Steve Prefontaine Quotes on Running

Get Inspired With These Running Quotes From a Running Legend

Steve Prefontaine
Steve Prefontaine runs in the 5000 meter event at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Allsport

American runner Steve "Pre" Prefontaine helped inspire the running boom of the 1970s. Before he died in a car accident at the age of 24, the running legend held the American record in seven distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters.

Many runners find inspiration in Prefontaine's fighting spirit and determination. Here are some inspiring Steve Prefontaine quotes that capture his incredible work ethic and resolve.


"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

 "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."

"Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started."

Racing and Winning

 "What I want is to be number one."

"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it."

 "Nobody is going to win a 5,000-meter race after running an easy two miles. Not with me. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself."

"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."

 "A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more."


"Don't let fatigue make a coward of you."

"Running gives me confidence." 

Performing for the Crowd

"Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints.

I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, 'I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more than just a race, it's a style. It's doing something better than anyone else. It's being creative."

"When people go to a track meet, they're looking for something, a world record, something that hasn't been done before.

You get all this magnetic energy, people focusing on one thing at a time. I really get excited about it. It makes me want to compete even more. It makes it all worthwhile, all the hours of hard work."

"I don't just go out there and run. I like to give people watching something exciting."

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

Prefontaine's Life

"Something inside of me just said, 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him,' and I just took off."

"How does a kid from Coos Bay, with one leg longer than the other win races? All my life people have been telling me, 'You're too small Pre', 'You're not fast enough Pre', 'Give up your foolish dream Steve'. But they forgot something, I HAVE TO WIN."

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

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