Guest Blog | Allie Bigelow

Allie Bigelow lives and trains in Durham North Carolina, so she is no stranger to hot, humid, sweatastic running. She often trains and races with Ellen Moss. They have also adopted NW native Allison Camp who's living in NC while she completes graduate school. Allie Bigelow is a powerhouse of positive energy, joy and laughter.

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Great news! Summer is almost here! That means that barbeques, flip flops and sunny days are just around the corner. Unfortunately it also means that hot, sticky, sweaty runs are right around the corner. And for one of the women pictured below it also means that, pretty soon, the rat's nest ponytail mess is about to become a daily occurrence.


It has come to my attention that many long haired runners are still vexed by their ponytails. Short of cutting all their hair off (like the other 3/4 of that crowd above), what can you do to avoid coming home from each and every run with your hair looking like this?:


Well, fear not fellow runners - I have an easy solution for you! Your summer runs don't have to be ruined by a damp, knotted rat's nest where your ponytail used to be. Years of running in the heat with a long, curly ponytail led me to develop a no-fail plan for avoiding the dreaded "nub" of knotted hair. It is a fairly simple process that, once you get the hand of it, takes only a few short minutes to implement but will save a lot of time and angst post-run.

First, a word or two about the supplies. You are going to need 3 to 4 hair clips and 3 to 4 hair elastics. I like to use the Goody "contour" hair clips and their heavy duty hair elastics. Both come in a wide variety of colors so you have the choice of either matching your hair color, going to basic black or making a colorful race-day statement. You do NOT want to use thin hair elastics...get the thick ones. The thin ones just won't keep your ponytail or bun in place. 


Once you have the necessary supplies in place it is time to get to work!

Step one: gather the hair into a ponytail. Make sure the ponytail holder is on there TIGHTLY. No saggy ponys here! You need to start with a solid foundation for the steps to come. A mid-height ponytail seems to work best. I liked having a ponytail that could peek out through a cap or sit above the back brim of a visor. That way I could have bounce-free hair AND protect your face from the sun if you so chose. 


Step two: add some hair clips. I like a clip right at the crown of my hair (sometimes even two if you have lots of unruly curls) and one on each side of the head. These just help keep the frizz and flyaways that develop during a run at bay. Bonus...when you get done with the run you have no sweaty hairs sticking to your face!


Step three: braid the ponytail. As with the ponytail, make sure to make the braid as tight as possible. It doesn't need to be perfect, but the tighter the plait the better the bun will be.


Now, some people like to stop here, but then you have a braid thwapping the back of your head throughout your run and you don't want that! Plus, the braid tends to come undone leaving you with a worse situation than you started with...the dreaded braid rat's nest. That is why it is so important to master step four!

Step four: the bun. Take the end of your braid and wrap the braid into a tight bun around the base of the ponytail. Then, holding the bun with one hand wrap another hair tie around the bun. Wrap it tightly ... stretch the hair tie and get that sucker around the bun at least two times! If your hair is fine you can probably go for three wraps. Once you have done this, jump up and down a few times to test it out. If the bun jiggles, grab another hair tie and double wrap that sucker. 


Step four takes a few tries to master...sometimes the bun just doesn't work out the first couple of times. But stick with it and before you know it you will have a nice secure bun that won't budge throughout your run. 

Problem solved!

A few other thoughts and suggestions. First, I am sure you have noticed that the hair model for this demo has fairly fine, thin hair. Maybe you are even saying to yourself "but Allie, I have lots of smooth, straight, thick hair! It will never stay in a braid or a bun!" When I had long hair mine was fine also, but it was FAR from thin. I had a truly ridiculous amount of hair! So my braid and bun were significantly thicker and larger than Allison's and yet the technique worked like a charm. Here are some more details of how I made it work for me:

1. Try to work with dirty hair. Yep, I am suggesting that you don't wash your hair as often. If your hair isn't shiny clean when you braid it the braid will hold better. 

2. Get your hair thinned out at the beginning of the summer. I learned that I could have my hairdresser reduce the overall weight and sheer mass of my hair reduced by using special sheers that thinned the hair out. I would have it done at the beginning of every summer and it made a world of difference. 

3. Realize that this technique does have its limits. I found that once my hair grew to a certain length (for me it was when it got down past the bottom of my sports bra) my bun would get pretty heavy. I always kept my hair at mid-back length; as much as I loved how pretty it looked when it was longer it just wasn't practical for my lifestyle. Tough choices have to be made sometimes.

4. That said, if you have Jordan Hasay-length hair and realize that this ponytail/braid/bun technique probably won't work, you can always try Jordan's nape-of-the-neck ponytail technique. It seems to have worked for her!

5. If all else fails, you can always follow Ellen's technique for dealing with the summer ponytail rat's nest: cut it all off! 


Atsuko Tamara