One Word Mantras

Breakfast first, then some mantra talk!

pancakes with almond butter

This morning I made a batch of honey whole wheat pancakes, but stirred some almond butter into the batter for a little extra flavor.

almond butter pancakes

Topped with syrup and slivered almonds!

One Word Mantras

This morning, during my five mile treadmill run at the gym, I watched as the weatherman detailed the forecast for the coming week. Temperatures in Central Florida are expected to hit 80 degrees (and above) every single day.

My mind immediately skipped ahead to my half marathon next Saturday. What if the weather is still so warm? I started to think about my experience at the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete when the heat really got to me about halfway through the race. I remember feeling incredibly overheated and my mind got into a funk and couldn’t shake it.

women's half marathon st. pete florida

I’ve been lucky with the weather during my long runs for the past few weeks. My eight miler was hot, but during my 9, 10 and 11 mile runs, the temperatures were in the 50s or 60s which was perfect. I started thinking about how my body probably feels used to running longer distances in cooler weather and psyched myself out as I ran today. I let other negative thoughts creep into my mind.

I want to run next Saturday’s half marathon and feel strong. I know heat and thick, humid air drain my energy quickly, but I think one of the biggest hurdles I faced during the Women’s Half Marathon was my mind.

Rule your mind or it will rule you, right?

Once I got it into my mind that I was hot and tired, that’s all I could think about. I focused on feeling defeated and that is obviously no way to invigorate a run.

Last month Theodora wrote a blog post about the power of running mantras. Her therapist encouraged her to explore using a one-word mantra during her runs. Theodora chose “speed.”

I often use music as a way to break through mental funks during long runs. In addition to filling my iPod with upbeat music, I’m going to try Theodora’s tactic and focus on a one-word running mantra during my half marathon if I feel negative thoughts creeping in.

My word? StrengthI feel confident in my ability to finish the half marathon. I’ve followed my training plan. I’ve run four half marathons before and know I can finish, but I want to really enjoy this race and keep my mind in a good place during all 13.1 miles. I know many things influence a runner’s attitude, but hopefully calling upon the word “strength” during my run will help me remember that my body is strong and my mind needs to be strong, too.

Question of the Morning

  • If you were to use a one-word mantra to motivate yourself during a race or other fitness challenge, what word would you choose?


  1. Cathryn says

    Swimming in college required ridiculous amounts of time and energy and lets face it, some days you just don’t have it. It gets hard to swim back and forth looking at the bottom of a pool when you have no music and no one to talk to. I would pick a pump up song and sing the chorus over and over in my head to the point where I would swim to the beat and wouldn’t even feel the fatigue, pain, or boredom. It sounds corny, but the phrase, “You can do it, just keep going,” always made me feel better. Our trainer always told us, “C’mon, you always have energy for one more,” and that stuck with me as well.


      • says

        Oh, wow, thanks! I just figure that if you believe you can do something (unless it’s flying like superman or something) that you can eventually do it. I think the reason that I have not succeeded at my many fitness goals over the years is because I didn’t believe I could be healthy. So, I have to believe that I can be. It’s gotten me through an entire week of Couch to 5 K so far.


  2. says

    I think, at this point, my word would have to be “Finish”. I’m not at a place yet where I can focus on the best time, or even running the entire time through a 5K, so just reminding myself how amazing it would be just to finish it, when 6months ago I couldn’t run 15sec without being out of breath, would be amazing.


  3. says

    Sometimes when I’m running and I want to stop I repeat “sweat now or regret later, sweat now or regret later” because I know that I will regret not pushing myself later on. It really helps!


  4. Cindy says

    I’m actually training for a half right now too. My concern is the opposite. IL winter weather can be very cold – you know! So, I am worried about being able to get outside for my long runs. Can’t change the weather, so I guess I’ll just go with what I’m dealt and make the necessary adjustments.

    My one word “Endurance”


  5. says

    I always think go-go-go! My cross country coach in college used to say it real quick to us when we turned a corner or were creeping up to pass another girl. It helps my feet move a bit faster and makes me pump my arms to put in a little jolt of speed. I love it!


  6. says

    I really like “strength.” I also like “passion” or “FUN!” One of my biggest obstacles on runs is that occasionally, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I psych myself out and forget how much I really love running. When I can truly enjoy a run, I feel 10,000 times better before, during, and after.

    You’re going to kill it at your race next weekend! (I know you said you’re not running this race for speed, but I’d even put money on you PRing :))


    • says

      i’m really not running for time, but i think that the thought of a PR somehow crept its way into the back of my mind. i’m guessing that’s part of the reason why all of the self doubt started creeping into my mind this morning when i saw the weather. i started to really think about a PR and when i thought back to my experience at the women’s half when the weather was hot, i instantly began doubting my abilities. hopefully focusing on STRENGTH will help me feel powerful on race day!


  7. Brittany says

    I love short Mantras! one word is a little too short for me though.. I find myself choosing 3 words to focus on like “lighter, quicker, stronger” or short phrases such as “you are worth it”

    Strength is a GREAT choice — good luck!!!


  8. Kristen says


    I think there are so many things out there that make us (especially as young women!) feel inferior or weak, but when I started running marathons I loved how powerful it made me feel. I feel strong, in control, and accomplished when I’m running.


  9. says

    Mind over matter is SO true when it comes to running. Strength is a great word choice! Feeling strong during a run is the greatest feeling. When I’m really in the mood to stop (even though my body is physically fine to keep running) I always think of Dori in Finding Nemo…just keep running, just keep running…running running running running! It usually helps 🙂


  10. says

    It is so true that my mind dictates how my longer runs went when I was training. I could be having a really tired day physically, but whip out an awesome run because of the way I feel mentally. I often rememebr telling myself when I felt like my legs weren’t able to go anymore “You are strong.” so I resonate with your choice of using the word strength! It’s crazy how much our minds and bodies are connected.


  11. says

    I think I would pick “determination.” I’m running my first half in April, and I’m focused on getting myself across that finish line, even if I want to give up. Strength might be my back-up mantra, haha!


  12. Tiffany Bush says

    I have 3…WHY NOT ME? I see so many different types if people working out at different levels. I know if someone else can push through a tough workout, so can I! Best to you on your run, Julie!


      • Tiffany Bush says

        So happy to hear it!! I posted this as a textgram on Instagram @beautyrunzdeep if you want to check it out! Whoop! I always do zwow workouts and I use this, and yesterday I used the ‘mind over matter’ technique and it really helped. Best wishes on your fitness journey Jennifer B!


  13. says

    Heat can be a total mind F!!! I quit running for 2 months this year because I couldn’t hack it outside. Dress for the weather and take advantage of the water they give you. This isn’t your first rodeo, you are going to do great!


  14. says

    I’m running the Zooma half too and I’m starting to stress about the heat. I run much better in the cold and I have had some awesome training runs, but I give a lot of credit to the amazing weather. However, I’ve ran over 15 half marathons (some of them in crazy hot humid weather), so I know I can do it! It is so mental for me though – once I get into a funk I’m done. My words would be “opportunity” and “overcome” because I’m thankful and blessed to even have the opportunity to run and I know with the right attitude I can truly overcome any obstacle!

    Good luck in your last week of training! Maybe I’ll see you at the Zooma finish line! 🙂


  15. Brittney says

    “Relax” is my word when I’m getting to a point in a half or full marathon where you unconsciously start tensing up, when you’re getting fatigued or uncomfortable. I take that time to shake out my arms and drop my shoulders and try to breathe deeper and more evenly again. It’s such a mind game, it truly is! I might have to repeatedly do that throughout depending on the event and how I’m feeling, but getting to a point where a race is enjoyed for its beauty and your STRENGTH is amazing and inspiring 🙂 You’re doing to do great!


  16. Trina says

    Strength is a great one word mantra!!! You can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who gives you STRENGTH!! I repeated that verse often through my Tough Mudder last year!
    I also like STAMINA!
    Good luck, Julie! We’ll all be cheering for you! 🙂


  17. carol says

    Once about two years ago I was working at A Sears store and when I was learning to operate A lawn mower once my boss, Judy told me to push down on the gas pedal, I was hesitant not familiar with how hard the pedal was to operate and I stepped lightly, smiling
    she said to me,”I know you have strong legs, you need to push harder” Later that year when running A local 5K race I had pushed hard through the entire race and was wanting A strong finish but my legs where very tired, but then in my mind I could hear Judy telling me she knew I was strong and I needed to push harder. I did finish very well and I always think of those words when I need to push through:)


    • Shan says

      This is very similiar to something my aunt, who has run several marathons, told me! I had just started training for my half and she told me “Your legs are strong, you can do it. It’s all in your mind”. I repeat this in my head as well, it really does make a difference!


  18. Lori says

    Running in the heat is brutal! An interesting thing that keeps popping into my mind lately when I’m running is some research I’ve read that suggests that humans survived long ago in by being better able to run in heat than other animals. If you youtube “bbc persistence hunting” it explains how our bodies are built to survive running long distances in intense heat (even though it feels awful at times!). So, nerdy as it may be, I push through heat by reminding myself that I was built for it and my body is good at it.


  19. says

    I’m cheating, but my four-word mantra is “This is a gift.” (Also works nicely with footfalls…one word per footfall, and since it’s even it doesn’t throw off my rhythm). Keeping that in mind–that I’m fortunate that I’m physically capable of running, that I’m financially capable of registering for races and working a job that doesn’t keep me more than 8 hours a day–really helps me during awful, awful runs. I’m a huge believer in the mind’s ability to affect your body, and though I hardly excel at positive thinking, it really does make a difference!


  20. says

    Running in the heat is killer. I experience the same kind of situation here in South Texas. Sometimes if you want to get a run in outside, you have to suck it up and keep going since temperatures are warm 24/7 here. I’m deaf so it’s hard to listen to music as a motivational tool but I loved your post when you used “Legs don’t give up on me now!” as a way to get through a run. I say that now all the time!


  21. says

    My word would be COMMITMENT, followed by PROUD.

    I am having to remind myself of that already as I just signed up for a 10k. I like to run but I have to be honest, I am slow and have never run anything longer(in a race) than a 5K. While 6.2 miles is no big deal for some, it is MAJOR for me so I just have to remember that I committed to doing this race and I will finish, no matter what. And then my next word would be PROUD!! Because that is how I will feel when I am finished:-)


  22. Katy says

    I personally like “commit.” Simple and to the point! I want to commit to be fit, commit to finish a workout, commit to plan meals, etc.



  23. says

    I’m running the Disney half in Orlando and I’m excited about the heat! It’s been in the 30s or below here lately, and I’m SO TIRED of running in the cold! I’m hoping the warm weather will actually give me strength to push through! And I love the idea of a one word mantra. I might try it this weekend for mine. I think I might go with “Determination”, since I’m DETERMINED to finish this race without crawling across the finish line!


  24. says

    Funny this should be your topic. Yesterday, I was at the gym, and was feeling weak at the end of my workout (last exercise was Standing Bicep Cable Curls), and my biceps were SPENT. I was ready to quit, but the word “Finish” just popped into my head, and I realized that I could take it slow and just Finish. While I was going slower, my mood started changing and I got to thinking, “You’re gonna be so excited to FINISH this! Even if you aren’t lifting the weights you want, even if it’s taking less time. Slow and steady wins the race!”

    It was a good day at the gym. 🙂


  25. Katie says

    I always use the word “Strength” for every aspect of life 🙂 I even got it tattooed since it has such an incredible meaning to me!


  26. says

    If choosing one word? GO. 🙂 Just keep at it!

    I also have a running motivational phrase/slogan that I repeat during really tough runs: “Puke, die, or keep going.” <–sounds intense when I type it out haha but it definitely pushes me up the next hill.


  27. Anne says

    There is nothing harder for me than running in the heat. I t you it the nail on the head though when you said you’ve already run 4 halfs. for me , knowing I’ve don’t it before and sure as heck can do it again gives me that extra pep I need!


  28. says

    I do not have a one-word mantra, but I have a favorite quote that I often say to myself during a race: In the first half of the race, don’t be an idiot. In the last half of the race, don’t be a whimp. Hope that brings some inspiration to you! 😉 You can do it!


  29. says

    I actually based my blog on one of my all-time favorite quotes, which I think may be helpful for you!

    “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” -General George S. Patton

    Whenever I’m running and start to feel weak, I just think to myself, “My mind is stronger than my body!” over and over as I realize where my strength actually comes from. Hope this helps!


  30. Veronika says

    I use the phrase “pain is temporary; pride is forever”- you might be sore, tired and worn out for a few hours/ days after the race but you know when you give it your best you’ll look back on that race with pride forver. Good Luck out there in the humidity- You rock! Go get ’em(:


  31. says

    I had a friend post on the electronic message board at IM Wisconsin for me to “be brave!” Now I know that’s technically two words, but they have stuck with me for the past couple years since the race. Now if only I saw it at the beginning of the bike and not half way through the run, I may have had a better race. 😉


  32. Kelli P says


    I can do it because I CAN do it – a lot of people don’t have that choice. Good luck next Saturday! I’ve got my first half the end of March 🙂


  33. says

    Mental strength is so important when it comes to running. During my half-marathon this summer, I felt very prepared for the race (I followed Hal Higdon’s intermediate half-marathon plan), but as soon as it began, something didn’t click for me mentally, and it ended up being a very long and tough run. When workouts get tough, I have three, one-word mantras: “push” for when the first negative thoughts arrive, “fight” for if they refuse to go away, and “love” when I feel like throwing in the towel. I’ve never had to use “love,” but I know reminding myself that I love running (and swimming and biking for triathlons!) will ignite a flame when I feel like giving up.


  34. says

    My word is NO! It is the answer to everything going on in my head. NO, you are not going to quit. NO, you are not going to walk. NO, there is nothing wrong with you. NO, you haven’t used it all up yet. And NO, you are not going to regret your performance later.

    The Kidless Kronicles


  35. says

    My word right now would have to be MOTIVATE! It seems like right now a lot of people around me are excited about changes I made in my life and that they feel there is a chance for them as well. Every time I feel like skipping a training run or stopping in a race I know I want to keep going for those people I might reach!


  36. says

    For a one word mantra, I’d choose the word “warrior,” because I think it encapsulates the attitude of pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can in every way possible. I like to use a phrase or idea to motivate myself. For my first half-marathon, I thought about my best friend who has survived cancer twice. I just kept telling myself that if she could do that, I could run up a hill, I could keep running, etc.


  37. Kyla says

    What got me through training during my first marathon and the marathon itself(Chicago!) was the phrase “I am stronger than I think”. I reminded myself during tough runs that I am stronger than I think, especially when I was battling my mind. I evantually got it tattooed on my foot to signify my relationship with running and myself.


  38. Colleenzo says

    My word would be ‘Grit.’ I once read a magazine article describing grit as the single-minded determination, pulled from deeper within one’s gut than they thought they had reserves, to finish in the face of a struggle. It defines the people who never give up. The article stuck with me, and I remember this in both workouts and in life.


  39. says

    Strength is a good one. It’s hard to pick one word that will bear enough resonance! My aim would always be to finish keeping in mind that many others have done it before me. I’ve never done a half marathon or come close but it is something I’d like to achieve. The mind is more powerful than the body!


  40. Zoe says

    Hi Julie! I’m thinking lots of positive thoughts for you and your half marathon training. I believe in you!! So you should too 🙂

    Out of curiosity, what happened to the Las Vegas Half Marathon? Is that coming up at some point?


  41. says

    Hey you live in Central Florida were it is cold! Several of us here in Southwest Florida are doing the Naples Half Jan. 20. As it promises to be 85* or higher when the sun comes up we are planning on running in lite clothes, shorts, no shirts, and drinking plenty of fluids before during and after the race. So I gues the mantra would DRINK!

    So feet don’t fail me now!


  42. says


    I’ve ran a 5K and a 10K and completed a sprint triathlon in the heat. And each time, I told myself, “I am a Florida girl…I can take it!” I also tell myself “just keep putting one foot in front of the other” and “you’re almost there, Katie!”
    I also like Kate’s DETERMINATION too.

    Good Luck next weekend, Julie! We’ll be rootin for ya!! 🙂


  43. Alexis says

    It’s not exactly one word, but the mantra I use in races always works, and I can say it to the beat of my pace in my head: “Run strong, have fun.” Sometimes I get too focused on finishing faster, but then I remember how much I love the excitement of race days and how good it feels to finish. That mantra reminds me of why I do it in the first place :).


  44. Jessica says

    My word would be “relax” or “breath”. Telling myself to do either of those has helped me to see how far I can go in any uncomfortable situation.


  45. Tessa says

    If it is hot, have you tried using salt packets to help your body retain water better? I know salt packets generally are used in Marathons, but on especially hot days they certainly help with half’s. Good luck to you – and your pancakes looked delicious.


  46. kelsi hedger says

    My word is “CAN”. Because I CAN do this. A lot of times when I am running I start to think about taking a break and walking a bit, but I HATE to do that….especially during a race. So, instead of thinking “I can’t walk, I can’t walk”, I tell myself “I CAN RUN ALL THE WAY, I CAN, I CAN”


  47. Liz says

    My word when running is “ABOVE”…as in, you are above the pain, above wanting to quit. I actually try to picture myself above my body and outside of the difficulty I am currently experiencing. It helped during labor, too.;)


  48. says

    My word would be FINISHSTRONG! When I was younger my mom would always tell me the faster you go the sooner you will finish! Now when I run, and I am close to the finish that is all I can think about.


  49. Claire says

    I was a sprinter in high school track, and I always used the word “FIRE” over and over on the last straightaway. When I was younger, in junior high, it was my dad who taught me the “fire!” trick. On my first ever track meet, in the 100 m dash, I couldn’t remember the word. So I ran saying “HURRICANE!” in my head. Not quite the same effect hahahaha multiple syllables don’t work as well when you’re trying to gun it to the finish line, my dad got a kick out of it though!


  50. Kimberly says

    Julie, for your longer runs outside, do you take water with you? If so, do you use a hydration belt or just hold the water bottle?


  51. says

    Strength is one I use daily! I was a long distance runner all through high school and one of my best friend’s dad would always yell “Get up and go!” and for some reason that really motivated me! But if I had to think about a few other one word mantras I would go with powerful and dedication.


  52. says

    For tough and challenging workouts, my word is TEMPORARY. When my muscles are burning or I’m out of breath, I tell myself that it’s temporary – there will be an end, so I can push through. Good luck at the half marathon and may the weather gods be in your favor. 😉


  53. says

    It’s not one word, but my mantra is “Let yourself go”. The humor of the saying (since ‘letting yourself go’ usually refers to putting on weight) gives me a little extra spark to keep going on, but how I really mean it is “Let yourself GO” (as in, run). I run stronger when I view it as a privilege, or something my body WANTS to do and craves, rather than something negative or punishing.


  54. Chelsea C. says

    My favorite fitness instructor uses the phrase, “Yes, you can!” to help push us through. I’ve started using it in my own workouts and longer runs! Positive self-talk really helps!


  55. says

    I’d have to choose two words- ‘Don’t Die’ hahahha! or ‘keep running’ 😛

    Oh no, don’t psyche yourself out! You can do it. It’s just another test for your to pass.


  56. says

    My mom joined a rowing league over the spring/summer – they had a three word mantra “beauty, grace, strength.” As they rowed they’d repeat it over and over and over. It keeps their beat and the oars in sync. But it is also a beautiful notion. I don’t row but I stole it for running. Beauty, grace, strength – one word for every stride. It has gotten me to the finish line in more than one race 🙂


  57. Jenny says


    My RoadID say “run like you love it” because training can be so hard. I try to always remember that I am out there because I love the feeling of my heartbeat, the sweat on my forehead, my feet pounding the pavement, and the joy of accomplishment. I truly “LOVE” to run!


  58. Carrie says

    I always thought you’d be a great mentor/pace runner for first time runners : ) When I first started running 5 years ago at the age of 29, my mentor/pace runner would always say “let’s rock and roll!” when we started to slow our pace cause we were getting tired. It’s always stuck with me and makes me smile everytime I say it now (in my head, of course!).


  59. Stephanie says


    Knees up. Chin up. Head up. Upbeat. It fits for so many of the low points that I might hit during a run. Chin up when I’m starting to drag. Head up when I’m on a hill. Knees up helps remind me to run with good form and helps my speed. Upbeat tempos for speed.

    And I try not to think about Pixar’s movie because crying while running does not work.



  60. Doll says

    I am about to run my first half marathon for charity this August. I have run several 5ks and one 10k without stopping and I’m using a run/walk method (4 mins, 1 min) for the half. I am still very worried. It has lately felt VERY difficult to run and I’m worried that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I have been seriously training for two months and have another almost three months before the race. I came across your page and have enjoyed it very much. Thank you for your mantras and advice. It’s nice to hear REAL accounts of people who have accomplished what I’m trying to do rather than a lot of technical advice (which is helpful as well, but not when you’re just feeling down).



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