Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Hair Needs Care

        When it comes to being a woman in endurance sports, one of the most aggravating things about race day sounds cliche, but is a real issue- what in the world do you do with long hair during three very different sports?! I have hair that extends down past the middle of my back, so it's quite a hot, sticky, salty mass by the end of most workouts. Over the past year or so I have been trying out different hair styles, and I think I have finally found a winner!

         Of course, every person is different, so rather than just listing my favorite, I'll show off a few that I've tried and retired.

The Ponytail-
Enchanted Rock Duathlon 2014
        This is typically the most intuitive hairstyle for running or any other sport where you get hot and sweaty is a trusty pony tail. It's easy, it's up off your neck, and it's fast. However, as you can see in this picture, it bounces all over the place. Plus, when you are hot and your back is sweating, the tips of your hair get super crusty from your sweat. Gross? Yes. Kind of uncomfortable and scratchy too. Also, pony tails are super hard to pull through most bike helmets, unless you have the Specialized Women's Aspire, which has a built in "hair port" just for that sort of thing. I am hoping to get one of those, as it is time to replace my helmet soon since it's been dropped a few times and it's old. I digress- ponytail, you are OK for cold weather runs when no helmet is required, but other than that, you're out. 
The High Messy Bun-
When you're elite like Gwen Jorgensen, you look good all the time!
       I am always so jealous of women who can pull this off so effortlessly and look amazingly cute and polished, even when they're a hot mess! It was hard to find a photo of this style that's not meant to be bought, and I'm not about stealing on the Internet, so this is pretty close! This style is one I definitely go to for hot runs when I have my visor on. It's up, it's tight, it's out of the way and off my neck. However, there is no way in the world it fits under a bike helmet, and it makes your swim cap really tight, especially if you already have a giant head like me. This one, at least, typically still looks good in pictures, but it's a pain to have to re-do your hair for every event.

The Low Bun- 
Doing a brick workout at home- bike to run
         This one was my go-to for a long time. What it really is is a bun that starts off mid-head so it is easy to slap a swim cap over, then it gets squished down a bit when I cram on my bike helmet and ride off. It doesn't require any re-dos in transition, stays off your neck, and works OK for all events. Running in a low bun isn't the best, especially after the encounter with the helmet loosens it up a bit. Most of the time, I'm forced to do a quick fix on the fly while I'm running and toss it in to the messy high bun you see above.  It's also really rough on your hair, from soaking it through on the swim and then leaving it to kind of dry in the wind while being all wound up and soaking up sweat. My hair is really fine, so I get a ton of flyaways as well, and unless my headband is doing stupendous, my finisher photos look pretty dorky with this one. My sunglasses have grip on the arms, so they pull pieces out of this one as well. It's a functional style that works OK, but I have since figured out a better way that leaves me still looking like an adult human woman at the end of it all. 
The Braided Pigtails- 
Shiner Beer Run 2013
       I tried this style out during a half marathon that was so cold, it was literally sleeting on us (yes, in Texas!) I had a hat and ear warmers on, and was still cold, but also because of all my head layers, I couldn't put my hair up.  This actually worked better than I thought it would, but definitely would not make the cut in the heat. The braids couldn't decide if they wanted to be in front of or behind my shoulders, so eventually I kind of tucked them in to my jacket hood, and they stayed put from there, but even in this picture, you can see them wanting to be set loose and go crazy. This style worked because it allowed me plenty of room for things to keep my head warm while still staying out of the way for my headphones and looking cute, but I don't think it'd be any good at all for triathlons. Can you imagine wrangling not one but two unruly braids in to a swim cap?

The French Braid-
Google search- Abella's Braids
          First of all, I am awful at french braiding hair. My boyfriend is worse. Typically I don't have anyone else available on race morning to help, so this style is kind of out for me from the beginning. However, I have done it before and it worked OK, except for a few things. First, it makes my head bigger, which forces me to loosen my helmet and expand my hat to accommodate it. Second, unless I pin my long hair up, the tail of the braid is directly on my neck, which is a huge frustration for me. Then, if I do pin it, there is the annoyance of having to deal with pins moving or sticking out or poking me in my helmet. However, this is probably a great style for swimming, as it'd be really easy to get in to a swim cap. Even still, I vote no. 

The Braided Ponytail- 
During a weekday workout!
         And we have a winner! This has been, by far, the easiest style to use throughout an entire triathlon. The braid can be twisted up under a swim cap, fed through a bike helmet easily by grabbing the elastic on the end, and then functions high and off my neck during a run. The ends of my hair still get salty, but since the hair is bunched together, it doesn't stick to my back. I will usually put on a good headband in T1 after the swim to keep fly-aways from buzzing my ears, and then it's all ready to go in T2, so there is no time wasted fixing it in to a style that works. This style has saved me a lot of time and aggravation, so I think it'll be what I stick to for a while! The best part- it still looks cute in finisher photos!

      There are definitely lots of options out there, and if I were better at doing hair- this is pretty much my entire repertoire, by the way- then there are probably even better ways of doing it. Some work for one sport or two, but very few will get you through hours of racing three very different events and still look great when you're done. Moral of the story- if you can, avoid picking a hair style that requires you to waste precious minutes in transition, or even worse, stop during your bike or run, to fix. Having one that makes it through the whole day is a great way to keep your mind on better things, like remembering your nutrition and drinking enough fluids! Also, the looking great aspect of this whole post may be a little vain, but hey, you work so hard for so long, you want the memories you capture of your accomplishment to be share-worthy!

We are having a drawing for 1 FREE entry to the Austin Esprit de She Bike Tour taking place September 13, 2014.

Here are the rules:

1. Go to my Reason 2 Race and "sponsor me" for at least $5. This money goes directly to helping homeless pets! None of it comes to me!
2. When you donate, you don't have to leave your full name, but at least in the comments put, for example, "Jenny P. entering for the drawing!"
3. Keep an eye on this blog and the Facebook page, the winner will be announced in two weeks!

BONUS Everyone who donates will receive a discount code! The code is good for either $5 off the Austin Tour OR $10 off the Dallas Duathlon. This blog and the Facebook will tell you when to email me for the code.

Please consider donating just a little to the shelter- every dollar makes a difference! The Austin tour is currently $55, so for as little as $5, you could save a lot of money while helping out a great cause! I did the event last year and had a great time with a fun group of women, and I am looking forward to it again- especially the yummy mimosa bar!

Good luck!

Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallasthe Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!

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