For marathoners, crossing the finish line comes with battle scars — sore muscles, sunburn, sore nipples, and the impressive yet painful bruised toenails. Even though their feet are protected by socks and cushioned sneaks, the repetitive banging against the front of a runner's shoe causes bleeding under the nails, and can sometimes cause nails to just fall off. When these damaged nails do grow back, they don't adhere as well to the skin, becoming an ongoing problem for serial marathoners. To see a photo of what I am talking about visit the RuningSugar group.
To solve this tender problem, about five percent of hardcore long-distance runners have their toenails surgically removed by a podiatrist. If the procedure sounds agonizing to you, it's actually much worse than you imagine. Either acid is poured over the nail bed to melt the nail, or the nail is pulled off the toe. Yikes! For those interested, Dr. Lisa Bliss, winner of the 2007 Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race in Death Valley, documented her surgery so runners would know what to expect. Warning — it's not for those who faint easily at the sight of blood or needles.
To see what podiatrists have to say about this procedure, just keep reading.
Sports podiatrist Dr. Robert M. Conenello says, "A lot of them [runners] look at their toenails as useless appendages, remnants of claws from evolutionary times long ago. I’ve heard them say, 'Toenails are dead weight.'" One runner explained he used to have to stop mid-run and poke a hole in his throbbing toenail to relieve the pressure, but after having them all removed, toenails are "one less thing to have to deal with." Some runners are embarrassed to show off their bald toes, while others feel it is proof of the miles they've logged, and display it proudly with a Toenails Are For Sissies t-shirt.
Well, that's just another thing that separates me from an ultra-marathoner. Don't get me wrong, I love to run, but I also love a good pedicure.