Permanently Remove Your Toenails?!?

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I think I found the answer to my problem in my previous post: surgically remove my toenails!

No, I’m NOT really serious, but there was just an article about it in the NY Times. Here’s an image of an ultra runner’s feet who has had his nails removed:

(Image courtesy of Matthew Staver for the NY Times)

He had a doctor pour acid on his nail beds in order to keep them from growing back in 1992. Dr. Robert M. Conenello, a sports podiatrist, was quoted as saying this about some ultra runners:

A lot of them look at their toenails as useless appendages, remnants of claws from evolutionary times long ago. I’ve heard them say, ‘Toenails are dead weight.’

Here’s another poignant quote from the article:

But the practice strikes some runners as overkill. “You know any sport has gone off the rails when you have to remove body parts to do it,” said Christopher McDougall, the author of a recent book about ultrarunning called “Born to Run.”

Ultramarathoners tend to keep quiet about toenail removal, Mr. McDougall said, because they “tired of being freaks, and they don’t want to add anything more freakish to their résumé.”

Click here to read the Oct 21 2009 article on the NY Times website. Now, where did I put my jar of acid?... I have some toenails to deal with... ;)


Shannon 4:23 AM, November 11, 2009  

No Toe Nails vs. Purple Toe Nails

Keep the purple! It's a nice color btw. Just saying....

Missy 5:53 AM, November 11, 2009  

NO nails just looks a little too weird.

duchossois 6:07 AM, November 11, 2009  

It is actually a very reasonable response to a problem many ultra runners have. Toe nails in various stages of falling off or growing back mean constant risk of infection, especially when doing lots of creek and river crossings and running for hours in shoes soaked in river water. Not to mention the nuisance and in some cases pain. I have not done it, but I've run with others who have and they are quite pleased with the results, although their feet do look a little funny.

Anonymous,  7:43 AM, November 11, 2009  

I don't know if it is going that far. I had webs put between my toes to swim faster and had a synthetic chamois stitched on my taint (see urban dictionary if you don’t know what it is) so I could stay aero longer on my bike. Anything to make it to Kona for me!!!

Jamie 8:02 AM, November 11, 2009  

"They don’t want to add anything more freakish to their résumé."

What?! Really?!

I thought that was the whole point of endurance sports in the first place, to hang out with like-minded freaks and not be ashamed about it.

Jen Feeny 8:25 AM, November 11, 2009  

Um is it TMI to say that my toes look like this guys and I did NOT get them surgically removed? Mine all fell off and have yet to even attempt to grow back so instead I have empty sockets. Grossest.things.ever. I paint them daily... to give the illusion of toe nails and because the paint doesn't stay adhered to my skin. Disgusting.

Unknown 10:22 AM, November 11, 2009  

Yeah, I'm no ultra runner but I think I'll keep my ugly, gnarled run-wrecked nails...

hoodie 11:02 AM, November 11, 2009  

Anonymous - I've got webbed toes (born w/ 'em) and it hasn't improved my swimming. So... probably not worth the surgery.

Regina 11:09 AM, November 11, 2009  

Um, yeah, no sandle wearing for that dude.

Bob A 12:42 PM, November 11, 2009  

In 6 1/2 years of continuous running, I've not had a full set of normal toenails at all. As soon as the last one looks like it's going to finally get back to normal, another becomes a chameleon and then comes off.

teacherwoman 4:13 PM, November 11, 2009  

Now that's just nasty! LOL

Coach Liz 6:36 PM, November 11, 2009  

You think feet with no toenails looks better than hairy toes???

Stick with the bruised toenails.

KC 8:54 PM, November 11, 2009  

I think this is a great idea. I have a problem with my toenails - they're always falling off. Especially my second and fourth toes. I actually think it would look better if I could just paint the skin there and pretend I had nails.

Spokane Al 9:29 PM, November 11, 2009  

Steve, here is something you can appreciate - full color glossy photos of a local runner getting some of her toenails removed! You can view the experience at . Lisa blogs at

Enjoy buddy!

Anonymous,  4:35 AM, November 12, 2009  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
joyRuN 6:16 AM, November 12, 2009  

I think I'd rather look at your black toenails complete with mutant long toe hair than that ;)

Calyx Meredith 6:22 AM, November 12, 2009  

Egad that's revolting! Why, oh why did I not look at the title of this post before I opened it? Srsly. I never learn. (You wouldn't really think about doing this, would you?)

Ordinarylife 7:51 AM, November 12, 2009  

That is revolting - but seeing as mine are always in various states of disapperance or regrowth it seems like quite a valid solution (not one I am going to try though).

Kristin Bradfield 8:21 AM, November 12, 2009  

Nasty!!! I'd rather see the black toenail than that. It's somewhat a badge of honor.

Unknown 12:54 PM, November 13, 2009  

Ha! This is crazy. I have lost 2 so far and am so proud of it! It wouldn't be as much fun if you just took care of them all at once!

Oh, I have a giveaway going on at my site - Come check it out and enter to win a $25 gift card to

sRod 2:01 PM, November 13, 2009  

Man, I've put up with a lot of pictures from you over the years--but this is the first that has triggered a gag reflex. It's gross.

Anonymous,  2:23 PM, November 13, 2009  

Hold the acid! Don't do it!!!

tri_al 10:52 AM, November 14, 2009  

and just before dinner...

Anonymous,  12:40 PM, November 16, 2009  

I had my big toenail removed almost 3 years ago and it was the BEST thing I could have done. Years of struggling with skates (hockey) and my feet was unbearable. I haven't had problems since it was removed. (And for the ladies - you can get press on toe nails to wear for sandle season or weddings or whatever.)


Bill 3:53 PM, November 26, 2009  

Hehe. Little slow on this one, since I've been away from the internets for a few weeks.

But it's not all bad. I had one removed/killed back in 1995, thanks to a recurring ingrown tendency that led to some nasty infections. I think having it removed scared the other one into submission, since it's never bugged me since.

And I'm glad that I've never had issues with it in my shoes.

But to remove all of them just for running? Don't think so.

セフレ 8:17 AM, July 22, 2010  


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