No just 2

Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve worked more race expos than I can count. There is one takeaway that comes from every single expo that continues to blow my mind. The word JUST.

Me: What race distance are you running this weekend?

Runner: Just the half marathon. I know it’s not the marathon, but it’s long for me, and it’s going to be my first. I’m really proud of it, even though I know other people can run longer.

The half marathon is a long distance, period. It’s 13.1 miles, more miles than I drive most days.

I wondered if it was JUST me.

Do other runners think that running 13.1 miles is a long way to go? No, it’s not 26.2. But guess what it’s also not: 100 miles.

Does running 100 miles make someone more of a runner than me and my 28 marathons?

Does running marathons make you more of a runner than running half marathons, 10 milers, 10K’s or even 5k’s?

The answer is a resounding NO.

It’s easy in this age of non-stop comparisons…”Oh my kids potty trained at this age. Oh I ran up until I was x months pregnant. I’m running marathons in all 50 states. I got two promotions this year….yada yada yada… compare the distance you are running to what others are doing. But stop.

This past Sunday, I ran the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon. I had planned on running the marathon, but because of time constraints, I decided I wanted to switch to the half and catch an earlier flight home. I was reminded over those 13.1 miles that a half marathon is a long way to go. Personally a marathon is easier any day of the week. I’m the type of runner that likes long slow pain, not when I have to pick up the pace and run for a shorter period of time. Does that make me less or more of a runner than someone who runs 5K’s or ultras? Neither! It makes me a runner. It makes me – me.

Next time someone asks you what race distance you are running – OWN IT. There is no JUST. It’s all running, and it’s all awesome.

Don’t let your mileage define you. We are runners and everyone has their own definition of what is short, what is long, and what makes them happy.

So tell me what do you consider long distance? Should we ditch the word JUST and OWN our races?
This post first appeared on Women’s Running – you can check it out here

My latest post for Women’s Running Magazine about the slow down I experienced in 2014 can be found here —


  1. So, so much this. I think people should take a step back for a second when they find themselves saying ‘just’ whatever, and think about before they started running. Back when I, like any non-runner, couldn’t make it five minutes, THIRTEEN MILES sounded absolutely terrifying. A 5k sounded terrifying. THREE MILES is a long freaking way to be RUNNING. If you step back from the runners’ crazies and actually think about the distance in the context of your regular life you realise how goddamn far those distances are. ALL of them.

  2. Catherine Burnett says:

    Great timing! I just (see what I did there?!!) had this conversation with a girlfriend. She is returning to running after having twins. Pre-babies, she’s run at least 4 marathons plus many halfs (halves?). And she was telling me about registering for her first race. “it’s just a 10k,” she said. I looked at her like she was crazy and emphasized that she was back to running even though her life is hectic and time-constrained. I said “it’s not “just” anything. It’s an incredible goal!” She was comparing herself not to me or another runner but to herself. She commented that she isn’t the runner that she used to be, and she talked very negatively about where she is today versus where she has been. I sometimes think that we are our own worst enemies, and that our negative self-talk is what keeps us from reaching for the stars. Thanks for a great reminder that it’s not JUST anything. It’s really awesome!

  3. Ugh! “Just” is a pet peeve of mine too. It bugs me when sportscasters say “and he’s JUST a freshman.” No, he’s a freshman and he’s good and that’s why he’s playing.

    Go on girl! Own it!

  4. agreed! there is no just (even though i’m guilty of saying it).

  5. Love this! I cried when heading out the door to my first 5K, telling my husband that I felt like a poser, showing up to a running event when I was JUST a new runner barely able to walk/jog 3 miles. After finishing, and realizing that I did not come in last and was actually surrounded by amazing people of all shapes and sizes on their personal journeys… I stopped belittling myself. I am a runner! I run 5Ks, half marathons and marathons, no JUST about it.

  6. It’s such a sign of our times. People so often say “oh I’m JUST doing this” or “I’m JUST a….fill in the blank”. These constant comparisons do need to stop. When I was training for my first half I was ecstatic each time I accomplished a new distance. And even though I have ran 4 marathons, those half marathons are never easy and never will be. We all need to, as you said, “own” the distances we choose. Because the number of miles is just that…a number. It’s the intention that truly matters. It’s the goal we set out to accomplish that we all need to be proud of.

  7. I really hate the “just” mentality that so many runners have when it comes to distance. If you train the right way and race the right way, every distance is going to be a challenge (IMHO, the hardest distance to race is probably the 800m on a track which is “just” half a mile). Any race distance where you cross the finish line injury free and have challenged yourself is a win, whether it is one mile or 26.2.

  8. You’re awesome! I love reading your blog and hearing from your heart! Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

  9. I am curious why you say a marathon is easier than a half-marathon. Don’t most people hit a wall (physiologically) at mile 20? Never ran a full before, only a half. The half felt “easy” in the sense that I never hit a wall, but could very easily imagine doing so if I had to go on much longer. You’re right that “just” is a word used only when we’re making comparisons, which we should stop.

  10. I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen into the trap of saying this, but I do remember when a 5k was a huge accomplishment, and starting training for my first half marathon, running 13 miles seemed CRAAAAZY. I don’t think a shorter distance is any less of a noble pursuit, it’s just a different kind of HURT. :)

  11. I love this article and I love your heartfelt writing. I was catching up on your posts and was upset by the negativity of some of your commenters. Please keep doing what you are doing! You inspire us and make us feel like you are a real person instead of an untouchable celebrity! You are awesome and I love hearing about your ups and downs!! I am a running coach and my favorite distance train people for is the 5k because a lot of times this is their first race and they don’t even believe they can run a full mile, let alone 3. They know I run marathons, but I stress to them how important each step on THEIR journey is. There is no “just” there is no “slow” there is just running! (I don’t even like the word jogging because it separates people!) Oh, how I love you and your blog!! There should be no comparisons, we all just need to support each other and celebrate each other’s successes! That’s what it’s all about!

  12. Mrs. Miller's Miles says:

    It’s the Pinterest affect! There’s always something bigger or better that could be done. I’ll be lucky to toe the line of a 13.1 race this spring, and I will be darn proud of it. This is a huge change from my pre-baby mind set, and I’m enjoying the pressure being off!

  13. I agree but I’ve said it before too – I’m “just” running the half. UGH.
    If someone references my Ironman (which by the way is a brand not a distance) I feel the need to correct them that I JUST did the 70.3 – the Half Iron Distance. I hate that I do that.

    I would bet that the “just” thing is more prevalent with women. Have you noticed that at the expos? Do men feel the need to call out they are JUST doing the half?

    I also agree on preferring somewhat longer races and the pain of short ones – I can’t stand the pain of the 5k!

  14. “Long Distance” has a floating definition. Just over three years ago, 1 mile was my long distance goal and I was proud to accomplish it in 13.5 minutes.

  15. Great post! I, too, suffer from the “just” syndrome. I know I can run long distances and enjoy them when I do, but when I’m only putting in a 5K or a 10K I feel the “justs” come on nearly immediately. I was guilty of this when I ran my first half marathon, too. We should remove the word from our running vocab, IMO!

  16. This article brings some solace me, I have long been enamored by those running half marathons, full marathons and those running ultra marathons were super humans for me. For me 8 miles has been my maximum so far, could not run more than that. After staying frustrated for some time at not being able to reach at-least half marathon distance, I gave up, I started running 5 miles every day and followed it up with interval running, short bursts of sprinting followed by a small break.

    You are very right every person is different,comparison with others only saps your energy. I am feeling good at what I am doing. Many thanks!

  17. Amen. I find that people use “just” to preempt criticism too. I left a local running group very soon after joining because I was intimidated by a man who loudly & frequently said that no one was a “real runner” until s/he qualified for Boston. The rest of us were “just wishing” and “bringing down” others. It’s as if we brought down the real estate values just by being in his presence. What a jerk. But that jerk poisoned the air around the group so much that it was a waste of my time to be there.

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