The 14 Best Running Tattoo Ideas

Many keen runners will tell you that running is part of their DNA.

When a certain activity becomes such a vital part of your life, something you think about and look forward to all the time, it’s only natural to value it so closely.

But what about if you want to take things a step further?

As the prevalence of body art has grown and grown in recent years, so too has the popularity of running tattoos.

Tattoos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who enjoy getting inked up, there are loads of examples of great tattoos about running.

In this article, we’ll be suggesting some of the best ideas for body art that fits into this category.

We’ll explore:

  • Why Get A Running Tattoo?
  • Running Tattoos: Recovery And Aftercare
  • The 14 Best Running Tattoo Ideas
  • Make Your Mark!

Let’s get into it.

Male runner with lots of tattoos running a race.

Why Get A Running Tattoo?

For those who love getting inked up and also love the invigoration provided by getting outdoors for a short jog, a 10K, or even a marathon, a running tattoo is the ideal way to combine these two passions.

After all, many people see running as a crucial aspect of their own personal identity. This is often the reason that many people get a running tattoo.

However, there’s also a potential social element to it. What better way to bond over a shared passion or communicate your love of running to a fellow athlete than showing them a body illustration to prove it?

Like most other forms of tattoo, running tattoos express a desire to outwardly show who you inwardly feel you are – or want – to be.

Some people might worry about reaching old age and not being able to run like they used to, and those tattoos no longer being relevant. But hardcore running tattoo fans will tell you that the intense desire and energy for running will always be there, no matter what.

Running Tattoos: Recovery And Aftercare

For anyone who hasn’t been inked up before, it’s worth knowing about the importance of taking care of your new tattoo in the immediate aftermath.

Here are a few simple steps to ensure that your new tattoo heals properly:

  • Make sure your artist covers your new tattoo in a thin layer of petroleum jelly and a bandage
  • After 24 hours, remove this bandage and gently wash the tattoo with antimicrobial soap and water. Pat dry, don’t rub hard.
  • Apply a layer of antibacterial ointment twice a day.
  • Gently wash your tattoo area twice a day with soap and water, and when dry, reapply the antibacterial ointment.
  • After each clean, keep applying a sensitive moisturizer or ointment to keep it moist.
  • Repeat this process for 2-4 weeks, and during this time try to keep your tattoo out of the sun and avoid swimming or having contact with scalding hot water.

Follow the steps above, and you’ll be fine! We recommend also checking out healthcare websites such as Healthline for more information on tattoo aftercare!

The 14 Best Running Tattoo Ideas

Okay, it’s time to get to the crux of the matter.

Whether you’re after something fun, something powerful, or something that’s deeply personal to you and your own journey, we’ve got you covered.


Some of the best running tattoo ideas start with a simple illustration.

#1. Runner Outlines

One of the most visually striking ways of transferring your passion for running onto your body is by getting a simple, black outline drawing of a runner tattooed.

Slick and stylish, runner outline illustrations are a great option for anyone who wants a nice subtle tattoo that’s not super bold or garish.

It could be based on you, inspired by an icon, or based on a generic athletic pose. Which brings us on to. . .

The 14 Best Running Tattoo Ideas 1

#2. The Athenian

Who invented running? Actually, it was no one in particular. Running is a skill that humans have always had – however, one of the earliest known groups to have formalized running as a sporting activity are the Ancient Greeks.

Athens was the stage for the first ever Olympics, in 1896. So if you’re thinking of getting an illustration inspired by your favorite pastime, why not honor the mighty Athenians who laid the groundwork for the modern sport?

The famous athletic pose of Discobolos could be an option, but there are tons of other Athenian figures you could take inspiration from.

#3. Favorite Places

Location is a big part of running, whether you exercise in your local park, a nearby athletics track, or a beautiful countryside setting.

So, why not get an illustration of one of your favorite places to run? It could be a map of that place, or a sketch of what the area looks like on the ground — it’s up to you.

Running tattoos can help anchor you even close to the things you care about. Choosing a favorite place as a design for your body art is guaranteed to do that.

#4. “Runner’s High”

“Runner’s high” is a feeling of relaxation and energization that some people get after a good run. It’s an amazing feeling that’s often attributed to a rush of endorphins, although some scientists believe it’s actually caused by the release of endocannabinoids.

You might be surprised to learn that “Runner’s high”, also known by the scientific term met-enkephalin, has its own molecular structure. And lots of people have decided that an illustration of this chemical structure is the perfect tattoo to express their love of running.

If you want to get a bit deeper into the science of running, this could be perfect for you.

#5. The Tortoise And The Hare

If you’re looking for something a little more outside the box, one good idea could be to draw on one of the most famous stories about running ever told.

Yep, we’re talking about the old fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Show off your commitment to the famous saying “Slow and steady wins the race” by getting a running tattoo based on the animals in the story!


Over the years, lots of wise words have been said about putting one leg in front of the other.

If you want to be able to look down at your body and find some motivation, why not get inked up with a powerful quote?

#6. Take In The Journey

“Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.”

#7. You Can Do It

“When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” 

— Florence Griffin, 3-time Olympic gold winner

#8. Putting In The Work

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”

 Juma Inkangaa, 1989 winner of the New York Marathon

#9. Live In The Moment

“Forever is composed of nows.” 

— Emily Dickinson

#10. Don’t Give Up

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

— Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Runner and Author

Facts And Figures

Another popular theme when it comes to tattoos about running is the inclusion of important facts, figures, and numbers that relate to your own personal athletic journey.

#11. Personal Best

What better way to show off how proud you are of your own hard work than by getting a personal best tattooed on your body?

It could be a 5k, a 10k, a marathon, a triathlon — whatever you like! Having that special number that means something to you engraved on your skin could be the thing that pushes you on and reminds you of what you’re capable of.

#12. Important Dates

Every runner has to start somewhere. Do you remember your first run?

Whether your memory can stretch back to the early days or not, there’s probably been some pretty significant landmarks you’ve reached. When did you run your first half marathon? What date did you complete that special charity run?

This is a fairly well-trodden path, after all — loads of people have the dates of their children’s births or their marriage ceremonies on their bodies. If running’s super important to you, it should be no different!

#13. 26.2

This is one of the most popular tattoos about running there is.

That’s because 26.2 is a significant number for many long-distance runners. Why? Because it’s the precise length of a marathon, in miles.

If you’ve completed a marathon and you want to shout about it, “26.2” is a nice, simple figure to get inked up to prove it.

#14. Coordinates

Another good number-based running tattoo idea is to etch coordinates on your body that mean something to you.

Why not find out the coordinates of your favorite location to run in, and get them tattooed?

black and white tattoo being done.

Make Your Mark!

Hopefully, that’s enough ideas to get you started!

Getting inked is a big step, particularly if you haven’t got one before. So it’s totally understandable if you’re a bit nervous about making the jump to get a running tattoo.

However, making sure you choose something that’s special to you and your own running journey will help ensure that you have no regrets at all going forward.

Whether its coordinates, a personal best, a map or drawing of a location, or a quote from a famous figure, there are tons of ways that you can translate your love for running into a beautiful piece of body art.

If you’re someone that loves bringing your favorite activity into other aspects of your life (and let’s face it – you probably are), check out our article on 27 of the best running jokes and puns.

Photo of author
Fred is a London-based writer who works for several sport, fitness and wellness sites. He's a keen runner and amateur footballer, who also writes regularly for Jobs In Football and follows his side Norwich City home and away.

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