Corns. Blisters. Calluses. Toenails … black or blue ones, that is. Sound familiar?
I don’t know about you, but if there’s anything about my body that is a dead give-a-way that I enjoy pounding the pavement and getting early morning miles under my belt, it’s my feet. The thought of getting a pedicure or wearing flip flops makes me cringe. Regardless of the best training shoes and the blister-blocking socks, after training for a marathon or half marathon or even after racing a 5k hard, my second toe, my Morton’s toe, never fails to end up with a blue toenail, and not the sparkly bright blue polish kind.
I can cope normally – I just hide those suckers in my favorite Brooks Pure Flows. But, I have a wedding in less than three months and a pair of otherwise perfect peep-toes I need to wear without embarrassing myself! What’s a girl to do?!
Besides the wedding shoes, a goal of mine is to love every part of my body, including my little piggies. I think all women should have this goal. We are worth it. So, I’m challenging myself to get a pedicure with confidence in time for my wedding in April. I’ve had nightmares about it. Seriously. Every time I get a pedicure I find myself giving the technician a disclaimer: “I’m a long-distance runner. I’m so sorry. My feet are beat up and naaaasty!” How can I look at my feet as proof to my dedication to the sport of running and stop obsessing over the ugliness?
First, a little background on common runner feet ailments:
Yep, we runners all have ‘em. Thick, hardened areas of dead skin. So sexy! Often our bodies create these as a defense mechanism, to help protect skin from pressure, friction and injury. They just mean your footsies are working hard. The good news is, contrary to popular belief, calluses and corns are NOT contagious and aren’t caused by a virus, like warts and at least they don’t appear on your forehead or something. You can always try corn remover, but personally, I’ve never had any luck. Corns and callouses are just something we have to live with.
You can wear blister-blocking socks and make sure to buy running shoes that are typically 1/2 size bigger than your day-to-day street shoes to prevent blisters, but any remaining friction will cause these pesky bubbles of fluid. Blisters typically go away in a few days, breaking on their own with the fluid draining. However if the pressure gets painful, you can release it by lancing the blister. Boil a needle for 5-10 minutes, dip in some rubbing alcohol, gently pierce the bubble, apply pressure, and bandage with some antiseptic. I’ve found the Band-Aid Blister Blocks aid in extra cushioning while healing.
The prettiest problem, blue or black toenails, are caused by a blood blister that just happens to form underneath your toenail. Lovely. The higher impact activity of running may result in repeated banging in the toe box of your shoe, causing this bruise to form. Making sure your trainers are roomy enough, getting yourself professionally sized at a running shop. Also make sure to keep your nails trimmed short. This can help prevent this not-so-attractive injury. Usually, the problem takes care of itself and ultimately, the toenail falls off as the skin beneath the nail heals and is replaced by a healthy new one. However, if the pain is throbbing for more than 24 hours, you might try to lance the blister. This is a little trickier than a blister not under a nail, but it’s the same concept. Sterilize the needle, insert it under the nail. There is sometimes a lot of pressure built up so you might hear a pop or a hissing sound and blood might squirt out! CRAZY! If pus comes out (tasty) or the nail is throbbing and just doesn’t seem right, there’s a chance it may be infected and you should get to the doctor.
This is a fancy term for having an abnormally long second toe. So long, in fact, that it exceeds the length of the big toe. I typically wear a size 8 1/2 in work shoes and bump up to a 9 in running shoes. Though the shoes work great for most of my toes, the Morton always, always ends up turning blue. If I go a 1/2 size bigger, though, the other toes are completely swimming and get all blistery. Just what is a girl to do? Does anyone else have this problem?
A Salty Challenge for Us!
I’m sick of hatin my runner feet. I want to embrace my Morton, my callused heel and corn-covered pinky (!). So, I’m challenging myself and all you other self-prescribed feet-haters out there to embrace those runner girl footsies! Let’s be confident the next time we walk into that nail salon and request a spa pedicure, complete with foot massage and lemon sugar scrub. We runners should all be proud of the battle scars. Heck, with the trend of bare-foot running, the runners foot may even get groadier, so our feet might not be bottom of the line! So, you nail technicians, foot massagers, and orthopedic podiatrists LOOK OUT!
How do you feel about your runner feet? Are you willing to take this Salty Challenge with me?