefoot, touching the earth and feeling stronger with each step.

Since my accident and healing, I’ve gone on to help others, whether that’s runners looking to improve their performance, injured runners looking to heal, or people who used to love running but have quit because of their ‘bad knees’, ‘bad hips’ or ‘bad feet’…runner’s who’ve been told they just couldn’t’ do it anymore, or whose bodies just weren’t letting them. But once you go barefoot, and learn a lighter way to run, you find yourself dancing on the roads and trails, almost effortless, with a child-like grin once again.

Five years ago put me on this path to help others, to help us reconnect, run again pain free, and to dance with our feet.

I am very thankful for this day, and for where the ‘gift’ has taken me.

Thank you too for sharing in this special day, and thank you for listening.

With blessings,

~Michael Sandler,
Co-Founder, RunBare Company