Words To Banish From Your Run

Your brain isn’t all that smart. When you talk to yourself (and you should), your brain can’t really tell the difference between when you tell yourself the truth and when you tell yourself a lie.

What you say to yourself (even as part of a mostly unconscious internal monologue), can work its way in.

And if your mind hears it enough, it will begin to believe it.

Words To Banish From Your Run


Can’t is limiting.

Can’t is lazy.

When you say you can’t do something you are really just making an excuse to not try.

Maybe you can do something and maybe you really can’t, but unless you try, you’ll never know.

Even if there is something you couldn’t do yesterday, maybe you can today.

This idea should be familiar to anyone who’s watched Carol Dweck’s TED talk or read her book Mindset. Your ‘can’ts’ puts you in the fixed mindset.

But you need to grow!

What’s the Teddy Roosevelt quote?

Believe you can and you are halfway there.

Depending on the can’t context, there are also studies about dieters that give even more reasons to banish can’t. These studies have some dieters say ‘I can’t’ (as in ‘I can’t eat cookies’), and others saying ‘I don’t’ (as in ‘I don’t eat cookies’).

Those who say ‘I don’t’ have a much higher success rate.

‘I don’t’ implies autonomy and choice.


Should seems innocuous, but I think it’s one the worst words in the English language.

There is no good way to use ‘should.’ There are three main times it’s used:

  • Obligation: As in, ‘I should visit …’ or ‘I should get married and have 2.5 kids’,
  • Guilt: As in ‘I should eat more kale’ – while eating a cupcake or ‘I should eat out less’,
  • Regret or longing: As in ‘I should quit the job I hate and do something more inspiring’)

To butcher Yoda: Do or do not, there is no should.

Should is an indication that you know the right thing to do. You know what would make you happy, but you aren’t doing it (or you are doing it and feeling guilty about it).

Become your should-self.

Enough with the excuses and the rationalization.

Fretting over shoulds just creates a ton of wasted energy.


Only is usually a signifier of comparison. And, at least in my experience, I rarely fare well in these comparisons.

  • I’m only running at a X:XX pace
  • I’ve only lost 5 pounds
  • I’m only a beginner

Let go of comparisons and be proud of what you are doing.

Maybe you aren’t setting world records on your long runs, but you are running it (and hopefully improving).

Maybe you wanted to drop 10 pounds, but you can still be super proud of 5.

Everyone was a beginner! You started and are improving.

Read MoreSorta Positive Affirmations

Read MoreRunner running by a lake


But: A Word That Goes Both Ways

Banish This But

Bad buts downplay your accomplishments (‘I ran a PR, but I had the wind at my back’) or infer that what you are doing isn’t enough (‘I ran, but I didn’t do strength work’).

You did what you did.

Embrace it.

Own your accomplishments.

Add in a Nice But

However, but can be repurposed into something much more optimistic.

A nice but looks like this:

  • This run was terrible, but tomorrow I’ll kick ass at yoga
  • I shouldn’t have eaten that cheeseburger, but I have a salad in the fridge for dinner tonight.

A nice but acknowledges the negative. You admit to yourself the areas where you can improve.

However, the focus is on the thing(s) that you are going to improve upon, the things you are going to change.

You did bad, but your nice but is where you resolve to do better.

And then (importantly) you make good on your nice but.

And One Word You Need To Add….


‘Yet’ is severely undervalued as a word.

When it is used properly, it will impact the way you think about yourself and what you are capable of.

It is all too easy to focus on the things you can’t do (see above). Or the things you don’t do very well:

  • I can’t run very fast
  • I can’t run a marathon.
  • I can’t get my dream job.
  • I can’t write a book.

Enter yet.

Yet is especially useful when you can’t break yourself of the habit of saying can’t. If you insist on using ‘can’t’ statements, stick the three little letters on to the end.

  • I can’t run very fast…yet.
  • I can’t run a marathon…yet
  • I can’t get my dream job. ..yet
  • I can’t write a book…yet

See? Totally different.

Maybe there are things that you can’t do right now for whatever reason. The finances aren’t realistic or you have too many family responsibilities.

This is where yet comes in. Maybe it isn’t currently realistic. That doesn’t take it off the table forever. That doesn’t move your dream into the never column.

The timing may change, but the dream can still remain alive.

Anything is possible. It just hasn’t happened…yet

What about you? Are there any words you have banished from your workout?

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