10 Inspirational Quotes from Famous Runners

Motivational Words to Spur You to Running Greatness

People run for different reasons. Most do it because of the health benefits they can gain from working the heart, lungs, and muscles all at the same time. Others choose to run because it provides them a clear set of goals which they can meet and then exceed.

Some run to race; others to socialize or be out in the open air. What all runners share, however, is a singular sense of accomplishment. It is a far different experience from, say, running on a treadmill and peddling away in a spin class. Running gets you from here to there and epitomizes what the sport all about: the journey.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of running is not our bodies but our mental state. This is when a little motivation can provide the inspirational kick we need to lace up our running shoes and get out there. Here are 13 quotes designed to do just that.

Joan Benoit wins first women’s Olympic marathon, held in Los Angeles in 1984.
Joan Benoit wins first women’s Olympic marathon, held in Los Angeles in 1984. Joe Kennedy/Getty Images

"There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running and life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it."

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Bill Rodgers, Four-Time Boston Marathon Champ

Bill Rodgers in 1997 after winning the Amsterdam Marathon
Bill Rodgers in 1997 after winning the Amsterdam Marathon. Koen Suyk/Anefo

"The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability: consistency, a sane approach, moderation, and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life."

John J. Kelley, 1957 Boston Marathon Champ

John J; Kelly wins the 1957 Boston Marathon
John J; Kelly wins the 1957 Boston Marathon. Boston Globe/Getty Images

"We runners are all a little nutty, but we're good people who just want to enjoy our healthy, primitive challenge. Others may not understand running, but we do, and we cherish it. That's our only message."

Grete Waitz, Nine-Time NY Marathon Champ

Grete Waitz at the 1978 New York City Marathon.
Grete Waitz at the 1978 New York City Marathon. Tom Duffy/Getty Images

"For every finish-line tape a runner breaks—complete with the cheers of the crowd and the clicking of hundreds of cameras—there are the hours of hard and often lonely work that rarely gets talked about."

Steve Prefontaine in 1972
Steve Prefontaine in 1972. Ed Lacey/Popperfoto/Getty Images

"Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

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Deena Kastor, 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist

Deena Kastor at the 2007 Boston Marathon
Deena Kastor at the 2007 Boston Marathon. Ambibro

"The beauty of running is its simplicity; the beauty of runners is that we all have a similar drive to improve. We are either trying to run a personal best or toeing the line for the first time, which will snowball into a future of trying to run personal bests. We road racers are a tight community of mileage-happy, limit-pushing athletes.”

Wilma Rudolph, Three-Time Olympic Gold Champ

Wilma Rudolph at the 1960 Summer Olympic in Rome.
Wilma Rudolph at the 1960 Summer Olympic in Rome. Bettman

"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion. The potential for greatness lives within each of us."

Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Popperfoto/Getty Image

"I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."

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Billy Mills, Gold Medal Olympian

Billy Mills winning the 1964 Olympics
Billy Mills winning the 10,000 Meter at the 1964 Olympics. Historic Archives U.S. Marine Corps

"The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of your capabilities and to compete against yourself to the greatest extent possible. When you do that, you have dignity. You have the pride. You can walk about with character and pride no matter in what place you happen to finish."

Florence Griffith Joyner, Three-Time Gold Olympian

Florence Griffith Joyner at the 1988 Olympic Trials.
Florence Griffith Joyner at the 1988 Olympic Trials. Focus on Sports/Getty Images

"When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening anymore."

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