Ugly Runner Syndrome

I have recently discovered something about myself and it ain’t pretty.

Nope, it’s not pretty at all. It’s actually quite ugly.

I like to call it the Ugly Runner Syndrome. Do you know what I’m talking about?

A scrunched up face. A gaping mouth, taking in oxygen as if it were about to be submerged in water for over 10 minutes. A stare of determination desperation, looking and hoping for the finish line to be within sight.

For instance, take a look at this heinous photo.

Becky 1

(Image Source)

I look like I’m about to sneeze while facing the brightest sun I’ve ever seen and from the looks of it, I am also dying from heat exhaustion. Sadly, this was not the case. It was about -50 degrees that race – not including windchill. Please note the packed ice on the trail. Fun.

And how about this one?

Becky 2

(Image Source)

Could my grimace of pain be any worse??! And what am I leaning into? It’s not like the finish line was anywhere within leaning distance. Man, I’m pretty. Seriously, it takes talent to have looks like this.

And who could forget my half-marathon uglies?

Becky 3

I think this lovely gem was taken at the point in the race where I was in so much pain that I was running with my eyes closed. Super cute. However, I do feel that these uglies are valid. No one looks pretty after running 13.1 miles. For instance, take the guy at the bottom of the photo. He looks ready to harf. Apparently he too has Ugly Runner Syndrome. I feel for you, man.

And if you’re one of those “pretty” runners who looks ready to walk the red carpet after finishing a marathon. I hate you, and not just a little bit… a lotta bit.

Yes, I’m jealous of you pretty runners, how you look so happy and pretty when you run will always be a mystery to me. You smile and you laugh and you make running look as if it is the best thing in the entire world.

Not me, no matter how hard I try to smile when I see a race camera or a friend or heck, even the finish line, I always look the same. Pained. Gasping for air. Baring my teeth like a rabid dog.


Luckily, I’ve come to terms with my self-diagnosed Ugly Runner Syndrome. And thankfully the syndrome isn’t permanent. It only creeps up on me between the start line and the finish line. I blame the chip trackers – it has got to be the chip trackers ;)

Are you a pretty runner? Can you teach me how to be pretty??!


  1. Ha Ha Ha, hey we all can’t look perfect 24/7 right?? :)
    Jessie recently posted…Meal #1 has me droolingMy Profile

  2. Lol I am definitely without a date an ugly runner! Even down to what I wear, I usually wear skins with shorts over the top because my running top will slip up if I don’t wear shorts and it doesn’t look pretty but I am usually sweating, pink in the face and generally giving passers by the stink eye ;)

    Hopefully someone will give you some great tips on running pretty and I can benefit too :)
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday #12My Profile

  3. This post cracks me up! I’m not a pretty runner too and I have a handful of marathon pictures to prove it…I just like to think I’m concentrating hard on running :)
    Taylor recently posted…salted caramel chocolate chip cookie barsMy Profile

    • I like to think I’m concentrating on running too but in reality I’m concentrating on not dying or falling over ;) Haha!

  4. this post cracked me up! i just ran my first 5k ever so my sample size is tremendously small, but i would bet that i am not a pretty runner either.
    Caitlyn @ City and the Cubicle recently posted…My First 5K Ever!!!! ( Color Run recap )My Profile

    • Umm…. so I just checked out your Color Run photos and you are NOT an ugly runner! At least from what I can tell in the “after” shots :) I’ve always wanted to do a color run – I’m going to have to find one near me this year!

  5. HAHAH I have ugly runner syndrome for sure. I’ll never be someone that looks super cute 100% of the time. It’s more like…. 21%. We can teach each other to be pretty :)
    Sarah@pickyrunner recently posted…I wish I could tell you…My Profile

    • Bahahah – love the 21% of the time :) I’ll let you know if I find out any tips on pretty running!

  6. I’m pretty sure I always look intense when working out!
    Nicole recently posted…Today’s Workout: Pilates with a TwistMy Profile

    • Intense is good!! Ugly, however, is not ;) Maybe I’ll try to start looking intense rather than deathly when I run.

  7. This was hilarious! I just think you rock for running 13.1 miles. In cold weather. nuff said! :)
    Dana recently posted…Healthy Living SurveyMy Profile

  8. Hahaha I love this! lol – I am the ugliest runner- you look downright adorable compared to the mutant I become. My face turns bright red after a few minutes, neon red after a mile, and purple after that. That’s all it takes, and it can get embarrassing when people on the street feel the need to ask if im ok.
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Errands, Amirite?My Profile

    • Ugh, uglies when running are the worst! I should have also added that I sweat profusely. Nasty. I will trade your neon purple face for my sweat :)

  9. I am no where near being a pretty runner. I am definitely a victim of ugly runner syndrome. I actually just got up at work and ran in place to see where my face naturally goes to when running…it isn’t pretty. Lots of scrunhiness, my poor nose. Haha! Oh well :) At least you don’t look like barf-guy!
    Leslee @ Her Happy Balance recently posted…Strawberry Basil Chia PuddingMy Profile

  10. I think the only one immune to Ugly Runner Syndome is the super sexy Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. What a hunk!
    carly @ snack therapy recently posted…Just One ThoughtMy Profile

    • Hahaha – I love how you always pick out the hotties in my random photos ;) I’m sure you’ll find about 12 to point out in the airport on Friday!

  11. I think I have a severe case of ugly runner syndrome as well! Ha this post had me cracking up!
    Nicole @ FruitnFitness recently posted…WIAW #18 Picture FailMy Profile

    • I’m glad I’m not alone in suffering from this syndrome ;) I wish I could learn to wear sunglasses when I run, that would help immensely!

  12. Haha a lot of people are ugly runners! We can’t all look like ridiculously photogenic running guy. Have you heard of him? Google him if you haven’t, it’s kind of funny!
    Alyssa @ Road to RD recently posted…WIAW #2- B.S.My Profile

  13. Trust me, I do not look pretty when I am running. And for those who do…they aren’t working hard enough! ;)
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted…Roasted Part 7: Potato WedgesMy Profile

  14. Pff, please. I have ugly running down to a science. After about 4 steps, my face turns BRIGHT red. We’re talking like tomato soup here. And I sweat. From my face. And only my face. It’s the most attractive look in the world. I can maybe force a smile, but that only makes me look more like the Kool-aid man. Your pictures are possitively stunning compared to mine!
    Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies recently posted…Super Soft Banana Bread Cookies (Vegan, GF)My Profile

  15. This seriously cracks me up so bad! I am the exact same way! I always get so excited when races post photos but then I am always extremely disappointed when I see myself. Either my foot is flopping awkwardly or my face shows sheer signs of struggle. It’s always something. I don’t think I have ever seen a race photo of myself that has made me say, “wow I look good!” Maybe one day.
    Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty recently posted…Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free)My Profile

  16. Hehe! I’m convinced that people who look good when they run are actually photoshopped ;) There’s no way I could pull off a pretty face while I’m running – I’m too busy concentrating on not dying!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. WIAW … it’s nice not to care .My Profile

  17. I seriously laughed through this entire post! I know I look hideous when I run because I can feel it. But, running with a smile on my face and not looking intense doesn’t make me feel like I’m doing it right..? I feel like I should be making weird gross faces! Regardless, you know a real runner when they don’t care what they look like doing it!
    Heather @fitncookies recently posted…Race for the Cure Recap with lots of Snacks!My Profile

    • I am glad I could add a little laugh to your morning, Heather!! :) But yes, it must mean that we are pushing ourselves if we can’t make pretty faces!

  18. Ugly runner right here lol. I always look like a t-rex, little stubby arms. Or I look like I’m missing my arm (when taken from the side). Or my thunder thighs look more thunderous than normal lol oh how I love race pictures
    Chelsea @ LittleOneRuns recently posted…So Much Water!!My Profile

  19. hahahah love this post! And so true – those guys taking photos always show up at the worst times! I always look pissed when they take my picture – and I get bright red in the face when I run and that aint pretty!!
    Katie @ running4cupcakes recently posted…Running wardrobe (+ Feetures! giveaway!)My Profile

    • I think part of the issue is that those dang camera men are always shooting from the ground up. That angle is not flattering for anyone! They need to be posted in trees or something so it is a better view ;)

  20. lol…love this!! I don’t know of anyone who looks like a million bucks while running so I think we’re all in it together :)
    Beth Sheridan recently posted…Happy Camping Birthday!My Profile

  21. Too funny!! I think we all have moments like that. And I’d rather just not know about it. lol.
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted…Cacao Roasted Purple Sweet PotatoMy Profile

  22. I’m a mess while I’m running and after is just bad on so many levels (I rarely, if ever, take pictures after a run!!).
    Kim recently posted…Overcoming FearMy Profile

    • I don’t know why SO many runners take photos during and after races. Things are never pretty then ;)

  23. Haha So funny!!! Unfortunately, I have this same syndrome :( And I am one of those who no matter if I run 1-20 miles, I sweat buckets. Nothing is sexier than sweaty, while looking in pain ;)

    I try to hide my ugly runner a bit by wearing sunglasses. That way I can at least hide the pain and agony in my eyes lol
    Emily @ The Good Era recently posted…Take Time Tuesday-Mom & SisterMy Profile

  24. Bahaha oh man these pictures are awesome. I have NO idea how I look when I run, I’ve only ran one race and they never posted the photos. I’m not sure I want to find out! I probably look like I’m gonna keel over…at least, anywhere in the last 1/3 of the run for sure.

    However, my dodgeball league takes pictures during our games and I know for a FACT that those pictures are never pretty!
    Katie @ Blonde Ambition recently posted…Mother’s Day Weekend in PhotosMy Profile

    • Glad I could provide some morning entertainment ;) I feel action shots are never great unless you are a professional athlete! They must get some kind of training or something…

  25. hahaha Thankfully running isn’t about looking pretty. You looked like a badass no matter what kind of funny faces you were making! :-)

  26. I am so glad that I am not the only one that feels this way.. I honestly don’t think there are many pretty racing pictures of almost anyone. It usually looks like I am 3 feet tall and about 3 feet wide too and I think this has to do with the fact that the photographers are so close to the ground. Many times though (knowing that I am not going to look great anyway) when I see a photographer, I will throw up my arms and screech like a Viking about to go to battle. They are usually “fun” photos at least. If I thought that I looked like I do in racing pictures in real life.. well.. I am just glad I don’t :)

    Good Post!!
    Chris M recently posted…I still love a great pair of italian shoes! AKA My Barefoot Journey Part 1My Profile

    • You’re definitely not the only one who feels this way, Chris! I love your idea of doing something crazy when you see race photographers – I am totally going to try that next time! :)

  27. Um when I run it’s just..oy. My feet are naturally turned out (crooked knees, my doctor says it’s fairly normal for women) and I waddle like a duck…oh and I end up passing out pretty quickly if I full on run for more than like a minute. *sigh*
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) recently posted…100% Whole Wheat BreadMy Profile

    • Ahahahahaha – your comment made me LOL :) Not the passing out part – that’s scary! But definitely the waddling part ;)

  28. What a refreshing thing to read:) love the honesty!
    I am not a runner–so I can only imagine the agony of a longer run or half marathon. I think you look better than some people:)
    Some people really look like they are in pain—they don’t even appear healthy–with the look on their face—oh well, I guess they have something to prove. I mean that in a semi-nice way.

    • Thanks Amy! If I am ever in THAT much pain I always stop. No use getting injured over a something as silly as a run!

  29. Ja @ja on the run says:

    I just stumble upon your blog and this post is funny!
    Hahahaha! I wonder about that too. Seriously. How can some people look so fresh after a race! I am definitely an ugly runner! LOL! :)

    • I just think that they aren’t running hard enough! I like to say that my uglies are from busting my booty and making my fat cry ;)

  30. You’re so funny!! The sun was in your face, you’re not an ugly runner. And who looks pretty when they run?!? You should wear sunglasses when you run and then no one can tell that your face is scrunched. ;)
    Sarah @ Making thyme for Health recently posted…Black Kale & Mango Salad with Walnut Crusted Goat CheeseMy Profile

    • I would but I think they’d fall down and I’d get annoyed! Maybe I’ll try that on my run tomorrow :)

  31. Lol! I’m in the ugly runner club too! Whenever I see photos, I cringe!

  32. Oh man, I’m absolutely FUGLY when I run. I cringe when I see photos of myself during races, as I look angry for some reason? Ha! Seriously I look like I’m about to punch someone when I’m approaching a hill. It’s my “in the zone” face…
    Danielle @ recently posted…Watermelon CakeMy Profile

    • I like that you call it “in my zone” face – that’s what I’m going to do too. Except my “in the zone” face looks like a rabid dog about to die!

  33. Haha – SO true!! I feel that all of my race photos are typically taken at the end of the race but I do have one around mile 6 of my half where I am happy and smiling :)

  34. I am also an ugly runner! In fact, this may sound weird, but I think my knees look so wonky when I run! like, super fat knees. haha. I try and avoid pictures while I run : )

    • Oh man… your knees??! I think we all get fixated with some part of our body looking “bad” while running. I’m sure your knees are perfect on every run!!

  35. OMG I love this! I have had some pics come out where i look like I am about 60 and dying. I have made it a point to try and seek out the photographers and give a thumbs up or a peace sign with a smile, and now most of my pics look decent (if only i could afford them!) but an occasional grimace will still make an appearance!
    kim recently posted…(Almost) Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • I need to start doing the make a funny face or wave when the photographers show up! By the time I see them I always think it is too late ;)

  36. Hahaha I love these pictures! I am definitely an ugly runner too. I’m always looking down at the ground, and I always look like I absolutely hate life (which, when I’m running, I pretty much do). I can never believe it when people manage to smile and look good!
    Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted…Thursday Thoughts 5/16/13My Profile

  37. Hey, but you know what, it looks like you have a great kick and good running form. So of you’re buzzing by all of the other runners, I say have your game face on.
    Tony B (SimpleAwesomeCooking) recently posted…Curried Lentil BurgersMy Profile

  38. hahaha, this is hilarious. I am definitely not a pretty runner! I get realllly red. I’ve come to accept it but it’s what kept me from running for so long. In middle school after running the mile kids would say “Why are you so red?!” Anyway, it scarred me a tad. haha.
    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) recently posted…Brew Review: Dust Bowl Brewing Hops of WrathMy Profile


  1. […] that we can all agree that we are not ” pretty” runners (see yesterday’s post if you are confused by this comment!), I have an awesome product to share with you […]

  2. […] If you’re looking for more running tips and tricks plus a little bit of humor, head on over to Olives ‘n’ Wine for posts on how to stay active while traveling and how to avoid becoming an ugly runner! […]

  3. […] one there to take photos of you crossing the finish line? On a positive note, you realize you have Ugly Runner Syndrome, so a lack of photo evidence is probably a good […]

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