The little engine that could I think I can I think I can

Mantras Exist, Whether You Think You Can or Can’t, You Are Right!

Have a mantra.  Every running book you read will include a sentence, chapter, or even section on the importance of Mantras.  Steve Remy says “Repeating a few words to yourself can serve as a focal point—or as a distraction depending on how you look at it.”  Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott define mantras by calling them affirmations.  “As we define it, affirm means to make firm by using conscious preplanned, positive words and expressions that help to keep you on track.  Whichever mantra you choose there are a few rules to follow when picking your mantra.

  • Keep it positive
  • Keep it short
  • Make it something you believe

The mind is a powerful tool in athletic endeavors.  As cliché as it may be the popular saying “Whether you believe you can or can’t you’re right,” is correct.  For years experts on human physiology and running claimed that it would be impossible for man to break 4 min in a mile.  This held true until 1954 when Rodger Bannister finally broke the 4 min mile.  For such an unbelievable accomplishment one would think the record stood for years if it doesn’t still stand today.  That wasn’t the case at all.  In fact a sub 4 was not only hit, but the record was broken over 16 times between then and 1957.  A sub 4 min mile is now considered a men’s standard in the 1600m.

I think I can

The message to take home from this is: believing in yourself can push you to do things you may not even be physically able to do.  My most successful runners are my optimists.  They are consistently surprising me and themselves with what they do.  Last summer I paced 3 runners to a PR in the Seattle Rock and Roll ½ marathon.  At 2 separate points in the race 2 of the runners told me they needed to slow down and fall back.  I would have still been proud of their efforts, but before I could let them back off I reminded them of the workouts they put in.  I told them all that work was for this day and because they had done the work I knew they could keep pushing.  One of the runners told me after she didn’t think she would be able to hold onto our pace, but the fact that I KNEW she could kept her going.   At that point she forgot the doubts and pushed into the positive.

The little engine that could I think I can I think I can

The main key is to believe.  Pick one positive mantra and roll with it.  Use it while you train.  The more reps you get with an exercise the stronger you get.  The same thing is true with your mind.  If you say it over and over it will become more true to you.  If your head and heart believe it, your body will not let you down.


Some good positive Mantras:

“I Think I can!”

“Run loose run strong”

“Just keep swimming…”


“I love hills”

“Pain is weakness leaving the body”

“Repeat you goal time over and over in your head”


Whatever you choose is up to you but grab your mantra and go out for a run….Then when you want to be done sprint the last ½ mile and repeat your mantra.  Come race day I’m sure you will hit your goal 🙂



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