What runners don’t tell you about running – Part 2

The past week I have been travelling so have been a little strapped for time hence the delay between posts – but more of this week later.

This is my second post on “what runners don’t tell you about running” highlighting the dark side that new runners need to navigate on their way to running Nirvana.  So come Grasshopper, leave those pebbles alone and pay attention.

In this post I will share with you a common problem experienced by runners, especially endurance runners, or those training for long-distance races – it is Black Toenail.

Black toenails are usually caused by the rubbing of your toe against the front of your shoe or if your toe is under pressure from a shoe or a sock that is too tight or too thick.  Each step creates impact or friction between the toenail and the tissue surrounding it.

As the tissue in your toe gets damaged fluid accumulates, the black colour is the result of a few blood capillaries that become broken in the process or a blood blister under the nail.

Now Grasshopper, you will want to blame your running shoes for being too small or a bad fit… but Grasshopper, it is not necessarily so.  While toe pressure from your running shoe can make the toe hurt even more, it is the pressure from underneath that seems to be the main cause of black toenails.

My first black toenail came during a marathon, I felt it forming and by the end of the race it was quite prominent and a little uncomfortable.  Easing back on the kms after the race in my training, it went away (well I lost the nail and another one grew in its place) and I wasn’t afflicted again until increasing the distance in my training.

Following the training program for the Gold Coast Marathon, I noticed some discomfort in my toe as I passed the 14km mark of my training runs.  Now that I am doing plenty of kms a week (just over 7 weeks to go) the toenail is permanently black and I get a little bit of discomfort but it’s nothing significant.

It appears that runners training for a marathon or doing lots of downhill running are the most likely candidates for black toenails.  Also, hot weather seems to accentuate the problem as your feet swell more in hot weather potentially causing more friction.

To assist you prevent getting a black toenail you can:

  • Make sure you running shoes are a good fit with plenty of space around your toes and particular at the end of the shoe.
  • Lace up tight to prevent forward movement, particularly if you are doing a lot of downhill running.
  • Wear good wicking socks to reduce moisture is also a must.
  • Apply general good foot hygiene – i.e. keep your toenails trimmed and keep them dry.
  • Just paint all your toenails so you can’t see it!  Guys this may attract a few strange looks.

So what to do when you get a black toenail?  My opinion is that it’s best to leave it alone – that is of course if the pain is not too great and you aren’t in too much discomfort.

The pain is normally pretty mild and the discomfort is usually the worst on the first day and then lessens each day after it occurs – to the point where you hardly notice it. You will notice that the damaged part of the nail will gradually be pushed off to be replaced by a new nail.

Don’t try and rush the old nail falling off – you could end up in worse pain!  The old nail will fall off on its own.

The obligatory and important disclaimer.  If you are in pain and if at any point you notice redness and infection go and see a doctor.

(Lucky for me I don’t wear open toed shoes!)

Grasshopper, the time will come when you too get your first Black Toenail and when it does you will know that your training has moved to a higher level, and you are even closer to Running Nirvana.

Training Update

With a short business trip up to the Hunter Valley I was not able to get all the running I had planned completed.  Although I did get out for an early morning run while I was away (see the photo below) – spectacular sunrise, but it was absolutely freezing!!!  I was kicking myself for leaving the long tights and long sleeves at home.  Brrrrr.

Endomondo link –> http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/ofHLjV3xLdo

Hunter Valley at daybreak

Winter (although not officially) has hit Melbourne.  And with the onset of winter so comes the colds and flus.  This week I picked up a cold (yes ladies let’s call it Man Flu) and I dropped one run out of the program replacing it for a gym session to hopefully speed up recovery, and had only a light 6km run on Friday.

Endomondo link –> http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/p1Q0BiCeKvE

Waking up on Saturday I was planning a 2 hour 40 minute run but with a head full of snot, a runny nose and sore throat I procrastinated for quite a while debating in my head whether to go or not.  Eventually, I convinced myself that not hitting the trails (even though it was cool outside) was just being a sook.  Afterall, who’s to say that when I run the Gold Coast Marathon that I won’t have a cold or not be feeling great?

Also, with only 7 weeks to go I know I need to lift the kms I am running if I want to run a sub 4 hour marathon.  So I got up, packed the camelback with a fruit pulp pack, power gel and a litre of water and headed off.  I decided even if I only ran for an hour that was better than nothing.

I won’t take you through all the trials and tribulations of the race but Beavis and Butthead would have been impressed with my “hock a loogie” efforts in the first few kms.

So how did I go?  I finished my run a sweaty and snotty mess but … I ran my fastest half marathon in almost two years and completed the full 2 hour and 40 minute run covering 29.20kms at an average speed of 5 minutes 29 seconds.  Only one second below my target training time.

Endomondo link –> http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/gXvgEuLW8xs

The lesson for me – don’t be a sook and never underestimate what can happen once you hit the running trail.  Have you ever gone out expecting an ordinary run only to produce a good result?

I have now completed over two thirds of the marathon distance.  Yesterday’s run was just what the doctor ordered.  Next week is a 3 hour run and I am hoping to run 32kms or better.

My top 5 Running songs for the week past from my Playlist are:

Prisoner of Society – by The Living End
I Stole Your Love – by Kiss
It’s Not About You – Scouting For Girls
Control – by Puddle of Mudd
Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) – by The Jacksons

Congratulations to all those who ran the Mother’s Day Classic today – great cause and great effort in ordinary weather!!!

Happy Running!!

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