Sunday, September 22, 2013

"THE SECRET" to Keeping Your Toenails

(To my non ultra running friends: Please excuse or enjoy this silly little post)

As an ultra-runner with many ultra-runner friends on Facebook, I have seen my fair share of toenails that are about to fall off or toes with no toenails. In a way, this has become a badge of honor in the ultra-running community.

“I just lost another toenail”

“Me too!”

“Nice! Let’s see how many other toenails we can get to fall off.”

These toes shall remain anonymous. (Just know that they are not mine.)

All the cool people seemed to be losing toenails and I was feeling left out. You see, Ray Zahab (i2P co-founder and crazy distance master) had told me “the secret”* of how to keep my toenails on my toes right when I started ultra running. Since learning “the secret”, I sadly had never lost a toenail.

But I wanted to be a cool kid! So when a 40 mile race with a ridiculous amount of vertical gain and loss came around, I decided to not use “the secret.”

My after thoughts: OUCH!!! You all who think losing toenails are cool are either complete bad asses or up a higher notch on the crazy level!

As I ran mile after mile of downhill, I felt my big toenails push up inside my toe. I was running hard and the downhill was already painful, so I cursed myself for the added pain on the way down. For days after the race my big toe was red and swollen. It hurt to put a running shoe on. That can’t be too healthy for my toes, right?

The result: 1)Two lost toenails to put me in the cool club* 2) A desire to never again want to be in the cool club. 3) I'm fairly sure my lost toenails don't make my feet more attractive. So much for less is more.

For those of you want to join me in my new club: I Like My Toenails on My Toes Club (ILMTOMTC for short), I will share “the secret”.

-Do this a couple days before every race and maintain for long runs during training.

1) Clip your nails down as short as you can without it hurting. (This is not a no pain, no gain scenario.)

2) Take a nail file and round the top of the toenail off so you don’t have a jagged edged toenail. (You could leave it jagged if it floats your boat.)

3) The SECRET: Take the nail file, hold it vertically, and file down the edge of your toenail. File the toenail down so there is a nice slope from the skin at the top of your toe that meets the toenail. This makes it so the toenail doesn’t have a sharp edge that can cause some painful friction with your shoe.

4) Then, if you are so inclined and want to go all out, pick a fun color to paint your toenails that will hopefully be staying on your toes. Guys you can do this too. Sure, most people will think you’re a little strange, but if it makes you happy, pick that super stylish color that will bring out the hairs on your toes.

     Lastly, if your shoes are too small or too big I take no fault in your lost toenail.

       Run Wild, Run Happy,

*Cool club- just kidding. Let’ face it, most of us are a little crazy so we’re cool as long as we’re crazy enough to think running ultras are cool.

*“The secret”- okay, so it’s not a secret. I just thought it made the post more intriguing.


  1. Love this post! I will have to remember for the future since I'm currently dealing with an ugly black toe nail. My top picks for toe nail polishes that cover up ugly runner toes:

  2. Aaaaah, this is valuable consumer advice! Thanks! Even though I'm pretty cool & badass, I'd love to join your club instead of the one I'm in right now, haha.


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