The Best (and worst) Hairstyles for Running

When I first started running, I couldn’t wait to be the girl in the cute outfit with my ponytail swishing back and forth with each step.

medium_2593882681photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

I have mastered the cute outfit but nobody warned me about the ponytail.  No one told me it would smack me in the face.  Or that it is never perfectly centered so it makes me feel like I’m running crooked.  Or that I would need a new hair elastic every other time so it won’t fall out.  As I try to figure out what is going to work best, I will discuss the pros and cons of my current options:

1. The classic ponytail:

Pros: the easiest hairstyle of all, cute, keeps away bugs as it swishes back and forth

Cons: see my rant above

2. The low ponytail:

Pros: also an easy hair-do, stays pretty secure, doesn’t bounce around

Cons: not as cute (at least in my opinion), hard to re-do if you have headphones on, let’s your hair stick to your neck and back when it’s hot out

3. A bun: (First came to my attention as an option when I watched Scandal and saw Olivia Pope go for a run with her hair in a bun)

Pros: it almost feels like you have no hair, no swishing ponytail

Cons: Takes more effort, will fill out unless very secure, nearly impossible to fix while running

4. A French braid:

Pros: stays pretty secure, hair is out of your face, now swishing

Cons: takes more effort, traps in all the heat

5. Headbands:

Pros: keeps hair out of your face, cute

Cons: HEADACHES, can anyone actually use one without it slipping off your head???

6. Shaving off all my hair: This is most tempting in the middle of a run on a hot day.

Pros: It would feel so much cooler (temperature wise), no muss, no fuss

Cons: I don’t need to match haircuts with my boyfriend, you don’t have any other styling options, very hard to grow out


I still haven’t decided what my best option is. Maybe I need a haircut too but that involves more decisions!  Lately I’ve been going with a low ponytail and enduring the sweat.

How do you wear your hair when you run?  Any ideas other than what I listed? Please?!?

19 thoughts on “The Best (and worst) Hairstyles for Running

  1. I have long hair, so I rely on a variation of the cute ponytail. The swishing is unacceptable–too much hair, too many tangles. So I put it in a ponytail and then use more elastics every couple of inches. Right now I’m using three total, but I just got it cut. Two weeks ago I needed four. I also wear a Sweaty Band to keep all the little fringe pieces out of my face. It’s all rather complicated, actually. 😉

  2. I started cracking up reading the last option – haha! Great post! My hair has just gotten long enough that if I have it in a high ponytail the ends tickle the back of my neck. The worst is if it’s hot out and I sweat then the ends of my hair get sweaty and stick to my neck. #runnerprobs

    • When my hair was shoulder length, the little ponytail caused no problems. The longer it gets, the more problems it causes. I might have to go back to the itty-bitty ponytail!

  3. I have fairly long hair and run with pigtail braids. Works with a visor or hat … doesn’t collect sweat from the back and doesn’t smack you in the face. Win 🙂

  4. This was an awesome list, I definitely can relate to some of these 🙂 I used to have a pixie cut, and when I would run I’d just need a headband to keep my bangs off my face. When it eventually got to the length where I couldn’t tie it up but it was too hot to leave it down, it was just pure hell. I’m so happy I can tie up my hair now – low or high ponytail!

  5. I go with the high pony tail, but I don’t put the hair all the way through at the end, so it’s kind of a messy ponytail bun thing, but it keeps the hair off my neck, no swinging around from a long ponytail and it’s a lot easier to brush out after a long run. I loved your post!

  6. LOL, funny! I normally put my hair in two low pigtail/buns (so tie the hair in pigtails and then loop through the elastic band at the end for informal messy buns), but for my last run I put my hair up in a ponytail and it swished every which way…spraying everyone around me with sweat. Nice! Going back to the pigtail/buns.

  7. Pingback: Friday Roundup | Joy Runner

  8. Great post! My hair is just about shoulder length and although, like you, I love to run with my hair in a pony tail, it’s almost impossible to keep it in place using traditional methods. Before races, I therefore take sections of my hair from the front and braid them towards the back, and then tie everything up in a ponytail together. It takes a little bit of time, but it stays totally secure and looks pretty cute, too! 😀

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