A Double Badge Of Honour

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Running? Yes. Glamour? No.

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it now, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – running, so not glamourous. 

Before reading further let me warn you, what you are about to read may be nauseating. It may make you squirm. It may make you pale or perhaps, for those with extra weak constitutions, give you the vapors. If you are of weak constitution, I highly recommend you do not read this post. Instead, you can occupy yourself by baking some cookies, or a cake, or a cake filled with cookies. Also, should you opt to occupy yourself with the culinary arts, please feel free to send me a sample of your cookie filled cake (or whatever baked goody you whip up).

Still here? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, what is it about running that makes me suggest that it is anything but glamourous? Well, for those of you who haven’t run in a while, or for those of you who haven’t started running longer distances, let me fill you in on a few secrets:

  1. Should you be a man, and should you have moobs1, and should you run a longer distance than normal, or perhaps run on a hotter day than normal, or even perhaps run while wearing a shirt made of cotton – or any combination of these – you may be privy to experience some of the worst nipple chafing in the history of nipple chafing. Granted, I’m not sure if there is a history of nipple chafing per se, but if there is, the chafing caused by running is probably right up there, second only to falling on a sander bare-chested2.
  2. Of course, chafing is not restricted to men, nor is it restricted to the manly nipply bits. Basically, any area where you might sweat would be susceptible to chafing of the worst kind3.
  3. You will more than likely develop blisters. Not just blisters, but blisters within blisters. Your blisters will have their own blisters. Several smaller blisters may join forces to create the über blister. And just when you think one is healed, another will pop up to mock you and your non-blistered dreams.
  4. On longer runs, you may lose a toenail or seven. Seriously. You won’t notice it as you run, but it’ll happen. What’s left behind? A gnarly looking foot with gnarly looking toenails – in some cases a bloody mess – or perhaps if you are lucky, a blistered toe that slowly pushes the toenail away while a newer nastier nail grows in its place.

Yup. Running – not so glamourous.

While I have experienced all of these things at some point in my running career, the one particular item that I find bizarre is how runners – specifically long distance runners – tend to own item 4 like a badge of honour. It’s almost as if you aren’t truly a runner until you’ve lost a toenail. Disgusting? Yes. True? Absolutely.

As I mentioned, I’ve already experienced all of these things. And as I mentioned, runners are bizarre in the sense that we own item 4 like a badge of honour. So having said that, it gives me great pride to inform you that all of the running in the past few weeks has catapulted me into a new level of gnarly toenails.

Death of a toenail. Ew.

What does that mean? Imagine a situation where one develops a blister under their toenail after running a half marathon. This blister, being disgusting on its own, pushes the toenail away from the toe. Inevitably the pressure of the blister will force the toenail to fall off, but this is a slow process and while the blister is doing its job, a new toenail begins to form.

Now, imagine the above situation, but then also imagine going out to run a marathon. Picture a situation where another blister grows under the developing toenail, and that blister leads to the loss of that one too. So in summary, old toenail plus new toenail are both going to fall off due to subsequent blisters on the same toe.

Science fiction? Not so. This is my reality. That’s right folks, I am currently experiencing a double toenail loss on the same toe. So gross, and yet so freaking double badge of running honour. It makes me wonder what might happen after the Ottawa Marathon. Could I achieve the awe-inspiring triple badge of running honour? I’ll keep you posted.

Now with all of this in mind, who wants to go for a run?


1 For those unfamiliar, moobs are the short-form version of man-boobs. Also known to some as chesticles.

2 I once returned from a run – back in my portlier days – where the chafing was so bad that I actually bled. Seriously. Bloody nipples. Worst thing in the history of bad things. I experimented with band aids, with creams, ointments, tape, and vaseline – all to varying degrees of success. My best solution – I lost the moobs and purchased appropriate running attire. There’s something to be said about synthetic materials that wick moisture away from the body.

3 With running I’ve learned that there are so many places on the body that I never gave much thought to until they began to scream the minute I jumped into a post-run shower and lathered up. Worst stingy pain ever. Also – gents – make sure your manly bits are well protected. You do not, I repeat, do not want to experience any running related chafing south of the equator. Trust me.


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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    I must not yet be a real runner, as I have yet to lose a toenail. And I’m kind of OK with that, as I think my feet are adorable just the way they are! I do understand the injury = badge of honour things though, as evidenced by my posting this: http://www.nottobetrustedwithknives.com/2010/08/27/probably-the-second-most-disgusting-photo-i-own/ (As an aside: after I popped that blister, it reinflated itself to at least twice the size on my next run. Disgusting!)

    In other news, chafing sucks. It’s not as hot here in Vancouver as it is in southern Ontario, and I don’t run nearly as much as you, so my experiences with chafing have been minimal. And I find that Body Glide works pretty well – and the name of it sounds vaguely dirty, so you know that makes me happy.

    1. dangillis says:

      Oh, you’re totally a real runner. After seventy billion half marathons, you completely qualify. Also, as a double-badge of honour toenail losing marathon-running kind of guy, I have the power to bestow the title of ‘runner’ on anyone I choose (unless I misunderstood the handbook). Consider yourself an active member, with all responsibilities, benefits, etc. the title carries with it.

  2. Ma-gnome says:

    Does almost losing ones toenail to roller derby count? My toenail didn’t fall off but it’s a deep shade of black haha!

    1. dangillis says:

      Absolutely! 🙂

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