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Personal Questions from Runners

Why do I get black toenails?

The black color is typically the result of a blood blister forming under the nail. The most common cause is your toe constantly rubbing up against the front of your shoes. You’re more prone to have a problem if you do a lot of running downhill, because your feet tend to slide forward in the shoe. Warm weather runners need to be careful because feet swell in the heat. Cold weather runners should check to make sure extra socks don’t make the shoe fit too tight.

Over time, black toenails fall off and are replaced by a new nail. The process can take several weeks and for some can be painful. Don’t try to remove the nail yourself, leave that up to a professional. You should also avoid drilling into the nail to remove pressure; it won’t help and may hurt and cause more damage.

The best way to deal with the problem is to avoid getting black toenails in the first place. First, make sure your shoes fit properly. A typical running shoe often needs to be half a size larger than regular street shoes to give your feet enough room in the toebox. If you have a running store nearby, it pays to have your feet checked and sized by a professional. You might need to have more than one size shoe, depending on the weather. Second, keep your toenails trimmed so they don’t rub or press against the shoe. Finally, make sure your laces are tight enough to prevent slipping forward if you do a lot of downhill running.

Can I run when I’m having my period?

It’s a myth that women shouldn’t run during their monthly cycle. Unless you’re experiencing severe problems or complications (in which case you should see a doctor), running can help reduce some of the negative symptoms. All that movement increases blood flow to the kidneys and makes you pee more, reducing bloating and cramps. Running can also elevate your mood, and who wouldn’t be happier if bloating and cramps were reduced?

To help calm your fears, when you’re training for a race you should plan a run when you’ve got your period. A couple of test runs can help you feel more secure in case it happens on a planned race day. For more comfort and to avoid chafing, running coaches recommend tampons rather than pads. Remember to bring an extra one along if you’re going on a long run.

The most important thing you can do is pay attention to your body. A period can delay the sweat response, so it’s easier to get overheated. Make sure to drink enough throughout your run and don’t be afraid to take a day off if you feel the need.

Does running cause acne?

It’s not the running, but the chafing. The irritation caused by clothes or items that are tight or rub against your skin can lead to a form of acne called acne mechanica. The most common locations it occurs are under watch bands, bra straps, belts, headbands and where you wear heart rate monitors.

You can reduce the effects of acne mechanica by wearing loose-fitting or moisture-wicking clothing that takes sweat away from the skin.

Sweat, makeup and sunscreen can also increase the risk of acne. Makeup and sunscreens run. Not showering right after exercising can give all that stuff on your skin more time to get trapped in your pores, causing problems.

Shower as soon as you’re done working out. You don’t have to wear makeup when you exercise, so it’s best to skip it. As for sunscreen, wash it off as soon as you’re out of the sun.

If you have more severe problems, use body washes or soaps designed to deal with acne. A dermatologist can guide you in the proper use of benzoyl peroxide and retinoids.

Don’t let small issues interfere with the bigger picture. Remember that over time, exercise helps reduce stress, builds a stronger body and keeps you healthier, longer.

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