Top 20 Motivational Running Quotes To Get Your Legs Moving

Here are our favorite inspirational running quotes: hand-picked to get you buzzing to lace up your running shoes and hit the trails.

Mental stamina is a key attribute to long-distance running. Consequently, motivational running quotes can help strengthen the mind and improve your performance.

Many people glance at inspirational quotes and dismiss them as ‘feel good’ or ‘self-help,’ but solid motivational quotes can actually help you become a better runner… if you use them right. 

It’s been shown repeatedly that mental preparation boosts your running performance, therefore using these motivational running quotes as running mantras may give you that edge to do your best – whether you’re doing Couch To 5k or running a marathon.1Mental preparation to improve running performance. (n.d.). Sports Performance Bulletin. Retrieved March 21, 2024, from https://www.sportsperformancebulletin.com/psychology/psychological-aides/mental-preparation-to-improve-running-performance

How to Use Motivational Quotes to Become a Better Runner

The key to maximizing the positive impact of quotes on your running is to find quotes that really make you feel something.

In this article, we’ve gathered quotes from world-champion athletes and literary greats to help you feel truly inspired. 

These steps come from the science behind positive affirmations. Psychiatrist Christopher N. Cascio found that when you use positive affirmations (or inspirational quotes), neural pathways in your prefrontal cortex are triggered.2Cascio, C. N., O’Donnell, M. B., Tinney, F. J., Lieberman, M. D., Taylor, S. E., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2015). Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience11(4), 621–629. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsv136

Falk et al found that these triggers reframe “otherwise-threatening information as more self-relevant and valuable.” This means that you begin to reshape your self-identity and your beliefs about what you can and cannot do.3Moore, C. (2019, March 4). Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It? PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/

And when you change your beliefs, your actions follow. 

So instead of reading these quotes and forgetting about them, be sure to follow these steps to strengthen your confidence and mental stamina, thereby improving your running performance and motivation.

How To Maximize Your Motivation Using Running Quotes

  1. Pick out 2-3 quotes that influence you strongly. Forget about all the rest for now – you can always come back and get more later. 
  2. Write the quotes down somewhere you’ll see them often. Some good options include the whiteboard on your fridge, sticky notes on your mirror, or your desktop screensaver.
  3. Instead of writing them down and ignoring them from this time forward, remind yourself to read the quotes every day. When you read them, this should help to bring back the feeling of inspiration you felt when you first read them. 

20 Running Motivation Quotes to Build Your Mental Stamina

running motivation quotes

Running Quotes for Beginners

It’s not easy when you first start running. I remember when I started. Face bright red, legs in pain, barely able to breathe, only able to run for a minute at a time… it was hard. 

It took a few weeks of dedicated running to finally run a mile without stopping. For some people, it can take longer than that. But when my friend pushed me to run three miles without stopping, I was so proud of my success. 

Every milestone after that gave me the same feeling of accomplishment and pride that I’d stuck with my goal…not to mention the runner’s high

So when you’re starting out in your running journey, these running motivation quotes are great to help you stick with it. 

running motivation quotes

1. You ARE a Runner

“It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you’re going. If you’re putting on your shoes and going out for a run, you are a runner, you are in that club.” 

— Kara Goucher, Olympic long-distance runner and bronze medalist of the Boston Marathon4Kara GOUCHER | Profile | World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. Retrieved March 21, 2024, from https://worldathletics.org/athletes/united-states/kara-goucher-14311212

2. Adopt a Healthy Philosophy

The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability: consistency, a sane approach, moderation, and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life.” 

— Bill Rodgers, 4-time Boston Marathon winner5https://www.nyrr.org/about/hall-of-fame/bill-rodgers. (n.d.). Www.nyrr.org. Retrieved March 21, 2024, from https://www.nyrr.org/about/hall-of-fame/bill-rodgers

3. You Can Do It

“When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” 

Florence Griffin, 3-time Olympic gold winner6Florence GRIFFITH-JOYNER | Olympics.com. (2020, September 18). Olympics.com. https://olympics.com/en/athletes/florence-griffith-joyner

Inspirational Running Quotes From Athletes

running motivation quotes

4. Learn How to Lose

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

— Wilma Rudolph, Olympic sprinter7Norwood, A. (2017). Wilma Rudolph. DEV: National Women’s History Museum. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/wilma-rudolph

5. Put in the Work

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

Juma Inkangaa, 1989 winner of the New York Marathon8Juma IKANGAA | Profile | World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. Retrieved March 21, 2024, from https://worldathletics.org/athletes/tanzania/juma-ikangaa-14357425

6. Tough Love

“All runners are tough. Everyone has to have a little fire in them, that even in tough times, can’t be turned off.”

— Shalane Flanagan, Olympic long-distance runner9Shalane Flanagan – Track and Field Coach. (n.d.). University of Oregon Athletics. https://goducks.com/sports/track-and-field/roster/coaches/shalane-flanagan/5152

7. Why Wait?

 “…For me there has always been a place to go and a terrible urgency to get there.”

— Joan Benoit Samuelson, first women’s Olympic marathon winner10Joan Benoit. (2024, March 20). Www.teamusa.com. https://www.teamusa.com/hall-of-fame/hall-of-fame-members/joan-benoit

Best Running Quotes from Literary Greats

running motivation quotes

While not all of these writers were or are runners, they do know what it means to be dedicated, to follow their dreams, and to influence world culture for generations to come. So, why not use to help inspire the joy of running in you and get you towards the finish line?

Plus, writers just have a knack for inspiring others with their words. 

8. Endurance Grounds You

“The men who learn endurance, are they who call the whole world, brother.” 

— Charles Dickens

9. Do Your Best Today

“Forever is composed of nows.” 

— Emily Dickinson

10. A Minute Isn’t a Long Time

“Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” 

— Rudyard Kipling

11. Accept Pain as Part of Life

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

― Haruki Murakami

12. When the Sun Comes Up, You’d Better Be Running

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

― Christopher McDougall / unknown parable

running motivation quotes

13. Running Helps You Live Life to the Fullest

“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life.”

— Haruki Murakami

14. Have Courage

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

― John Bingham

15. Never Give Up

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

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Runner and Author

16. Be the Best Runner You Can Be

“Running isn’t a sport for pretty boys…It’s about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and the nausea in your gut.

It’s about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. 

It’s about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with.

It’s about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. 

Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all that you can ask for.”

— Paul Maurer

Trail Running Quotes for the Outdoor Adventurers

running motivation quotes

Trail running is an incredible experience that every runner should try.

Running with the birds and through trails, breathing in the smells of nature gives you a new appreciation and love for running and for the world around us. 

It also tests you beyond your limits. 

Related: Trail Running Guide for Beginners

17. Embrace the Ups…and Downs

“For running, looking around means embracing the process, including the ups and downs on the way. It means the same thing for life. If the goal is just to connect summits, you’ll probably grow to be indifferent about all the time you aren’t on top of a mountain.”

— Megan and David Roche, running coaches and authors

18. Enjoy the Journey

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

— Jimmy Buffet

Related: 6 Benefits of Trail Running

19. Be Curious

“Climb mountains, not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

— David McCoullough Jr. 

20. It’s Totally Worth It

“The danger of adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort.”

— Paulo Coelho

Final Inspirational Running Quotes That We Couldn’t Afford To Miss Out

21. Mental Competition

“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

22. Running In The Human Spirit

“I run because I am an animal. I run because it is part of my genetic wiring. I run because millions of years of evolution have left me programmed to run. And, finally, I run because there’s no better way to see the sun rise and set.”

— Amby Burfoot

23. Don’t Lose The Fun

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

—Julie Isphording.

24. Getting Addicted To Running

“Running is kind of like coffee. The first time you drink it you might not like it. It’s bitter and leaves a bad taste in your mouth but you kind of like the way it makes you feel. However, after a few times, it starts to taste better and then all of a sudden you’re hooked and it’s the new best part of waking up.”

—Amy Hastings

25. A Personal Win

“winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.”

—Meb Keflezighi

27. Magic In The Shoes

“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.

28. Running For The Soul

“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

29. Running For Independence

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

—Jesse Owens

30. Keeping It Simple

“Train hard, race easy.”

—Mo Farah

Final Thoughts

We hope you find use in the above quotes. We’ll be happy if even one of them can inspire you to get out the door and run, whether it be part of putting in the hard work for marathon training and aiming for first place in a race, or maybe you’ve just had a bad day and need a of a push just to get you starting your warm-up.

Check out our other motivational content to help turn a bad of training into a good day:


Photo of author
Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon.

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