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Mantras for trail running toughness

Use one of these motivating mantras to help get you through your next workout or race

Darbykai Standrick. Photo: Nathan Karsgaard

Trail and mountain running require mental toughness. On September 8, Darbykai Standrick won and set the female course record at Finlayson Arm 50K in Victoria, B.C., one of the gnarliest 50K races in the country. Standrick relied on mantras to keep her going. “I have a bad habit of wanting to back off when things get tough. So I told myself ‘this is what you came for’ as a reminder that it’s going to suck at some point.”   

RELATED: The power of a mantra

Self talk and smiling have been linked to better performance in training and racing. Training our brains to stay motivated is just as important as training our legs. For the moments when you need that extra push to either get out the door or get to the finish line, try one of these mantras: 

For your next long run

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – Joseph P. Kennedy

“Sure beats sitting around.”

“I love me some me.” – Terrell Owens 

“One foot in front of the other.”

For running in winter weather

“Sometimes you just do things.” – Scott Jurek

“Only the mind is weak, not the body.”

“I’m a boss.”

RELATED: Six mental tricks to keep you on top of your game

For early morning runs

“This is awesome!” – Amelia Boone

“I eat mountains for breakfast.”

“Today, not tomorrow.” – Richard Warrell

“This is hard and I do hard things.”

For your next interval workout

“This is where the magic happens.”

“Be the bee.” 

“Nobody cares, work harder.”

“Embrace the suck.”

“I can do anything for [insert time remaining].” – Kathryn Mengerink 

“This too shall pass.”

“Mind is everything. Muscle – pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind” – Paavo Nurmi


For your next trail tempo

“All I have to do is keep doing this.” – Robyn Reed

“Run the kilometre you’re in.”

“Shut up legs.” – Jens Voigt

“Smile harder.”

For the nerves before your next race

“You are an articulate super unicorn.” – David Roche

“I’ve done harder things.”

“Trust your training.”

“There are many others who are wishing to be in your shoes.”

“Don’t panic.” – Nicole Mericle

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc Course
Photo: Franck Oddoux/UTMB.

For your next big trail race

“How bad do you want it?”

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” – Hilary Spires

“Suffering is optional.”

“You love vert.”

Photo: Tara Berry

For your next ultra

“The first half: Don’t be stupid. The second half: Don’t be a wimp.” – Bethany Patterson

“Mind over mountain.”

“My legs don’t hurt, they feel exactly how they should at [insert kilometre].” – Lisa Kapsner-Swift

“Rest, don’t quit.”

“Get back to Chamonix.” – Tara Berry

For when you want to stop

“I’m not qualified to quit.” – Craig Slagel

“Pick one–the finish line or an excuse.”

“I didn’t come this far to come this far.” – David Kot

“Just keep swimming.” – Dory from Finding Nemo

“This is what you came for.” – Scott Jurek and Rihanna 

5 Peaks trail race

RELATED: Making a mantra that works

No matter what the occasion, don’t forget to keep your mantra fun and smile through the pain.

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