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Top 20 Running Quotes

posted by Amanda
Top 20 Running Quotes

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.

Amanda Winslow- running quotes

Original artwork of Runners Feed Freelance Writer- Amanda Winslow

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





photo credit: Track Focus





“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


lynn jennings

photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Mental Attitude:

“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


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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).

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  1. Sue Winslow says:

    These are the most inspiring quotes I’ve ever read!

  2. Brandon says:

    I am going to go out on a limb and guess the following quote was Gerry Lindgren…“If you can’t win, make the fellow ahead of you break the record.” – Unknown

  3. Jeff says:

    One of my favourites by George Sheehan is ‘The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life. ‘

  4. Carly says:

    That’s a cool idea about writing quotes on people’s mirrors before races! I’m going to do that with my teammates next trip!

  5. Just posted my top 5 favorites. Really enjoy all of these, but have to narrow it down a bit based on personal motivation and significance. Thanks for your site.

  6. Running Partner says:

    I like the most
    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

    I found some more beautiful running quotes on the link.

  7. Kayla says:

    I am a freshman and I am kinda doing the same thing your doing with the quotes… These by far were the best I have read out of hundreds maybe.. Thank you.. My first meet is in 2 day and I am afraid of losing but these quotes are helping me :)

    1. Amanda says:

      You’re welcome! Hope your race went well. Quotes are always good for inspiration when pre-race nerves creep into your head.

  8. Anthony says:

    Well done with quotes and your running career! Very impressive stats at FSU. Keep it up.

  9. unknown says:

    I am a sophomore who can run 4:36 mile. I’ve improved this year 23 seconds alone and I’m not done improving but the quote about the lion and the gazelle I heard on a movie and I will never forget that that is one of my favorite quotes, that or “my sport is your sports punishment” or “Failure: it can destroy you. Or it can make you so freakin pissed that you work even harder to become that winner and champion you know you are.” #runningswag

  10. pancho says:

    im a 6th grader who can run really fast & i wont give up

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  12. Elizabeth Qualls says:

    We were given two legs with feet! Show the maker you appreciate them and use them! Because before you know it they are gone. Run for those who dream to walk!

  13. Caroline says:

    I am and 8th grader and type 1 diabetic, I have been doing Cross-Country and the 800 meter in track and have loved it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Greg says:

    “I do not train to swim, bike, or run faster, I train to remove quit from my body and from my mind.” Greg Almstad

  15. M says:

    I’m sorry but I can’t decode the two last words from the first picture. Anybody can help? Don’t give up because you… And next words I can’t read it. 😀 thanks

  16. Jamie de Sylva says:

    Amanda, Just realised this post is over three years old…but it makes no difference. The running quotes are absolutely timeless.

    I was inspired to do a similar exercise recently, working out what quotes really motivate my running. I loved your quotes, but remarkably my top 25 barely overlaps with yours at all. Love to know what you think – the post’s here if you’re interested:

    I’ve dropped a link in there to your post as well – I think a lot of my regular visitors will be interested in your collection too.

    Keep on running!

    Jamie de Sylva

    PS Nice artwork at the top of the post.

  17. burg_girl says:

    I was looking for some quotes to send to my 15 year old who literally just lived the quote, “If you can’t win, make the fellow in front of you break the record” – He gave up District Champion to do it, so now he’s questioning his instinct to run all out. Seeing that quote will help him realize there’s no shame in pushing yourself -even if you lose.

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