Friday, May 22, 2015

How to Keep Your Runner’s Feet from Looking Like Sh$t

Yes, we are entering that season where we show our feet on the beach, at the pool, in the mall, at the strip club. Feet can be an amazingly beautiful part of our anatomy when they are soft, supple, tanned, scrubbed and dressed up with pearls.

Runner’s feet are notoriously the opposite of soft, supple, tanned, scrubbed and dressed up with pearls due to (but not limited to):

  • bunions
  • missing toenails
  • black toenails
  • callouses, blisters
  • dead/dry skin.
  • pearls on feet are goofy

What does this happen? Often the culprit is ill-fitting shoes, the wrong socks, untreated funguses (yum! who wants sautéed mushrooms for dinner?), and excess moisture on the feet while running. I happen to like to make my feet look even worse by picking at the dry skin and throwing it on the floor.

So, how can we runners do some damage control and avoid having our feet look like sh$t?

1. Stop Running Altogether. Gross feet are a pain in the ass and you just don’t love running that much. Take up badminton and start asking your friends how far a marathon is. Be sure to tell them running will kill their knees. And, maim their feet.

2. Make Sure Your Shoes Fit. Typically it’s a good idea to get shoes that are at least a half size larger than your everyday shoe. This is because your feet swell when you run, so you need a bit of extra space. Also keep in mind that your shoes may shrink over time due to them getting wet, etc. For extra special help in finding the perfect fit in your running shoes go to a pedorthist (title of a professional who has specialized training to modify footwear and employ supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs). You are welcome that I taught you a new word.

3. Get Your Toenails Removed. This is extreme, but Marshall Ulrich did it, so you can too. Your feet will look like ridiculously hideous, but you will have solved the toenail issue. Make sure you do this after you are married for life. And don’t forget to paint the stubs.

4. Pick the Right Socks. There are a bazillion types of running socks out there. Make sure you try them on with your running shoes. I have different socks I wear with different shoes. It’s not a bad idea to have socks that wick away moisture from your feet to avoid blisters and fungi (why did the squash date the mushroom? Because he was a fun-guy!). Cotton socks are not the best idea. And, for crap’s sake, make sure your socks do not have any holes in them.

5. Keep Your Feet Supple. Spoil yourself with all of these amazing foot lotions out there – Burt’s Bees has a great line (my favorite is the coconut foot cream). I like to make my children rub my feet because God knows I do enough for them.You can also apply coconut oil to your feet and sleep with socks on.

6. Clip the Nails. Keep your toenails short, but not too short. This will keep you from piercing the inside of another toe with your sharp nail. Trim them in a straight line and after a shower when they are softened.

There you have it. Now your feet will look like this.


Just kidding. That’s just me giving you the toe finger with my Morton’s Toe.

Do you have feet issues from running? If so, what? How do you deal with them?



  1. Oh, boy...where to even begin! I have freakishly long toes, except for my "pinkie" toe which is a deformed little stub. After years of running, I developed bilateral Morton's neuromas, which I finally had surgically removed. The result? Half-numb Franken-feet. Your tip #6 really resonated with me, as I left too sharp of an edge on one of my toe-nails prior to running a half-marathon, but because I have no feeling in most of my toes, I had no idea that the adjacent toe was being ground down to a bloody pulp over the course of the race. Ah, well....My feet are apparently entertaining, anyway. Last summer at a cookout, someone's drunk husband was so shocked by my toes that he my spent the night taking photos of my feet next to assorted objects to demonstrate their freakish length (here's hoping he didn't submit them to some foot fetish website...augh!).

  2. I'd never been given the toe finger before. So cute! No feet issues particularly. Scrubbing off the dead skin ever week or so is good. Some massage is nice. Legs up the wall is awesome for feet.

  3. Guess what? I'm coaching with F4 so maybe now we will finally meet. And you don't even want to see what my toes look like. Oh well, the days of pretty feet are over. Wait, I never had pretty feet. Some shoes just do me in for some reason. Oh well. After awhile you don't even feel that throbbing pain that results in toenail death.

  4. When I first glanced at your post, I thought that was a picture of ET (from the movies) but then focused and saw it was your toe!


  5. Let's just say open toed sandals are not something I wear in public, and my wife has nixed the wearing of socks with them. My toes don't ever hurt when I run, yet I've had my share of black toenails and blood drawn from sharp toenail edges. But the rest of me looks and feels so much better from running that I'll put up with it...

  6. Let's just say you can't judge a book by its cover. My feet look quite fetching, but on the inside they're a mess.

  7. I broke down last April and had one of my toenails permanently removed. The toe wouldn't lay flat but curved so that the tip of the toe and the toenail hit the bottom of the inside of the shoe. I would lose that nail after every long run or race and it was starting to hurt on all my runs. It took about 3-4 months for it to heal up but I am happy I did it. Yes I am married for life and I do paint the patch of skin where the nail used to be!! :)
    Lets not start talking about the bunions, calluses and heel cracking.
    Running is still worth it!!

  8. I have horrible feet--even before i started running. bunion, callouss, congenitally weird-thickened toenails that are also black.. you name it. BUT i have to say, I LOVE the pearls on the feet. ;)

  9. I have been lucky and have not had the gift of gnarly feet! I have all my toenails and get a pedicure every 2 weeks or so. Although I just started my first marathon training cycle= more miles=possibility of gnarly feet. We'll see what happens :)

  10. I have feet issues but not gnarly ones that keep me from wearing sandals (Birkenstocks, all the time). I'm no foot model, but I do get a pedicure about once a month, and in between them I use a pumice stone at every shower. I also don't let my toenail polish get too grody looking -- I'll just take it off rather than have a half grown out pedicure, which is one of my pet peeves. (I'm sort of fascinated/grossed out by other people's feet and am constantly amazed at what I see in sandals or flip flops.)
    My foot issues are on the inside. Plantar fasciitis (second bout, right foot), achilles tendonitis (concurrent with the PF, same foot), left second metatarsal pain, right peroneal tendonitis (healed right before the PF/AT flared up), pain on the inside of my left arch that is referred pain from trigger points in my calf. I think I'd take ten black toenails rather than the misery that is every step I take these days. And no running, either.

  11. OOhhhh, wish you hadn't made the getting your toenails removed suggestion. Its actually made me feel ill. Can you imagine the pain?
    My only feet issues are I have the tiniest little toes in the world - they are so small it kind of looks like I only have four toes on each foot.
    Not too sure why I'm sharing this.

  12. I just like to think that no one is looking at my feet.

  13. Problem solved. I am going to remove my toenails. Why have I never thought of this before. Only downside, I'm not married so I guess that means I will just be single for life. Small price to pay to get rid of those toenail issues.

  14. I ran a marathon last Sunday in Maine. The last 16 miles had a net downhill of about 980 ft. TMI alert: Needless to say, the downhill gave be the BIGGEST blood blister I have ever seen. I actually saw it later in the day out of the corner of my eye and thought there was a cockroach on the ground because it was so dark and stuck out so far from my foot. I think it also continued to swell a few hours later...

  15. Best tips ever! I like getting a pedi every month, but haven't done that in...ages...beyond ages...oh dear.

  16. My feet are UGGGGGLY!!!! I cut my toenails down as far as they go. I have callouses. But I want to keep them so my feet don't get sore! Oh well. I figure I can either be a runner or have nice feet- not both!

  17. You have to try Baby Foot - google images for "baby foot peel" and be grotesquely fascinated! It actually does work great and is disgusting and totally fun at the same time.

  18. Finding a suitable footwear is really a pain in the ass I would say :( I have try countless of shoes and can't still find a satisfying pair, my feet is super flat feet and it hurted so much after one week running, now I settle with a New Balance but still searching for a new choice. Do you have any tips?

  19. Obviously by using comfortable using foot massage machine! Runners, joggers, athletes, pregnant ladies need regular massage for balancing their immune system and keeping their feet relief. So a foot massager inputs a lot in this.

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