20 Running Mantras

Runners repeatedly feed their mind with inspirational, motivational and even humorous sayings during long-distance training runs or races.

During my first marathon somewhere around Mile 16, I heard a bystander repeating to all the runners who came by her, “You can and you will.”

I really didn’t know what a mantra was at that point, but I kept repeating it in my head, and it turned out to be a mantra that I still use today.

20 Running Mantras That Will Give You a Boost!

Mantras are personal to each runner. What may work for me may not motivate someone else, and vice versa. So in publishing this list, I don’t want to suggest that these are the “top 20” or have any ranking. Use whatever works best for you.

As I thought more about presenting the list, I returned to one of my favorite scenes in a Steve Martin movie. In “Roxanne” — based on “Cyrano de Bergerac” — Martin’s character (the large-nosed C.D. Bales) is insulted in a bar when another patron makes fun of his nose. But Bales isn’t upset with the insult, he’s ticked off about the lameness of the putdown. He then goes on to categorize 20 insults

No insults will appear on the following list. Instead, here are 20 mantras in various categories — some courtesy of Marathon Training Academy members — that may get you up that hill or across that finish line.


“If you can take it, you can make it!” — from the movie “Unbroken” (Thanks, Julie)


“You are capable of much more than you think you are.” (Thanks, Dan)


“Suck it up buttercup.” (Thanks, Molly.)


“Just keep running.” (Thanks, Jennifer.)


”Yes you can!” “Yes you can!” “Yes you can!” (Thanks, Gill.)


“This hill is yours . . . take it!” (Thanks, Liz)


“Don’t be a Seahawk — run it in!” (Sign at the 2015 Phoenix Marathon)


“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Thanks, Deanna)


“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Totally Random

“I am SPARTACUS!!!” (Thanks, Trevor)


“Sweat in training so I don’t bleed in battle.” (Thanks, Samantha)


“Come what may, I will run.”


“I wanna go fast.” (Thanks, Lee, quoting from Talladega Nights)

Foreign language

“Solo la felicidad!” = Only happiness! (Gracias, Katie.)


“Hills pay the bills.” (Thanks, Dan)


“As the race gets longer I get stronger.” (Thanks, Britt.)

Never quit

“I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.”


“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”


“The body achieves what the mind believes.”


“The day will come when I cannot do this. Today is not that day!” (Thanks, Tanya)


Don’t see your favorite mantra on this list? Then please share in the comments section below.

5 Responses to 20 Running Mantras

  1. Rebecca April 16, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    When everything was screaming at me to STOP during my first marathon, I dug deep into my arsenal of mantras to find one to keep me going. Of all the inspirational slogans I had, I was surprised at what it was that kept me going. For months I had my eye on the finishers shirt for the marathon I was running, and I knew I wouldn’t get it unless I finished. So, now my go-to mantra is, “I WANT THE SHIRT!”

  2. Sheldon Samuels April 16, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    One of my favorites: “The only thing that matters is crossing two lines.”

  3. Henry April 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Those are great, Rebecca and Sheldon!

    Never thought about the finisher’s shirt (or medal) being part of a mantra, but if it works, then all the better.

  4. Andrew April 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    “All the energy I need is inside me know”

  5. Beth August 11, 2021 at 12:49 pm #

    I have 2 that I use.

    “The faster I run, the faster I’m done”

    “You’ll pass out before you die”

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