As anyone who has been running long enough knows, the toenail status of many of your fellow running partners is often pretty grim. Pumping out high mileage is a hobby that’s pretty hard on the feet. As such, runners have all kinds of wacky situations going on with the toenails. From black toenails, to no toenails at all, runners’ tootsies experience all kinds of trauma. There about are nine types of toenails that can be found in the running scene. Here they are:

1. The “I’m so famous” black toenails. 

The black toe is the most well-known of all the runner toenail types. In fact, it’s so well known, it even has a running store named after it. Most runners experience these painful little buggers when in the thick of training. They are absolutely one of the downsides of the sport.

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2. The “barely there” toenails. 

You’ll see these when a battered toenail falls off and a new one takes its place but hasn’t fully grown in yet. Sometimes, you get a “barely there” toenail when a runner does a horrendous job of clipping their toenails but that’s their own fault. 

3. The “I’m new to this” toenails.

This is classic toenail of the running scene: the untarnished toenail of the newbie runner who has yet to really build up the mileage. If the tootsies are looking fab, their owner just hasn’t gotten fully into the sport yet. 

4. The “faking it” toenails.

Ah, so you thought you could just run a bunch, get yourself a solid Black Toenail and then just cover it up with nail polish. Not so fast Snookums! We see that fake pretty toenail for what it really is. Fraudster alert! 

5. The “these blisters are stealing my thunder” toenails. 

These toenails are the middle child of the foot: constantly feeling in the shadow of all the other toes. In this case, what has happened is that the runner has developed toe blisters so big that, aesthetically, they are in fact taking attention away from the nail. Oftentimes, this happens to those who identified with number four because karma. 

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6. The “ghosting you” toenails.

These toenails are the Bumble date of the toe world. Typically, when  a black toenail is done with being the worst, it falls off and a new one grows in. Sometimes though, the toe is left without a nail and the runner just has to carry on like normal. 

7. The “recovering from battle” toenails. 

Framing by scarred or peeling toe skin and rough to the touch, the “recovering from battle” nails are easily spotted on the recovering feet of a half or full marathoner whose race is in the recent past. 

8. The “I’m out of shape” toenails. 

These toenails are similar to those described in number three. While they may look immaculate, don’t mistake them for the nails of an inexperienced foot. This person’s feet may look fine now, but trust us, they’ve seen things. 

9. The “this little piggy went to the market and never came home” toenail. 

When some runners get fed up of the toenail described in number six, they opt to just be free of all nail problems and they have them surgically removed. This is the best option for the avid runner who just can’t be bothered. 


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  • To runners and other athletes who suffer from this blackened/bruised toe problem, it’s most often caused by your feet moving/slipping back & forth inside your shoes. We have a new insole product that completely addresses this issue (as well as cushions and cradles your poor feet!).

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