Quotes About Running Marathons

Get inspired with these marathon running quotes

Running a marathon is an experience that's difficult to put into words. But these notable people from the running world manage to describe the physical and mental challenges of the 26.2-mile race with these marathon running quotes.

Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder:

"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."

More Quotes About the New York City Marathon

Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist:

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."

Rob de Castella, winner 1983 World Marathon Championships:

"If you feel bad at 10 miles, you're in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you're normal. If you don't feel bad at 26 miles, you're abnormal."

Emil Zatopek, Czech runner; winner of four Olympic gold medals:

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."

Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston and four NYC marathons:

"The marathon can humble you."
More: Running Quotes from Bill Rodgers


"The thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone minutes after the race is over. The pain in your legs within days, but the glory of your finish will last forever."

John Hanc, running writer

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."

Hal Higdon, running writer and coach:

"The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals."

Mike Fanelli, running club coach:

"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart."

Ryan Hall, U.S Olympic marathoner, on running a marathon:

"I don't think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don't think about the mile I'm on right now, I don't think about the miles I've already covered. I think about what I'm doing right now, just being lost in the moment."

Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ:

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed."

Uta Pippig:

"I definitely want to show how beautiful the marathon can be. I am the opponent of all those who find the marathon bad: the psychologists, the physiologists, the doubters. I make the marathon beautiful for myself and for others. That's why I'm here. "

Frank Shorter:

"You can actually suffer a little bit more going slowly than when you're going really fast. A faster marathon might even be easier than a slow one, in terms of what it takes out of you mentally. "

Ibrahim Hussein:

"At the two-thirds mark, I think of those who are still with me. Who might make a break? Should I? Then I give it all I've got."

Fred Lebow:

"Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon."


"It's not 26.2 miles...it's 10 water stops."

Barry Magee:

"Anyone can run 20 miles. It's the next six that count."

Bill Wenmark, running coach

"You should run your first marathon for the right reasons, because you'll never be the same person again. You must want to do it, not do it because your boss did it or your spouse did it."

Don Kardong:

"The key to running a good marathon is to not listen to anyone's advice the last week before the race. That's when people tend to do stupid things that disrupt all the input and training of the previous months."

Seen on a running T-shirt:

"Anyone can run a hundred meters, it's the next forty-two thousand and two hundred that count."

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Gordon Bakoulis Bloch:

"You can't cram for the final. By that, I mean you're not going to get any fitter during the last couple of weeks before the race. So don't try cramming any last minute long runs or extra training. The best thing you can do for your body is rest."


"First you feel like dying. Then you feel reborn."

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John Bingham:

"Marathons are about tenacity as much as talent."

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John J. Kelly, winner of the 1952 Boston Marathon:

"Marathoning is just another form of insanity."

Kathrine Switzer, women's marathoning pioneer:

"If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

Jerry Lynch:

"Concentrate on small segments of your race at a time. For example, rather than obsessing about the distance that remains, simply complete the next mile in good form...try another, then another, until the race is done."

Mary R. Wittenberg, former president, New York Road Runners Club:

"A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental, that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow.  It's all in conquering the challenge."


"Always concentrate on how far you've come, rather than how far you have left to go."

Jim Fortner:

"Make your last thought before the start of a marathon: 'If I'm not worried that I'm running a little too slow in the first half, then I'm probably running too fast.'"

Ryan Hall:

"More than the time, it's about how you feel -- you want to be strong throughout the race."


"At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill."

Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Oympic marathoner:

"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best."

Steve Jobs:

"There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going."

Kiyoshi Nakamura

"The marathon is an art; the marathoner is an artist."

Seen on a marathon spectator sign:

"The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."

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Kara Goucher:

"A marathon is a long race, so long in fact that your only real competitor is yourself."

Hal Higdon:

"The marathon never ceases to be a race of joy, a race of wonder."

Don Kardong:

"No doubt a brain and some shoes are essential for marathon success, although if it comes down to a choice, pick the shoes. More people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes."

Jeffrey Horowitz:

"There are no shortcuts in marathoning, so anyone who is a marathoner has worked hard."


"A marathon is a string of moments, mixtures of events and emotions that we sample as we move along."

Bobbi Gibb, first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, 1966

"I thought about how many preconceived prejudices would crumble when I trotted right along for 26 miles."


"There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have."

Dathan Ritzenhein, elite marathoner:

"The marathon has so many elements to prepare for. I think that is one reason I always want to come back for more. There is always something to change in your preparation and I am still trying to discover what I am capable of. I guess I just love the challenge."

Dick Traum, first amputee to run the New York City Marathon:

"That day remains very special to me and if I had one day to live over in my lifetime, it would be my first marathon."

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