Just Run…Well It Depends

“Just run” – that is the advice, words of wisdom, and all those other interesting suggestions that we hear in so many conversations about running.

“Just run” – what in the hell does that really mean?

Well…it depends.

Watcha talkin about?

Photo by Harold Shaw of Patrick Caron at Central Maine Striders January Thaw 2020.

“Just run” depends on where are you on your runner’s journey and means different things to different runners.

  • How is the pandemic affecting your running?
  • Are you just starting out as a runner?
  • What are your current running goals or plans?
  • Have you been running for a few years?
  • Where you are in the pack?
  • Are you competitive or non-competitive?
  • Are you self-coached or have a coach who plans your runs for you?
  • Are you coming off an injury or been training consistently for a while?
  • Are you using a training plan or running by feel?
  • Running Form – I’ll discuss this “just run” beast in a different post.

and so many other factors to consider when someone says “just run”.

What your thoughts are when someone says “just run”? Are you going out to “just run” a mile, an easy five-miler, or do you look at your training plan and that you will just run a 12×400 repeat workout with 400 rest.

Quite different kinds of runs aren’t they?

But they are all… “just running”.

The Good?

In our excitement to talk about running sometimes we forget that not everyone has the same definition for a word or phrase that we do. It isn’t because we are being jerks or trying to make someone look bad. It is more the idea that our experiences or expectations are different.

What does “just running” mean for me?

Before the pandemic started each week I had a running routine to give me an idea about what kind of run I usually do on a given day of the week and I would go out and just run that day, with some leeway depending upon how I felt that day too. However, with the pandemic going on around us it has become more a weekly mileage goal and “just run” is now based more on how I am feeling each day to achieve that weekly goal than following any plan or routine too closely.

The Bad?

Think about the advice you hear from other runners who tell a newbie to “just run”, without thinking of the consequences of what they are saying. Think back to when you first started running and were told to “just run” and how it initially affected your relationship with running. “Just running” to a newbie is completely different from what an experienced runner thinks about.

Comparing your “just run” to other people’s idea of “just run” can be a complete shitshow. Think about some of the runners you know or the ones you follow on Strava and how they talk about just running 3-5 miles at a sub 7:00 pace as going out and “just running”. I don’t know about you, but that workout would kill me and sure as hell ain’t “just running” in my book.

What was I thinking?

The words and phrases we use do matter and how you interpret using the two words “just run” depends on your experiences and the person saying or being told to do it, their experiences as well.

Have you ever gone out for a run with a group and at the start everyone agreed to just run at an easy pace? Then when you get to the 3.0-mile mark and all but a couple of you are close to race pace, while the two in front are having a wonderful conversation, that you can’t participate in because you can’t talk. Since breathing is more essential activity at that moment.

Your pride/ego doesn’t let you drop off, because everyone agreed to “just run” at an easy pace and you can’t let them see that this is not an easy pace for you. The rest of the run you wondering what in the hell you are doing and that I didn’t agree to run a race today. I think most of us have been there done that.

Being specific about what we are actually meaning when we say or hear the phrase “just run” is being used can make all the difference about the expectations of what a run is going to be like and if you are on the same page as the person saying it.

The next time you get to run with others and they say, “come on we are gonna “just run” today.

What does that “just run” truly mean? Well, it depends!

Be safe and healthy and “just run”. 🙂

What do you think of when someone says “Just run”?



  1. As you say, Just Run means something different to everyone.
    For a newbie, just run could lead to an injury from over doing it.
    For us veterans it could mean hanging on the end of a pack of runners having a jolly conversation.
    I’ve been at the head of that pack and I’ve dropped off of that pack.
    It’s all relative to who you are running with.
    I ran with a guy for about 2-3 years. He was a better runner and in better shape.
    We would go out for just a run on Tuesday night and 9 out of 10 times he’d make me feel like I was going to die just keeping up.
    I think we all need to run with a guy like that once in a while, to just go for a run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes we need the challenge and sometimes we need to enjoy the company, sometimes that happens at the same time and usually when we agree on the terms of what “just run”is going to mean during the run. 🙂 It is when we have different ideas about what is going to happen that it makes you scratch your head a little. 😉


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