My Romance With Running

Stories about running

What missing toenail?


I mentioned in a previous post that I was sure I would see the death of my big toenail a few months after Tarawera. I’m always right, and I was right, as always, about this.

My toenail did die a very slow, dirt and unidentifiable particle collecting, undignified death. There is no getting around how ugly my toes look right now. The nail is making a slow comeback; it’s going through an uneven, lumpy Franken-toe awkward puberty stage right now. My feet weren’t ever model material, but with the added element of missing toenail making a return, something had to be done.

I’ll show you ten ways that you can disguise a missing toenail and have pretty, socially acceptable, non-vomit-inducing feet. If you haven’t been lucky enough to have this happen, keep a few tricks up your compression sleeve  for when it inevitably does.

What missing toenail?


Click to zoom in for more yuck

Covering the offending digit needn’t be a chore. You don’t have to put in too much effort really, depending on the circumstance, the occasion, and who you think might see your toe it can be a very simple fix. Let’s begin with a few very basic ideas.

 1. Wear socks with bananas on them

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are the obvious solution, but what if you’re going to the beach or the swimming pool and your latex swimming socks don’t match your outfit? I have a solution for you!

2. Paint your toenails


Sexy red nail polish. You can’t even tell that one toenail is a jagged half grown mess

Nail polish is fairly cheap, comes in lots of colours, and will stay on your toe until the nail eventually grows out if you are too lazy/busy/carefreeYOLO to remove it, it’s hardy stuff. It sticks to anything light coloured or expensive but will not stick very well to skin, and if you try to paint a ‘fake’ nail on to your skin patch it will only rub off after a couple of days.

 3. Add glitter to mask any imperfections


Ruby Slippers!

4. Add a little more glitter


Very glitter! So Sparkle. Wow.

If the toenail flaw is still a bit obvious, you can always go a step further. Apparently you can just put makeup on your feet, this would also do away with your sock tan. Can you do smokey eyes on feet?

5. Pretend a child painted your toenails for you


My imaginary child painted my toenails last night, soooo cute!

When disguises won’t work, the next step to take is to create a diversion. Draw attention away from your gammy toenail by getting people to focus on something else, like how strange you are.

Some of these ideas are only workable in very specific scenarios and cannot be used in everyday life.

6. Toest


Out for a bare foot breakfast? Try some Toe Jam.

 7. Toeblerone

Someone's been through duty free!

Someone’s been through duty free!

8. Potatoes


Roast, baked, mashed, so versatile

9. Toepographical map


Bet you barely noticed my missing toenail here.

 10. Eskitoe Pie

For those 'Can't beat Wellington on a good day' days

For those ‘Can’t beat Wellington on a good day’ days

I hope that you find at least a few of these useful, and if you have your own ideas on how to disguise those runner’s feet and missing toenails, please comment and let me know.


Note: Because I am injured, less time on feet (8+ hours a week) means more time on my hands, hence I have been in many different social situations requiring toe disguises.

I took away a few lessons from this time photographing my feet

  • If you have a fractured pelvis, take off your beige pants before painting your foot green or it will be difficult to wash said foot in the shower
  • Acrylic paint washes of skin, or toenail, not patches of toenaily skin.
  • Chocolate, glitter, and jam also stick to toenaily skin and are very hard to wash off
  • Don’t tell people that you ate the toest, they will think you are yuck. (Why waste perfectly good peanut butter?)
  • Ice cream on your toes for five minutes will make them numb and give you chilblains

Author: Amanda Broughton

Talking, running, eating, meandering.

23 thoughts on “What missing toenail?

  1. Ok. I literally spat curry onto my computer screen reading this… and I almost died due to lack of oxygen. I wonder if ACC will cover these damages…. hmmm

  2. I laughed louder than Ash reading this. Toeblerone is my favourite, although please remind me never to accept toast, ice cream or chocolate from you.

  3. Genius in a genius bordering on madness kind of way 😉

  4. What a great chuckle for a Sunday night, kept my mind off my op! By the way I have a toe like yours but can’t blame it on running, but uncle Narnold’s BAD dancing about 4 years ago! It still hasn’t recovered:(

  5. Oh, this gave me a great laugh today!

  6. More more more! Your writing is laugh out loud hilarious, even when I am sitting by myself in a room and my laughing out loud feels a little awkward….I especially like the child toe painting idea…I too have missing toenails…unfortunately it’s because I just rip them off for ‘fun’ (weird creepy habit I can’t stop). I also hope that eskitoe pie didnt go to waste haha

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  8. Hi Amanda, I’m working on an article for the Trail Runner Mag website about black toenails in the trail running community, and serendipitously came across this post. I’d love to hear more about your toenail experience and possibly include it as an illustrative anecdote in the article, if you’d be comfortable with that. Let me know.

    Paul Cuno-Booth

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  10. Gotta say Amanda, this is the best read i’ve had in a while. Can’t wait to talk to you more 🙂 Haha!

  11. I am slowly watching the blood blister building away under both my fourth little toenails. My most favouritest toenails. With running over 300kms in the last 3 months my little toenails are doing well to hang on. I’m liking the glitter idea though…. perfect!

  12. Omg I have had a fractured pelvis (how???) and my toe nails look like devil’s spawn. We should totes be friends.

    This article is magic. Thank you!

  13. I have come up with a really innovative thing that I’m now doing after having my two big toenails removed until they grow back. Use a nail brush to apply a little Manuka honey and then another small powder brush to put glitter over the top. Wash off nightly:) the Manuka honey is hydrating and conditioning but wash off at the end of the day more so for the glitter

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