WORDS TO RUN BY — Every day quotes, for everyday runners

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I’m a quote person — I love quotes. I love quotes about life, dreams, determination and love. But, especially about running. I collect quotes and over the years have written them down in books and on index cards. I’ve memorized many of them as well.

I am not sure exactly why I love collecting quotes so much? I think part of it, is because they are each an affirmation of belief, hope or reality. In many cases — quotes can put words to your unspoken feelings and emotions.

Over the past few weeks or so — I’ve been collecting quotes about running. Not any particular running quotes — some are directly about running, while some can relate to running or one’s running journey.

I think I counted 180(ish) quotes — so, yeah, enjoy …


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” ― Dean Karnazes

“Remember the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” ― Sarah Condor

“The most important message I stress to beginners is to learn to love the sport. Like other endeavors, if running is not undertaken properly, it can be difficult and discouraging.” ― Cliff Held

“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish. It can be running a mile, or a 10K race, or 100 miles. It can be changing a career, losing 5 pounds, or telling someone you love her (or him).” ― Scott Jurek

“To get to the finish line, you’ll have to try lots of different paths.” ― Amby Burfoot

“For every runner who tours the world running marathons, there are thousands who run to hear the leaves and listen to the rain, and look to the day when it is suddenly as easy as a bird in flight.” ― George Sheehan

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ― Mark Twain

“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

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.”
Steve Prefontaine

“Running has brought balance to my life. It’s brought me back to the things I almost lost.” ― David Clark

“As we run, we become.” ― Amby Burfoot

“Spend at least some of your training time, and other parts of your day, concentrating on what you are doing in training and visualizing your success.” ― Grete Waitz

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” ― John Bingham

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” ― Priscilla Welch

“The human body can only do so much. Then the heart and spirit must take over.” ― Sohn Kee-Chung

“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.” ― Silken Laumann

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ― William Faulkner

“The reward of running—of anything—lies within us.” ― Scott Jurek

“In the beginning you likely say, ‘I run.’ With more confidence, you say, ‘I am a runner.'” ― Gloria Averbuch

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” ― Kathrine Switzer

“In running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.” ― Glenn Cunningham

“‘Come to the edge,’ he said. They said, ‘But we’re afraid.’ ‘Come to the edge,’ he said. They came. He pushed them, and they flew.” ― Guillaume Apollinaire

“Fast running isn’t forced. You have to relax and let the run come out of you.” ― Desiree Linden

“Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“I’m not as fast or flexible as I once was, but running keeps me young.” ― Nicole DeBoom

“Nothing’s better than the wind to your back, the sun in front of you, and your friends beside you.” ― Aaron Douglas Trimble

“If you don’t have a challenge, find one,” ― George Sheehan

“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

“Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right.” ― Henry Ford

“Tears streamed down my face as I crossed the finish line. I was a new person, a runner.” ― Thomas King

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” ― Juma Ikangaa

“There are no standards and no possible victories except the joy you are living while dancing your run. You are not running for some future reward-the real reward is now!” ― Fred Rohe

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!” ― Tom Hanks

“Running is just such a monestary– a retreat, a place to commune with God and yourself, a place for psychological and spiritual renewal.” ― George Sheehan

“The human body has limitations; the human spirit is boundless.” ― Dean Karnazes

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ― African Proverb

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” ― Walter Bagehot

“In running, 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

“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” ― Ralph Marston

“Reality can destroy the dream; why shouldn’t the dream destroy reality?” ― George Moore

“Self-trust is the essence of heroism.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You were born to run. Maybe not that fast, maybe not that far, maybe not as efficiently as others. But to get up and move, to fire up that entire energy-producing, oxygen-delivering, bone-strengthening process we call running.” ― Florence Griffith-Joyner

“To be great, one does not have to be mad, but definitely it helps.” ― Percy Cerutty

“The desire to run comes from deep within us- from the unconscious, the instinctive, the intuitive.” ― George Sheehan

“What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner.” ― James Dyson

“I’ve learned that it’s what you do with the miles, rather than how many you’ve run.” ― Rod DeHaven

“Something in me wanted to find out how far I could run without stopping.” ― Jacki Hanson

“If you don’t think you were born to run you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.” ― Christopher McDougall

“[Running] is a hard, simple calculus: Run until you can’t run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.” ― Scott Jurek

“I’d rather die smiling. And running makes me smile.” ― Hal Higdon

“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.” ― Tennessee Williams

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.” ― Irish Proverb

“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'” ― Peter Maher

“Even if you fall flat on your face at least you are moving forward” ― Sue Luke

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.” ― Ronald Rook

“Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time.” ― Michael Sargent

“The most beautiful motion is that which accomplishes the greatest results with the least amount of effort.” ― Plato

“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.” ― Haruki Murakami

“Do not be afraid to fail. Be afraid to accept that who you are right now is all you are going to be.” ― John Bingham

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” ― Oprah Winfrey

“Life can pull you down, but running always lifts you up.” ― Jenny Hadfield

“The runner must be a fanatic for hard work and enthusiastic enough to enjoy it.” ― Franz Stampfl

“Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner.” ― Noel Carroll

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” ― Steve Prefontaine

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” ― Bart Yasso

“Experience has taught me how important it is to just keep going, focusing on running fast and relaxed. Eventually pain passes and the flow returns. It’s part of racing.” ― Frank Shorter

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“Life is for participating, not for spectating.” ― Kathrine Switzer

“The athlete who says that something can’t be done should never interrupt the one who’s doing it.” ― John Wooden

“Things in motion sooner catch the eye than what not stirs.” ― Shakespeare

“There’s not one body type that equates to success. Accept the body you have and be the best you can be with it.” ― Mary Cullen

“Running is a thing worth doing not because of the future rewards it bestows, but because of how it feeds our bodies and minds and souls in the present.” ― Kevin Nelson

“We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal.” ― Scott Jurek

“I ran to be free; I ran to avoid pain; I ran to feel pain; I ran out of love and hate and anger and joy.” ― Dagny Scott Barrios

“Get going … walk if you have, but finish the damned race.” ― Ron Hill

“The only thing in your control is effort. That’s all, and that’s everything.” ― Mark Cuban

“Given the nature of running, certain things will never be altered. That’s one of the beauties of our sport. There is no judge; it doesn’t matter how you look.” ― Bill Rodgers

“All our dreams can come true–if we have the courage to pursue them.” ― Walt Disney

“Life is complicated. Running simple. Is it any wonder that people like to run?” ― Kevin Nelson

“I’ve always been good at putting things behind — I fall part, do my crying bit, and then put it away and move on.” ― Paula Radcliffe

“I want my time spent running to serve as a reward.” ― Frank Shorter

“‘No pain, no gain’ does not mean that pain systematically equals gain. It’s easy to go hard. It’s hard to go smart.” ― Erwan Le Corre

“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” ― Alberto Salazar

“When you cross the finish line, no matter how slow or fast, it will change your life forever.” ― Dick Beardsley

“The long run is what puts the tiger in the cat.” ― Bill Squires

“Good judgment is the result of experience, experience is the result of bad judgment.” ― Mark Twain

“Play not only keeps us young but also maintains our perspective about the relative seriousness of things. Running is play, for even if we try hard to do well at it, it is a relief from everyday cares.”
Jim Fixx

“There is only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything” ― Vince Lombardi

“There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” ― Kristin Armstrong

“I was born to be a runner. I simply love to run. It’s almost like the faster I go, the easier it becomes.” ― Mary Decker Slaney

“When it’s pouring rain and you’re bowling along through the wet, there’s satisfaction in knowing you’re out there and the others aren’t.” ― Peter Snell

“Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage” ― George Patton

“Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” ― Shakespeare

“Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’. The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.” ― Paul Tergat

“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

“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.” ― T. Alan Armstrong

“If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you ensure it.” ― Anonymous

“You are truly your own hero in running. It is up to you to have the responsibility and self-discipline to get the job done.” ― Adam Goucher

“Never really give in as long as you have an earthly chance.” ― Alf Shrubb

“A runner must run with dreams in his heart.” ― Emil Zatopek

“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

“There is no satisfaction without a struggle first.” ― Marty Liquori

“No matter how old I get, the race remains one of life’s most rewarding experiences. 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.” ― Dr. George Sheehan

“There is something about the ritual of the race, putting on the number, lining up, being timed, that brings out the best in us.” ― Grete Waitz

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ― Henry David Thoreau

“Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” ― Dean Karnazes

“If people were possessed by reason, running marathons would not work. But we are not creatures of reason. We are creatures of passion.” ― Noel Carroll

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” ― Audrey Hepburn

“When I started running, I was so embarrassed, I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers.” ― Joan Benoit Samuelson

“Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best.” ― Michael Johnson

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ― John Bingham

“There’s nothing better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve.” ― OG Mandino

“Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” ― John Wooden

“Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring.” ― Jimmy Carter

“The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.” ― George Sheehan

“We may train or peak for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport.” ― Alberto Salazar

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” ― Dean Karnazes

“Runners don’t do drugs, they make their own … naturally.” ― E. Neil Culbertson

“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.” ― Julie Isphording

“All it takes is all you got.” ― Marc Davis

“Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks.” ― Joe Paterno

“I’ve always taken the philosophy that you have to dream a little in this sport. If you stay in your comfort zone, you’re not going to do anything special.” ― Deena Kastor

“Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant.” ― George Sheehan

“If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I will help you become that.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.” ― Wid Matthews

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” ― Les Brown

“Running is a kind of investment in yourself.” ― Kevin Nelson

“One thing about racing is that it hurts. You better accept that from the beginning or you’re not going anywhere.” ― Bob Kennedy

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” ― Muhammad Ali

“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” ― Julie Isphording

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” ― George Sheehan

“Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith. Faith is what keeps us going when nothing else will. Faith is the emotion that will give you victory over your past, the demons in your soul and all of those voices that tell you what you can and cannot do and can and cannot be.” ― John Bingham

“Every day is a good day when you run.” ― Kevin Nelson

“If you can’t win, make the fellow ahead of you break the record.” ― Unknown

“One thing about racing is that it hurts. You better accept that from the beginning or you’re not going anywhere.” ― Bob Kennedy

“Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Setbacks are opportunities for major comebacks.” ― Travis Wynn

Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.”― George Sheehan

“The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other … but to be with each other.” ― Christopher McDougall

“The greatest danger to most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ― Michelangelo

“The five S’s of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.” ― Ken Doherty

“As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” ― Joan Benoit Samuelson

“Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.” ― Jimmy Buffett

“I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” ― Dean Karnazes

“If I can get better, why not?” ― Emil Zatopek

“I run because I used to be envious of people that could run, and now I am that person.” ― Kendra Thompson

“Don’t give up on the impossible before you try it.” ― Biggie Munn

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” ― Aristotle

“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

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
William Faulkner

“It’s not so much that I began to run, but that I continued.” ― Hal Higdon

“A course never quite looks the same way twice. The combinations of weather, season, light, feelings and thoughts that you find there are ever-changing.” ― Joe Henderson

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” ― Arthur Blank

“If the hill has its own name, then it’s probably a pretty tough hill.” ― Marty Stern

“Being a runner means you are now “free” to win and lose and live life to its fullest.” ― Bill Rodgers

“I’m afraid the reason so many new runners quit is because they never get past the point of feeling like they have to run.” ― John Bingham

“Part of a runner’s training consists of pushing back the limits of his mind.” ― Kenny Moore

“If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” ― Thomas Edison

“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” ― Dean Karnazes

“Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that’s how we’ll know life is finally finished.” ― Patrick Ness

“Just do the best with what you have, and you’ll soon be doing it better.” ― Gil Hodges

“I always thought of running as just dancing forward.” ― Tom Hiddleston

“I think some of the most celebrated moments in human achievement should be those times when everything is going against a person and they are down in the dumps but they simply choose to get up. That’s real greatness!” ― Ryan Hall

“If you want something you never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
Drina Reed

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

“Any idiot can train himself into the ground; the trick is working in training to get gradually stronger.” ― Keith Brantley

“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” ― Lou Holtz

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” ― George Sheehan

“Don’t fear failure, in great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” ― Bruce Lee

“If one could run without getting tired I don’t think one would often want to do anything else.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Other people may not have high expectations of me, but I have high expectations for myself.” ― Shannon Miller

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ― Nelson Mandela

“To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain – not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it.” ― Dr. George Sheehan

“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.” ― Doris Brown Heritage

“In short, running can change your outlook on life and make a new person out of you.” ― Marc Bloom

“How to run an ultra marathon? Puff out your chest, put one foot in front of the other, and don’t stop till you cross the finish line.” ― Dean Karnazes

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” ― Steve Prefontaine

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ― George Eliot

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” ― Joyce Brothers

“A lot of people say they love running because of how they feel afterward. Not me. Well, I love that, too, but it’s also so much fun while I’m out there.” ― Dick Beardsley

“To win without risk is to triumph without glory.” ― Pierre Cornielle

“Obstacles are those frightening things that become visible when we take our eyes off our goals.” ― Henry Ford

“I have met my hero, and he is me.” ― George Sheehan


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