As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

by On Aug 3, 2016

Not all tattoo artists are created equally, so choose yours wisely.

As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

A high-profile writer compared today’s body tattoo phenomenon to collecting refrigerator magnets: as long as there’s space to add one, why not ask a tattoo artist to ink on a butterfly, the date on which you won your first marathon or the name of your child?

Of course, not everyone uses common sense when getting tattooed. Ever met someone who put the name of the love of his life on his arm only to have her dump him soon after the ink dried?

Where are you on the subject of getting tattooed? Already got plenty of exotic art to show off on all body parts? A couple of strategic tats? Maybe you have no intention of getting tattooed. Ever.

As a runner, you certainly have more opportunities than most to expose plenty of skin, but before you decide yea or nay on decorating those skin areas, a little education may help you decide if you want extreme art or nothing at all.

Why do people get tattoos?

Well, they send a message, right? Declare love. Memorialize a date or a person. They can be works of art that take up so much skin, it’s hard to find a section of the body that isn't lavished with multi-hued art. In fact, tattoos are conversation starters as much as they are social statements, which is why psychologists call them abstract forms of social branding. Of course, that makes you the brand.

Reasons for getting tattoos are diverse: some people crave attention or they identify with a cause or a movement. Others commission skin art to express faith, show rebellion or flaunt a personal philosophy. A recent U.S. research study found that 15- to 38-percent of Americans are tattooed and their age span runs from youngsters to seniors.

As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

Photo Credit: 123RF

What do tattoos say about people who have them?

The aforementioned scientific study produced interesting findings. People who get tattoos tend to be sexually active and are more willing to engage in risky behaviours than those who don't get inked.

Women are more likely than men to get their tattoos removed, but this is equal opportunity art: both men and women say that getting a tattoo increases their self-esteem and diminishes their anxiety.

How to explain the behaviour of people whose entire bodies become canvases? Obsessive tattooing is, in some cases, a graphic substitute for addictions like drugs, drinking or sex. As a matter of fact, obsessive people report endorphin releases with each new addition that are equal to a runner's high.

As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

Photo Credit: 123RF

Are athletes more likely to get tattoos than non-athletes?

At first glance, you might come to that conclusion. Some athletes make no apologies about becoming obsessed with their sport and as a rule, runners aren’t shy when it comes to self-expression.

Further, runners take pride in their bodies and work hard to maintain a healthy physique by doing the right things: training, eating properly, getting rest and taking care of themselves.

And since runners represent every walk of society — professionals, homebodies, retirees, teens and career athletes — one’s decision to get a tattoo is strictly a matter of personal choice. That stated, if you are going to get a tattoo, we urge you to follow five sensible rules.

As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

Photo Credit: 123RF

The Five Rules of Tattoo Acquisition for Athletes

  1. Make it a secret. Sure, showing off a great tat at the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon could earn you admiring glances, but if you’re going to become vice president of corporate philanthropy at the bank’s Singapore headquarters, how far do you think your interview will proceed if snakes, roses, a girlfriend’s name or a crazy epithet peek out from beneath your formal interviewing attire?
  2. Check out the ink guy or gal. It’s one thing to strip down and offer your back as a canvas for an anaconda snake; it’s another to plunge in without asking to see the artist’s credentials. Ask questions. Does the facility meet hygiene standards? Has the tattoo artist been certified by a stand-up resource? Is he willing to give you the names of references? How many years has she been doing this?
  3. Watch your timing. You’ve spent a bundle on airfare, lodgings and registration fees, booked work vacation time and trained like a maniac. Just before leaving to run a big marathon, you tell your buddies, “I’m going to get a tattoo to let everyone know that I’m from Singapore.” Wrong move. You require healing time. This is an open wound. Wait until you have at least two weeks to heal, then show your love for your homeland!
  4. Let a professional do her job. How do you feel when someone criticizes your running techniques? You know your capacity for performance and would probably resent being told what to do and how to do it. Now, put yourself in the shoes of the tattoo artist. Pick out a piece of art and let them have it. If you’ve checked their credentials, let the artist do his job without your interference.
  5. Man up, even if you’re a girl. Getting a tattoo is painful. You know pain, because you run marathons. It’s important to get your head screwed on when you get inked, just as you do when running a race. Getting a tattoo hurts and you will be required to push through the pain. Complaining won’t earn you trophies and what will your run buddies say if they're there to watch you turn into a whimpering mass of Jell-O?
As a Runner, What do Your Tattoos Say about You?

Photo Credit: 123RF


Let’s say you’re a runner who’s longing to get a reasonable tattoo that celebrates the sport you love most.

You can select art from the portfolio of an experienced tat artist, do some research on your own to find the design that suits your body and sensibilities, or perhaps you could use a little inspiration.

We suggest visiting here for a taste of running-related art that may include exactly the design you seek. These 42 looks represent the good, the bad and the wild. On the other hand, if just looking at examples of tattoo art throws you into a panic, maybe you should put off that decision to get a tattoo until a future date!

Are you tattooed? Where is your tattoo located and what sort of art did you choose?

Aidan is the Editor-in-Chief of RunSociety. With more than a decade of editorial and marketing experience working with over 1,124 writers. Aidan has also written for several popular websites reaching millions of readers. Recognised as an expert on the web, his focus is to oversee RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the running community.

Get in touch with him if you have something to say, or want to weigh in on an interesting topic at hello@runsociety.com.

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