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A Few Terms You Won’t Find in the Dictionary: Defining the glamour of an athletic mother

The other day, I was rushing around trying to get Abigail and myself ready for church after my morning workout. I was running short on time and trying to decide where I could cut corners in the “getting ready” process. And it’s a good thing my “job” is to wear athletic clothes, because this cutting of corners in my own appearance has become a pretty typical part of my everyday life – and these hectic runarounds remind me of a term that originated back in my college days.

The Term: “Nice-Nasty”

This oxymoron was the go-to expression of my college days, used to describe a collegiate athlete’s appearance while walking around campus. If I recall correctly, the term was coined by none other than my uber-clever teammate, Phoebe Wright, and was then adopted – both in terminology and practice – by almost the entire Tennessee Track & Field team. The “Nice” side of the term refers to one’s actual appearance. The “Nasty” side of things is more a relation to one’s momentary hygienic state … or lack thereof. The basic concept? Someone is considered Nice-Nasty when they exercise or workout, and then, without showering, throw on “normal” clothes to simply go about their day. It’s a classic case of “fake it till you make it” mentality. On the outside, they look put together, but the truth is that they only really went half the distance to get there … and are hoping you’ll never know.

This term worked perfectly to describe the lifestyle of myself and many of my fellow athletes. After getting up at pre-dawn hours to get in workouts and two-a-days, all while still trying to manage classes and get the whole college experience, time was ALWAYS against you, so sometimes you had to cut corners. The mindset was often this: “Shower? Who has time for a shower when you have to be across campus in 10 minutes and are just going to sweat to get over there in time – remember, this is Knoxville, TN and all the sticky, humid weather that comes with a southern valley town – and then sweat again in your afternoon track workout”?!

Without missing a beat, the “Nice-Nasty” mindset pretty much followed me straight into my professional running days. I would often find myself coming home from a workout in the morning with the attitude that I was not going to waste time showering or washing my hair just to go and get all sweaty again in a few hours – even if I had errands to run in between. I was an athlete and these were my work clothes (and smells and smudges and …). Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a dirty person, nor do I avoid EVER showering and putting on nice clothes.  I mean, I’d like to think Darren would have married me even if I lived in a permanent state of Nice-Nasty, but let’s be honest, occasions like our engagement dinner would have been a little less “glamorous” if I hadn’t showered. 🙂

Well, flash forward a few years into my professional running career and now I get to add motherhood to the mix. You can see where this is headed …

Let me just say, motherhood brings along a whole new set of obstacles when it comes to your physical appearance. From being pooped on (yes, it doesn’t just happen in the movies!) to leaking boobs and caring for someone else above yourself, motherhood definitely takes a toll on the time and energy that you have to put into looking “presentable” yourself.

So, now the real question: What does motherhood AND being a professional athlete do to your appearance??? Well, it really involves balancing out how much time and how much motivation I have for things such as showering, fixing my hair, or picking out a nice outfit. Most often I don’t have time or motivation for ALL of these things, so I end up picking and choosing the combination that best suits my mood. So to humor myself, I decided to come up with a few more terms that describe the different combinations that make up my fashionable existence….

Here are a few terms I have added to describe my life as a mother AND athlete:

Nasty-Nice: This is basically the reversal of Nice-Nasty. It describes the state I am in when I have time to take a quick shower (don’t even get me started on shaving … let’s just say it’s “optional”) but end up throwing on the same clothing that I just took off. I mean, putting on a new outfit would mean having time to pick one out, as well as needing to wash the old one … and who has time for that?! My child generates enough laundry to sustain me and our water bill!




Nasty-Squared: Yes, I have to go there. This term pretty much speaks for itself. It’s the state of going both without a shower and without a change of clothes. Nasty-squared can even go as far as “nasty-cubed”. When the daily grim just keeps piling on over the course of a few days. Often, when in this state, I don’t even realize it. I’m just focused on survival …

Nice-Squared: For me, this term refers to when I have time to shower and actually put on clean clothes. However, the “clean clothing” that I default to takes the form of some type of sweat pant or yoga pant and a t-shirt. It is basically workout clothing in it’s own right. Thankfully New Balance makes some pretty cute yoga/casual outfits! The only issue that sometimes presents itself is when I designate one outfit for the week as my “clean/comfy outfit”. Hence, I end up putting on the same outfit each day and I slowly start to creep back to the Nasty-Nice status as the week goes on … you can think of it like the circle of life.



SweatyHair-Couldn’tCare: This term describes most of my attempts at looking presentable to venture outside the house. It involves a shower and putting on nice, clean clothes – Nice-Nice. A win, right?! Not so fast. It still fails to leave time to wash my hair. Washing and fixing my hair is just too time consuming to do on the regular, so for now, it continues to be reserved for super-special occasions.  If I ever show up to one of your functions with fully-done hair … consider it a compliment.

Unicorn: In the words of “M” and “M”, “it does exist!” It’s a rare, but glorious sight. It usually does not happen, unless for a special occasion, and it not only involves a shower and nice clothes, but full makeup and styled hair. Yes, makeup. M-A-K-E-U-P (if you are a new mom, the word probably rings a bell but it might take you a minute to process…). The unicorn doesn’t happen too often for me, but when it does, I make sure to document it (see also: Instagram).


A rare “Unicorn” sighting

I am sure there are many more terms and variations of terms that could be part of this list. And even if you aren’t an athlete or a mom, I’m sure you can relate on some level. For me, it’s the reality of my life right now. However, I wouldn’t trade anything in my life to have more “unicorns”. I love that I get to do a job that feeds my competitive spirit and also be a mom to someone who reminds me what really matters in life. My life is a unicorn, and no matter what my appearance may be on the outside, my heart is always full.