50 Motivational Quotes About Running and Racing

Find Inspiration from Running Icons and Legends

Woman walking on a track

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Check out these inspiring quotes about running.

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
John Bingham, running speaker and writer

"Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day."
Lauren Fleshman, American distance runner

"It doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
Fred Lebow, co-founder of the New York City Marathon

"When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting."
Doris Brown Heritage, women's distance running pioneer

"Good health, peace of mind, being outdoors, camaraderie: those are all wonderful things that come to you when running. But for me, the real pull of running—the proverbial icing on the cake—has always been racing."
Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston Marathons

"Big occasions and races which have been eagerly anticipated almost to the point of dread, are where great deeds can be accomplished."
Jack Lovelock, environmentalist and futurist

"I also realize that winning doesn't always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself."
Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist

"Why race? The need to be tested, perhaps; the need to take risks; and the chance to be number one."
George Sheehan, running columnist and writer

"Everyone in life is looking for a certain rush. Racing is where I get mine."
John Trautmann, Olympic runner

"I'm always nervous. If I wasn't nervous, it would be weird. I get the same feeling at all the big races. It's part of the routine, and I accept it. It means I'm there and I'm ready."
Allyson Felix, Olympic gold and silver medalist

"My whole feeling in terms of racing is that you have to be very bold. You sometimes have to be aggressive and gamble."
Bill Rodgers

"Racing is the fun part; it's the reward of all the hard work."
Kara Goucher, American long-distance runner

"Once you're beat mentally, you might as well not even go to the starting line."
Todd Williams, American long-distance runner

"My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: 'Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed. If you run your race, you'll win.'"
Carl Lewis, nine-time Olympic gold champion

"I love controlling a race, chewing up an opponent. Let's get down and dirty. Let's fight it out. It's raw, animalistic, with no one to rely on but yourself. There's no better feeling than that."
Adam Goucher, U.S. Nationals 5K race champion

"I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it."
Steve Prefontaine, legendary American long-distance runner

"Let's just say it and be done with it. Racing hurts. But here's another truth: having put in the effort to prepare for a race and then not giving it your all hurts even more. The first kind of hurt goes away in hours or a day. The second kind of hurt can last a lifetime."
Larry Shapiro, author or Zen and the Art of Running

"Different people have different reasons for racing, but one is simply the incentive to get out and run, increase mileage and feel good."
Hal Higdon, author, and runner

"Be confident in the work you did to prepare for the race. Take a look back at your training logs to remind yourself that you've done everything possible to prepare. The race is the fun part where you get to see the hard work pay off. Enjoy it."
Desiree Linden, U.S. Olympic marathon star

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort."
Jesse Owens, legendary American track star

"Racing is an escape from society. From symbols of status, and self-perception. A chance to just be. For everyone to just be, with each other."
Erin Beresini, editor of Triathlete magazine

"My times become slower and slower, but the experience of the race is unchanged: each race a drama, each race a challenge, each race stretching me in one way or another, and each race telling me more about myself and others."
George Sheehan

"Running is in my blood—the adrenaline flows before the races, the love/hate of butterflies in your stomach."
Marcus O'Sullivan, Irish middle-distance runner

"It's just as important to remember that each footstrike carries you forward, not backward. And every time you put on your running shoes you are different in come way than you were the day before. This is all good news."
John Bingham, American marathon runner 

"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about."
PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

"You didn't beat me. You merely finished in front of me."
Hal Higdon, American writer and runner

"Fast running isn't forced. You have to relax and let the run come out of you."
Desiree Linden

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

"No matter how old I get, the race remains one of life's most rewarding experiences."
George Sheehan

"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

"The beauty of running is its simplicity; the beauty of runners is that we all have a similar drive to improve. We are either trying to run a personal best, or toeing the line for the first time, which will snowball into a future of trying to run personal bests."
Deena Kastor, American Olympics medalist

"A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways they're capable of understanding."
Steve Prefontaine

"One skill that separates good from almost-good runners is an ability to concentrate for an entire race, whether it is a mile or a marathon."
Kara Goucher

"What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate."
John Bingham, running writer and speaker

"For me, races are the celebration of my training."
Dan Browne, National Champion 5K and 20K runner

"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up."
Dean Karnazes, ultramarathon runner

"Every race is a question, and I never know until the last yards what the answer will be. That's the lure of racing."
Joe Henderson

"It's amazing how the same pace in practice can feel so much harder than on race day. Stay confident. Trust the process."
Sara Hall, American long-distance runner

"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."
Amby Burfoot, American marathon runner

"Your goal is simple: Finish. Experience your first race, don’t race it."
Bob Glover, author of The Runner's Handbook

"Don't dream of winning, train for it!"
Mo Farah, Olympic long-distance runner

"Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I'm done with my run, I'm done with it."
Rob Haneisen, runner and writer

"The nine inches right here; set it straight and you can beat anybody in the world."
Sebastian Coe, English Olympic gold medalist

"You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back."
Steve Prefontaine

"I think I get addicted to the feelings associated with the end of a long run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, and sweat-purged. I love that good ache of the muscles that have done me proud."
Kristin Armstrong, author of Mile Markers

"Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run."
Jumbo Elliot, famed track and field coach

"Nothing, not even pain, lasts forever. If I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will eventually get to the end."
Kim Cowart, runner and journalist

"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race. It's to test the limits of the human heart."
Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike

"Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle."
Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl 

"There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner."
Dean Karnazes

"Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running."
Julie Isphording, American Olympic runner

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