On The Run

What’s It Like Running Without Toenails?

My post on why and how my toenails were removed reached a wide audience, becoming the 7th most-read post of 2021, shortly after it was published! So it’s only fair that I give you an update. Around Day 10 post-surgery, I stopped wearing bandages and the healing process continued without any problems. Four weeks post-surgery, I visited Dr Mohammed, who was happy with the progress. He removed some of the scabs that had formed, leaving two very naked toes!

I returned to running and was overjoyed that there was no soreness or discomfort with my toes. In fact, I have so enjoyed running without toenails that a part of me wouldn’t mind if they never grew back. But Dr Mohammed has already spotted both nails emerging. What has been difficult to deal with is my dramatic fall from fitness. Yet again, I made the critical error of not doing other activities to keep fit whilst I couldn’t run and I’ve paid for it dearly over the last 3 weeks.

Running My Way Back To Fitness

My first run was on Monday 8th November and two things hit me, first – waking up before 5am suddenly felt very foreign and this is coming from someone who used to do this on a regular basis! The second was just how much fitness I had lost in a month. I was shocked. I knew some fitness would go. But this felt awful. My legs struggled to move and I battled to find a good breathing rhythm. My aim was 5km but I called it a day at 4.85km with an unconvincing smile.

“A short run is better than no run” – Unknown.

The stats told a scary story – my average heart rate was 164bpm with a max of 179. My body felt battered the following day like I’d done 25km instead of 5. So demoralised was I, that I didn’t run again for a week. I’m not sure what I thought another week off would achieve. My run the following Monday felt pretty much the same. But this time I stuck with it, managing three runs that week, my longest – 7km. My runs didn’t improve but I did my best to remain positive.

“I run . . . I’m slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I run” – Unknown

When the third Monday came around, I couldn’t muster the courage to run that morning. But throughout the day I felt uncomfortable with this decision. I knew if I didn’t run that day, I would regret it. In a way, this thought comforted me. I felt my old determination creeping in. That hot afternoon, I hit the road – there was one km where I was hopeful for a good run, but that quickly disappeared and by the end of the run, I felt defeated and disappointed. Really disappointed.

Bringing myself to run again on Thursday morning was tough. But the weather was on my side. It was a beautiful cloudy and crisp day. I wore bright pink tights and a top that read, “Killin’ it even on my worst day!” Channelling this mantra, I crossed the road and started running.

“The voice in your head that says that you can’t do this is a liar” – Unknown

It wasn’t fast but for the first time in almost 3 weeks, I felt a good run was just around the corner. My watch still told me I was overreaching but I was too happy to care at that point. I wasn’t there yet but I felt I was close and that my consistency would pay off.

“There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner” – Dean Karnazes

On Saturday, I did a 7.5km run. It was another cool morning. At 07:38min/km, my average pace felt good. I didn’t feel like the kilometres were dragging. In fact, I was surprised when I reached the half-way point and had to turn back. I ran tall, breathing in and out comfortably. Around 5km, I took in the fresh air and with a deep sigh I said out loud, “Here it is”. The run I’ve been waiting for. And finally my Garmin was happy, declaring I’d been productive! Yes!

“You have to run all the bad runs to get to the good one!” – The Gaborone Runner.

What’s On The Table For Next Month?

I start training for the Addo Ultra-Trail (remember the one I trained for before but never ran!) which is in 16 weeks’ time. I’m excited to be training again and even though I’m not at my fittest right now, I’m going to focus on consistency especially as we enter the holiday season. I know I said I wouldn’t run every street for a while , but I find it so fun and motivational so I couldn’t resist! This time I’m tackling two in one go (only because I don’t know where their individual boundaries are) – Block 3 (Industrial and Residential) and Broadhurst Industrial.

I might also be travelling for work in December and of course, I’m planning to run and blog about my experience! All this PLUS preparing for Christmas! But what’s that famous quote?

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up” – Dean Karnazes

Have you ever struggled to get back to fitness after a break? What’s your favourite motivational quote or mantra when running? What are your plans for December?

I’m joining two fabulous runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up – the “Weekly Run Down”.

31 thoughts on “What’s It Like Running Without Toenails?

  1. I’ve been riding on the struggle bus making my way back to running! So I feel you. Even though I stayed active, nothing taxes the body quite like running. Glad you’re on your way back.

    And really, toenails are overrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Toenails are so overrated! I’m actually loving having them gone! LOL.
      The struggle bus is not fun Wendy. Let’s keep pushing, we will get there. Luckily, my runs are feeling better but my average heart rate yesterday was 170bpm. I will need to keep an eye on that – looks very suspicious.


  2. You are such an inspiration!! Even when you feel defeated, you keep pressing on. Myself, I have never felt that “struggle” to come back from injury or setback. I’m not super human, but it took me a long time to get to my level… I don’t ever want to go through those “early struggles” again, so I just keep active in other ways when/if running takes a backseat. Glad your tootsies are healing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always loved and admired your ability to just keep going and doing other things when you can’t run!! I always fall into the same trap and then say never again! I hope I remember this feeling the next time I’m tempted to do nothing!


    1. Thank you Deborah! For some reason I struggle with walk-run intervals – my knees feel funny each time I have to start the running intervals. My last couple of runs have definitely felt better so I am going to keep going and pushing (and give myself some grace!)


  3. Just keep at it slow & steady & you will get back that lost fitness. That’s the great thing about running — we don’t lose it permanently, it just takes nurturing and patience. So proud of you for getting out there, Shathiso! To better days ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry it’s been so hard to get back. I struggled after my fall and then I got a terrible cold, have been out for two more weeks and THEN got side-effects from my Covid booster jab and haven’t run this weekend (it’s also been snowing, so might not have gone anyway). Already before the cold my VO2 max had dropped from 41 to 38 and I’m just going to have to not look for a while. Glad you had a good one in the end and long may that continue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t even want to reveal what my VO2 max dropped to!!!! And I never want to see that figure again! So sorry you have had such a rough time as well – and I really hope all of that is behind you now so you can go back to enjoying your runs and the holiday season. Sending lots of love and hugs xx


  5. When I broke my leg in 2018, I was out of running for 6 months. When my stitches came out, I swam, and when I could put weight on it, I started biking, etc. I tried to stay active, but honestly, there’s nothing like running and it took me awhile to build back. I remember being SO excited when I ran 3 straight miles without walk breaks. You’ll get there! Just be patient and consistent. Even when it hurts! Focus on remembering how much you loved it and you felt at your peak fitness and keeping working towards that! Good luck Shathiso!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember your fight back to running so well!!! You were incredible! But I also remember the frsutration you spoke of. Can’t believe its already 3 years ago! On my down days, I really channel stories like yours and others who were out for similar timeframes, and think to myself “I can do this!” My runs are still tougher than I’d like but feeling a lot better! I also have my focus back which is half the battle!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad that you continue to heal well after the procedure. It can definitely be so hard to come back to running after some time off. It’s like our bodies are totally in shock when we hit the pavement again. Kudos to you for getting through those hard runs in the beginning – I know how frustrating that can be!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I always do something even if I can’t run, but even then it’s a struggle to return to running. But it all comes back! I’m glad your runs are starting to feel better.
    Enjoy your month of December! Sounds like you’ve got some fun projects brewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You look so strong and powerful in that photo with the pink tights. I think you’re amazing and will be back better than ever. I know how humbling that return can be, but it passes. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s good to hear that your persistence is finally paying off. I’ve had to make my comeback a few different times over the last few years due to nagging sciatica. During my downtime from running I continued lifting weights and walking, and that helped a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YAY!!! There’s Garmin’s PRODUCTIVE verdict! You’ve got this, Shathiso!
    I know how hard it is to come back – I struggled after missing nearly a year of running with my Achilles in 2019. A comeback felt impossible. But the body is amazing at remembering how to do all the cardio stuff. Only a few weeks can make a big difference.

    And then there’s ADDO!! This is so exciting! 16 weeks sound short, but you will see, you’ll be very fit by the time March comes around.
    I’m looking forward to following your training over the next few months!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.