40 quotes about running from inspirational athletes and celebrities to boost motivation

These quotes about running from athletes like Paula Radcliffe and Usain Bolt are the perfect inspiration

Brightly lit woman running along in workout clothes, representing quotes about running for motivation
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These quotes about running from athletes, those who've run and won marathons around the world, and celebrities with a passion for the sport make for great motivation. Whether you're looking to get inspired for your next session or need ideas for a supportive banner on race day, we've got you covered. 

While every runner is different, the one thing we can be sure of is that motivation can be pretty inconsistent sometimes. It's perfectly natural for it to come and go depending on the seasons, the level of training the runner is doing, and what else they've got going on in life. However, just as it's easy to lose motivation, it's easy to find it again. 

With these quotes from the likes of runners Paula Radcliffe, Hellen Obiri, and Usain Bolt, along with celebrity enthusiasts including Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey, runners can rediscover the motivation to pick up their running shoes once again and push on. And for those supporting someone on the sidelines, we've spoken to the experts on how to boost workout motivation for others.  

Quotes about running

  • "There are injuries, there is falling down. I keep going and I trust myself." - Hellen Obiri, winner 2023 Boston Marathon women's title, via Reuters.
  • “You can achieve so many amazing goals and get such amazing opportunities if you work hard and apply yourself to things.” - Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest British female runner on record. 
  • “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” - Art Williams
  • “The only one telling you ‘you can’t win’ is you, and you don’t have to listen.” - track and field athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill

Lone runner running down empty open road in city with marathon number on their back, inspirational quotes about running over the top

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  • “Running is about finding your inner peace and so is a life well lived.” - ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes
  • “That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” - Kara Goucher, an American long-distance runner
  • “Unfortunately in life we compare ourselves against others and think we could never be that good. But why not?” - Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympic gold medal-winning runner
  • “RUNDERFUL - how you feel the minute after you finish your run.” - Unknown

Women's running trainers being tied up with quote from runner Kelly Holmes over the top

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  • “Training is like building a sandcastle, every grain of sand is important, even if you can't see them all.” - Alexi Pappas, a record-setting American athlete
  •  “Nothing lifts me out of a bad mood better than a hard workout on my treadmill. It never fails. To us, exercise is nothing short of a miracle.” - Cher 
  • "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon." - Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon
  • “Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to get to perform, you’ve already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.” - Usain Bolt, a world record-holding sprinter

Legs and feet with shorts and running shoes on with running quote from Usain Bolt over the top

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  •  “Being outside, running side by side breaks down so many barriers. On the trails we are all just runners – there is no preconception about each other and I find I can be my true self.” - ultra-marathon runner Sophie Power
  •  “When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.” - Wilma Rudolph, a world-record-holding Olympic champion
  •  “No matter how far you get ahead of me, I’m gonna catch you, that’s my mentality.” - Usain Bolt
  • “They don’t see the struggle, the sweat and the tears. The hours of stressing before a race, it's hard but at the same time, it's rewarding.” - hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin

Woman's legs running on treadmill with quote

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  •  “Your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.” - Michelle Obama
  • “I want to lay all my cards on the table and walk away with no regrets.” - Katarina Johnson-Thompson, a double Commonwealth Games heptathlon champion
  • “No matter what or where you come from, if you work hard at something, you can achieve it.” - Mo Farah, a long-distance runner
  • “Of all the sports that I’ve tried, some have come and gone but running has always been there for me. It’s the simplest of things to do: shove your trainers on and just go.” - Mel C (aka. Sporty Spice)

Man and a woman wearing running clothes high-fiving on running track with quote

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  • “If you’re passionate about something, you make time for it.” - Jasmine Paris, a British national fell running champion
  • “I love running but I think you have to find a workout that really speaks to you beyond trying to achieve goals for your body. I need it as much for my head as I do for my body.” - Meghan Markle 
  •  “It doesn’t just come overnight, you’ve got to train for it and believe in yourself, that’s the most important thing.” - Mo Farah
  •  “I have that mindset going into anything I do, there’s always room to improve, you can always do better.” - Christian Coleman, a professional track and field sprinter

Couple running together along road in the sunshine with quote

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  •  “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - tennis player Arthur Ashe
  • “The thing that I’m most proud of is that I had the courage to try again.” - Keira D'Amato, a former record-holding marathon runner
  •  “Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing is unattainable.” - Kara Goucher 
  •  "Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running." - Julie Isphording, a long-distance runner  

Lower half of woman running with quote etched over the top

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  •  “Don’t focus on the pain, focus on the progress.” - Dwayne Johnson 
  •  “Good thing I didn’t accomplish all of my dreams yet, because then what would I do tomorrow?” - Alexi Pappas
  •  “The first thing is to identify that thing inside you that makes you have the passion and determination. You have to listen to that.” - Kelly Holmes
  • "You have to listen to your body and not feel guilty when you need to rest." - Katarina Johnson-Thompson  

Woman running down the road with view from above, quote over the top

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  •  “There are many challenges to running, but one of the greatest is the question of where to put one’s house keys.’ - Gabrielle Zevin
  • "Never set limits, go after your dreams, don't be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot - it's good for you." - Paula Radcliffe, a three-time winner of the London Marathon
  • "It's an acquired skill, being able to discuss your love life, children, and friends, all while you're running! But we have mastered it." - Reese Witherspoon
  • "Just stick with it. What seems so hard now will one day be your warm up." - Unknown

Woman running fast across athletics track with Paula Radcliffe quote

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  • “Why feel pressure when you can feel potential?” - Alexi Pappas
  •  “Dreams are free, goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don't come without a price. Time, effort, and sweat. How will you pay for your goals?” - Usain Bolt
  • "You know what you want to do and what you're capable of." - Paula Radcliffe
  • “Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.” - Oprah Winfrey

Woman's legs running down gravel road with quote

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What do you say to motivate a runner? 

  • Looking good! 
  • Go on [insert runner's name here]! 
  • Keep it up! 
  • Stay strong!
  • Only [insert miles here] left to go! 
  • Almost there!

Naturally though, what you can say to a runner to motivate them depends on the person. Some will prefer gentle encouragement while others will want something a little more forceful. So, we've spoken to an athlete and a motivation coach and asked them to offer their tips for keeping up the positive energy on race day, whether you've just learned how to start running or you're clued up on all the benefits of running for women.

Firstly, understand that there will be points where the runner will want to throw in the towel, says ultra runner Georgia Chilton, and the best thing you can do at this point is to remind them that they've "given their all to training and the race is the day to showcase their hard work."

The halfway point is likely to be the most challenging part for this, adds Chilton, who is also the senior nutrition manager at Fresh Fitness Food, so you could try and find your runner about every 5km to give them a cheer and a little motivation. "5km chunks seem far more manageable to get through, rather than thinking about the race as a whole," she says. "Although [the halfway point] is a key milestone, there is still so far to go."

Remind them that "playing it safe and refusing to leave [their] comfort zone may be a recipe for failure, but risk is scary," says Penny Mallory, a mental toughness coach. "Champions learn to open their minds to possibilities, manage risk, and leverage it to their advantage. By stepping outside your comfort zone, there is no loss. You'll succeed or learn from it, and both are big wins." You could deliver this message through one of the quotes about running above written on a sign, a text sent before the race, or words shouted from the side of the road.

If the run doesn't go as well as your runner had hoped it would go, encourage them to see it as a chance to learn something new. "Remember that things won’t always go your way but there is always something to be learned from whatever happens. Taking learning from every experience is so important," adds Mallory. 

Grace Walsh
Health Channel Editor

Grace Walsh is woman&home's Health Channel Editor, working across the areas of fitness, nutrition, sleep, mental health, relationships, and sex. She is also a qualified fitness instructor. In 2024, she will be taking on her second marathon in Rome, cycling from Manchester to London (350km) for charity, and qualifying as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. 

A digital journalist with over six years experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace has covered (almost) everything in the world of health and wellbeing with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. 

With contributions from