Race day mantras can really help when things get tough during a marathon. Check out these 26.2 race day mantras and choose one that works for you!
It’s finally race week for the 43rd Marine Corps Marathon. I’m overwhelmed with feelings about this race. It’s been a crazy, emotional roller-coaster for me this year in regards to MCM. First I was in, then I deferred, now I’m back, then I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get to D.C. — basically a whole mess of nonsense this year. But I’m so excited race week is finally here! And I’m beyond excited to head to my favorite city this weekend and share my excitement with friends and strangers alike. Sharing the joy with new MCMers on social media has been the absolute best and I’m so excited for them to experience Marine Corps Marathon for themselves.
With the excitement of race week also usually comes some trepidation and self-doubt. But if you’ve done the training, there’s no reason to have any negative feelings. Come to the race, enjoy the day, and celebrate in your accomplishment. And yes, all of that may be easier said than done. There may come a time during the race when you need a mental pick-me-up, encouragement to push harder or faster, or a reminder of why you’re out there on the race course doing what you’re doing in the first place. During these times, a little mantra or two can go a long way.
Not everyone uses or needs a race day mantra. Half the time I barely use one myself. But if you need one, know there are many. Today I’m here with 26.2 Race Day Mantras to get you through the toughest moments of your race.
26.2 Race Day Mantras to Get You Through a Marathon
1. I can do hard things.
This is definitely one of my all time favorite mantras. If you listened to my episode on the Diz Runs podcast, you’ll know I encourage all my athletes with this mantra. It’s applicable to any race distance or race speed, and it even works well on hard training days like tempo runs or 800m repeats.
2. Only the strong survive.
Another one of my favorites, “only the strong survive” encourages you to pull out that inner strength you’ve been using throughout training and apply it to the race.
3. Run THIS mile.
My friend CoCo from Running with Perseverance reminds herself to run this mile. What does that mean? It means she focuses on the mile she’s in. Doing so helps her stay focused throughout her run and it helps to break up the race distance into more manageable parts.
4. Run happy.
As you may have figured (since it’s kinda in the name of my blog and all), “run happy” is another personal favorite and I do use it often. I try to run happy as often as I can and when I do, I usually end up having a great race!
5. Run fearless.
“Run fearless” conjures images of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. She’s since founded the women’s running group 261 Fearless and so many women (and men!) use this mantra to get through tough races.
6. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Speaking of fear, one of my very dear friends, Sara from Run Ultra Inspired, uses the mantra “feel the fear and do it anyway.” She uses this mantra not only in running and racing, but during CrossFit competitions as well. From Sara: “I have a pretty high degree of self doubt. Fear is a constant when it comes to racing. Right before my second CrossFit competition, I found this mantra and it just fit… I decided that instead of hiding from the fear, I was going to accept it and move on with it.”
7. She believed she could so she did.
A little confidence goes a long way, especially in tough race situations. Whether you’re trying to snag a PR or tackling a new distance, just believing in yourself will help you achieve your goals. Sometimes you just need to believe.
8. You had the power all along, my dear.
What better words of wisdom than from Glinda, the Good Witch? Glinda reminds Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz that she always had the power to get back home. Just like she’ll remind you that you always had the power to have an amazing race.
9. Don’t stop when you’re tired; stop when you’re done.
Fellow blogger and friend, Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner, uses the mantra “Don’t stop when you’re tired; stop when you’re done.” This mantra reminds her that the hard work doesn’t stop just because she’s tired!
10. I trained for this.
A mantra from one of my clients, “I trained for this,” can be used any time the going gets tough. You put in the hard work and you trained — you’re ready!
11. Nevertheless, she persisted.
This is another one of my favorites. It’s good to use when the odds seemed stacked against you. I go back to this one again and again, even when I’m not running. Persist!
12. No excuses.
My clients love when I throw this one at them. (Do they? Haha.) After all, my coaching brand is known as No Excuses. What does that mean? It means no excuses when it comes time to race. You better buckle down and get down to business!
12. Dream big, princess.
While this may sound totally cliché, I absolutely love the Disney message “dream big, princess.” It’s so inspiring for girls and women of all ages. I’ve always dreamed big and I hope to instill the same drive in my children.
13. Too much grit to quit.
You may have seen me quoting my friend Kim lately when I’ve said “too much grit to quit.” This mantra works! Kim, the blogger behind Running on the Fly, uses this mantra for her races because quitting is never an option.
14. Today is MY day.
When self-doubt creeps in or the comparison game starts to intrude in your headspace, remind yourself that today is YOUR day. It’s your race and no one else’s. Don’t compare — just run!
15. The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.
When those doubts and desires to quit come creeping in, Angela from Marathons and Motivation, reminds herself that she’s extremely close to succeeding and continues pushing forward.
16. Run strong.
There are times during every race when the fatigue starts to set in. During a hard 5K, that comes around the second mile for me. During a half marathon, it’s around 8 miles. And during a full marathon, it’s around mile 18. When I need a little reminder not to let my form get sloppy or my brain to turn to mush, I remind myself to run strong.
17. Run all the miles, eat all the food!
Some days, during some races, the only motivation is the food that awaits at the end. And for a lot of people running all the miles equals eating all the food. And there’s totally nothing wrong with that because let’s face it, post-race brunch is where it’s at!
18. Dig deep.
Sometimes you just need to dig deep to get through a challenging time during a race. When the going gets tough, dig deep and make it happen.
19. Embrace the suck.
The later miles of a marathon are usually when the race becomes very difficult. The distance is wearing on you and you still feel like you have a really long way left to go. It’s time to embrace the suck! The last few miles will hurt but embrace the suck because you’re almost there!
20. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
Mile 20 usually ends up being a somewhat scary threshold for a lot of runners, especially new ones. Most coaches and training plans won’t push you past the 20-mile mark during training. This is done so as to not stress your body too much during training but train it enough to be able to cover the distance of a marathon. That means for most runners, running anything past 20 miles in a race can sometimes be rather scary.
Don’t let it be. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
21. I will not miss by one second.
My own coach, Mark of On Your Mark Coaching, uses this mantra during tough races. He says he pictures the race clock at the finish line and imagines he has missed his goal by one second. If he’s not okay with that during the race, he makes sure he gives the race his all and leaves everything out on the course.
22. I can and I will.
Sometimes you just need to be the little engine that could. You CAN and you WILL! There are no other options.
23. I’m strong enough to do this.
Reassuring yourself that you’re strong enough to do something hard is important during any race. It’s especially important in distance races. If you’ve trained, you’re strong enough to do it.
24. Every run is a good run.
My friend Julie, from IammaRunning, uses this one. She likes to remind herself that every run is a good run, and it’s times that are challenging that are the most important to remind yourself how amazing running is for overall health, happiness, and well-being. Even when a run is hard or you’re unhappy, it’s still a good run.
25. Do epic shit.
Repeating “do epic shit” over and over through a long distance race will instill in yourself that running a race is epic and that you can do it!
26. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Fellow blogger Kathryn, from From Dancing to Running, says she uses this mantra because she used to think that she would never be able to run. “But I’ve proven otherwise to myself. When you put your mind to something its amazing what you’re able to accomplish.”
26.2 BEAST MODE!
And finally, when all else fails (or you’re tenths of a mile away from a finish line) unleash the beast! Do epic shit, finish strong and turn the BEAST MODE on!
My advice to you, whether this is your first or 21st marathon, is to find a mantra or little saying you can use when the going gets tough. Marathons aren’t easy — but no one said they were!
If you’re heading to D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, I’ll see you there! #oorah
Want to read more about the Marine Corps Marathon? Check out these posts!
What’s YOUR race day mantra?
Will I see you in D.C.?