5 Steps to a Perfectly Adequate Pedicure

5 with OMG stickerI know, I know this Friday 5 may be a little impractical for no-nonsense Salty Runners. We don’t care whether or not it sandal season or which type of nail art is hot right now. Some of us, like Ginger, even cringe at the idea of going out for a pedicure. So since we are a practical tribe of runners and definitely not slaves to fashion, why not just treat your toes to a little TLC in your own home with supplies that you probably already have?

I’m not calling this the “perfect” manicure, but it is perfectly adequate. No frills, just good maintenance. Think of the way that a massage is totally preventative care (which it is!).

So follow these short steps this weekend, and in 30 minutes or less you’ll be ready to hit the road again in no time with a new spring in your step.

1. Soak – You might be used to a good ol’ ice bath after a tough run, but for this step, trade in your freezing cold water for some heat therapy to soften your skin and nails. This makes it a tad easier to trim toenails so we can avoid the pain of ingrown or impacted nails on the next long run. No tub? No problem. Or if you simply don’t want to fill your whole bathtub for just your tootsies, I’ve used a foil baking pan for a short soak to the same effect.

If you don't have coconut oil or sugar on hand, a quick trip to the baking aisle of your grocery store and about $9.50 should do the trick for these pantry staples.
If you don’t have coconut oil or sugar on hand, a quick trip to the baking aisle of your grocery store and about $9.50 should do the trick for these pantry staples.

2. Scrub – Let me start by saying I love my calluses. They are a badge of honor, and they are earned. They’re also there for the reason of protecting our soles, so this step isn’t meant to get rid of them. Some nail salons are even adding sports pedicures to their menus in order to cater to runner and athlete feet. A good scrub will help you get rid of dead skin (think old blisters) and help promote healthy, new skin growth.

I like to mix a heaping scoop or two of coconut oil (any thick or solid oil will do) with a couple spoons of sugar and mix until it’s a workable paste. Add lemon or essential oil if you feel fancy. Work that into your dried off feet until the sugar dissolves. Bonus: your hands are getting exfoliated at the same time! Rinse off your feet, and definitely rinse your tub out afterwards or it will be an epic slip ‘n slide hazard. Then, just try to resist tasting the remaining coconut-scented scrub. Not that I’ve tried it …

Ok, guilty.

3. Moisturize – If your feet are still feeling dry and scaly after the scrub, rub in whatever lotion you have on hand and throw on a pair of old running socks. I’m talking about those bulky cotton ones you save at the bottom of your sock drawer until you haven’t done laundry in far too long.

If you’re not a polish person, stop here. Just leave your socks on overnight or until you won’t break your neck by going barefoot. Or skip the socks entirely. It’s all up to you. Just remember to wipe off any excess lotion or oil from your toes with a damp washcloth or a swipe of nail polish remover if you plan on doing step 4. Having a grease-free canvas helps the polish stick better.

Don'e be silly and hide your runner's feet just because you think they're imperfect!
Don’e be silly and hide your runner’s feet just because you think they’re imperfect!

4. Paint – Even if you don’t have a collection of colors that resembles a Kandinsky painting, maybe you have some clear polish lurking around in the back of your bathroom closet. If you don’t, get some. It holds some multipurpose magic and is good for stopping runs in your tights or frays in your technical fabric shirts after it accidentally comes into contact with some Velcro. Two coats for even color. A swipe of clear on top gives your piggies some extra gloss. If you’re self-conscious about black and blue toenails, you might as well paint the rest of them black and blue to match!

5. Admire – Prop your feet up and appreciate both your and their hard work. Now you have a perfectly adequate compliment to your tan line.

What other things make your feet feel really good after a long or tough run?

A Minnesota girl living in New York City. I'm a middle school teacher (by choice!), runner, bike commuter, traveler, and general do-er of things. My next goal is to change my finally crush my marathon PR of 4:01 to under 4:00.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Ha! I’m sure they’re not as bad as you think! Hmmm, this makes me wonder if we should start a contest here at SR to see who has the worst runner feet. Could be gross but funny!

  2. I love this! Especially after reading the big expose the NY Times did on NYC nail salons basically being a system of indentured servitude for illegals, I have been reluctant to go out and get a pedicure done. I admit, I’ve never really done one myself! It always seemed hard and intimidating, but you make it sound so easy maybe I’ll start.