5 Steps to Becoming an Instagram Running Sensation

Race entry fees breaking your bank account? Need a few pairs of comped shoes and some free Gu? Feeling bad about yourself and need some virtual thumbs ups to make yourself feel better? Could you use an extra few million dollars? Becoming an Instagram running sensation is for you! Grab that iPhone, get your cutest running gear, flex those abs and let’s get started.

1. The Perfectly Not-Posed Pose

The perfect photo doesn’t just happen, folks! It takes a lot of planning and posing to look like you neither planned nor posed. You want to appear spontaneous, yet artistic. Humble, yet proud. Pensive, but also silly. You’re the total package, and the key to showing your followers what lies in that iPhone camera. Here are some quick go-to not-posed poses:


Hands on hips (no unsightly arm skin), turn to the side (so skinnnnnyyyyy!), and let your iPhone just happen to catch that perfect smile (teeth and lips, sugar).

The Mid-run Shot

Turn on iPhone timer, place phone in an obvious yet secretive location where it won’t get swiped, and slowly run back and forth as many times as it takes to catch you in midair.

The Stretch

Turn that timer back on! Sit on the floor and look pensive as you stretch out your upper body. Alternatively, stand and look up thoughtfully at the sky as you stretch your quad.

The Watch Shot 

Who would believe you ran if you didn’t show it on your watch? Stop that Garmin and snap a quick shot. Bonus points if your shoes are also visible.

The My-fingers-just-happen-to-be-showing-how-many-miles-I-ran Shot 

Did you run eight miles? Hold up your fingers in case your followers don’t understand numbers. Do not use if you’ve run more than 10 miles. You will confuse your followers.

Step 2: All about those filters!

It should go without saying that no one wants to see you without filters. The right artistic lighting can make a difference between Instagram sensation and some other girl in running shorts. Here are some quick tips for great filtering:

  • Fitsnap app: Obviously we’re going to need your pace and distance in big letters surrounding your face if you’ll want us to believe them.
  • Lark: Makes colors pop while blurring your facial imperfections a bit.
  • Moon (aka Black and White): Best for pensive stretching poses (see above) with deeply reflective captions (see below).
  • Boomerang: Best for highlighting your playful side, like holding up a medal after a race while doing a little hip shimmy.

Step 3: A cute caption.

A caption can define your post for you. Are you trying to project a feeling of melancholy? Humility? Playfulness? Hunger? Cold? Let your caption tell the story of your picture. Pick and choose from the following:

Playful! Teehee!

To sound playful, use a lot of “yay” in your caption. Examples: “FriYAY workout done!” “It’s SaturYAY!” or “Just killed a tempo! Yay!”

The Thinker

To sound pensive or thoughtful, pair a reflective post with a long caption. Followers should have to hit the “see more” button to read it. Example: “As I started my run today, I saw a butterfly flutter by. I thought about how my evolution as a runner has been a lot like that butterfly. I started as a small, tiny worm and slowly created a cocoon of running friends which helped me slowly grow my wings and learn to fly like the beautiful, graceful runner that I am. #blessed”


To appear humble, use the words “just” or “a little” frequently, minimizing your accomplishments while also highlighting them. Example: “Just a little 10 mile tempo today. I was intimidated but just dug a little deeper and was somehow able to run them at a 5:30 pace. It was just a little bit tough. #soblessed”

Step 4: #productplacement

self-absorbed runnerIt’s not hard to find the products that cater to Instagram runners, the kind of companies that will send some stuff and a few likes your way in exchange for your free advertising. Artfully display their products in your photo and don’t forget to tag them. Does it look natural? No. Will you get some followers out of it? Yes. Worth it? Obviously. Here are some tips on how to display the product.

For anything on your wrist, display next to your Garmin with your time and distance: two birds with one stone.

For ease of tagging, wear multiple ambassadorship brands in one shot. Example: Oiselle top with SkirtSport bottoms and Pro Compression socks while chewing RunGum and drinking Nuun.

Any shoes and socks should be showcased with a shot of your legs on your running surface (track, treadmill, trail). Ignore the other runners stepping over you. #haters

Step 5: #all #about #the #hashtags

Hashtags are your way to be seen! Clicking on a particular hashtag lets users find others with the same hashtag, so use as many as possible. Shoot for at least 20. Here are a few suggestions!

Stay current! Use pop culture references to show you’re versatile!

#runner #motherunner #womensrunning #irun #irantoday #anythingwiththewordruninit

Any product you’re pimping!

#sobrave Got a body flaw? Snap it and post it and the world will instantly love how you overcame the adversity of paunch or the pain of having small boobs.

#soblessed Or show us how the divine creator had nothing better to do than help you run perfect splits in your track workout or place third in your age group at that local 5k.

Feelings! Humble? Use #blessed and #thankful. Sad? Use #sads and #overcome. Tough? Use #badass, #crushedit, #nailedit. If you have kids, make sure to use #badassmotherrunner so everyone knows how amazing you are for doing things while also caring for your progeny.

The longer the hashtag, the better. Your followers should have to read it out loud to understand it. Example: #irantodayandyoudidnotsorrynotsorryiamawesomeandyouarenot

There you are! Five easy steps and you’re on your way to lying back and counting your cash. #blessedwithbrainsbeautyandwealth

How did you become an Instagram running star?

I am a stay at home mom and group fitness instructor from South Texas. I love reading, wine, and travel. I write about trends, injury prevention and maintenance, and satire. I am training to break 1:30 in the half marathon sometime soon, and for the 2017 Boston Marathon.

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  1. Hahahaha! I read an article last week called “boyfriends of Instagram stars” and it showed the role they play in capturing that perfect shot. Maybe boyfriends of running women is a new article that needs to be written.

  2. LOLOLOL!!!! Love this. But um, speaking of product placement, how do the mere mortals get one of those Salty Running mugs?????

  3. Unfortunately I don’t have what it takes to become an Instagram star. BUT this totally made me laugh out loud this morning. All of the above made me laugh but the ones that made me laugh the hardest are “The My-fingers-just-happen-to-be-showing-how-many-miles-I-ran Shot” and step 5 #all #about #the #hashtags (especially when there are so many #hashtags that they have to carry over into the comments). Thanks for the good start to Friday!

    1. Or a really young baby because every running accomplishment is made that much more incredible by how few minutes post-partum you are, natch.

  4. OMG, this is OUTSTANDING. And I will say Salty, you are looking mighty pretty in that perfectly placed products photo of yours;). I always look at some of the running shots from popular running accounts and I think “seriously, how the heck did they shoot that?”, like it requires hard core photog skills and the perfect timing. I am such a major klutz that the camera would probably snap me landing face down on the ground because I was trying too hard. I am happy with my minimal followers. My Instagram account is such a hodgepodge of kid pictures and running photos that involves zero strategic placement or thinking. I will say though, I am happy to be a brand ambassador for Honey Stinger products (as that is ALL I can tolerate for my fuel on long runs) and pimp them on Instagram. I am very appreciative of the nice discount they offer us:).

  5. just plain fantastic. Does anyone read those extra long instacaptions?? my short attention span appreciates instagram for it’s picture book approach.

  6. There are so many things I love about this post – the watch shot, the overuse of #soblessed, #nailedit, #crushedit, humble bragging. Thank you for writing this.

  7. Your posts are so funny. This one and the essential oil post are everything. #iamguiltyofhashtaggingthefuckoutofapicture. I can’t even read the Instagrams that start getting into chapters- lol. Especially the ones that get all sentimental over why a particular run was so special ?… see more- ain’t nobody got time for that- I’m always like bye girl! Thanks for the laugh.