NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OKC Marathon: My toenail may do what?

Week 1 of half-marathon training for the Memorial Marathon is halfway done.

Thus far, it’s been a piece of cake. Three miles on Monday. Three miles on Tuesday. Rest on Wednesday. I don’t mind telling you, I knocked Wednesday out of the park.

Here’s what remains: four miles Thursday, a cross-training day Friday, four miles Saturday and rest Sunday. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do on my cross-training day — getting on a bike is my top contender — but if you are a runner who has cross-training suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

A couple quick things before we get to this week’s discussion of distance running fun with Amy Downs:

* People are awesome. After my blog earlier this week announcing that I was going to be doing the half, I heard from all sorts of people. Jason Kersey and Ryan Aber, my co-workers who cover our OU beat, sent emails of encouragement. They ran the half last year and promised me that if they could do it, I could do it. John Allgood also reached out. He’s a longtime sports PR man in town, and he said this:

“Read your piece on running the half. You can do it! I have run the half two times and attempted to run the full two years ago before breaking down at mile 18 because I didn't train the right way. But there is nothing like being part of the mass of humanity that has one goal in common: finish! Doesn't matter how fast you complete the run, just finish it. I am going to try the full again. And if I complete it, it will be great. But mostly, I am looking forward to sharing with thousands who run, hundreds that volunteer and those who cheer us on. Remember why we are doing this — to try and participate in a collective good. And remember.”

He’s exactly right, and intend to keep his email as a way of reminding myself of that very fact.

* A cool partnership has been forged. Thanks to the efforts of my co-worker Clay Leonard, Red Coyote has jumped aboard as a sponsor. Thank you, Red Coyote, and thank you, Clay!

On Monday morning, I’ll be headed over to the running store in Classen Curve and doing a shoe fitting. But I want to hear from you — what do you want to know about running shoes? Fit? Cushioning? Support? Inserts? Let me know what questions you have, I’ll ask them, then I’ll report back.

OK, let’s get to some Q&A with Amy Downs. As you might remember, Amy is a survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing. I met her a few years back when she led a team of runners from her work, Allegiance Credit Union. She had started running to try to get in shape, and lo and behold, she’s become a regular in distance events. She runs. She bikes. She ironmans. (Is that a verb? Well, it is now!) So, Amy comes at running from having been a beginner and experiencing all the ups and downs that come with doing something for the first time.

So, I asked her:

My mileage is about to start increasing. What are things that I might not be thinking about but should be? Hydration, nutrition, stretching, aches, pains, blisters, etc.?

Amy: First, we should probably mention how you should ease up increasing miles and not launch out like some weekend warrior and decide to run 5 miles or you will end up injured.

As you ramp up miles, you need to do a check of your running shoes. Are they in great shape? Because you do NOT want to be getting new shoes when you are into higher miles. You want to acclimate to the new shoes now.

Then, get a pedicure. Keep those toenails short! Losing a toenail is a distinct possibility if your shoes don't fit well or your toenails are too long. But if you lose a toenail, this is Facebook status worthy and you will instantly be considered a bad ass.

On hydration, if you are not running with an organized group then how will you hydrate? Organized groups have advantages of free water stops, but the down side is usually a butt-crack-of-dawn run on Saturday morning and that may not work into your schedule. If you have to run the long run alone, you need to do one of the following:

1. Create a route that loops back by your house for water: Caution on looping back by your house - it will be a mental battle to go out again for the next loop.

2. Stash water: Stashing water is done all the time around Lake Hefner or Lake Overholser. You will see water bottles with ribbons on them or "hidden" behind a tree, etc. The first time I did this, I was a little nervous and I'm not sure why. I guess I thought someone was going to wait for me to drop off my water so they could poison it? Or the police would give me a ticket for littering? You simply drive your route and find a good spot to stash water. I would do two spots in case one of them disappears. After you run, come back and throw the trash away.

3. Carry water with you: If you carry water, stop by Red Coyote or another running store and get a hand-held bottle or a water belt. There are several options, and you have to find the one you can deal with. I hate those water belts because my hips are a bit big and they tend to jiggle that water belt around my waist and I have to constantly tug at it.

Last is nutrition. With a 3-mile run you don't need to worry as much, but as you hit 5 and plus, you need to consider GU. This is a very weird invention. It freaked me out at first because it felt like I was eating toothpaste. This helps replenish your glycogen stores and prevents you from bonking. Be careful to not look like a complete dork and strap a bunch of GU's to your belt for just a 5 mile run. Just tuck one in your pocket or sports bra.

OK, let me follow up on the pedi/toe issue. Lose a toenail?!? I actually like my toes and my toenails. I'd like to keep them as is.

Amy: I asked the runners I was with at dinner last night about their toenail experiences. Almost all the girls had lost toenails at some point. They said do not pull it off because it will hurt like heck. It will first look bruised, then turn black, then just fall off. The good news is that the nail salon will just paint a toenail on there so you won't look like a freak in sandals. I have not ever lost a toenail. I read early on in my "running career" that you should keep toenails short and your shoes should have a big enough toebox so there is not a lot of friction between the toes and the shoe. So far it has worked for me. However, if I do lose a toenail, then everyone on Facebook will know about it and I will post pictures which will make me look like a runner rock star.

You talked about hydration while running. Great stuff. But what do you consider regular hydration during the day? I'm bad about drinking water.

Amy: I personally drink 60 oz of water a day, which I have been told by some that this is not enough. In addition to that, I will drink water during my workout and immediately following it.

I have to play head games with myself to drink that water. This is what I do, and it works. I won't let myself eat breakfast until I drink at least 20 oz of water. I love to eat so this works for me. I usually get this 20 oz in on my way to work in the car. Then I have to set alarms on my cell phone or calendar appointments on my outlook to remind myself to drink water in the day. On the drive home from work, I do another 20 oz and can't have dinner until I have it all in.

While running, you just want a little to sip and not chug it. Chugging is what you do when you are done.


If you have topics that you’d like to ask Amy — wait, is that the title of this segment, “Ask Amy”?!? — let me know. We already have some more ideas in mind, including sports bras as purses and finish line dance moves, but we’d love to know what you’re interested in.

Until next week, happy running!

We've put together a calendar with some options. To give it a look, click here.

Red Coyote has a training program for the marathon and half marathon. Contact the store at 405.840.0033 or go to for information about how you might get involved.

Want your training group included on our calendar, please email and we’ll get you added.

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›