Hair tips for runners

I’ve been a runner and I’ve had hair for a long time now. Somedays that hasn’t worked out so well for me. In fact over the years I’ve switched up how I do things because of my hair on numbers occasions because of running. Recently I’ve even chopped it all off mostly for running. But you don’t have to go that far, I have other reasons too. As much as I loved my long hair in running photos taking care of it just stopped being worth it for me. Along the way I picked up more than a few tips and tricks too. There are things you can do while you’re running and while you’re not to make it more manageable and stylish. You can make it look cuter while you’re running and even look cute after your run without a shower. So here are my top tricks and tricks for keeping your hair bouncing and behaving 

Try not to treat it

If you must treat your hair, and I get that you might, try to do as little as possible to it and as infrequently as possible. If you chemically change the curl level, bleach it to dye it another color and add highlights that’s about the worse case scenario. The less treated it is the easier it is to deal with!

Most functional styles

The most functional style could arguably be the top bun. Your hair stays locked into the bun and putting it on the very top of your head. All the way up there it doesn’t bounce down as you go or tug on your head. However this style admittedly falls short on style. You might think a ponytail or French braids are best but I would argue that ponytails can be beat and both tend to come loose as you go. Depending on your length and texture braids can also thump you with every step as you go. If you opt for a ponytail keep it as high as possible to keep it in place. My sweet spot was always so high it was sort of technically on the top of my head.

My favorite running hair style is by far and away the jasmine ponytail. Basically you pull sections of hair, top, middle and bottom into little ponytails and include the tail above in the tail below. This is the best style for keeping all those wispy hairs locked in and even making short haired folks able to rock the ponytail at all. If the hair on your neck drives you nuts you can tuck your tail end back into one of the previous elastics. This style is also not very likely to damage your hair and it’s tucked tight to your head and it pretty much doesn’t bounce at all. This is always the style I wear for longer races.

Another style that can’t be overlooked are pigtails. I know what you’re thinking, that’s hella immature. Much like the jasmine ponytail pigtails you can get all your short hairs into two separate tails where that might not be true of one. It’s pretty good at preventing tangles as well because your hairs aren’t touching in the back where knots tend to start. It’s also a great style for yoga or any other time you’re likely to be standing on your head. If you want to go for the grown up version over the school girl version opt for low and behind the ear. But I’ve been known to rock both.

 Dealing with tangles

Fun story, one time my mom got me an appointment with our city’s hot new stylist as a present. He was curling it putting several barrel bristle brushes in my long hair which can be prone to tangles just because of the texture. I even pointed out that I didn’t think that was such a great idea. He snapped back with “but honey, I’m a professional!” Ten minuets later three of them were picking them out piece by piece while my eyes watered uncontrollably for over half an hour. Then he charged me full price! So I have hair that though untreated and fine is prone to tangles because I have A LOT of it. It’s a lot of the reason I decided to cut it all off. At a certain point running, being on a boat or just living my life means a bun if I don’t want to spend 10 minutes brushing it out later. Hairspray and any degree of styling only makes it worse. Though I loved my long hair your girl can only rock so many buns in a year. It took me two years to get to that point and I did pick up some things along the way.

Probably the best one is to do a weekly nourishing hair mask. Which will keep the tangles down to a minimum. Another tip wash your hair way less frequently so that it has more slide from the natural oils. Brushing it out before your run, bath or shower and a nice conditioner helps too. Opt for styles that keep the full length of your hair tied in and locked down on your run. Also every bit of length you do cut helps a lot. 

Beating the grease

Since my hair is fine it does tend toward the greasier side of things. I’ll never be one of those women who can wash their hair once a week. Opt for a lightweight conditioner and make sure you rinse it out completely. You can also keep the conditioner off your scalp and focus your efforts on the ends. If your main goal is to keep oils at bay it’s best to skip the leave in conditioner. You might have heard that the less you wash your hair the less you have too. This is totally true but it’s a painful process because you have to commit to washing your hair at least half as often as you usually do several times in a row. After that you really will have nicer hair for a longer time between washes. It sucks but it really does work. Then there is our old friend dry shampoo which will help absorb the grease for a few hours at least. If you’re looking to get one more day or one more run out of your do there is a better and cheaper option. It’s weird, it works. That is to load your hair up with plain old baby powder the night before and sleep that way. Think more is more. Shake out the remnants and brush it out the next day. Doing it the night before adds to a more natural, freshly washed look and helps minimize the white cast. Sounds crazy but give it a try, plus all that dry shampoo adds up!

Probably keep enough to put it up

Realistically, if you’re a runner or an athlete you’re probably going to want to keep enough length to pull your hair back off your face. That doesn’t necessarily mean enough for a traditional ponytail (see the jasmine ponytail above). This is obviously helpful when you’re exercising but also great after. No matter how many super great hair tips you pick up after a long, hot run it’s not going to look camera ready. Combine that with having to function as a human after means that being able to put it up and grab some groceries. Going super short is also a good option but it’s harder to pull off after the fact.

Prevent damage

 Running with longer hair can be really damaging. You have breakage concerns, drying conditions and the potential for UV damage. Bouncing around with your hair in certain styles of elastics is ripe for damage but it still needs to be secure enough to stay. I really favor the spring style plastic ones they stay really well and aren’t damaging. If I want something cuter I’ll add a scrunchy on top. You can buy UV protectant for color treated hair but your best bet is probably to just wear a solid hat. Being out in the weather and sweating into your hair can really dry it out which in turn leads to more breakage. You can try a few things if you find your hair drying out. One is to wash it way less often, it is possible to not shower after even a hard workout. I really like hair masks for dry hair too. I like to leave it on a lot longer and cover my head with a bag to help it sink in and the effects usually last a week or two. Plus it’s pretty fun to pamper yourself! It should go without saying that always using a good conditioner every time you wash your hair is a good idea and if your hair texture can handle it a leave in conditioner. 

I’ve never done a whole lot to my hair I did used to color it and heat treat it a couple of times a week in the past. Now I don’t do anything to it save for curling it a couple of times a year. Doing less to it in general makes it WAY less prone to damage. So think about your hair routine if you find it getting really damaged and try to pair that down as much as you can.

While I do think it’s harder for people with longer hair to keep it looking it’s best while living an active life longer hair does have it’s plusses. Having a bit of length gives us more options while we’re working out and after. There really is nothing like a tight bun to hide a multitude of sins. What hair problems do you run into living an active life? What’s your best tip for your mane? Leave it in the comments below!

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