Being a runner, a distance runner in particular, requires a lot of mental discipline. Part of training is not just logging the miles but finding REASONS to run. In other words, psychological motivation is as important as physical preparation. With that in mind, we offer the following inspirational quotes, articles, and recommended reading. We hope it inspires you!
by Bill Rodgers
A great resource for first-time runners from a legend in the sport.
by John L. Parker, Jr.
Runner’s World labeled this “The best novel ever written about running.” It does a great job of portraying the physical duress and personal sacrifice of dedicated runners. Sure to inspire!
by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield
An insightful and entertaining guide for those new to the sport from John “the Penguin” Bingham and trainer Jenny Hadfield. The book offers a lot of great advice.
by Dave McGillivray
The Boston Marathon Director recounts overcoming physical adversity as a child and some of his legendary endurance feats including a 1978 run across the entire country (move over, Forrest Gump). Along the way, Dave shares wit, wisdom and his personal philosophy on life and success.
by Bart Yasso
Known as “the Mayor of Running”, Bart Yasso has likely participated in more running events across the globe than any other person. This book recounts some of the more intense and entertaining experiences he has had as a runner. A nice balance of wisdom and humor.
by Dean Karnazes
A first person depiction of the extreme lengths you can take your running to by the most famous man in ultra-running.
by Pam Reed
The most famous female ultrarunner give an honest portrayal of her struggles with anorexia and how she ultimately set numerous American running records, including the world’s first non-stop 300 mile run.
POETRY AND PROSE
by Sean Ryan, Race Director, Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
“I wrote this poem after directing the local marathon training runs in Green Bay for six years. It is dedicated to all of the aspiring distance runners who venture out with the unwavering conviction that more is always better. I pray that divine intervention will manage to deliver these folks safely to the starting line on race day despite their persistent efforts to maim themselves.”
by Sean Ryan, Race Director, Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
“I wrote this poem after noticing that runners face a greater challenge than building up their mileage — it is BACKING DOWN on their mileage just prior to an event. Backing down on the mileage, or “tapering” as runners refer to it, is standard practice in any sensible training program. This poem is dedicated to runners who resist tapering, which I estimate to be approximately 95% of the runner population.”
Excerpt from THE LONG WALK by Stephen King
The Long Walk is one of Stephen King’s earliest short stories. The premise of the story is a macabre endurance event, a walk to the death. One hundred young men start and are required to maintain a minimum pace of 4 miles per hour. Anyone falling below this pace more than 3 times in 3 hours is shot. The last one alive wins.
Chapter 6 – They had been walking steadily for more than two days and had covered over 200 miles. Only half of the boys were still alive.
“How do we keep going, for so much distance I mean?” Garraty asked.
Stebbins looked at him with a blank stare. “You reach a certain point,” he said, “when the crowd along the course ceases to matter, either as an incentive or a drawback. It just ceases to be there. Like a man on a scaffold, I think. You burrow away mentally from the crowd and the pain. How far you burrow depends on how deep you are. You have to plumb the unplumbed depths of yourself. You burrow until you hit bedrock. Then you burrow into the bedrock. The idea is to reach the finish line before you get to the bottom of that bedrock.”
INSPIRATIONAL RUNNING QUOTES
“Often, people can’t understand how running can have such power. They say it’s little more than a slightly ambitious version of walking. True, running is a simply, primitive act. Yet in its subtleties lies tremendous power. For in running, the muscles work a little harder, the blood flows a little faster, the heart beats a little stronger. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” – Dean Karnazes
“I like the solitude of running. Long-distance running is a loner’s sport, and I’ve accepted the fact that I enjoy being alone a lot of the time. It keeps me fresh, keeps me—oddly enough—from feeling isolated. I guess a lot of people find it in church, but I turn to the open road for renewal. Running great distances is my way of finding peace.” – Dean Karnazes
“The solitude experienced while running helps me enjoy people more when I am around them. The simple, primitive act of running has nurtured me. I’ve become more tolerant, more patient, and more giving than I ever thought I could be. Suddenly the commonplace is intriguing, and I’ve learned to dig the little things in life, like being squirted in the ear with a water bottle by a five-year-old child. This is what running has taught me, making me—I hope—a better man.” – Dean Karnazes
“I like running because it’s a challenge. If you run hard, certainly there will be pain but you’ve got to work your way through the pain. Nowadays it seems all you hear people say is ‘Don’t overdo it’ and ‘Don’t push yourself.’ Well, I think that’s a bunch of crap. If you push the human body, it will respond and you need to push it to achieve anything worthwhile.”- Bob Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers GM and NHL Hall of Famer
“Distance running is like farming in that it’s all about preparation. You spend months and months cranking out mile after mile, just as a farmer fills his barn day after day with bales of hay. Race day is harvest time! The hard work has already been done. Just as the bales of hay are pulled out of the barn one at a time, a distance runner runs out all those miles one after another. Pretty soon the barn is empty and you’ve just completed a marathon.” - Randy Van Straten, Bellin Run Race Director
“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, Olympian and sub-2:12 marathoner
“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 a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – African proverb
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Running is very beneficial. It is good for your legs and your feet. It is also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.” – Peanuts creator Charles Schulz
“Some people create with words or with music or with paint and a brush. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative… To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine
“Out of the silver heat mirage he ran. The sky burned, and under him the paving was a black mirror reflecting sun-fire. Sweat sprayed his skin with each foot strike so that he ran in a hot mist of his own creation. With each slap on the softened asphalt, his soles absorbed heat that rose through his arches and ankles and the stems of his shins. It was a carnival of pain, but he loved each stride because running distilled him to his essence and the heat hastened this distillation.” - James Tabor, from “The Runner,” a short story
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a civilization work.” -Vince Lombardi
“The thing about the marathon is that your body chemistry changes so much during the race. In 100 feet, your whole world can turn upside down. Your body can say, I’ve had enough, and I’m going to shut down earlier than you expected. I mean, it’s a race that lasts for over 2 hours. I’m not sure that distance was what the human body was meant to do. A lot of times while I’m running a marathon, I just feel awed: 26.2 miles? I think, What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” - Marathon runner Ryan Shay who passed away tragically during the men’s Olympic trials in November 2007
Two campers in the woods heard a bear growling outside of their tent. After the initial shock, one of them calmly started putting on his trail shoes. The other said, “Why are you doing that? You can’t outrun a bear.” The first one responded, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you.” - Unknown