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May 27, 2016 Comments (4) Contests, Featured

Dirty Word

by Emily Joy Ford

Since I began Ultrarunning, I must hear the word “crazy” at least a dozen times each week. It’s the reflexive word many emit upon finding out just how far and often I run – though I am fully aware the 40-60 miles I log each week are fraction of what many ultrarunners do…Perspective on that is relative, right?

I bet you’ve been on the receiving end of statements like these as well:

  • “That’s crazy!”
  • “Girl! You’re crazy!”
  • “Really?! So crazy…”

I realize that usually the word is expressed in a positive, “holy wow” kind of tone, but I’ve gotta say, I’m getting tired of being called crazy.

I was raised in a family of English majors, lovers of language that fill downtime with Scrabble, crosswords, reading, and writing. From them I learned to communicate clearly, taking care to choose the best, most appropriate words. A few words were even banned from conversation simply because there was almost always a stronger, more compelling option available.

Today, I’m banning the word “crazy” from my ultrarunning conversation. Its multiple meanings and intonations – combined with all too ubiquitous use – make it a weak word choice indeed. There’s almost always a better option available:

  • amazing
  • intense
  • aggressive
  • inspiring
  • incredible
  • serious
  • mind blowing
  • overwhelming
  • unimaginable
  • interesting

Next time the word “crazy” creeps into a conversation about your running, try replacing it (or suggesting a replacement) with one of these, and see how a simple edit can become an uplifting improvement:

  • “That’s amazing!”
  • “Girl! You’re intense!”
  • “Really?! So mind blowing…”

What words will you use?


Twitter: @jesuis_joy

This article was one of our winners in our Run with Us, Write with Us contest. Have a story to share? Email us at

4 Responses to Dirty Word

  1. Ragnar Øien says:

    “Girl! You’re intense!” 😀👌

  2. Adam Haesler says:

    Unfortunately it has gotten so bad for myself that I rarely talk about my running, or any goals I have with anyone, as most react the same way to any of my goals in running or otherwise, as your writter above.

    Unfortunately there thoughts are on the pain they experience by even thinking about you goal. Thus it turns into a sufferfest instead of tribute to you.

    Thus i had to come up with a response like the ones above that are compassionate to the person who called you “crazy” and myself. Thus, what I say is “I am not crazy, I am ambitious.”

    Enter the Trail and Ultra Facebook group, and #UltraChat on Twitter, I cannot thank you folks enough for creating that place where, not to sound cliche, but we are all accepted as being exceptional individuals. I would have to credit it with saving me from flipping out on someone this past fall training for my first 100 miler, as I finally had an outlet to just be me, and talk with people who understood my passion, without question.

    Thank you for your article Emily Joy Ford.

  3. Roger Ford says:

    Thanks for sending your post! I really appreciate the family theme.


  4. Paul Cooney says:

    “You Go Girl!”

    That is so cool that you are running ultras. I usually say, “You are crazy. Why would you put yourself through that?” I’ll keep your advice in mind, the next time I “compliment” a serious runner.


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