Community Skin We’re In: Your Running Tattoos

    Skin We’re In: Your Running Tattoos


    Few hobbies lend themselves as well to body ink as running—the Boston Marathon logo; the internationally recognized symbol of the Ironman finisher, a mantra or a phrase written down on an ankle: “Long May You Run,” these are just some examples of the great running body art of the iRun Nation.

    Seems like more and more runners are getting running-specific work done, from hobbyists to Canadian Olympians. Two-time Olympian Lanni Marchant says her newest tattoo helps tell her story.

    Marchant’s tattoo features the Olympic rings, and Lady Justice. She says, “I’ve wanted this Lady Justice piece with some Olympic symbol or connection for years, at least since 2016 for the Olympic connection—but I love how the rings aren’t the main focus,” Marchant says. “Lady Justice has an easy assumption because of my legal background, and it partly is, but it also taps into my tenacious nature for equality and equity in sport and life.

    Many readers inked their mantras, both as a reminder to themselves when they’re racing, and when they’re just living life. Phrases like, “Never Give Up,” “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” and “Here’s to New Finish Lines,” repeatedly pop up. Below is one reader’s mantra.
    “The provinces I’ve run in are shaded in and I hope to fill the map,” says Jessica Guenard-Valiquette. “Long May We Run is something my running partner (I call her my run wife), and I say. It’s kind of our motto.”

    Some running tattoos aren’t immediately clear on their messaging, but that’s OK. All that matters is that you find motivation in your body art.

    “I got this after my first full marathon when I was 40,” said Lisa Hennessy Noble, of the tattoo pictured above. Meanwhile, Rachel Hannah, the great New Balance athlete and long-time elite runner has recently begun expressing herself with running tattoos. About the experience, she says: “I’ve always wanted a tattoo, just was scared and indecisive. Then I finally decided to book the appointment with an artist at Ink & Water in Toronto because of a friend’s tattoo that was amazing and I was so inspired I wanted that artist to do my first one,” she says. “I got the runner image for my first tattoo and the significance is my joy for running and movement, but also the need for it for my mental health. That’s why it’s dark at the bottom and there are beams of sun coming in at the top and two birds flying together.

    I wanted to show darkness and the light that running gives me in my life,” she said. “I also find running helps me focus which is why it’s in a diamond shape to show structure and attention.”

    Tattoos help us tell our story and, for many of us, running is central to our narratives on how we see the world. We can call out our heroes like this reader has done:

    Do you have a running tattoo? Would you like one? Let us know and we’ll publish your photo and help share ideas for other interested runners. For some of us, a running tattoo can help tell our story. Brett Foland shared this with iRun magazine: “I was always a fairly slow runner however I L❤VED running,” he says. “Most often I’d be running with a smile on my face or when the endorphins hit I’d be singing, telling jokes or waving hello to people! I was told by someone I was the Happy Turtle—I was totally okay with that—so I Googled some clip art and went to work in Photoshop and made this tattoo, pictured below. I ran my 50-miler in Vienna, IL at the Tunnel Hill Ultra. It was right around the age of 65 on November 11, 2017. I just turned 70 and I’m still running.


    1. I am recovering from Breast Cancer and prior to that “intrusion” was an avid runner as well as “all round athlete”! It has been difficult for me to get back into running, and I am so, so sad about that! Running was my life, but, life changes us as we go forward. I am doing the best that I can, but I “keep praying for the miracle” that will make me “all better and ready to run”. Any ideas, suggestions or thoughts that folks have would be greatly appreciated! Happy Running to all the runners out there!

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