Since I started training for my first marathon, all I've been able to think about has been how to schedule my life around my runs, cross training, yoga, and physical therapy. The first two weeks of training were seamless. I was able to fit my workouts into our weekly Monday Night Runs and speedwork on Thursdays. All I had to do was tie my hair into a ponytail, lace up, and go.
A few weeks ago, I felt the need for a change in my life. So, I cut my hair into a layered bob and decided to add a pastel blue baylage, AKA a dye job that required a lot of bleach. I scheduled an appointment and next thing you know, I'm sitting in a chair, my head covered in bleach and foil. EXCITING!!! Yay!
About an hour into my appointment, foil off, and bleach rinsed out of my hair, I ran my fingers through my hair and felt chunks of slime, which was my over-processed hair. I sat there horrified and crying while the staff tried to "fix" what was left of my hair. I take such good care of my hair so to say that this was traumatizing is an understatement.
As soon as my brain could piece thoughts together other than WTF?!, I knew that I needed to cut my hair. Knowing how short it needed to be cut, I knew there was no way I was going to put it in a ponytail and just run. All I could think about was, what am I going do with my hair while I run in this hella-humid-heat?
On my way home, I started googling "how to protect your damaged hair while training". Now, after hours of hair research, 23oz of coconut oil, and two haircuts later, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the stuff I learned from the interwebs and fellow (Harlem) Runners. So I asked some of our Harlem Run friends about their beauty/hair regimen and this is what I got:
I run with a fro and schedule wash days after a hard or long run, like on a Monday night. If I do wash or style before a run, I also try to just leave my twists/braids in for the workout and take them out after my sweat is dried.
I cut or trim my hair every 3-4 weeks, but make sure it can always fit into a ponytail for running. I also highlight/lowlight it about every 6-8 weeks. So I shampoo in the morning and then at night I just wet it and do a deep conditioner. I try not to brush it when it's wet because I've heard that can break your hair. I try to only blow dry every other day at most, but in the winter I end up drying every day.
The key to having healthy and well-groomed dreads is hydration. Being that I cannot wash my hair everyday, I have a small spritz bottle that I fill with water and spray onto my hair. I also massage coconut oil into my scalp and tips, ensuring all corners are covered. Then, I retwist my roots that haven't quite "locked". I do this process about 2-3 times a day, depending on how hot it is. The newest addition to my hair arsenal has been Moroccan argan oil, which I use sparingly. I generally try to wash and retwist my hair professionally every 2-3 months.
After hearing from a few runners with different hairstyles on how they keep their hair looking great, I looked online for some tips as well. Here's some of the most useful tips I've found:
-- Dry hair is a huge problem due to excessive washing, especially when it's hot out and you tend to wash your hair more because you get sweaty during runs. How do you solve this? Deep conditioning! Use natural ingredients!
-- For hair care, coconut oil reigns supreme! For me personally, it's helped enormously after my incident at the salon.
-- Foods such as eggs, mayonnaise, yogurt, and avocado can all be used in your hair to add protein and shine to your hair.
-- My favorite combo? Coconut or regular milk, banana, and coconut or olive oil. This hair mask conditions and softens hair, makes it smell great, and adds moisture while keeping the frizz to a minimum.
-- Hair masks are recommended once a week. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
All in all, I learned during my research that regardless of hair type, each person has their work cut out for them when maintaining their hair while putting in miles every week. But in the end, we can all agree that deep conditioning hair is key! Also being knowledgable about how to keep your hair & scalp healthy is super important.
I know that training takes a lot out of us. Sometimes it feels like your day is filled with running, cross training, meal prepping, stretching, and refueling... It takes a lot of energy and time each and every day. I know this is one more thing to add to the list but I see it like this... with a little maneuvering, you can make a hair mask and a post-run recovery smoothie in one shot #jusssayin'