Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Toenails are for Sissies...

Remember how I bought a shirt at the Baltimore race expo that says "Toenails are for sissies."?

I did so because I have a continual, maybe chronic, toenail issue. When I started training for my half marathon last fall, one or two toenails began to hurt a little and eventually fell off. I saw this exact shirt at the expo for that race and thought it was funny. I kinda knew I needed it but didn't want to fork over the money at the time. I've thought about it many times since and, when I saw it hanging in Baltimore on Friday, it wasn't even an option for me not to buy it.

Because in the seven months since that first expo, the situation has gotten worse. Instead of just falling off and then growing back, my toenails develop bad blood blisters under them. Most of the time, I can't pop these because the nail is in the way. So things just build up under the nail and they never fall off. Or they half fall off because I cut them down but the new nail trying to grow underneath, if there even is one, isn't a normal nail. They often hurt right after a long run but otherwise they don't bother me. I'm self-conscious that they'll bother other people because of how gross they look. This is one reason that I'm very glad summer is over and the days of open-toed shoes are no more.

I will spare you a picture of my pretty feet. I do, in fact, have pictures of them at their worst but I don't think any of you really want to see that. I mostly just take pictures of the grossness and text them to my best friend Ingrid. Partly to gross her out and partly because she's one of the few people that knows me well enough not to judge.

After my race on Saturday, one of these problem toes was more gross and painful than ever. It had a ginormous blood blister under the "nail" and it hurt to walk on for days. I considered whether or not I should see a pediatrist (or some other dr) to be like "WTF is going on here?" and "can I ever get a pedicure again?!?" Because, believe me, a professional foot massage and pedicure would be really nice after the beast that was Baltimore. But I wouldn't force these rotting feet on anyone. Except maybe a doctor.

But I avoid going to the doctor when I can. And I read some Runner's World forums about toenails. Here were some of the interesting takeaways:

  • Soak your feet in milk after a long run to give the nails calcium.
  • Wear silicone toe covers.
  • Second toe longer than big toe is called "Morton's Toe". I have that.
  • By cutting the nails down/off yourself, it is possible to kill the nail bed and have the nails never grow back.
  • Your feet swell up to 10% while running. Buy bigger shoes. Pinch the tip of your socks so your feet have room to bloat.
  • Don't wear cotton socks.
  • This happens to very many runners. I am not alone. And I ain't no sissy.
Let's be honest, I'm never going to soak my feet in milk. That would cost a lot of money. I can't do anything about my so-called Morton's Toe. So, what I've really taken away from this is: Go to Potomac Running and spend $100 on some new shoes. Maybe throw some non-cotton socks in the bag, too. It's about time I do that anyway. And let's hope that my sales person isn't too grossed out about all my questions about how each of the shoes will affect my nail-less toes and blood blisters. Or I could just go on living my life with six toenails and call myself the opposite of a sissy.

Make me feel better: Do you have toenail problems? Even better: Do you have a cure?!


  1. i barely have a pinky toenail and it has nothing to do with running. People will probably make fun of you when they see your feet but at least you have a badass excuse. toenails are totally for sissies.

  2. One of my toenails hasn't been doing so well since Baltimore either. I have never lost a toenail but my Morton's toe always has a serious blister on the tip of it that hurts like a bitch