The J Word

As Spring race season is just getting kicked off back in the United States, my Facebook feed is filled with friends excited to run races of all distances. Some people are traveling down to Washington, DC this weekend for the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC marathon and half marathon while others are enjoying local races.

Some people have aspirations of setting new personal bests during these upcoming races while others are looking forward to enjoying warmer temperatures and coming out of winter hibernation.

More and more, I see and hear friends describing their accomplishments of training for a race, regardless the distance, with the word JUST.  I am guilty of this habit as well, doing the same yesterday during a Facebook conversation with a friend. He kindly complimented me and said that my early morning runs inspire his girlfriend to get out of bed. My response was naturally to say I JUST ran 5 miles and could never be an actual Nike ad. 


I wish we would stop using this four letter word, replacing it instead with another description. JUST  is the way we naturally downplay accomplishments or minimize them. I see it more often in women, as women often find it uncomfortable to be proud of their accomplishments both personally and professionally, instead minimizing them. 


Think about the effect this can have on both the person using the term and those around them. If we stick with the running example, this can play out in multiple ways.

I’m not running the marathon; I’m JUST running the half marathon.

1. This mentally makes the runner think that the half marathon isn’t as important or difficult as the marathon distance. This can result in under training, a less than optimal mental state and reduce the excitement of crossing the finish line. Earlier this week, my coach wrote a post about the mistakes people make when training for a half marathon, and this is the #1 mistake she captured.

2. This can affect other runners as well. Remember how you felt when you trained for your first race? Whether it was a 5k or a marathon, it felt like the most important race of your life and such an accomplishment. There are beginners all around us, looking forward to crossing their first finish line. If they are training their hearts out for their first half marathon, by downplaying that accomplishment and using the word JUST  you make them feel as if it isn’t a big accomplishment.

Allow yourself small victories. Don’t deny giving yourself credit for accomplishing something, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time.

So next time someone asks you about your training or distance, own that distance with 100% of your heart and mind. Regardless your goal, don’t JUST  run the race. Instead, be proud and loud about the decision to cross the starting line. There are thousands of other people who have yet to leave the sofa and it is our responsibility as runners to motivate and inspire them through our accomplishments.

Thank you to Jess for inspiring this post and to those friends whom I’ve called out this week for using the term JUST, I apologize but you need to start owning your accomplishments!

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  1. Clara March 12, 2015 / 1:18 pm

    So true!!! My former boss said that to me after congratulating me on an accomplishment at work and I instinctively said ‘oh it was just…’. He said to be proud and never use that word again. 😀

    • ashleyd March 17, 2015 / 7:56 am

      Amen! I like your former boss Clara! Own it!

  2. Annie @ Annie Get Your Run March 12, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    This hit home. I’m doing the full marathon this weekend and I’ve worked the word “just” in regards to my poor training about 45 times this week. Yes, my training didn’t go as planned…yes, it was freezing and icy outside for most of my long runs! Oh well! I’m going to go, I’m going to rock it, and I’m going to have fun. I’m ready.

  3. Katie March 12, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    “allow yourself small victories” is such a great mindset! I also battle the “j” word and have a hard time putting it in perspective sometimes.

    • ashleyd March 17, 2015 / 7:53 am

      Good luck Katie! Embrace every victory!

  4. Beki @MissWheezy March 12, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    Great post Ashley- this is so true! I think “only” is a similar word that I’m guilty of using as well. Particularly when it comes to talking about running pace- I can “only” run this fast, or I’m “only” doing 3 workouts this week, so-and-so is doing more… We need to step back and congratulate ourselves on what WE have achieved, and stop comparing! 🙂

    • ashleyd March 13, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Thanks Beki! I totally agree that we need to step back and enjoy the moment and be thankful for what we can achieve!

    • ashleyd March 17, 2015 / 7:52 am

      Every run you complete Beki is better than not! You’ve come so far over the past year and you need to embrace this and be PROUD!

  5. Natalie March 12, 2015 / 4:04 pm

    I really appreciate this post. As a new runner, I often feel this way, but want to be proud of my accomplishments, because they are a big deal, to me!

    • ashleyd March 13, 2015 / 7:33 pm

      Aww Natalie enjoy every moment of being a new runner! I miss being a new runner and enjoying all the “firsts!”

    • ashleyd March 17, 2015 / 7:50 am

      I’m glad it resonated with you Natalie. You need to be proud of EVERY mile regardless the pace!

  6. Jane March 12, 2015 / 4:41 pm

    Love this — I think we are ALL guilty of this at some point and it’s so needed to take a step back and be proud. There was a time in my life I couldn’t run 1 mile nevermind 26.2! But I go there by running short and long distances. Thanks for the reminder girl to take it all in and be proud of ourselves!

    • ashleyd March 13, 2015 / 7:33 pm

      You’re so right Jane. Take it in and ENJOY every moment!

  7. silent voice March 12, 2015 / 7:13 pm

    So true, but why is that so? Sometimes I have the impression that being successful as a women is less rewarding than being successful as a man. Men fear you and women hate you. And that’s what women feel / know as well and as a result downplay their achievements. I know it is not that simple, but sometimes I think this way…

    • ashleyd March 13, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      I wish I knew…

  8. jillian March 13, 2015 / 6:51 pm

    really great post, and it definitely hits home (for both fitness and the larger metaphor!).

    AND the photo of you DOES look like a Nike ad! and a beautiful one at that! 🙂

    • ashleyd March 13, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Thanks Jillian!! You’re so right it does hit home for every part of our life!

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