Do as I say, not as I do.

You guys, it’s not that I think I’m above running law.  It’s just…idk, I sometimes think I’m smarter than everyone in the world. Do you ever get that sensation? No? Oh, me either…


So you know that whole rule of thumb, with running shoes right?

Buy your running shoes a half size to a full size larger than your dress shoe so that when your feet swell (and they will) you don’t get a sore toenail/lose a toenail.

Did I listen?  No.  Cause I’m smart and I know everything.  And then toward the end of last week, when my body started to get tired, the throbbing in my toe started.


I hobbled about, rubbing it when whenever I got the chance, but there’s no dodging it. Ya gotta follow the rules and buy the shoes in the right size. Your big toe will thank you. Those size 10s (yes, I’m 5’8″ and a size 10.5,) will have to hang out by their lonesome this week.

Demystifying the sneaker-guide.

Put down that Runner’s World sneaker guide.  Stop asking your friends on your Facebook status what shoe you should get.  And for the love of God, stop buying $45 shoes off of Amazon.  I’m going to make this really really super easy for you.

Go to a running specialty store.  Get a fitting.  Purchase your shoes.  (And a nice, synthetic sock).  And enjoy yourself.  Here’s why.

  • Some ridiculous percentage of you guys are wearing the wrong size shoes.  It’s not normal to get black and sore toenails.  It’s not normal to lose toenails  in a  race.  It’s also completely abnormal to have space enough by the heel collar for me to shove my fingers in the back of the shoe (which I totally saw at Niketown this weekend).  You’re supposed to go up a half to a full size from your dress shoe size, because when you run, and when you work out?  Your feet swell.  Go get measured.
  • Someone has convinced you you have flat feet/high arches/need some crazy custom orthotic.  Some of you guys have been told but an aunt since you were five you have some weird foot thing.  You buy your shoes based on this and you’re buying the wrong shoe.  Again, let a trained professional look at your foot and tell you what’s going on.
  • You’re not really saving much of anything when you buy a $56 shoe off amazon.  Or at DSW.  Or at Dick’s.  Firstly, running shoes are not the place to skimp on money.  Shoes really shouldn’t cost less than $100 If a shoe is that cheap, there’s probably any number of reasons for that.
    1. The shoe is an older model.  As in, it’s no longer manufactured.
    2. The shoe is a cheaper version of a real shoe.  The company has taken cushioning out of a good shoe, named it something else, and sold it.
    3. The shoe has been sitting in a warehouse for 3.5 years.  Shoes naturally begin to break down after a year, whether they’ve been worn or not.  You just paid money for a shoe that’s already worn out, and you’re risking injury.

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Running shoes are a science. They’re an art. They’re subjective. And using a sneaker guide, asking friends, or just buying the cheapest thing you can find at a Dick’s Sporting Goods is just doing your body, your feet, and your running future a huge disservice.  Go get a fitting.  Drop the $110 on a shoe.  And be your best running self (okay, werq Oprah!)

Q: Are black toenails just a part of marathon living?

I have gotten this question at least once a week from readers and customers combined.

For some unholy reason, folks have been washed into thinking that black toenails, or toenails that fall off are just a part of life when you’re running a marathon.  Or a half.  Or in some freaky cases, every time you do a long run.

So let’s put this thing in reverse.  When is it normal for your toenails to fall off?  The first answer is never.  Second, if you’ve ever slammed your toe in a door, or had it run over by some sort of vehicle before, usually the toenail that takes the biggest impact will turn black and eventually fall off.  It sounds hideous because it actually is.

So why would it make any sense that this should happen when you’re running long distances?

If you’re running in a shoe that’s too small, and a LOT of you are unwittingly doing just that, you may feel fine for a 3, 4, or even 5 mile run.  But do much more than that, and your feet, which will naturally swell as you pound them for miles and miles (increased blood flow to that extremity), will cause the toenail of the longest toe to start hitting the end of that shoe.  It sometimes will start as a toenail just getting a little sore.  And in a longer run situation, say a half-marathon, the toenail, which has repeatedly been slammed into the end of the shoe, will sometimes turn black, and fall off.  I’ve seen it happen to more than one toe, as well.

Bottom line, a lot of you are wearing shoes that are too small, and running around and thinking that it’s normal for your feet to have no breathing room.

The solution?  Next time you’re in for a shoe fitting, or next time you’re in a store with a Brannock device, (one of the foot measurey things), measure your foot.  That is your dress shoe size.  So for driving shoes, heels, wedges, and flats, you may wear that size because you’re not going to run a marathon in a pair of leopard ballet flats.  Then go up a half to a full size for your running shoes.  The way to measure if you’ve done it right?  Strap those running shoes on, and sitting in a chair, firmly tap your heels on the ground.  Then, stand up, bend over, and SHAKE DAT THANG.  Nope, kidding.  Bend over, and feel how much space there is between your longest toe and the end of your shoe.  You should have a thumb to half a thumbs width, and you should be able to easily curl your toes over with no difficulty.  Finally, don’t be dumb and get a shoe that’s like 8 sizes too huge here.  If you’re sloshing all over, the shoe is too large, and you need to reel it in.

So the final answer?  It is not normal for you to be getting sore black toenails after a long run or a race, and if you are, it’s time to reevaluate what the heck you’re wearing on your feet.