Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Are Runners Facinated by Loosing their Toenails?

So what is the fascination with runners and toenails?  I mean, I will admit, it is kind of cool when you run a hard race and your reward, besides the tech shirt and medal, is the loss of at least one of your toe nails.  In fact, you have to question whether you have run as hard as you could have if you do not lose at least one.

What inspired the following Twitter post by You Mght Be a Runner

 “If you can’t remember the last time you had 10 toenails.”

Source: Scott Dunlap's
This is so true.  We as runners celebrate the loss of these small abused shells at the end of our toes.  Our friends and families cheer us on the side of the road with billboards that foretell their imminent demise or to plead to stop their abuse. Even Scott Dunlap blogged about Jan Ryere's toenail necklace.  Gross for sure. 

See my problem has been that I have always had awful toenails.  When I was heavier, I would get a lot of infected hang nails.  Now that is not the problem.  Now it is how my socks rub against my Morton’s toes which mean these are the first nails I loose.  But once they are gone, what returns is, well, not pretty.

So why the fascination?  It is probably one of the few outward signs of what our bodies have gone through.  Yes, we may complain about our varying aches and pains, IT Band problems, shin splint, etc.  However, pain relative to everyone. A blister on the other hand is just a blister due to poor socks or wrong shoes.  

No, when we loose our toenails, we love to talk about them because, like scars, they are battle wounds that we can build a story around.  In fact there are several scars on my legs that I love telling (to the horror of my kids) of my cycling exploits, or the scars on my face when I was a kid.
So next time you lose a toe nail, celebrate it.  Yes its gross, but you’ll grow more!!!

UPDATE!!!:  I would be remiss not to mention URP's Black Toe Nail Hall of Fame which you too can compare your war wounds with others.  Thank to URP's shout-out in their Daily News!!!


  1. I'd ad that I do think you can go all out, 100% effort in any distance flat race and not loose a nail...I think it's more common in trail running because the brutal pounding the tips of our toes take when shoved to the front of our shoes while going all out on mile after mile of downhill...possibly while pounding our chests and hollaring like Tarzan...just saying.
    And yes....your nails are gross...even before you started running!

  2. Funny post. I have never desired to lose a toe-nail but, you're right - it is an outward display of the hard work you put in to training / running.

  3. I am somewhat ashamed to say I've never lost a toenail. (I do get holes in my socks caused by them, so they are getting dinged a bit. But for some reason I've never lost one. And so I have little to talk about.)


submit to reddit