#RunningLikeaGirl Isn’t Always Pretty

If you're expecting to look like hot stuff in your race photos, you'll end up with disappointing race photos AND a disappointing race, Flickr Commons image by Armyman.
Expecting to look like hot stuff in your race photos? Expect to be disappointed. Flickr Commons image by Armyman.

I love getting that email notification telling me my race photos are in. Surely this time I will look like the powerful lithe running goddess I am, I think to myself! And then I click on the link and sink further in despair as the slideshow proceeds. My hopeful thoughts quickly turn to self-loathing. Do I really look that manly? Why is that stuff flapping over there? Do those shorts even fit? Am I dying?

How many times have you thought, “why do I always look like *#@$% in my race photos?!” If you’re like most of us, many many times. Many. Many. Times.

Here’s the thing. Except for the occasional accidental amazing shot, the vast majority of your photos should look like *#@$%!  And by *#@$%, I mean not like a posed #selfie, but badass and GETTING. IT. DONE! I’ll illustrate why below!

Think about it. When you go to a race, are you there to take a beautiful portrait of yourself or are you there to run your best? Why waste valuable mental effort stressing about how you look before the race? Sure, go ahead and add waterproof mascara application to your prerace ritual, but worrying about what your hair is going to look like or if your lipgloss is going to wear off if you drink at a water stop is not going to help you race your best. Do what you need to  feel happy and comfortable, but no more! Keep your focus on your pace.

Besides, doing things that others recommend to look good in race photos is also counterproductive to performing your best. For example, check out these counterproductive common tips for a good race photo.

Be on the hunt for photographers so you are prepared. If you’re focused on giving it your all and exercising your race plan you should actually not notice the photographers!

Ginger's hunting down a PR, not photographers.
Ginger’s hunting down a PR, not photographers.

Don’t do ___ as you cross the finish line. Um, if you gave it your all you probably aren’t going to give a damn about how you look at the finish line! Getting to it before you _____ (insert: vomit, pass out, some other extremely embarrassing or painful experience you rather not endure, etc) should be your only concern.

I wasn't in the mood for posing at the finish of my last 10k. Image by gopherarun.com
I wasn’t in the mood for posing at the finish of my last 10k. Image by gopherarun.com

Smile! First, you need to find the photographers, which we already covered above. But then you have to actually smile … without looking like a freak? How often do you look good when you force a smile when your mom is trying to snap a photo of you sitting in a chair? About never. So how good should you look if you force a smile when you feel like you might poop your pants, vomit, or your quads are about to explode?

Winning the masters division in a 5k might require digging deep and getting mean.
Working hard enough to win the masters division means no smiles from Garlic.

The best advice for taking good race photos? Confidently race your best and hope the photographer captured one of 5 race photos in your lifetime that make you look as strong, confident and powerful as you feel. If you really just want a good photo of yourself, hire a photographer to snap it outside of a race environment!

Wasabi's once in a lifetime amazing shot!
Wasabi’s once in a lifetime amazing shot!

Share your most badass #RunLikeaGirl shots! And tell us, do you worry about taking good race photos? 

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. I try to look for the photographers also. You only get so many chances for a good photo.
    They must take thousands of photos but then runners only buy a few hundred. We all look like crap, and yes, older than we feel.

    1. The times I’ve actually tried to look good I’ve failed miserably :/ better just not pay attention and hope one turns out which will eventually happen a la wasabi’s amazing candid shot!

  2. I work hard to relax to make it through the marathon, which generally makes me look stoned in race photos. :). Think I may start racing with sunglasses.

  3. haha well lets see, there was the finish line photo award I got for winning my AG at the philly HM 2 years ago, best part…….. I was in SEVERE VISIBLE GI DISTRESS. Love that. Best thing too is the marathon photo company keeps pinging my email telling me my photos are about to expire and I should order some. I have the photo award/plaque hanging on my powder room. 😉

  4. Thank you!! Those articles about looking your best for race photos really irritate me. Running the damn race isn’t enough; we also have to be cute while we do it? No thanks!

    In my last race, I just covered my bib with my hands every time I passed a photographer. After the race I got to bask in my PR instead of being embarrassed about my ugly pictures. It was wonderful!

  5. “How many times have you thought, ‘why do I always look like *#@$% in my race photos?!'” Every. Single. Time. BUT, I always have a good chuckle over them when I do get to see them.