How to develop the best Running Mantras

Running mantras are often an overlooked mental tool in marathon training.

They are so easy to implement and very effective so let’s work out a couple of mantras for you to use right here and right now!

running mantras

What is a mantra?

A mantra is defined by the dictionary as being a word, sound, or short phrase repeated to aid concentration in meditation, or a statement or slogan repeated frequently.

For example, a favorite mantra of Bill Rodgers was the word "Relentless".

One of the relaxing and energizing aspects of running is the methodical pounding of your feet over and over again.

That rhythm that you fall into can be both meditative and refreshing.

A running mantra therefore is a short statement, slogan or short phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over again to the beat of your footstep or breath rate to help you reach the finish line of a race or training run while still feeling mentally and physically STRONG!

Why should you have personal running mantras?

A mantra helps to keep negative thoughts out of our minds by focusing on positive thoughts.

What you THINK will dictate how you ACT and ultimately how you FEEL.

If you allow negative self-talk to take center stage during you will find yourself struggling through some tough runs (if you are even able to make it out the door to go on a run.)

Long races such as the marathon or half marathon require mental toughness and the best way to strengthen your mind is to use mental tools which can be as simple as having a good running mantra.

A simple mantra can pull you through a tough time during a hard run.

Any distance runner knows that distance running is a mental sport.

Your mental fitness level can determine your success as a runner.

As a distance runner you probably experience a chunk of good miles where we feel like flying.

However as our body begins to fatigue the only thing we can rely on is our mental strength to keep us going.

It really comes down to that.

Using powerful mantras to focus your thoughts and mindset can get you through a rough patch and lead to some of your best performances!

Using a mantra builds mental strength & energy

Harder runs such as speed workouts, hill repeats, tempo runs, interval workouts, the longest long training run on your training schedule, or even a tough treadmill workout can require you to shift mental gears to keep you performing your best in the workout at hand.

If you have pre-chosen mantras for different types of runs you will bring the mental energy needed with you on that run.

You will not have failed to prepare and therefore prepared to fail but instead you will have prepared for success!

This is a mark of a good runner!

a mantra will keep your goals forefront in your mind

One of the best mantras you can set for yourself is a word or phrase that reminds you of your goal or reason to run or train for a certain race. 

Remember your goals should be powerful and motivating to YOU. 

Therefore by being reminded of your goals you will be motivated to keep going and keep doing your best.

This could be as simple as saying the name of a person that you are running for, such as the names of your children, your spouse, parent or loved one. These are all powerful motivating thoughts that can help to propel you forward!

What should your mantra consist of?

Your running mantras should consist of 1-4 words or phrases.

I find that choosing words that flow with breathing in and then breathing out are the best.

Patterning 1-4 words to the sound of your foot strike is also very effective.

An example of one of my mantras has been: "I'm strong." or "It's easy".

If you are doing a slower long run you could switch it to “This is easy.”

See how that changes the beat according to your pace when you go from:

“It’s easy, it’s easy, it’s easy” versus “This is easy, this is easy, this is easy”.

How to choose a personal running mantra?

1. find a short phrase or a word that is easily synced to your breath rate or foot strike

Your breathing rate and foot strike gives you a little beat to which you can work around.

Maybe a word or two as you breath in and a word or two as you breathe out.

It could be anything from a personal affirmation that you want to keep in mind, a couple of action words that move your spirit, or one or two short motivational quotes that inspire you. 

2. find out what your favorite runners use

Research what mantras your role model or other elite runners, or another endurance athlete uses as a mantra.

Find someone with similar goals as you to see what motivates them and what they use to help during their runs.

3. use the mindset training plan for marathoners

Use the Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners  to guide you a bit more on how to develop your mantra (and the rest of your mental race game). 

It will help you make sure that you are mentally ready to face either the marathon or the half marathon and will get you mentally race ready!

4. try out a couple mantras during your next run

Play around with a couple different running mantras to see which resonates with you and feels like the right mantra for you and the run you are running.

Practice your mantras especially on your long runs!

5. choose different mantras for different runs. 

Choose a different mantra for each different race, or distance, or running workout, etc.

This could mentally help put you in a certain "mental" zone that your body could then respond to.

6. Find some short quotes that you love

Research some inspiring short quotes.

Keep a list of them to use when you are feeling like using something new or just need a fresh mental perspective out on your runs.

7. re-phrase your goals or your "why"

Ask yourself "Why are you running this race?", or why are you on this training run and answer in 1-4 words in order to be able to use it as a mantra.

This will really help to keep your goals on the forefront of your mind!

Examples of Some of the Best Running Mantras:

  • You are strong
  • There is no next time
  • Hard things are not bad
  • This shall pass (and then reflect on how you want to feel once it has passed - I'm guessing you don't want to feel any regrets!)
  • Light, quick feet (perhaps if you want to dial in on your running form more)
  • The name of a loved one
  • The name of a health issue you want to over come

Right now here is an easy task for you to do:

Grab your running log, a piece of paper, notepad, or laptop.

Set a timer for just 5 minutes and think of a single word or simple phrase that could be used to focus your running right now.

Then move onto 2 words, a phrase or short quote that you also find inspiring.

Keep the list handy and play around with the running mantras on your next run so that you can find the right mantra for the right time.

You may also choose a new mantra for each new training cycle (here's a list of my marathon training plans on the site!) or race that you are running. This will keep your training and goals fresh and distinct.

Also, think about creating some special race day mantras. I talk about doing this inside the Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners.

Bonus points for coming up with different mantras depending on if you will be running a speed, strength, or long training run!

Want even more details? Whitney from The Mother Runners' tells you what a good mantra for running is + 30 mantra examples

Eager to build inner strength through mental tools?

If you are eager to build inner strength and be your own coach in your next half marathon or full marathon, look into the 20 Week Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners! 


One of the training weeks dives into finding a set of marathon mantras to use during training but inside the plan you will also learn:

  • the art of motivational self-talk, 
  • pushing through pain, 
  • making the marathon distance feel mentally more manageable, 
  • staying mentally focused during your last week of training, 
  • and so much more throughout the 20 weeks that you are building your mindset for marathon (or half marathon) race day!

See all the details of the Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners here! 

The beauty of using a running mantra is that you can use it to serve YOU and what you need at that moment.

Here's to finding the best mantras for you and your running!

Related Pages:

I'd Love to stay in touch!
Join 23,000+ Other runners and receive my weekly training newsletter!

I'll send you my  free 24 Hour Timeline Checklist of Things You Should Do After a Long Run  when you sign up! 


As featured on:


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.