A Tale of Two Toes


Every runner has heard the stories of the dreaded black toe nails.  You hope they are just a myth.  Perhaps a parable meant to teach us the dangers of heat, overtraining, and ill-fitting shoes.  But then it inevitably happens to you.  My story begins on the morning of my 5 mile race in August.  Looking back it is easy to see how that would be the day I got black toenails on the middle toes of both of my feet.  I had not been running regularly let alone running 5 miles regularly.  And the starting temperature was hovering near 90 degrees with one million percent humidity.  I decided to let the nails fall off on their own, which never really happened.  But they were not causing me any discomfort.

Fast forward to this week.  During my 12 mile run on Saturday I noticed some discomfort on my right middle toe.  Then my son jumped on my toe yesterday, and I helped a little.  The current state of the nail is a tiny sliver of old nail left on top of an ugly, bumpy new nail that is now fully grown.  And now the whole thing is bruised up and sore.  It is bad.  My husband says thus nail may be grounds for divorce.  Can I grow a third layer of nail?

Anyway, I am trying to decide what to do.  In hindsight, I should have just sucked it up and had the nails removed in August.  I had a nail removed after a toe trauma playing high school soccer, so I know how painful it is and that there will be a good week off from running.  I am considering it now figuring that it is not going to get better as I start piling on the miles.  It is going to get worse. And maybe better to deal with it now while I can still get back on track with training without totally throwing off the marathon.  Well, let’s see how it goes after the half this weekend.  With any luck, that will be bad enough to make it fall off on its own or cause the medics to rip it off at the finish.  That’s a joke.  Sort of.


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