For as long as I have been a runner, I have always been a fanatic for running quotes. I can remember back in my freshman year of high school I printed off a fifty-page packet of running quotes I had collected. Each day I would scroll through the pages and carefully select the perfect quote to write on my coach’s dry erase board for the following day. To me, reading those quotes was so inspiring it made me want to go run that instant, and I was certain those who read them would feel the same. Not only was the top left corner of his dry erase board one big smudge by the end of the year, but that packet of quotes was cut up into hundreds of strips of paper. I still have those quotes, a faded strip or two on my bulletin board, some taped to my mirror, others tucked away in boxes ready for the right moment when I will hand them out to someone.
I also remember one time sneaking into my sister’s room the night before her state meet and writing a quote on her mirror in dry erase marker. The next time I had a big race I woke up to a quote on my mirror. For me, running quotes aren’t just borrowed words from famous athletes in post competition interviews; instead they are inspiration, motivation, and even reminders to why we run. Whether it’s to print on a t-shirt, post on your bulletin board, send to a friend before their race or to repeat to yourself during a race, here are my top 20 running quotes. Hopefully they will inspire you, and save you a lot of time and paper since I’ve narrowed them down and organized them into the following categories.
“Some people train knowing they’re not working as hard as other people. I can’t fathom how they think.” -Alberto Salazar
“Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” – Tom Fleming’s Boston Marathon training sign on his wall
“Today I will run what you will not so that tomorrow I will run what you cannot.” – author unknown
“The will to win means nothing if you haven’t the will to prepare.” – Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner
“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.” – Maurice Greene (attributed to Roger Bannister shortly after running the first sub-4 mile)
“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'” – Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian and Sub-2:12 marathoner
“The gun goes off and everything changes… the world changes… and nothing else really matters.” – Patti Sue Plummer
“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” -Steve Prefontaine
“To move into the lead means making an act requiring fierceness and confidence. But fear must play some part…no relaxation is possible, and all discretion is thrown into the wind.” -Roger Bannister
“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” -Billie Jean King (tennis player)
“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” – Mike Fanelli
“If you can’t win, make the fellow ahead of you break the record.” – Unknown
“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.” -Lynn Jennings
“Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage.” -George Patton
“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.” -Doug Larson
“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.” – George Sheehan
“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” -William Faulkner
“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” -Percy Cerutty
“I definitely want to show how beautiful the marathon can be. I am the opponent of all those who find the marathon bad: the psychologists, the physiologists, the doubters. I make the marathon beautiful for myself and for others. That’s why I’m here.” - Uta Pippig
“We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” – Emil Zatopek
Author, Amanda Winslow, is a junior at Florida State University, and a member of the Seminoles Cross Country and Track & Field teams. She enjoys long runs on the sandy trails of Tallahassee, as well as creative writing, photography and painting (see original artwork above).