My Running Mantras For Racing And Training

My Running Mantras

“Just Keep Pushing!” (

Recently, someone asked me: What’s your running mantra? I didn’t always have one. But this summer I’ve been using two mantras that have really been working for me. When I’m struggling and need to dig deep, I turn to these two phrase that somehow spur me on.

1) Just keep pushing

Hiking, Running and Eating in Italy's Cinque Terre

Pushing is easy when the run is this beautiful. (

This is my go-to racing mantra. My husband thinks it’s too simple. “There’s no magic to it, no poetry to it,” he says. He prefers mantras like, “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” and, “Pain is temporary, glory is forever.” Yes, he actually says those to himself. Perhaps that’s why he is a Boston Qualifier and I am not.

But that’s the funny thing about mantras. What works for one person does not always work for someone else. Anytime he’s tried to encourage me during a run with one of his mantras, I just get annoyed. I don’t know why, but waxing poetic about pain seems to make me angry. And not in a good, “Yeah, I’m going to crush this run!” sort of way. But in a “Shut your face, you’re not helping!” sort of way.

“Just keep pushing” works incredibly well for me. It works especially well mid-race when I just want to quit, am feeling overwhelmed, or feel like the finish is too far way. And what my husband hates about it is the very thing I love: it’s so simple. Simple, yet powerful. “Just keep pushing” does just that: keeps me pushing. Whatever moves you, right?

2) Hot summer runs lead to cool fall PRs

Running Mantras For Racing & Training

Running Mantras

This is my go-to training mantra.

85 degrees and humid? “Hot summer runs lead to cool fall PRs.”

Mile 6 of an 8-mile tempo workout in the sun? “Hot. (inhale) Summer. (breath) Runs. (gasp) Cool. (wheeze) Fall. (gasp) PRs.”

I’ve said it to myself over and over again. Somehow, every time, I perk up, dig a little deeper and finish my run gladly, if not triumphantly.

This mantra reminds me that those tough workouts in the dog days of summer will serve me well when the temperatures drop and I transform from a slogging caterpillar to a running butterfly. So I trudge on, working toward my ultimate goal: those two little letters.

Come fall, I’ll have to tweak it. But knowing NYC, I’ve got a month of hot running left.

Those are the running mantras that work for me. What’s your mantra?


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Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


09 2014

26 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Those are both great mantras! Short and sweet :0) One of mine is ‘just keep moving’ and another is to think to myself just take it one step at a time because I can do anything for a mile…that usually helps me break past the wall!
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted..Dopey Challenge TrainingMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Great minds think alike :) “Just keep moving” and “Just keep pushing” are soul sisters!

  2. 3

    Excellent! I don’t have a mantra at the moment but you’ve made me think that maybe it’s time I got one. Thanks for the inspiration! And good luck this fall!
    Janice Brown recently posted..Savouring the last gasps of summerMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Janice! I didn’t have a mantra for the longest time. But recently I’ve found having a few go-to phrases when I need an extra push REALLY help.

  3. 5

    Right now I’m trying to build endurance in my knee so I’m doing 1/1 intervals. My current mantra is “one more running interval” each time I successfully complete one. Just one more.
    Lesley recently posted..Reorganizing at WorkMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      That’s great. I love thinking/motivating myself in increments. It really works, doesn’t it?!

  4. 7

    Those are both great, Karla (and true). Mine is I can and I will. I don’t have tattoos but if I ever DID get one, that would be it. :)
    Mer @ ScootaDoot recently posted..Breakfast Protein: Chill OutMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I’ve never tried that one! But I can and I will in my new few workouts! That would be a great tattoo.

  5. 9

    I’m with you on needing something simple — if I’m struggling, I don’t want to work any harder than I have to! The only one I’ve had that seems organic is “you got this.” I tried to make “powerful as a bear” (an “Arrested Development” reference) happen, but it didn’t feel right.
    Sadye recently posted..RetirementMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Haha, I love AD! I’ve definitely told myself “you got this” a few times during races, usually when I’m trying to keep myself calm and collected or working up a big hill. That’s a great one!

  6. 11

    When the going gets tough, I remind myself to “persevere”. Short and sweet!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..Your Race Recaps! 9/5My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Love that! Short but super powerful.

  7. 13

    Look at that braid fly!

    I love your mantras. I don’t have one myself so I may borrow yours until I find something. Maybe I do have one, but it’s only useful for the last mile – I can do anything for one mile. I think this when I’m a mile away from the finish line and ready to die. It holds me together until I cross the line.
    Elle recently posted..Fall PlansMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      For some reason, I find that braids fly higher and faster than pony tails, haha. I didn’t have a mantra for the longest time. Never really found something that clicked. I like your last mile one. That one might come in handy for me too!

  8. 15

    When my son started doing races at age 5, his mantra was “bagel, bagel, bagel!” For him it is all about the food at the finish line :)

    • Karla Bruning

      Haha, that’s amazing! I’ve definitely fantasized about chocolate milk shakes during more than a few runs.

  9. 17

    It won’t be easy, it will be worth it.
    That is my go to.

    • Karla Bruning

      I might have to steal that around Mile 20 of the Philly Marathon this year!

  10. 19

    I really hope the hot summer runs I have logged this year will lead to some majorly cool PRs this fall! :)

    My current favorite mantra is a simple one too, “stronger than yesterday.” I like that it’s positive and short enough to say over and over quickly, haha!
    Kristina recently posted..Since I Last Blogged…My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I’m sure you’ll have some great PRs this fall. You just keep outdoing yourself! I love “stronger than yesterday” for all the reasons you mentioned!

  11. 21

    I like to keep mine short and sweet as well – just keep swimming (basically just keep moving but said in a singing Dorie voice) and one foot after the other.
    Emily recently posted..Dumbo Double Dare 2014: Disneyland 10KMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Love both of those! (Especially the Dorie voice)

  12. 23

    Love them! I also use the summer one in reverse…. winter training runs lead to spring PR’s!
    Laura @losingrace recently posted..The Hay is in the Barn, or something like that.My Profile

  13. 25

    I had to laugh at your disagreement with your husband about mantras. I’m lucky if I can remember to think more than, “you’ve got this” when I run, nevermind poetry.
    Judith recently posted..Vacation RecoveryMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Haha, right?! I’m lucky I can think in more than one syllable when the going gets really tough.


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