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All about Running Mantras

Running can feel SO hard, but it’s not just physically hard. It’s mentally hard too! And for a lot of us, we need to convince our minds to keep going far more than we do our body’s. And that’s where running mantras come.


What are running mantras?

A running mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself during the course of a race, run, training cycle, etc. These can be very specific to you–something a loved one told you that stuck or something more generic. There’s really no right or wrong way to do running mantras. But there are some things that have been proven more helpful!


How do you make a running mantra?

Some guidelines when you go to find or create a mantra that have been proven to be more helpful:

  • Use “You” like you’re talking to yourself, rather than I (You do hard things rather than I do hard things)

  • Stay in the positive. Repeating this sucks but it’s almost over to yourself isn’t going to be the most beneficial way to get to the finish line of a workout or race. Replace it with a thought like “you’ve already gone this far. Keep going”


Can a running mantra help you run faster?

It won’t guarantee that you’ll run faster, but it will help calm your mind!


A 2015 study showed that repeating a mantra distracted the wandering mind enough so that it didn’t focus on obsessing and planning.


What does this mean for running? It means that the part of your brain that starts planning when you’re going to quit or give-up mid work won’t be able to. You’ll be focused on the positive mantra and calm your brain down.



Why do running mantras work?

Whether you realize it or not, your brain is constantly thinking. Some of the thoughts you acknowledge and are aware of, but with 70,000 thoughts for the average person most days, you aren’t conscious or aware of most of them!


Mantras force you to focus on your thoughts. And since we usually call upon them when the running gets hard, they are *usually* positive thoughts that replace negative thoughts!

The Best Running Mantras

My favorite running mantras are:

  • You do hard things

  • This is what you came for

  • You choose courage over comfort

  • You get to run

  • You are strong. You are powerful.


Running Mantra & Running Affirmation Cards

Love these and want to check out some more? Download my Self Care for runners FREE PDF that has 12 printable cards with running mantras and running affirmations to help you get in the right frame of mind before your next hard workout, long run, or race!



My Experience with Running a Marathon using Run Mantras

When I trained for the Rock n Roll Marathon last spring, I knew mindset was a huge piece I needed to overcome. While I had spent the 5 years since my last marathon getting faster and building a much stronger base, my mind wasn’t always on board.

I did one run a week with no music or podcasts or friends so I had to just sit with my thoughts. I made sure to do some runs with only audiobooks or podcasts for that same reason (running with music is my favorite!). I also read all the research I could find–How Bad Do You Want It and Brave Athlete are two of my favorite books on the topic. Grit is another great one!


Once the runs got really long, I did resort to a mantra. In previous training cycles, I had used “I am strong. I am powerful.” But that didn’t resonate with me as much this time around, so I did some research and found some that did.


I used “You do hard things” and “This is what you came for”. I wrote them on my arms in sharpie for the race. I knew that when I was 20 miles in, my brain was not going to easily fall into patterns of positivity. When I started to struggle at the halfway point, I was even more grateful I had prepared myself for the suck.


Knowing what I was going to tell myself was incredibly helpful. I didn’t have to think. My brain knew to fall back onto those mantras. It was the first marathon where my brain was not the enemy. My brain is what got me through some really tough mid-way miles (see more about that in my recap here!).


Want more on Running Mindset?

If you’re ready to learn more on running mindset or tackle your next race with a big PR, let’s chat! Email me to set up a free call to discuss all things training–whether it’s working with me as a coach or not, I’d love to help you figure out the best way to crush your run goals!



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