19 Short Motivational Quotes to Keep You Running

Short running quotes are great because they're easy to remember and they usually have a simple, though powerful message. Not only can they give you something to think about during runs, but they're also good when you're trying to motivate yourself to go out for a run.

These one-liners come from famous runners, shoe companies, and other inspirational sources. Have one printed on a t-shirt for race day or share your favorite on social media to remind your fellow runners that all your dedication will pay off.


Smiling female runner resting with hands on knees on sunny urban street
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"Someone who is busier than you is running right now."

Nike is a powerhouse brand in the running world and their promotional campaigns are filled with inspiration. This is a perfect example, especially in today's busy world. If you think you don't have time for a run, remember this line and you'll find the motivation to put on your running shoes.

New Balance

"Marathoning. The triumph of desire over reason."

Many marathoners rely on their favorite pair of New Balance shoes and it's another company whose ads speak volumes to dedicated runners. This quote says in just a few simple words what you may be trying to explain when someone asks why in the world you would want to run a marathon.

Rich Davis

"Long distance running is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."

Rich Davis is no stranger to long-distance runs and was inducted into the Dayton Distance Running Hall of Fame in 1990. With a career that spanned three decades as a teacher and cross country coach, you know he has a few great words of wisdom to pass along.

The math of this quote may not add up, but experienced runners know that it's right on the money.

Jay Foonberg

"When I do the best I can with what I have, then I have won my race."​

Jay Foonberg was still running in his 70s when he uttered this great line. It sums up the motivation for many runners, no matter their age.

This Beverly Hills lawyer has not been short on words over the years. A 2006 article in Smithsonian Magazine also quotes him as saying that all runner possess "the 'three D’s': desire, discipline and dementia: 'You’ve got to be crazy to do it.'"

Kara Goucher

"Racing is the fun part; it's the reward of all the hard work."

Olympic long-distance runner, Kara Goucher, knows a thing or two about races. From this quote, you can tell that she still enjoys it even after all the races she's run.

Fred Lebow

"Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon."

A member of the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Hall of Fame, Fred Lebow (1932–1994) was a legend of the New York City Marathon. A runner himself, he had been an instrumental part of the world-famous race since the 1970s and spent 22 of those years as race director.

Bill Rodgers

"The marathon can humble you."

When you're feeling great about your runs, it can be easy to get a bit of an ego. However, according to Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston and four NYC marathons, a marathon will bring you right back down to Earth.

Kathleen Harris

"Don't fear moving slowly forward...fear standing still."

Toward the end of a race, when you're having a hard time putting one foot in front of another, remember these words from runner Kathleen Harris. You simply have to keep moving.

Amby Burfoot

"As we run, we become."

Five simple words sum up the growth many runners experience over the miles they put in. It's a perfect sentiment from former American marathoner Ambrose "Amby" Burfoot, who moved on to become editor-in-chief at Runner's World magazine.


​​"Running releases more than just sweat."

The shoe company, Asics, offers a great reminder that running can actually be great therapy. Few things can release a day's tension or any anxiety you're feeling like a good, long run. It's your chance to escape for an hour or two, so enjoy it.

Paul Tergat

"Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?'. The answer is usually: 'Yes'."

From 2003 through 2007, Kenyan Paul Tergat held the world record in the marathon. Though he has since retired, he remains one of the highest-regarded long-distance runners of this generation. This quote is simple, but one you can rely on time and again to push through those last miles.

Kevin Nelson

"Every day is a good day when you run."

Kevin Nelson is the author of "The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration," so this is a perfect quote from him. It's an excellent reminder that your daily run will be worth it no matter what the day brings.

Florence Griffith-Joyner

"Injuries made me a believer in cross-training."

Track and field Olympian, Florence Griffith-Joyner, offers a great reminder that runners can benefit from training outside of running. Small things can really help keep your body as healthy as possible, which can keep you running longer.

Paula Radcliffe

"I can't imagine living and not running."

Some people were simply born to run and British long-distance runner, Paula Radcliffe, is one of them. Not only has she run world record times in the marathon, she genuinely enjoys running. This is a quote that runners at all levels can surely relate to.

Art Williams

"I'm not telling you it’s going to be easy… I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it."

Motivational author Art Williams is filled with inspiration for every part of life. This quote just happens to be especially fitting for runners. Whenever you feel like giving up, just remember your goals.

Emil Zátopek

"If I can get better, why not?"

Training can be tough, but it's worth it in the end. That is the point of this line by the Czechoslovakian long-distance runner, Emil Zátopek, who won three gold medals at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

Marc Davis

"All it takes is all you got."

Some days you may feel like you're falling behind and that you're not working hard enough. When those thoughts pop into your head, remember this line from the famed American track and field runner, Marc Davis.

Arthur C. Clarke

"The only way to define your limits is by going beyond them."

This line from British science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, has motivated many people for many different reasons over the years. In running, you can take it literally, pushing yourself every mile, or even every foot, that lies ahead of you.

Benjamin Franklin

"Things that hurt, instruct."

With four words, Benjamin Franklin poignantly offers a reminder that the pain you're feeling today is a lesson for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Need a laugh? Check out some funny running quotes for good measure.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dayton Distance. Rich Davis.

  2. Hanc J. Last race on earth. Smithsonian Magazine.

  3. NYRR. Fred Lebow.

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