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21 Running Quotes to Motivate You for Your Next Run

Power through tough workouts or races with wise words from the pros.

Photo: Getty Images

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“Running is 90 percent mental”—a fitting sentiment and perhaps the most famous of running quotes. Whether you’re pushing your pace or your distance, your body can only go as fast or far as your brain believes possible.

Ask any athlete: and they’ll tell you mental toughness is just as important as physical strength. To win the Boston Marathon under grueling conditions in 2018, it took “grit and persistence,” Des Linden told CNBC’s Make It. “We train our bodies. We train our guts. … It only makes sense that you can train your mind,” she added.

Linden is right: While research shows that there’s a limit to how much we can physically take, changing your mindset can help push those limits.

Using motivational self-talk, for example, boosted athletic endurance in a scientific review of more than 100 sources published in the journal Sports Medicine; it also helped runners reach a “flow state”—or that runner’s high feeling—according to research published in the Journal of Sport Behavior. And visualizing yourself overcoming the toughest part of a run can help you persevere in real life, a study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found.

Getting into the right headspace can be a simple first step to a better workout—or race. And if anyone knows what to tell themselves before a big run, it’s the pros. Use their insights in these running quotes to motivate your miles.

Running Quotes for When You’re Not Feeling Motivated

“Life is for participating, not for spectating.”

— Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered competitor

“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”

— Des Linden, Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon champion

“There are a million reasons why you can’t. Focus on the few reasons why you can.”

— Kara Goucher, Olympian and American long-distance runner

“In the midst of an ordinary training day, I try to remind myself that I am preparing for the extraordinary.”

— Shalane Flanagan, Olympian and 2017 New York City Marathon champion

“In running or in life, I’ve found it really important to not shy away from races, workouts, exercises, or experiences that I know I’m not great at or familiar with. It’s a fine balance between preserving your focus and confidence and discovering and sharpening weak areas, but I think it’s an important part of making a breakthrough.”

— Molly Huddle, American long-distance runner

“I always want to give more than I gave yesterday.”

— Allyson Felix, Olympian and track and field sprinter

“Never underestimate the power that one good workout will have on your mind. Keeping the dream alive is half the battle.”

— Kara Goucher

RELATED: Kara Goucher is Protecting the Next Generation

When the Going Gets Tough

“Every aspect of a run, from the pain it produced to the weather conditions, offered me a choice: Is this a thought that will slow me down? Or can I find a perspective that will speed me up?”

― Deena Kastor, Olympian and author of Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

“While you, and only you, can move your legs from start to finish, no one runs a marathon alone.”

— Alexandra Heminsley, author of Running Like a Girl

“My legs almost always hurt (a lot) [by mile 21], and you can either choose to let that pain dictate the last five miles of the race, or you can decide to lean into it and appreciate that you are lucky enough to push your body this hard. You need to re-wire your brain to believe that this is how you’re supposed to feel, and keep running your hardest in spite of it.”

— Veronica (Jackson) Graziano, 2020 Olympics Trials Qualifier and member of the Tracksmith Hare A.C. Boston Racing Team

“I breathe in strength and breathe out weakness.”

— Amy Hastings Cragg, American track and field athlete

“Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price I pay to find out how good I can be. If I planned on backing off every time running got difficult I would hang up my shoes and take up knitting.”

— Des Linden

RELATED: Des Linden Is Not Done Yet

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

— Wilma Rudolph, Olympic sprinter

“Every time I fail, I assume I will be a stronger person for it. I keep on running figuratively and literally, despite a limp that gets more noticeable with each passing season, because for me there has always been a place to go and a terrible urgency to get there.”

— Joan Benoit Samuelson, first women’s Olympic marathon winner

Quotes For the Love of Running

“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”

— Kara Goucher

“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.”

— Julie Isphording, former Olympic runner

“I succeed on my own personal motivation, dedication, and commitment. My mindset is: If I’m not out there training, someone else is.”

— Lynn Jennings, American long-distance runner

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”

— Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives

“You were born to run. Maybe not that fast, maybe not that far, maybe not as efficiently as others. But to get up and move, to fire up that entire energy-producing, oxygen-delivering, bone-strengthening process we call running.”

— Florence Griffith Joyner, Olympic sprinter

“I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me.”

— Unknown

“The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it’s perfect, far from it, but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible.”

— Unknown

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