The ponytail rule

By , August 13, 2015 6:18 am

I was on the track team in junior high. Everyone who wanted to be on the track team… got to be on the track team – you didn’t have to compete for spots (read: I wasn’t very good, but was really in to all the sports in junior high, for some odd reason).


Only a few things stick out to me about junior high track: how scared I was of the hurdles (still true), how I was always in the middle/back of the pack (still true), disliking running on the track in the hot sun (still true), the track itself, the training route we’d run to the high school and back, and… one really weird thing.

The ponytail rule.

Seriously, this is so odd.

When we ran (in training, not at meets), our coach would shout to us from the sidelines, “I don’t want to see those ponytails going side to side! They should be going up and down!”

Um, what?!

Yeah… he didn’t want any lateral ponytail sway. Only a slight up and down vertical bob.

I couldn’t figure it out then. I can’t figure it out, now. Did we have too much lateral movement? Is that what it was about? Were we not holding our heads straight, and looking ahead? Did he want us to be robots?

And isn’t ponytail sway all about how you tie your hair up, anyway?

Ha ha ha. This actually stuck with me so much, that when I started running consistently in 2006, I thought about which way my ponytail was going. Then realized how silly it was, and wore my hair in a bun.

Ahh, the funny things we remember from our youth.

(This story makes this guy sound crazy. He wasn’t. I just don’t think I was grasping whatever he was getting at with this.)

23 Responses to “The ponytail rule”

  1. LOL this is so weird! But now I too will think about this on my runs…actually probably not since my hair isn’t long enough for a pony.

    I doubt the way it sways has anything to do with how you run. I’ve seen pics of Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan with ponytail hair all over the place.

  2. Anne says:

    This picture doesn’t even need words with it. That could have been your entire post.

    I had shorter hair most of the time I was running, so I was actually excited when I finally had enough of a ponytail for it to sway!

    • kilax says:

      Ha ha ha! Don’t ya love it? Man, I am so happy I had braces in high school!

      Aww 🙂 I seriously can’t stand the sway or the sweaty, wet hair, so bun it is!

      • Anne says:

        Me too! I had mine from Christmas of freshman year until just before graduation.

        I don’t mind the sway, but a sweaty ponytail dripping down my back is pretty gross.

  3. Heather says:

    I cut enough hair off that what’s left in a ponytail doesn’t swing, but now I’m thinking and I am pretty sure mine went side to side!

  4. Xaarlin says:

    That ponytail comment makes no sense whatsoever. To have it Bob up and down vs lateral means you are bobbing while running which means you are wasting time going “up” instead of forward… Super innefficient way to run. And I can’t wrap my head around what your coach was trying to get you guys to do running wise with that comment as it would make more sense for a lateral movement because you are shifting left to right…

    Love the photo though 🙂

    • kilax says:

      Exactly 😉 I wonder what he was thinking?! Ha ha ha. I mean, it was junior high. It was just good enough that we were moving at all.

  5. Awh little baby you…so cute!!!

  6. Oh man, I was little miss athlete in middle school, too. I played five sports–during the fall I was playing three at a time (which is probably why I was terrible at all of them haha 😛 ). Fortunately, none of my coaches had any particular opinion on how our ponytails should or should not sway during sports, though we were strictly prohibited from wearing any kind of jewelry in any sport, including bobby pins, even in track. It was the MHSAA’s rule (the MHSAA is the organization that oversees all interscholastic sports in Michigan), and I imagine they had it as a blanket rule across all sports just to simplify things, but I always thought it was so silly that I couldn’t wear bobby pins at a track meet. Pretty sure there was no way a bobby pin in my hair could possibly harm another athlete during the 4×100 relay haha. Anyway, point of that tangent: the whole “no jewelry” thing DEFINITELY stuck with me. I wear a watch (and bobby pins 😉 ) when I run now, but I can’t fathom wearing anything else during any kind of exercise. Whenever I see elite runners wearing earrings, necklaces, rings, etc., I’m always like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!? SOMEONE IS GOING TO DISQUALIFY YOU!!!!” Hahaha.

    • kilax says:

      Ha! That is so funny!!!!! I like that you have some weirdo memories from junior high sports, too. I always wonder about the people who wear jewelry, too. My hands swell way too much to wear my wedding rings, and anything bouncing around (necklace, bracelet) would make me loco!

      I wonder if they thought you’d fall on a bobby pin and get hurt? Such a small chance. Ha ha.

  7. Lesley says:

    I never heard this rule. I see runners like Kara Goucher, and the pony tail goes everywhere.

    • kilax says:

      Hee hee, it’s not a real rule, just what I am calling it to tell the story 😉 It’s just some weird thing this guy did.

  8. What an adorable picture!!!

    I second Xaarlin’s thoughts on the vertical movement versus lateral movement. Then again, my hair always moves from side to side when I am running. Now I am going to be conscious of my hair movement!!! =D

  9. Karen says:

    Funny 🙂 I can’t wear a pony tail, I end feeling sore and have a head ache…weird, but my head is really sensitive.
    You look cute in your track pic.

  10. Joanna says:

    Yeah my mom used to tell me not to move my head so much when I ran (that was 7th grade). I think i used to do it when I got tired. I grew out of it fast.

  11. Pam says:

    Hahaha! Wonder what he would have to say about when my pony tail does a complete clockwise flip?

  12. This post made me laugh. I’m going to pay attention next time I go on a run 🙂

  13. Beth says:

    I was in junior high track, too. And if they didn’t allow everyone who was interested on the team, there’s no way I would have ever been allowed to even step on the track. 😉 Ah, those were the days. Interesting idea about the ponytail swing and lateral movement! I know that too much vertical oscillation can be bad, but I haven’t read much about lateral oscillation…maybe I’ll have to Google that. 😀

  14. jan says:

    That makes no sense to me either! Check out the ponytails of elite runners…they don’t go up & down! Cheerleaders’ ponytails go up & down. LOL! It is funny the things that are said that stick with you. I did track freshman & sophomore year of HS & I didn’t like it at all either. What about the meets that always seemed to be either 100 degrees or cold & windy?

  15. Mica says:

    We had a few runners on our high school track team who were head bobblers. Their ponytails would swing so much! Now I’m curious if I do. Maybe I’m wasting a lot of energy on side-to-side motion or head waving.

  16. I ran with a girl in junior high who would actually swing her head left to right while running, and the idea was that if you’re swinging left to right, you’re wasting energy that could be used to go forward. Maybe this is what your coach meant? I’m sure my hair goes all over the place, but not in a definite side to side motion all the time.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy

40 ‘queries’.