A blog by runners. For runners.

The power of running mantras

running-mantrasAsk any runner and he or she will agree running is just as much a mental sport as a physical one.

I’m the queen of doubting my abilities. I’ve noticed when I start out a run with a negative mindset, it usually doesn’t go well. I’ve even psyched myself out to the point of DNFing a marathon.

Last year, in the week before my goal half marathon, I read a post from one of my favorite running blogs, Mile Posts. In the post, the author was talking about how on runs it’s our choice to finish strong. For some reason, this really resonated with me. And during the race, in the final miles of the hilly course, I wanted to quit. But for some reason, I just repeated to myself over and over “it’s your choice to finish strong, it’s your choice to finish strong, it’s your choice to finish strong.” And that’s exactly what I did. On that day, not only did I set a PR, but I also learned the power of running mantras.

How mantras work

A mantra is “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.” Mantras are used to focus and motivate the mind, and to help overcome pain. Mantras act as a crutch to help get you through the toughest part of a run by spinning negative thoughts into positive ones. When you think positively and believe in yourself, you’re more likely to perform well. Likewise, if you let negative thoughts consume you, you’re likely to have a disappointing race experience.

Finding your mantra

Mantras are very personal. What’s most effective for one person won’t necessarily work for another. But in general, mantras should address what you want to feel, not the difficulties you’re trying to overcome.

Mantras should be short, positive, and actionable. Think words like “strong”, “quick”, “fast”, “fly” and “light”. They should also address your specific needs. If you have a problem with going out too fast, saying something like “slow now, fast later” may be a good fit for you.

Top 10 running mantras

You can also find running mantras online or through song lyrics. The key is to pick one that speaks to you. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. “The difference between winning and losing is not quitting.”
  2. “You can do anything for one more mile.”
  3. “The faster you run, the faster you’re done.”
  4. “Earn the downhill.”
  5. “You are stronger than you think.”
  6. “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”
  7. “Fast or slow, it hurts the same.”
  8. “Run relaxed, finish strong.”
  9. “Deep breaths, quick legs.”
  10. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

What’s your favorite running mantra?

Written by Jen Matz.