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Run-Proof Hair

by Meghann on June 17, 2014

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about hair, so let’s chat for a minute.

A quick recap… Since I started my blog in 2008, I’ve gone through a zillion hair changes. Okay, maybe not a zillion, but it’s pretty obvious I get bored with my hair very easily. I’ve had blonde hair, dark hair, short hair, long hair, bangs, no bangs, and every style of long layers you can think of. My last major change was when I chopped all my hair off after my wedding in 2013 and donated eleven inches to Pantene Pro-V’s Beautiful Lengths program.

I kept the short hair through Ironman training and LOVED IT. Short hair was particularly easy when it came to those early morning swim workouts where I had approximately 15 minutes to shower, get dressed, and be on my way to work. Short hair rocks with triathlon training – I 100% recommend it.

Of course, as soon as I finished my Ironman, I was ready to have long hair again. So in the beginning of 2014 I started the painful process of growing my hair out for the umpteenth time. I’m almost past the super awkward in-between stage and I’ve already been having fun styling the new longer do.


Yay, curls!

No comment on growing out the bangs. I’ve never been a fan of side bands (they don’t really work with my double cowlicks and heavy hair), so more often than not I prefer to pin them up and out of the way.

As much fun as I’ve had re-learning to style the longer locks all over again, I haven’t been having as much running with the longer locks. I think this photo Gina took at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego the other week pretty much sums it up.

My hair is thick, heavy, and hates being contained. If I place it in a ponytail on the top of my head, it immediately slides down. If I put it in braids, it immediately unravels. Honestly, it’s a pain in the butt.

I’m always playing with my hair, trying to figure out what will work best for my runs and races.  My latest trick is the double ponytail.


One pony tail on bottom, one on top, and a third holder to keep it all in place. It’s amazing the difference with this hold.

I’m a long time fan of Scunci No-slip Grip Evolution Jelly Ponytailers for containing thick hair. 

These hair ties are amazing. I’ve tried various versions of similar non-jelly hair ties, but they’re only good for two or three wears before they’re so stretched out that they’re not usable anymore. The jelly ones have a nice grip that gives it some staying power and they don’t stretch. They may be a little pricier, but they’re great because they last longer than normal hair ties.

Brooks recently sent me their new hair ties Run Happy Hair Ties to test out.

run happy hair ties

They’re so cute! I wanted them to work, but the thick band and inability to stretch made it impossible to get a good grip on my hair. What started as a ponytail on top of my head had slid to the bottom on my head on the drive to trail.

Unfortunately the hair ties did not pass the running test, but they would be great for a low ponytail where you’d want to avoid the dreaded ponytail crease.

For headbands, I cycle through my Sweaty Bands, Sparkly Soul, and BAMR. Each brand has a nice grip that sticks to my head, plus being cute is a huge bonus. I rarely leave the house without a headband.


I was also sent Brooks Run Happy Headbands to try.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 9.53.19 PM

The material is very light with just enough grippy embellishments to force the headband to stay on my head. They come in fun colors and even work great at the office.

 I’m still playing. I have Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle this weekend and my goal is not have to mess with my hair for 13.1 miles. That means not having to adjust my headband, ponytail, or any flyaways coming loose. I’m pretty sure that’s close to impossible, but it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming it’s possible. 

Do you have any secrets for “run-proof” hair? Please share.

1 Kellie June 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

I love Lululemon’s bang buster headbands. I don’t have bangs but they keep my crazy flyaways in check when I’m working out. They’re super thick and you wear them over your hairline so they don’t slip around at all.
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2 Danielle @ Long May You Run June 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Braids. I’ve quit putting my hair in ponytails because it always falls down and then it’s on the back of my neck and feels gross. But with a French braid (with a headband) or a ponytail into a braid, I never have problems. I’ve also done many a run with a sock bun (thanks to Navy uniform standards) and it’s always stayed in, though that requires more hairspray then I’m willing to use on a daily basis.
Danielle @ Long May You Run recently posted..Wisconsin Marathon Race Recap

3 RunEatRepeat June 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm

You know my deal – braids. They are kinda ridiculous, but I have A LOT of hair and it’s long. This works.
RunEatRepeat recently posted..The BEST Advice For Running A Marathon, and by best I mean Funniest.

4 Amy @ Army Amy June 17, 2014 at 11:31 pm

My secret is wearing a hat. Haha! Keeps the sun off my face and my crazy hair contained.
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5 Jane June 18, 2014 at 12:24 am

I have no help for your hair as my is the opposite of yours (maybe you could lend me a few strands?) but those brooks hair ties are calling my name. Must find some. I swear I put a pony tail holder in and in 5 minutes I have a crease!
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6 Megan June 18, 2014 at 2:17 am

My hair isn’t super thick but it is really long and I have to put it in a ponytail and then braid the ponytail or else it’s a big rats nest by the time I am done running.

7 Leslie June 18, 2014 at 6:11 am

Are you opposed to trying a lightweight hat? I wear a Nike moisture wicking hat with an adjustable strap in the back that creates a hole for me to stick my pony tail through. It keeps the sun out of my eyes and keeps my hair in check.

8 Runner Girl Eats June 18, 2014 at 6:37 am

It sounds like we have opposite hair…I have super thin hair. I recently cut off about 5 inches and am loving the shorter look because it has so much more body! my go to running hair when longer is a bun.
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9 Molly Rose June 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

My ponytails like to slide, too! I usually double up and use two ponytail holders for extra security when I run. I’ve also found Bic Bands to help a lot to keep hair out of my face.

Good luck at RnR Seattle! I’d love to do an RnR race one day!
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10 Janine June 18, 2014 at 8:11 am

I’m in the same boat as you! I cannot gowithout a headband and what my friend refers to as a “volleyball braid” (ponytail/braid combo). I really like my lululemon headbands, it stays in place and hides some of my crazy flyaways. I have used the jelly ponytail holders like you, they are awesome and stay in place BUT have you found a way to get them out of your hair without tearing all of your hair? Any tips?

11 Meghann June 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Honestly, I don’t really have a problem with pulling the jelly hair ties out. Maybe I just have a tough head? I would say they tear as much strands out as any other hair tie.

12 Laura@SneakersandSpatulas June 18, 2014 at 8:22 am

I like to run with a visor as it really helps keep my hair in place and out of my face. It also keeps the sun off my face! And when I had longer hair mine would pull out of the pony too. I solved that buy using a thin grippy hair tie plus a normal thick elastic. It worked really well for me. Now that I have shorter hair, I only need on thick elastic.
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13 Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed June 18, 2014 at 8:41 am

I have some super thick hair! It was almost to my belly button for my wedding and the morning after my hair stylist friend came to the hotel room and chopped it! I’m having a little bit of regret, just because I love it long, but I know it will grow back.

As far as working out, I just use multiple hair ties… like three at one time. No double pony, just super reinforced. For running, I like my hair in a low bun, so I will style it with one or two ties and then do a rewrap with another for extra support. I’m also a fan of braiding my hair and then twisting the braid into a bun.
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14 Lesley June 18, 2014 at 8:52 am

My hairdresser said I have fine hair but I have a lot of it. I use Sweaty Bands because I have lots of problems with flyaways, and I want to know where they were when I was in high school soccer. For pontytails, I’m moving more towards a half pony tail then combining everything into a low ponytail. My hair gets tangled so easily, but this seems to help.
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15 Laureen @Peachy June 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

I Have short hair so it’s tiny pony tail and headband for me.
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16 Natalie @ Never Serious Blog June 18, 2014 at 10:20 am

I always just end up throwing my hair in a ponytail. It usually stays pretty well, but getting a headband to stick is a whole other issue. Most of them will stay for awhile, but it really feels like some days my hair is slicker than others and they just slide right out! Especially in these crazy humid summer months.

I love your short ironman hair! It’s SO cute! I contemplate chopping mine off again all the time, but I know I’d miss being able to put it in a long ponytail.

17 Heather @ Housewife Glamour June 18, 2014 at 10:25 am

Ahh, a sliding ponytail when you’re running is the worrrst. I usually give in and just put it into a bun with an extra hair tie to hold it in place. That’s what has worked the best for me so far!
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18 Lisa June 18, 2014 at 11:06 am


2 hair ties

Make like you are putting your hair in a pony tail, but don’t pull the hair through all the way so you are left with a bun and a tail.

Using a second hair tie, twist/wrap the tail around the bun and secure.

It will not go anywhere!

19 Jackie June 20, 2014 at 8:15 am

I tried your technique yesterday morning for a 4 miler with a few intervals and it worked great! Bun stayed together, no tangles when I was done. I totally forgot about my hair when I was running. Thanks for the tip!

20 Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff June 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I wonder how many other girls are reading this blog and, like me, thinking, ‘Oh how I would kill to have thick hair like that!’
I’m in an in-between stage right now. I chopped my long hair after my last half marathon. It was a fun way to celebrate but I miss the pony-tail for workouts so I’m back to growing it out. I do love your blonde photos and being a lover of frequent hair changes, I think I might need to get a full foil for the summertime.
Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff recently posted..How I got my Diagnosis – by the numbers

21 Missy @ Mileswithmissy June 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I have been putting mine in a pony tail, and then using a second hair tie, putting the pony in a bun. It’s been working so far! I have fine hair, but a lot of it. I find my hair always gets tangle if its just in a pony tail. I’ve had good luck with the bun so far!

22 Courtney June 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I’ve bought a couple headbands from Sweat Me Pretty on etsy. Cheaper than the popular Sweaty Bands/Bic Bands. I really like those, but really only wear them for races or longer runs. Usually it is just 2 elastics around my ponytail and then a good tug to tighten them every mile or so… I might need to try the double pony tail idea! Sounds like a good way to keep it from sagging!
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23 Meghann June 18, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Sweat Me Pretty? Never heard of them! But thanks for the tip, I agree Sweaty Bands are pretty $$

24 Josie June 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

When my hair is long I have the same problem, haven’t really found a way to keep it contained very well. lol. Right now it’s just past chin length so it barely pulls into a ponytail.

I’m running the Seattle RnR half this weekend too! Maybe I”ll see you there! 😀

25 Meghann June 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Good luck!

26 Angie June 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I haven’t seen the jelly ones. I will have to try them. I also have thick, heavy hair. It is pretty long right now. I put it in a semi-low ponytail, and then put another hair tie in about a third of the way, and then a final one at the bottom of the ponytail. I look like a frizzy mess at the end, but it keeps the hair out of my face.
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27 Beth June 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Those Brooks ones wouldn’t work for me either. Bummer, cause they are cute. I don’t wear headbands b/c I don’t like how they look on me but they cute on you. I usually do a bun b/c my hair gets super knotted if I wear a ponytail in the summer.
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28 Heather Runs Thirteen Point One June 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Love the curly hairstyle! I wish I could figure out how to make my hair look nice. The only thing I’m capable of is using a straightener, which is pretty basic haha.

I do a really high ponytail (top of head high), then wrap the hair around it to form a bun. I use a hair tie to secure that hair, and then 2 or 3 long bobby pins. Then I’ll either use a Sparkly Soul headband or a visor/hat to tame all of the flyaways. During the summer, I cannot stand any hair on my neck or hanging down, hence the bun. In the winter when hats are needed, I’ll either do braids or just a low ponytail.
Heather Runs Thirteen Point One recently posted..first midwest bank half marathon recap

29 erica June 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

lululemon bangbusters are a miracle worker for me!
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30 erica June 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

forgot to add, I also use super thick Japanese hair ties. nothing else will hold my thick, heavy hair!
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31 Lauren B June 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Double pony = mind BLOWN! I have all the same hair issues and have yet to find that solution that keeps my hair out of my face while running. I usually just have a pony and a headband, and redo the ponytail 10 times during a run. I’m going to have to try that ponytail trick!

32 Meredith June 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

If my hair is at a good enough length, I’ll do a french braid of my hair while it’s wet (it tends to stay tighter thank when I french braid when it’s dry). Otherwise, it’s just a ponytail with a million clips and a headband!
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33 Elyse June 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Braided ponytail and a hat, always!

34 Heathers Looking Glass June 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Love the double pony idea! I have RIDICULOUSLY thick hair even after I get it thinned. It’s getting super long now (thanks prenatals) but I am about to have to cut it again. I break hair ties left and right. For racing I have found the ponytail plus braid works ok with a visor or headband, I have even done pigtail braids. I loathe my racing pics b/c my hair is always a mess!
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35 Alexis June 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

I have crazy thick hair and a LOT of it. Hairdressers always say my ponytail is as thick as an actual pony’s tail! I’ve found I absolutely cannot run without a hat. I do a ponytail, braid it, and then pull it through the back of a cap. Having that cap strap underneath to hold it up stops it from sliding down. For workouts in the gym (except treadmill running, that requires a hat too even tho I feel ridiculous haha), I agree with everyone on the lululemon bang buster!

36 Sarah June 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I’m thinking about chopping off a crap load of hair soon and i have SUPER thick hair..ya know, being middle eastern and all and i hope it works well with training because i’m getting real tired of putting my hair in two elastics so they’ll stay which end up stretching out and breaking really quickly. i go through so many elastics per year. i should really just invest in buying bulk elastics. 😛
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37 Emily June 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

When I was triathlon training, I chopped everything off in a pixie cut. I have a lot of very fine hair, so the super short look suits me. I just started wearing a Bondi Band to keep the sweaty bangs off my face, but other than that I have the easiest hair in the world!
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38 Lauren June 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I was already a big fan of having a short pixie cut when I started running and realizing how great it feels to run with super short hair sealed the deal for me. It doesn’t move at all, it doesn’t get in my face or lay on my neck. I also stay nice and cool! Sometimes I wear a hat when I run if it’s sunny outside. Now that I’ve gone short enough, I don’t even miss being able to put my hair in a ponytail.
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39 Becca June 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I just saw those Scunci jelly bands in the store and was wondering if they worked. Now I’ll have to get some!

I recently bought some Underarmor braided headbands after scouring blogs for the best headbands! I have short layered hair and they keep all the strands out of my face without sliding off my head. They have three woven strands, each with rubber grips, and so far they’re the best headband I’ve tried!
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40 Sam @ The Running Graduate June 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I hate having hair in my face on my runs! My hair is rather thin, but it seems to always end up if my face. If not, it’s in a giant knot when I take it out of my bun/ponytail after my workout. I also can’t set out on a run without a headband. I tend to just wear the Nike ones I got on sale at the outlet, but now I have my eyes on those Brooks headbands! They are super cute 🙂
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41 Mer June 19, 2014 at 7:49 am

I also have long thick hair. I’ve been doing what I call gymnast hair recently. Ponytail then braid it, then tuck the braid up under into the ponytail hair tie. Secure with an extra hair tie. Works like a charm. I’ve also found that the old school hair ties with metal last a lot linger and are a lot tighter than ones without metal. Could just be the brand though.

42 Amy June 19, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I’m so glad you posted this! I complain about my hair almost every single day and my husband thinks I’m crazy! I work as a personal trainer, so my hair is always up. I’m constantly looking for headbands to keep my fly aways tamed and for good pony tail holders that won’t slip! I have one Nike headband that I’ve been wearing for years (think on top, thin underneath) and I absolutely love it, but it’s gotten to the point where even after I wash it it still smells funky. I definitely need a replacement!

A few years ago I shaved my head to support a friend going through chemo. It was pretty much the best thing ever. I’m tempted to do it again…

Good luck at your race!
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43 lilah June 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I have similar hair, very thick and heavy and I swear by wearing my hair in a bun when I exercise.. Keeps everything in place.

44 Trish June 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I have thin hair but lots of it and it is a good length. I have found for my whole athletic career that a bun/pony works best. Basically it is a pony but on the last twist, don’t pull your hair all the way through. So your bun has a little tail. Make sure you are using a thicker pony tail holder and not one of those thin little ones. Keeps the hair off my neck and I found it does not move. I then add a headband and ready to run.

45 Sarah June 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

my hair hair gone from mid back to chin in the last 2 years! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it short, but its not very ” cute” when I try to get it back for running. I pretty much default to 2 VERY small pigtails every time! Love that double ponytail ideal though!
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46 Claire June 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Pixie cut all the way. Did it 18 mths ago and I’ll never go back to hair ties.

47 Holly June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I know I’m late to comment here, but I’m a huge fan of the running bun. It saves me a tangled rats nest at the end of a long, hot run and keeps the ponytail from sliding down my head (same problem you said you have). To make the bun, I simply put all my hair in a regular high ponytail, secure it with a band then wrap the tail into a bun and secure with a second band/holder. Bounce proof.
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48 Haley June 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm

This is a little more work than a pony or bun, but an upside down French braid works fabulously for endurance races. I can’t ever manage to do it well enough on myself, but my bff has braided mine for a couple Ragnar Relays and they’ve lasted all three legs. Essentially, you turn your head upside down and begin a French braid, then top knot or wrap like a bun once you reach the top of your head. If you have a skilled hand at braids, maybe you could try it out.
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