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.
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!