Black Toenails - Am I going to lose the nail? (Read 2072 times)

    During my marathon a week ago, I was aware of my big toes on both feet jamming against the front of my shoes. I had 250 miles on the shoes I used for marathon and I have about 800 miles on the same brand, model, and size, and I've never had this problem in any of my training runs. I've been wearing the socks I used for about 6 weeks so I don't think it's the socks either. Anyway, my toenails on both big toes are now black from blood clots I assume. They did hurt the first few days after the marathon, especially when I accidentally stub them or my 3-yr old son stepped on them, but they seem to be fine now. I can run and my toe isn't hitting the front of my shoe....maybe I had unconsciously changed my gait during my marathon? Firstly, is there anything I can or should do about it? I read a couple books and they talk about using a hot paper clip to make a small hole or seeing a Podiatrist who would drill a small hole in the nail, but I also read that if they aren't bothering you, you should just leave them alone. I'm asking as if there is something I can do to prevent the loss of the nails, I'd like to explore it. Secondly, will I lose the toenails and if I do, would I still be able to run, or would there be a period where I'll have to wait for the underlying skin to heal? Thirdly, is it painful to lose a toenail? I'm a wimp so I'd like to know what to expect :-) Derek



      D, Welcome to marathoning. It happens. Likely caused by the swelling of our feet after being/running on them for a prolonged period of time. No worries. The pain decreases daily and in several months you'll notice new nails coming up under your old, dead, gray ones. Just in time to begin next year's training! After having this happen a few times you'll have another prerace ritual of clipping/filing down your toenails. btw--nice job getting through that race.

        Derek, I forgot to trim mine before the race and have 3 black ones as a result. Black toe nails are one of those "you know you're a runner if..." kind of things. In my experience, they usually do fall off. It's not painful, but it takes a long time (4-6 weeks?) until they do. I was wondering on the drive to work today if I might have black toenails for Christmas. Life's not really too exciting right now, as you can see.

        You'll ruin your knees!

          You can go ahead and say your goodbyes to the nails, cuz they're leaving! If they are not under pressure now, I wouldn't do anything. They may hang around for a few weeks or even months, depending on how much trauma they received. Don't worry about it, your body has already begun the process of growing new nails underneath. The longer you can leave them intact, the less pain/issue you should have when they come off. If you leave it alone, it's kind of like losing a tooth...you'll reach down and wiggle it and it'll just come off! By the way, my wife won't let me go out in public with open-toed sandles of flip-flops...I only have 2 toes that don't have nails coming/going... Lynn B MTA: You may or may not have done something differently with regard to your running gait in the race. Sometimes our feet swell, causing less open space in the shoe, other times, we get tired and "grip" the path a bit, causing our toes to rub down on the bottom of our shoes...probably not a shoe wear problem.

          ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)

            You can go ahead and say your goodbyes to the nails, cuz they're leaving!
            So I guess it's a given that once you have black toenails, they would fall off. That sign I saw during my marathon that made me chuckle, "Got Toenails?" and the lady that held up 7 fingers doesn't seem so funny now :-) ....actually, I'm laughing as I type this, so I guess it's actually funnier :-) Derek



              Yeah, if they don't hurt just leave them be. If they do hurt, then a hot pin can poke a hole through the top to relieve some pressure and drain the fluid out. Nothing to really worry about most of the time.

              Run to Win
              25 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)


                I'm no expert, since I've only managed to lose one toenail, but since I'm a wimp too, I'll let you in on the secret. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't even notice when it finally fell off.
                  I'm no expert, since I've only managed to lose one toenail, but since I'm a wimp too, I'll let you in on the secret. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't even notice when it finally fell off.
                  I agree. I've lost two (gross!). It didn't hurt. The painful part was before that, when the blood blister underneath was forming, it was a dead give away of what was coming. My nails are growing back nicely now and thanks to better fitting shoes and not quite so high mileage, I've been blister free for a while now.



                    losing a tonail doesnt really hurt. ive lost the same one twice this season, there was one growing underneath it anyway, so i guess it was dead. that might be your case too

                    Golden Buff

                      A Doc told me that when the old toenail gets loose prior to coming off, it is a prime time to get fungus under the nail. He suggested cleaning with alcohol to dry the area and kill germs so thats what I do.
                        I had one toenail stay black for over a year. Ironically for this thread, after my marathon a week ago, it finally fell off and I have a healthy looking nail again.

                        How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.


                          Peroxide works well for fungus and gunk underneath. A hot pin or the smallest drill bit you can get works good for holes.(to let off pressure) My wife thinks I am crazy because my toes are black and the nails fall off and grow back. People see my feet when I wear flip flops and freak out when they find out its caused from running. Just part of it I guess. DB

                          Tougher than most, dumber than the rest. "You can not count the miles until you feel them" TVZ

                          12 Monkeys

                            (this thread is useless without pictures)
                              (this thread is useless without pictures)

                              Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

                              who knows...

                                There shouldn't be a reason why you can't still run. I tend to lose the same three toe nails, sometimes even before a new nail has taken the place of the old. (In that case, it is like losing a scab. [Trent, are word pictures good enough?]) It's all part of this masochistic enterprise we throw ourselves into Smile
                                "There is no I in εγω." --Unknown author, source of possible, but in no way certain, Greek origin