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Tired of the Ponytail? Hairstyles for Runners

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Spice up your running hair routine with some of these up-do ideas! Tired of the Ponytail? Hairstyles for Runners www.runnerclick.com

When it comes to running, most of us aren’t as concerned with how our hair looks as much as just making sure it stays out of our face and off our necks. When it comes to running, female hairstyles traditionally tend to be all about function and not so much fashion. And so when we go out on the trails or line up along race routes as spectators, chances are the large majority of women (and men who are sporting a longer mane) have their hair up in a ponytail. While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with the ponytail, most of us would still like to look good – and that doesn’t really stop at our running hairstyles, no matter how sweaty and knotted they can get! Fortunately, there are a number of other hairstyle options that’ll not only keep your hair up and out of your face and off your neck and back, but are trendy, stylish, and super cute!

The Messy Bun

One of the biggest complaints female runners have about the ponytail is that it tends to whip your shoulders or upper back as it swings back and forth behind you. When it’s cool outside and you have on a shirt that fully covers your back, you might not notice it. But with warmer weather and skimpier running tops, repeated whipping can really start to sting. The messy bun is a great way to quickly throw your hair up on the top of your head without it hanging down behind you. It’s a great option for girls who consider their personal style functional, but also are carefree. It’s “messy” because there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to the way it sits on top of your head.

Simply start by securing your hair in a ponytail, then take another hair tie elastic and secure it in a bun, but then continue wrapping the elastic around the bits of hair that are not secured up in the bun. One of the downsides to the messy bun is that, unless it is secured in just the right way, it tends to fall easily. Your best solution is to grab some hairpins and get to work securing those bits of hair that are still hanging, wrapping them around the original bun you set. The result is a cute messy top-knot that looks fun and carefree but will keep the hair out of your face.

Tip: Avoid the messy bun if it’s raining or foggy, or else you’ll end up with a knotted mess that is NOT cute – and may need scissors to get out of the hair tie!

The Spiral Bun (aka Ballet Bun)

For a more regal, sophisticated look, you can opt to put your hair up in a spiral bun (otherwise known as a ballet bun). And fortunately, the technique is simple.  Start by putting your hair in a ponytail at a comfortable position on the head. Then take the ponytail and twirl it around your fingers, then twist it so that it resembles a donut, and secure it with another ponytail. 

You might also need additional hairpins if you have some strays. The ballet bun is a great option for running as it typically stays in place well, and makes you quite put-together and feminine.

Tip: Depending on how fast you run or your running style, you’ll probably want to secure your spiral bun at the nape of your neck so that it doesn’t have so much of a chance of bouncing free of its hair ties. Buns positioned lower on your head will stay put for longer.

The Braided Ponytail or Bun

If you want to step your ponytail up to a real Laura Croft or Katniss Everdeen level, the braided ponytail is a great option. It looks sophisticated like the classic pony, but when it’s braided, it won’t sting you so bad as it hits your shoulders and neck.

Tip: Braiding the ponytail means the weight of your hair is more centralized to a location, so it’s “heavier” and doesn’t swing around as much. Secure it at the base of your head to lessen the back and forth swing even more.

Or you can opt to take the braided pony a step further and combine what you did with the ballet bun with your braided ponytail. Once the pony is in a braid, twist it just as you would for the spiral bun into a donut shape and secure with another elastic. This is my personal favorite running hairstyle because it keeps everything pinned back, doesn’t come undone easily, and holds up to all kinds of weather.

Long French Braid

Taking it back to our grade school days with this long French Braid option! There is something subtle, refined, and beautifully innocent about a long, simple french braid. This is a great option for people who don’t have super defined layers (lots of layering makes braids harder to stay in place) and a French braid in particular is good for running because it doesn’t have a ton of bounce.

Tip: The higher up on your head you start your braid, the better put it will stay without falling out while you run. Or, try a fishtail braid. It’s a gorgeous variation of the French Braid, using only two sections of hair instead of three, and it can typically be braided tighter than the French braid.


The last time you wore your hair in pigtails might date back further than that elementary French braid, but they can be just as cute (and functional for runners) as ever! If you have super short hair, regular ole’ pigtails will work just fine. Simply part your hair and secure each pigtail close to the bottom of your head, near your ears. If you have longer tousles, braided or even French braided pigtails will not only look beautiful and regal as you run, but will hold in place well.

This one isn’t for everyone though – some ladies hate having one long braid that swings freely behind them enough, much less two of them!

Tip: There is a time and place for experimenting with wearing your hair parted at a non-natural part, and pigtails for running is not one of them. If you try and force your part where it doesn’t naturally lie, your pigtails will fall a lot easier. Au natural is always best!


  1. Alison Caporimo, 21 Hairstyles You Can Do In Less than Five Minutes, Buzzfeed Article
  2. Erica Schuckles, Hairstyles for Runners, Active.com Article

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