Running hygiene. Am I gross?

posted in: Running | 0

So let’s talk about hygiene. Running hygiene to be precise. (And only running hygiene – in all other areas, I am good, thanks).

On Wednesday, I got my hair cut.

(Oh, you’d like to see a photo?)


(Aww thanks – you’re too kind).

At lunchtime on the day of said haircut, I went for a run. It wasn’t a crazy long or hot or hilly or windy run – but there was sweat.

Not quite like this…


…but my body did push water through my skin for the purpose of cooling me down.

So the dilemma is obvious: to wash my hair, or not to wash my hair?

I usually wash my hair after every run, but there are exceptions. If I run in the evening and know I’m running first thing the next morning, I will just rinse it in the shower, and save washing until the next day. No point washing it if, besides sleeping, the next thing I’m going to do is run again.

I have no concerns with washing my hair every day, even if it is advised against. I’m the master in this relationship: IT’S JUST HAIR! But twice in one day seems excessive. Would I then style it too? Here laziness kicks in. I’m not washing and styling my hair just to impress the hairdresser who will immediately douse it in water. But is it disgusting for her to wash my hair when it’s “dirty” from running? Perhaps. I’m not sure how much a consider sweat to be inherently dirty and my hair was dry. Plus she washed it before she properly touched it.

Maybe I should put this question to actual hairdressers?

I know from other blogs that a lot of runners don’t wash their hair every day anyway, for hair health reasons (pah), as it makes their hair less manageable, or as they just don’t have time/inclination. They use dry shampoo, wear hats, tie it back and so on.

So… I gross?


This got me thinking about other hygiene dilemmas runners – or at least this runner – face.

Running kit. When we went to Japan for two weeks, I took multiple running kits, but trying to wash and dry a running kit in a hotel room was a mug’s game. They took about 48 hours to dry, and were kind of damp and musty afterwards, having been dried in a bathroom with no access to fresh air.


So yes, I re-wore them – each one twice, with only a few exceptions (those long or hot or hilly or windy runs). They didn’t smell, they dried quickly (far quicker than from just-washed wet), and it didn’t involve hunching over the bath trying to rinse out a never-ending amount of soap suds. Yes, laziness – again a factor.

So… I gross?


Going one step further, what about showering after a run? To be clear – I always shower after a run. It’s just sometimes quite a bit after the run.

I get home, I am tired, I sit down. Then I think of a task, and do that. Then I sit down and have a coffee, or watch some TV. Then I remember I mean to ice that sore bit of my ankle/knee/calf/foot.

I can’t stay in my running kit, as this makes me freezing unless i am in warm sunshine. There is a reason we sweat to cool down, and wearing wet clothing has exactly the same impact (brrrrrr). However, I do have a special “dirty” dressing gown that I wear between getting home from a run, and showering. I wash it often, and always assume it to be filthy. I would NEVER wear it when I am clean, even if it were fresh from the wash. It’s the dirty dressing gown.

After races, I will go some time without showering. After the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2013 (my first!), I met about 12 friends and family, still in my kit. At one point, I put some make up on, and my sister helpfully commented “what’s the point?” – which I took to mean that I looked radiant in my glory (hmmm).

After the Brighton half in 2014, Matthew and I went for lunch with me still in my sweaty kit.

Given that I sometimes end races looking like this…

Photo 13-06-2015 18 34 59

….am I gross?

So what are your thoughts? Do you always shower – and wash your hair – right after every run, even a race? Do you ever look to the laundry basket as a source of running kit? Do you feel genuinely smelly and disgusting after you run?


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.