On Running and Mantras

I really enjoy going to therapy. Is that weird?

Well, I’m kind of weird, so whatever.

While I won’t talk about most of what my (awesome) therapist and I talk about, there’s certainly advice I’m getting from her that might be helpful for a wider audience than just me, myself and I.

One of the things we talked about last week was mantras.


We were talking about mantras I can use for meditation while calm to train myself to stay calmer in situations that may cause me anxiety.

Have you ever used mantras, she asked?

Yes! While I used to think the word “mantra” was super hippie-dippie, once I saw this video on Katy’s blog I realized that I had been using mantras myself when running.

Quick definition for anyone who doesn’t know what a mantra is and is too lazy to Google:

Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 10.29.55 PM.png

Thank you, Mr. Webster.

While negative mantras like “STFU and run” are definitely part of my repertoire sometimes–and truthfully, do motivate me to do just that–it’s obviously the positive mantras that help more.


From the NYC Marathon: “You’re almost there! Don’t walk! You can do this! Don’t walk. Don’t walk.”


From Marine Corps: “I kept telling myself ‘no more than 20 minutes. 2 miles. This is nothing.'”

NOGUTSNOGLORY.jpg Oh, and this one. I visualized it on a chevron background, too.
“Well, have you ever used a visual focal point while running?” she asked.
“Um, I guess I pick a person when running and focus on them until I pass them?”
My mantras in the past have always been longer and more complex, but she suggested just one word:
I mean, that’s all you really need to focus on.
She told me to focus on one person while running and exhale the word “speed,” repeatedly.
I tried that the other day, and while I dropped down to the half too late to go for any sort of PR, I tried it on one dude and I felt a crazy amount of focus.
Or maybe I just felt a little lightheaded from the focused breathing. Unclear.
Do you use mantras while running…or just in life? What are some of your favorites?
Here’s an awesome article on mantras for running from Runner’s World with lots of them for you to choose from. Also, my girl Jocelyn hasn’t specifically written about mantras, but she has written about positive thinking + running…and the girl knows a few things about awesome PRs.

28 comments on “On Running and Mantras

  1. Janet Oberholtzer

    I love mantras! They have been key in my life… they help me in everyday life and they helped me through some major traumas.
    One of my favorite mantras is from Theodore Roosevelt… “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” By doing that, I recovered better than I ever thought I would from severe physical injuries and from depression.

    I also use mantras when I run and I wrote about one of my favorite here:

  2. Jen @ Jens Best Life

    I love mantras! I didn’t realize their importance until my first half-marathon. They varied, from “!#(^I* this hill” to “[best friend] beat cancer twice, you can run up this hill!” And, yes, “DON’T WALK” made a frequent appearance.

    I think it’s really sad how therapy has such negative connotations in America. I think it is so important! Thank you for being so open and positive about it!

  3. MegG

    Mantras make me happy. Stronger, Faster, Better is one of mine. I also like to repeat, Strong as a Bear, fast as a Cheetah. When I got injured during my Vancouver marathon I just kept saying run til 20, run til 20, which kept me from quitting!

  4. Cathryn

    I liked ‘Be strong, be brave, this is what you came here for’ during my last half marathon! I particularly liked the ‘be brave’…if ever I get an Erica Sara bracelet, it’ll say ‘…be brave’.

  5. Nicole

    Yes! Running up hills during a race, I always have to tell myself something like “One foot in front of the other.” or “Keep moving. You can do it.”
    My constant life mantra is “Attitude is everything!”

  6. Vicky

    I’m with you, I love therapy. I believe in that Buddhist concept that says, basically, that we cause a lot of our own pain by wanting things to be different than they are. So I often remind myself that “it is what it is”. For me, that’s a shortened version of ‘look, wishing it wasn’t so, or getting mad/sad/depressed about what’s going on won’t change it. Accept it, then figure out if you can fix it, or not. But stop making it worse by all your bellyaching’.

  7. Kristen

    I stuggled horribly with the mental aspect of running while training for my first marathon. I had to keep telling myself “You can do this”, “You’re ok”, “You’ve got this, just relax and enjoy it”.

    It worked!

  8. Tara

    Yes, I love to pep myself with mantras when running!
    ‘this is going to make you stronger’
    ‘you CAN do this, so DO it’
    ‘you are stronger than you think’

  9. Laura

    My absolute favorite is “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” It’s short and sweet and also has a good rhythm to it if you want to repeat it over and over 🙂

  10. Jessica R @ fromthekitchentotheroad

    Nice timing of this post. I did my first tempo run this morning. When I was feeling like stopping I kept telling myself “Make it to the next mile. This will make you stronger. This will make you faster. You will reach your goals.” It got me through my fastest 5 miles ever.

  11. Gianna

    My type A personality needs some reeling in both in work life and running life and I constantly tell myself “just breathe”. Instant calm and focus.
    I even have a tattoo of “Breathe” on the left side of my chest! Constant reminder.

  12. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    I’m a big believer in mantras! And when my runs are hard, reminding myself that it’s only 10, 15, 20 mins, etc usually helps. Sometimes I’ll tell myself “5 for minutes and if you still feel like death you can take a walk break” and usually that’s all I need because 5 minutes later I’m in my groove again.

  13. Alicia at Poise in Parma

    “Do it now” is one I live by. It’s my kick in the pants for when I’m dragging my feet, battling the anxiety, whatever might be popping up and keeping me from tasks/goals.

    I’m a big fan of short mantras. My yoga intention is short, but powerful, and I feel like it keeps me grounded in a variety of ways. But I’m going to start envisioning it on chevron from now on – I think that’s what’s going to make it come true!

  14. Ellis

    I thought about this post yesterday while doing an 8 mile training run for a half. I couldn’t remember your mantras, but I started with “just keep going” which evolved into “keep going” in a nice inner chant. 🙂 it really helped!


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