A Mantra for Every Runner

running mantrasHere at Salty Running, whether trying to break five hours or qualify for the Olympic Trials, we’re always looking for an extra edge in our training and racing. Many of us already use mantras. I have been using them in my training and racing since I was in college.

Mantras are definitely not just for yoga or self help cassette tapes anymore. Originally grounded in Hinduism and Buddhism, mantras are either a word or phrase that is repeated to aid in concentration or meditation.

And more and more professional athletes are embracing mantras to help them perform at their highest level. Desiree Linden, who was 6th at the 2016 Olympic Marathon, uses the mantra “calm, calm, calm, relax, relax, relax” to keep herself in check and focused while in the later stages of the marathon.

We thought it would be great to discuss the importance of mantras and help you discover the perfect mantra for you!

How to Use Mantras

Unlike many other mental training techniques, mantras are pretty easy to practice. You use them at pre-appointed times in training or races. Most often we use them when the going gets tough in workouts or races, choosing words to help take our minds off the pain and to help us focus on the task at hand. You can have a mantra for different types of workouts, different length races, different points in races, for easy runs, or whatever makes sense for you.

How I use them and which ones I use has changed over time, often dependent on what my focus is on. For marathon training, I tell myself, “I am comfortable with the uncomfortable.” When I am doing longer workouts, I imagine myself looking relaxed and confident, despite what my legs may be telling me. During races, my go-to mantra is, “One mile at a time. I am in this mile right here, right now.”

There are no wrong mantras, and the more personal, the better. I also highly recommend keeping it positive, as you’re trying to lift yourself up, not put yourself down. We compiled a list of mantras if you’re having trouble coming up with one, to use in any scenario, running, or not.

Find Your Mantra!

Here is a list of our favorite mantras. From direct to wordy, from serious to wacky, there’s something for everyone.

Pro-tip: Try them on in both first and second person voice to see which one you prefer. For instance, it works better for some people to say, “I’m a bad-ass” instead of “You’re a bad-ass.”

Salty Mantra Library
Actually...I can.
Big engines.
Don't be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.
Don't think - just go.
Fortune favors the bold.
Hustle hard, girl.
I am a rock.
I am calm, cool, and collected.
I am comfortable in the uncomfortable.
I am relaxed from my head to my toes.
I am strong and laser focused. This is my time.
I am supposed to feel bad now so I can feel good later.
I am the captain of this race and I decide the outcome.
I have trained for this tough moment, and I can make it through.
Imma keep running 'cause a winner don't quit on themselves. (credit: Beyonce)
In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take.
In this very moment I'm king / this very moment I slay Goliath with a sling (credit: Nicki Minaj)
Is it worth it? Let me work it. (credit: Missy Elliott)
It's like this now.
Just keep swimming. (credit: Dory D. Fish)
Light, fast, strong.
No regrets.
Nothing worth having comes easy.
One mile at a time, just focus on this singular mile.
Reckless abandon.
Relentless forward progress.
Run like a bravey, sleep like a baby, dream like a crazy, replace can't with maybe, lady. (credit: Alexi Pappas)
Running never takes more than it gives back.
Shake that ass, bitch, and let me see what you got. (credit: Booty Bass)
She who is brave is free.
Show 'em how it's done, mama.
Strong. Relaxed.
The brick walls are there for a reason. (credit: Randy Pausch)
The hard work is in the bank, just bring it home.
The mind runs the body.
The nature of the experience is that it passes.
The only true failure comes if you quit.
This is for the record books. (credit: Teal Burrell)
This will pass. Your legs will come around. You've tried to kill them before. And you can't.
Though she be but little, she is fierce.
What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? (credit: Erin Hanson)
You are capable of amazing things.
You are faced with the opportunity to excel.
You better work, bitch. (credit: Britney Spears)
You can do anything for one more minute.
You do hard things.
You don't always get what you wish for. You get what you work for.
You only fail when you stop trying.
You're a tough cookie.
You got this!

Do you have a mantra or mantras that work well for you? Any of ours sound promising? Got anything to add to our list? 

I'm running as fast as I can so I can continue to put off law school. I was 39th at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February, and now am focused on running some road personal bests. Further in the future, I’m looking forward to running a quick fall marathon. I mainly write about the physical and mental aspects of racing at an elite level, trying to navigate the post collegiate running world, and setting aside other life goals for one; running fast.

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7 comments

  1. So much goodness! I’ve been using “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” a lot lately. I have written mantras on gel packets and water bottles for races!

  2. Love this and some great ones on that list!!! I’ve definitely been known to mutter “you’ve got this” under my breath to myself mid-races. I also use “just hold on” a lot in later stages of race. When you’re at that tipping point it seems to help from backing off. Hold on like hell is another version.

    During Erie marathon last year, my mantra was “Hold on like hell” from above, but also…”wiggle your toes”. A friend of mine had emailed me a few days before the race talking about his father in law who could no longer wiggle his toes, let alone run or walk. He told me that when it gets hard mid race, try fucking harder. So, “wiggle your toes” became a mini mantra for me- to remind me that running is something I CAN do, and not to take it for granted nor give up.

    1. I love that, Barley! <3 My regular running route goes past a nursing home, and there have been many runs where I feel humbled when I see folks struggling to move their bodies with their canes and wheelchairs. I always run a little harder when I see that.

  3. I used “Embrace the pain and Run On”, “You’re tough”, “Run strong”, “I love hills” , “You got this”,”Beast mode” I don’t used all in every race but just a few depending on the course, weather etc

  4. Love this! I was first introduced to the idea of mantras when I played rugby in University. Our team was struggling and our coach did a survey of our team about why we played – what our reasons for, and what we wanted to embody. We collectively came up with “Tenacious. Relentless. Drive. Desire” as our team mantra and I *still* use it myself when the going gets tough – 15 years later!