Friday, 1 September 2017

If You Want Perfect Toe Nails Don't Take Up Running

I wasn't going to show you this photo for obvious reasons, but M, who has a mischievous streak, said I should. This, my friends, is what running distances over ten miles does to your toes.....

Look away now if you're of a delicate nature or have a phobia about feet.



i've forgotten what it is to have pink toe nails. I've also forgotten that, for most people, it isn't really normal to have purple ones, unless you've painted them, and was wandering about happily barefoot the other day when my eldest niece exclaimed in horror what have you done to your toenails?!

The third one from right fell off entirely last week when I brushed against it, leaving this strange little creature underneath, a baby nail, which is already red. I know, from M and other friends who are endurance runners, that that's it now: my toe nails will never again be fit to be seen in company, unless I paint the other ones the same dark shade of purple to match.

For me, my newly en-purpled nails are a badge of honour; evidence of all the miles I've run this year, each one a memory of a half marathon or a long training run. I've got over my initial panic, fuelled by google-offered horror stories about what bruised nails mean (you'll get septicemia, you'll damage the nail bed so it will never recover and always cause you pain, you musn't run with a bruised nail and it'll take months to heal) and discovered instead that actually all you need do is stick a thick blister plaster over the bruised nail for the duration of the run and it's job done, life carries on as normal. They throb for a day or two but then you don't notice them until someone else says Oh. My. God.Your. Nails! 

I have made one concession, which is to go up half a shoe size in my running shoes, and have to say since doing that the nails haven't bruised as easily or painfully after long runs.

On a connected but somewhat healthier subject, I've discovered the 100 Marathon Club: run a hundred marathons and you get club membership, a special t-shirt and a medal. I spent an hour or two yesterday pouring over their website writing down the races that count and loving the fact that the majority of them are off road, trail marathons through spectacularly beautiful countryside. I was toying with the idea of running a half marathon each month next year and writing a book about it, HMs being an accessible distance for everyone with not a huge amount of training, but the idea of running a hundred marathons instead has fired my interest a lot more.

M has around 17 marathons to his credit, all of which count towards the 100, but because he trains hard for them and completes them in spectacularly fast times, he has no interest in doing more than two a year. I'm not Mrs Speedy Pants, so my training would be steadier (run slower, or walk/ run = it takes less out of you and the recovery time is quicker). Of course, I may run Edinburgh next year and say never again, but either way it's on the list of accepted marathons so it will count as number 1 of 100.

I've been inspired by two runners whose books I'm currently reading. Lisa Jackson, whose brilliant book your pace or mine demonstrates how it's possible to clock up a couple of marathons a month if you're not flying along at a tremendous pace. She's often the last runner home after taking 6 or 7 hours, but you would never call her unfit or incapable. She's run Comrades three times (a very tough ultra run of 50+ miles in South Africa that frequently breaks people, including friend B who trained for it for 6 months and found, when she got there, that her muscles seized up and she couldn't compete), and she's also run naked in a couple of naturist races, so she's not a lass who takes herself too seriously. She's now an official 100 marathon club member. And then there's Ira Rainy, who went from (in his own words) fat man to ultra-marathon runner. His story is piquing my interest in long-distance running.

These two runners have one thing in common and it's this: they both thought they could and so they did, which leads me to my current fave quote, attributed to Henry Ford but actually coming initially from Virgil: whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right. I'm going to pin it up in the kitchen.

Lisa's book has a list of favourite t-shirt sayings she's seen in races. I liked: I have to keep going...I parked at the finish best, but the one that made me stop and think most was: I'm over here doing what you say is impossible.  

In 1967 Katherine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon when it was illegal for women to take part in races (1967!!! Can you believe that??) because it was believed that a) they weren't capable and b) they would damage their fertility. The deputy race director was enraged and lunged at her, intending to physically remove her from the race. Her boyfriend at the time, an olympic hammer-thrower, pushed him away and her coach who was on the course with her bellowed RUN! so she did, beating many of the men in the race. Interestingly, her fellow (male) competitors, supported her, but she wasn't given an official finish time. She had proved that not only were women capable of running a marathon, but that they were capable of running it well. But it would be another five years before women were officially allowed to compete (in 1972). And it wasn't until 1984 that they were allowed to enter the Olympic marathon. I feel a huge debt of gratitude to the trail-blazing women who paved the way for the rest of us to take part in a sport that gives us so much. The fact that these rules were changed within my lifetime means I feel it all the more keenly.

Hope you're all well?

CT :o)

28 comments:

  1. I could not even run for a bus, but I am enjoying your journey, I would love to see you in the 100 club, with your hard work you deserve a place. As for your toes, I lost all my toe nails in 2010 due to medical treatment, mine all grew back, but I do suffer from tender toes, so all shoes have to be a good fit, I spend as much of the year as I can in open toes.

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    1. I don't wear shoes often either. Unless it's cold! Sorry to hear about your toe nails. And thank you for the lovely comment.

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  2. Such prejudice to women in only 1967, we have so come a long way :). Lots to ponder on in this post. Feet obviously. My dedication to running I doubt will earn me bruised toes :). The thought of doing 100 marathons rather than one. That one is truly mind boggling and for it to be on your radar says masses about your determination. I would certainly read a book about your journey be it half or whole marathons; I'm sure it would make a wonderful read. Take it steady. Have a great weekend wherever you are running. B x

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    1. I know! I couldn't believe it was 1972 before women were allowed to enter! Doing the hms this year has proved to me that I can run endurance distances, the more I do the easier they get, so I know with training a marathon won't be so vastly different. It's just a question of whether the longer training runs and the distance itself suits me and I'll find that out next May! Bless you for your lovely comment. Are you Parkrunning tomorrow? I'm volunteering at ours as we have a race on Sunday. XX

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    2. I am. Have my centurion hat at the ready, should make for a laughable sight:)

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    3. Fantastic! Make sure you get someone to take a photo! Xx

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  3. Yuk. Looks like a fell runners foot.

    I'll get back on this.

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  4. Oh my goodness! At first glance I thought you were wearing nail polish. It looks painful, although I'm assuming it's not or you wouldn't run.
    I admire your enthusiasm and dedication. X

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    1. Badly applied nail varnish 😆 . It doesn't hurt at all....now. X

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  5. Oh CT, your nails shouldn't look like that. I am v pleased you have larger trainers, I do hope that will help. I only lost nails after Chicago when I ran through showers to keep cool and consequently spent 20 odd miles with wet socks. Midnight rendezvous by Rimmel should do the trick ;-) xx

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    1. I won't show you a photo of M's nails after 30 odd years of running 😳 I've got quite fond of my purple ones now 😆 The bigger shoes do seem to be making a difference. Will let you know after Nov when I've done a few more halves in them! Xx

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  6. I thought you were wearing nail polish at first.
    I have terrible toes, broke most of them and because of my various autoimmune problems my toenails are awful. At least you have had fun and enjoyed getting yours.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Oh that's sounds nasty, poor Parsnip. Mine are ok, no pain now so I quite enjoy the shock they give people! X

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  7. Oh my word! Those toes are certainly a badge of honour and very well earned; they just look so sore! I love all the quotations, particularly the Virgil one. 1967?! That's within my lifetime too - shocking isn't it? I love the thought of her hammer-throwing boyfriend stepping in. I too would read your book! xx

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    1. They honestly don't hurt at all now. I was so shocked when I found out how recently women have been allowed to compete in marathons. I don't think I would have argued with a hammer thrower either! If you google katherine Switzer Boston marathon you'll see the photo of him trying to pull her off the course. I've just got her auto biography. Thank you re the book- I'll let you know! Xx

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  8. When I ran I had lots of problems with my toes going numb. I tried different shoes and lacing advice from the running shop, but gave it up in the end because it was so painful.I don't think I was designed for it! Arilx

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  9. Fascinating reading, a really interesting post CT. One of my favourite quotes is "People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it". Often attributed to George Bernard Shaw I think. I have a notebook (of course I do) with lots of favourite quotes in it. Have a good weekend. CJ xx

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  10. I'm so sorry CT. I did not read any words after seeing that photo. Another reason on my list to not run TYVM!!!

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    1. You missed a good bit on female empowerment :o) xx

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  11. Oooh nice toenails! Mine have always been ok but I have always run in shoes a whole size up from my normal shoes size. Although to be fair my long runs have only been over 10 miles for the last couple of months, so maybe this is what is in store for me... And I would definitely read your book too :-) xx

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    1. I wish I'd had mine bigger at the start too- but they were fitted professionally so I though they knew what they were doing. I have more confidence now to do it myself! X

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  12. Your toes look painful, I hope it is not pure agony? Our running shop recommends going up half a shoe size for running shoes and now I know why. Mind you, there is no danger of me running ten miles anytime soon. Women only got the vote in Switzerland in 1972. I grew up there, that's why I know such a random thing. I was reminded of this by your story about the Boston marathon runner. Have a good week. x

    I have signed up for a 5k race on Halloween so have to get out more.

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    1. They hurt the day after then were fine. Since I upped my shoe size I've not had any problems so I think the shoes were too small.

      That's great news about the 5k. Go, girl! I shall be willing you on. Have you tried the c25k app? Xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x