|The bond between a person and his big toenail can be a beautiful thing, offering warmth, protection, and companionship. But all things must pass. If the time arises to part with one’s toenail, here are some tips on how to make the parting less painful. I caution that I am not a medical doctor; nor do I play one on television.
1. After the race, gently insert a sterilized needle under the toenail, to pop and drain the blisters under the nail. This will relieve pressure on the nail, and restore considerable sensation to the big toe underneath.
2. Wait two or three weeks.
3. The new nail will bud under the nail, and the old nail will gradually loosen.
4. Signs that the toenail is ready to be removed: white cadaverous colour; independent movement under sock; independent water flow under toenail at pool and in bath.
5. Sterilize a set of needle-nosed pliers in boiling water.
6. Draw a hot bath.
7. Soak in bath.
8. Insert pliers under toenail. Gently and slowly pull toenail up and to the side. If there is blood, pain, and/or resistance, defer procedure for a few days.
9. Toenail should slide out of toe casing akin to a CD out of a tight CD case.
10. Photograph toe, toenail, and pliers.
11. Show toenail and pliers to wife and children. Points for creatively and nonchalantly leaving same lying around house on wife’s dresser, kitchen counter, computer desk, etc.
12. Save toenail or fashion it into creative memento.
Thanks to Pete Villella (also not a medical doctor) for coaching me through this process. And for a more rough method of toenail removal, see Ferg Hawke‘s method at 1:10 of Rob Letson’s most excellent The Distance of Truth trailer.
As a Christmas gift to myself, I decided to investigate the hype surrounding this maximalist trail running shoe from France, used by, among other ultra running luminaries, Karl Meltzer. The attached photo gives a sense of the massively wide and thick sole offering wider grip and the most comfortable ride imaginable on a running shoes: the visual comparator is the old-school Hardrock, previously considered to be at the top end of heavy-duty support.
There are many reviews readily accessible by google, so I will not attempt to offer a full review, but rather a Pacific Northwest perspective.
The shoes are incredibly comfortable, and despite the lofty heights your feet are from the ground and the relatively minimal and low ankle support, feel reasonably balanced and secure. Running quickly round a corner must emulate the feeling of being in a monster-truck: the centrifugal force makes one feel like you are about to roll over, but all is kept in place. Despite the larger size, they are reasonably light.
The main criticism of the Hokas, and for running in the Pacific Northwest, a fatal shortcoming, is the lack of grip on a hard moist surface: hit a wet North Shore boardwalk, root, or skid row, and you may fly to your doom (as I almost did on the stairs going down into the Mackay Creek Valley).
The Hoka would likely be an ideal shoe for a non-technical 50mile+ run through the desert or on the road. For a shorter distance, the cushioning is probably surplus (although it may offer hope for those with sensitive feet or creaky joints). I will probably use them for the last 30miles of Western States, when my feet will feel good and pounded.
$190 at Kintec for the waterproof version (shown)(price is yikes, but cheaper than the 155 Euros on the Hoka website).
POSTSCRIPT: Just wore the Hokas for a 50K the day after a marathon. Perhaps psychosomatic, but they did appear to make life gentler, both during the run, and in recovery the day after.