This is a post that I have always wanted to write; about my most despised word in any runner’s vocabulary, the word “just”. I know I’m definitely not alone in this post. This one is dedicated to the partners of runners who give this whole running thing a go, anybody starting out, or to anybody who will never be a ‘fast’ runner.
I found running really difficult to get into. I felt slow, heavy on my feet and every time I started running, I felt like I was dying (a little dramatic, I know). This was not the hardest part though, the trouble was being and living with an excellent runner… you can’t help but compare yourself to them and feeling inadequate or like an imposter!
I remember the first time I managed to run two whole kilometres under 8 minutes each! The kilometres had a 7 at the start of it and I was SO excited! But then I felt ridiculous celebrating that, because Brody runs multiple kilometres much faster than that all the time!
And here is where the word ‘just’ (or only) comes in.
I found myself saying things like ‘oh I just went for a 2km run’ or ‘it was only a 15 minute run’ and as I ran further, faster and longer, the word hung around like a bad smell.
The worst was when Brody and I would do an event together, because unless we’re doing the shorter distance together, he’s usually doing the longer distance. So when people would ask me what distance I was doing, I would answer with ‘oh I’m Just doing the 10km distance’. It even happened when Brody did a couple marathons and I did the half. I would say, ‘Oh, I’m just doing the half’.
In doing this I made myself feel bad and as it was pointed out to me, by Brody, I didn’t give myself any credit. I also realised, that when people tell me they went out for a run, I never care if it is 1km or 10km, 3minute pace or 9minute pace, I always think it is awesome they are getting out there, so I wondered why I couldn’t apply that mentality to myself!
Not only this, but when more experienced runners who run further than me use the unforbidden word to me and say ‘oh I’m just running the marathon’ then I feel really bad for doing a shorter distance. This means that if I use it to someone who’s just starting to run or is less experienced than me, then I will make them feel bad!!
I had a light bulb moment as well, which helped me a lot. I was doing what was meant to be a run, but I was so tired so had slowed to a walk. I felt slow, heavy and pathetic. Then this lady walked past who must have realised how I was feeling. She turned to me and said with a smile ‘you’re out here and much faster than the person on the couch’. To that lady, I have no idea who you are but I want to say a big thank you.
It still takes an effort, and constant reminders, but I’ve stopped using the words ‘just’ and ‘only’ to describe any of my runs.
So to all of the runners starting out, or partners giving running a go, don’t compare yourself, and be proud of yourself, no matter what the speed or distance is. And to all the runners out there, please try not to use these words to describe your runs, because someone out there would kill to run at your pace, no matter what that pace is. As a general rule, encourage those less experienced than you and know that those with more experience are there to help out and offer advice.
Be kind to each other out there.