Running Mantras

Thistle-framedI had a guest speaker at my running clinic recently. Her topic was motivation. What is not to like about that? She was quite wonderful. She did not talk about running in the dark, cold, rain or heat. She did not talk about gear. She did not talk about races, paces or laces. She got to the heart of the matter. Why we run? What gets us out the door? What keeps us going?

One thing she discussed was mantras. She mentioned how they can be good to keep you going, be it during a fun run, a training session or in a race. She suggested some simple phrases like “focus” or “keep moving” or even to repeat the name of the person you are running for, e.g. “Judy, Judy, Judy“, in runs such as Run for the Cure.

I hadn’t given this aspect of my running much though, although I know that I do have lots of thoughts in my head during a training run or a race to push me. I usually say things like “Come on butt, you can do this hill” or “Just another 2K to go, you can do it“. However, I know others who have negative thoughts like “I can’t do this!” or “What was I thinking when I signed up for this stupid race?

I got thinking about mantras ever since she mentioned them and instead started reciting one word or short phrases during the course of a run or a race.

Here are a few mantras that I use often in a race:

When I want to pick up the pace a bit:
Cadence, cadence, cadence

When I want to speed up a hill a bit faster:
Gluts, gluts, gluts

When I’m nearly at the end of a race:
Pour it on, pour it on, pour it on

Here are a few I use when I’m doing a long slow run by myself:

When the sun is shining on my face:
Vitamin D, vitamin D, vitamin D

When I check my watch for the distance:
Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go
Half way, half way, half way
Nearly done, nearly done, nearly done

Here’s a few I used recently on a run along the waterfront in Vancouver in the pouring rain (proving that I don’t just think about myself… I think about what I see around me):

When I saw a group of crows on the grass:
Murder, murder, murder

When I saw a bunch of Loons swimming in the ocean:
Parliament?, parliament?, parliament?
(no that can’t be right, but it seemed to fit)
(Apparently a parliament is a group of owls and a group of loons is a raft)

When I saw a lot of puddles on the path in front of me:
Go around, go around, go around

When the puddles stretched across the path:
Go through, go through, go through

When there were no other runners out in these terrible conditions:
I’m so badass, I’m so badass, I’m so badass

When I saw another runner on the path:
You’re so badass, we’re so badass, we’re so badass

When I’m running up a mountain or in the forest:
(see above for hill running)
Go for the view, the view, the view
Love these trees, love these trees, love these trees
This is so beautiful, so beautiful, so beautiful
That moss is so green, so green, so green

There are a never ending supply of mantras that you probably use, or could use. I just suggest that you keep them short and positive and they will help you accomplish anything – even if you are not running (think house or garden work, think meetings, think driving, etc.)!

Why the thistle image, you might ask? I felt it represented hard training or running a race or doing stuff you don’t like doing, but if you say the right words even a thistle can become manageable – look for the beauty!


I am a runner.

Posted in Life lessons, Racing, Running, Trails

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