I embed running quotes quite frequently in my coaching. I thought it would be interesting to look closer at some of my favorites and think more deeply about why they are my favorites, what they mean to me, my training, and my coaching. Maybe a closer look at these quotes will give you a nugget or two of inspiration during this gloomy time of year when many find it hard to stay motivated.
#7 To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
Yes, I started with probably the most famous of all running quotes, but I couldn’t leave this one out. Sometimes I find it very difficult as a high school coach seeing kids’ taking their abilities and their youth for granted. They have many opportunities in high school athletics to achieve greatness, but instead, they would rather work at McDonalds or play video games than take a risk. I find that depressing. On the other hand, I greatly enjoy seeing my runners discover their athletic gifts. When I have a lazy day and don’t feel like running, I remind myself how privileged I am to be able to run.
#6 The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.
Distance running is the purest of sports. Those that work the hardest are the ones who are rewarded for their efforts. The top talent doesn’t always take the prize. I frequently tell my runners that you can’t will yourself to win. Wanting it more badly won’t give you the edge. What gives you the edge is hard work. Training hard is just part of the preparation; you also need to prepare by eating right, stretching, getting enough sleep, visualizing a good race, studying the race course, and so forth. All this extra preparation and attention to detail separate a good runner from a great runner.
Distance running is a mental sport. Training and racing require mental toughness; digging deeper and deeper each mile as you fatigue. My father referred to improving with toughness as “mental callousing.” We have the capacity to tolerate the pain better and better as we gain experience and build confidence in extending ourselves. My cross country team won the county meet 2 years ago even though we were not the most talented team competing. Without a doubt, the boys won the meet because they were tough racers and truly believed they could win. Believing is the first step in achieving greatness. Without that, the training means nothing.
#4 There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.
Wise words by Prefontaine’s coach. There is a no-whining rule on my team. Training is more fun in warm, mild weather, and many people make excuses and chose NOT to work on bad weather days. These are the days I make sure my team is out there, facing the elements head-on. We feel confident when we outwork many other teams while we do track workouts in windy, sub-30 degree weather. My former coach, Kevin Hanson, refers to these as “unfair advantage days.” Not only are bad-weather days a chance to out-improve the competition, they are opportunities to toughen up and mentally callous. What if the weather is horrible on race day? We will be ready.
#3 Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.
I always tell my team that there is more there than you think. What you think is your 100% isn’t really your true 100%. All we can do is strive each day to get closer to our full potential. Soon, personal records are broken, and your mind is open to endless possibilities. You have to go outside your comfort zone in practice and in your training in order for it to happen in a race.
#2 Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.
~ Steve Prefontaine
Prefontaine was the master of racing tough. All runners can benefit from trying to race like Pre. I can give my runners the most well-crafted training plan in the world, but if they don’t race with courage and tenacity, the training doesn’t make much of a difference. I spend more time with my team talking about mental preparation and toughness than splits. If you race a gutsy race, the time will take care of itself.
#1 You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.
This isn’t a running quote, but it expresses how I feel about running. Distance running and coaching have enhanced my life in so many ways. Running has connected me to many fantastic people. Running has also made me more connected to myself. It makes me feel more alive and that I am making the most of each day. I will die knowing that I pushed myself to achieve all I could with the body I was given. I will know that through running I tried my best to help others build confidence in themselves to achieve great things.