Fun fact: I have never lost a toenail. I have now been running for 18 years, and I’ve only heard stories of runners losing toenails and never really experienced it myself. 

I’ve never even had a black toenail. 

I know, right?! I used to think that it was a runner’s rite of passage to lose a toenail. When I trained for my first marathon, my toenails stayed in place (and a normal color) and I thought it would have happened during the race. 

But, nope! And now, 20 marathons down, all toenails still intact and happy. 

So, what’s the deal with runners losing toenails? 


It is a legit thing, and usually it happens after you have a black toenail. A black toenail is basically a bruise underneath the nail, which is caused by a repetitive movement that puts your toenail under pressure — like running. 

Of course, you can get black toenails from other things — like stubbing your toe (oh my ow) or dropping something on it. 

If the bruise underneath the toenail is bad enough, it will basically make it fall off. 

How to prevent black toenails

Most likely, if you have black toenails or among the group of runners losing toenails, it’s because your shoes aren’t fitting the right way. It could be that the toe box is too small for your feet, or that you are wearing too small of a size. Most experts say that you should size up your running shoes, especially if you run longer distances. If in real shoes, you wear a 7 for example, you should wear a 7.5 in your running shoes. 



I would make sure you try the fit out before you do this though! I wear the exact same size in my running shoes (Glycerin 13s from Brooks Running) as I do in my everyday shoes. I feel like the Glycerin 13s have a wider toe box so that it gives my feet the room that they need to be comfortable. 

In addition, check out what socks you are wearing when you run. When I first started training for marathons, I wore whatever socks I had in my drawer.



Now, I exclusively wear running socks when I run and it makes a HUGE difference in preventing blisters and if you are susceptible to black toenails, make sure you do the same! Your toes will thank you. 🙂

So there you have it —> the truth behind runners losing toenails! And P.S., make sure to stop by tomorrow because I’ll be giving away a pair of running shoes to make sure you don’t have to deal with losing toenails. 🙂


Have you ever lost a toenail? Gotten a black one? 

Do you run in specialty running socks? How do you size your running shoes? 


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