Quotes About Marathon Running

Get Inspired for Race Day

Woman smiles broadly and pumps her fists in celebration having completed first 30 of 42 kilometers in her first marathon race.

TREVOR JOHNSTON / Eye Meets World Photography / Getty Images

Getting ready for a marathon? Here are inspiring running quotes about the physical and mental challenges of running a marathon.

1. "Of all the races, there is no better stage for heroism than a marathon."
-Dr. George Sheehan, cardiologist and former medical editor for Runner's World magazine

2. "It is difficult to train for a marathon, but it is even more difficult to not be able to train for a marathon."
-Aaron Douglas Trimble, actor

3. "You're running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You're delirious. But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line. It's a misery that non-runners don't understand."
-Martine Costello, journalist and content strategist

4. "Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when the awareness comes, it is excruciating."
-John Farrington, Australian marathoner

5. "The marathon is like a bullfight. There are two ways to kill a bull, for instance. There is the easy way, for one. But all the great matadors end up either dead or mauled because for them killing the bull is not nearly as important as how they kill the bull. They always approach the bull at the greatest risk to themselves, and I admire that. In the marathon, likewise, there are two ways to win.

There's the easy way if all you care about is winning. You hang back and risk nothing. Then kick and try to nip the leaders at the end. Or you can push, challenge the others, make it an exciting race, risking everything. Maybe you lose, but as for me, I'd rather run a gutsy race, pushing all the way and lose, then run a conservative, easy race only for a win."
-Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the NYC Marathon

6. "Aiming for the marathon is a task of sorts which can include terrific highs and lows."
-Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the NYC and Boston Marathon

7. "The marathon's about being in contention over the last 10K. That's when it's about what you have in your core. You have run all the strength, all the superficial fitness out of yourself, and it really comes down to what's left inside you. To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon."
-Rob de Castella, Australian world champion marathon runner

8. "The marathon is not really about the marathon, it's about the shared struggle. And it's not only the marathon but the training."
-Bill Buffum, Boulder Road Runners

9."No marathon gets easier later. The halfway point only marks the end of the beginning."
-Joe Henderson, running writer

10. "The music of a marathon is a powerful strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith, and to become one's own person, utterly and completely."
-George Sheehan, running author

11."I would love for everybody in this country to run one marathon a year."
-Gary Muhrcke, winner of the first NYC Marathon

12. "I also feel it usually takes four or five races to hit your best marathon for your body to be accustomed to the training AND the race itself."
-Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the NYC and Boston Marathon

13. "Marathoning. The triumph of desire over reason."
-New Balance, athletic apparel company

14. "Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder."
-William Sigei, Kenyan long distance runner

15. "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, Australian world champion marathon runner

16. "You can never be sure. That's what makes the marathon both fearsome and fascinating. The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become. But then you finish. And you wonder later, 'How did I do that?' This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical."
-Joe Henderson, running writer

17. "You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."
-Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist

18. "There is a moment in every race. A moment where you can either quit, fold, or say to yourself, 'I can do this.'"
-Gatorade ad

19. "The more you frame the marathon as a stressful experience, the more negative messages you'll receive. But it's just as easy to frame it as a positively challenging journey."
-Jeff Galloway, U.S. Olympian, running writer, and coach

20. "The marathon never ceases to be a race of joy, a race of wonder."
-Hal Higdon, running writer and coach

21. "So many people crossing the finish line of a marathon look as happy as when I won. They have tears in their eyes. The sport is full of winners."
- Gary Muhrcke, winner of the first NYC Marathon

22. "The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."
-Marathon spectator sign

23. "Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too."
-Richard O'Brien, runner

24. "The marathon. How an average runner becomes more than average."
-New Balance, athletic apparel company

25."I love the fact that not many people can say 'Oh, I went out and ran 20 miles today.' I love how much dedication it takes and how much you learn a lot about yourself, your physical and mental limits. There's just something about it."
-Shalane Flanagan, 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathoner

26.  "Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran."
-Dean Karnazes, American ultramarathon runner and author

27. "I dare you to train for a marathon, and not have it change your life."
-Susan Sidoriak, graphic designer and runner

28. "A marathon is hundreds of miles. The finish is the last 26.2."

29.  "Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself, you can learn in 26.2 miles."
-Lori Culnane, marathon runner

30. "You don't have to be so tough that it doesn't hurt, you just have to be tough enough not to quit."

31. "The reason people want to run the marathon is because the challenge, physically, is you. The distance – how you get there – is all up to you and how hard you work. That's why people want to do it."
-Meb Keflezighi, winner 2009 NYC Marathon and 2014 Boston Marathon

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.