Marathon runners often say running is not a physical sport, but a mental one. Call it a hobby, activity, or life’s calling, runners transcend the limits of their bodies and push through the pain to get that one extra step and one extra mile. So it’s no wonder that every now and then they need some motivation and inspiration to lace up those sneakers and hit the road while the rest of us are still sound asleep. Luckily, runners and athletes are pretty passionate and have shared some wise quotes over the years, some of which we have rounded up below. From four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens to Bart Yasso (the “mayor of running”) and even three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, these quotes are full of spirit and purpose. And they’ll help you hit the ground running.
1. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” — Haruki Murakami
2. “We run to undo the damage we’ve done to body and spirit. We run to find some part of ourselves yet undiscovered.” — John Bingham 3. “Run. Because zombies will eat the untrained ones first!” — Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide 4. “Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually, and of course, physically.” — Bart Yasso 5. “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 6. “If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.” — Rob de Castella 7. “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb 8. “Now if you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S. Patton 9. “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” — Juma Ikangaa 10. “The trouble with jogging is that by the time you realize you’re not in shape for it, it’s too far to walk back.” — Franklin P. Jones 11. “As we run, we become.” — Amby Burfoot 12. “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” — Jesse Owens 13. “There are many challenges to long-distance running, but one of the greatest is the question of where to put one’s house keys.” — Gabrielle Zevin 14. “Some sessions are stars and some are stones, but in the end, they are all rocks and we build upon them.” — Chrissie Wellington 15. “There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then, a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” — Kristin Armstrong 16. “Whether a mile or a marathon, you get there the same way — one step at a time. Such is life.” — Baylor Barbee 17. “A runner is real when she takes the first step.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estes 18. “Get going… walk if you have to, but finish the damned race.” — Ron Hill 19. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett 20. “I breathe in strength and breathe out weakness.” — Amy Hastings Cragg 21. “Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you if you look closely enough.” — Hal Higdon 22. “Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent.” — Joan Benoit Samuelson 23. “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” — Dean Karnazes 24. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I give more?’ The answer is usually, ‘Yes.'” — Paul Tergat 25. “Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I’m done with my run, I’m done with it.” — Rob Haneisen 26. “In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” — Fred Lebow 27. “What seems hard now will one day be your warm-up.” — Unknown 28. “It’s very hard, in the beginning, to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually, you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” — Dr. George Sheehan 29. “A short run is better than no run.” — Unknown 30. “I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners — some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” — Bart Yasso 31. “Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day’s canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations.” — Dagny Scott Barrios 32. “The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” — Haruki Murakami 33. “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” — Christopher McDougall 34. “For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself.” — Haruki Murakami 35. “Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, others head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” — Dean Karnazes 36. “There are a lot of guys out there now who know they are not working as hard as other people. I can’t fathom how they think.” — Alberto Salazar 37. “You don’t run against a bloody stopwatch, do you hear? A runner runs against himself, against the best that’s in him… Against all the rottenness in the world. Against God, if you’re good enough.” — Bill Persons 38. “I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did — I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” — Dean Karnazes 39. “‘No pain, no gain,’ does not mean that pain systematically equals gain. It’s easy to go hard. It’s hard to go smart.” — Erwan Le Corre 40. “I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run… to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” — Dean Karnazes 41. “Never underestimate the power that one good workout can have on your mind. Keeping the dream alive is half the battle.” — Kara Goucher 42. “A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering.” — Paul O’Neil 43. “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” — John Bingham 44. “Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable.” — Kara Goucher
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