Summer is here, with its sticky heat in tow. For runners, this means a sluggish
pace (as much as 20 to 30 seconds more per mile for every 5 degrees above 60, according to Jeff Galloway), rivers of sweat and, for this runner, the dreaded tail-fro.
If you’ve got longish, wavy-ish hair, and you run with it in a ponytail, I don’t need to explain about this product of moisture, bouncing and funk. If you don’t, the tail-fro is what happens when you combine moisture, bouncing and funk: You get a giant nest of knots loosely held together by a rubber band, like your hair has become a nest of spider webs. And like the spider webs are made of copper.
I first noticed this phenomenon while training for the Nashville Country Music Marathon in Nashville in 2007. I was living in Florida then, and even the coolest of March days had the potential to create some big, nasty knots in my hair. After my warmup half-marathon in Gainesville, Fla., I actually purchased some conditioning product marketed for black women’s hair. I am of Dutch, German, English and Norweigan descent. The product made me smell like cocoa butter for days, yet barely made a dent in the tail-fro. The marathon itself was even worse, as evidenced by the photo accompanying this post.
Braiding doesn’t make it better. Instead, it creates more complicated knots, like spider webs whose creators have decided to play Cat’s Cradle. And I’m way too lazy to have cute, short hair — then, I’d have to be better about upkeep, and I spend way too much on race registrations to see my hairdresser any more often than every few months.
So what’s a ponytailed girl to do? I’ve taken to smothering my hair with leave-in conditioner post-run, then lounging in the tub while it soaks in. It’s a nice excuse to take a long bath, if nothing else.
Other solutions would be welcome. Then again, I like knowing that with hair like this, I might scare off my competition at races.
In other running news: I enjoyed a relatively pain-free run last night with Pacers! We did the Alaska Out and Back route, usually reserved for rainy nights but surprisingly lovely on a nice summer evening, too. Make it 5.4 miles by coming back the same way you went out.
Also, check out my Examiner.com post on Debi Bernardes, a 50-plus athlete who can still run a 10K faster than I ever could.
Next up: a well-deserved easy swim this morning to recover from two tough workouts in a row and get ready for the swim this weekend!