Friday, October 9, 2015


When the going gets tough, the tough say things. I talk and sing to myself a lot on the trail. I sing when I'm in a good place (and also when I'm spooked), and talk to myself when I'm in a low place. There are a couple of mantras that I use, some original and others lifted from various people and books depending on where I am mentally and physically. Feel free to use them or create your own to help you through a tough race or training run.

Because sometimes you feel like this. (I took this picture right after I 
finished 31.5 miles at the Montour12 Hour Race in Danville, PA. 
I think I was still repeating mantras even after I was done.
If you do have any original mantras, please share in the comments. Let's spread the joy, and pain...

This one comes from one of the books my son loved for me to read to him when he was a bit younger. It's from the somewhat disturbing fairy tale, Tikki Tikki Tembo. In it, an old man helps a boy save his brother from drowning in a well. They have a long journey ahead of them and the wise old man says "Step over step, step over step" to help the boy to keep moving forward.

This is actually the title of a staple of ultra running by Bryon Powell, Although I love the book, its infinite wisdom, and awesome training plans, the title is all you really need. Repeating this phrase over and over, in my mind and out loud has helped me through many a low point in a race or long training run. Sometimes the phrase runs through my head while I'm at work, and I LOVE my job.

Because really, that's all they are. Miles. I don't know how or why I started saying this to myself, but it is so completely comforting and reassuring. Repeating this phrase is akin to having a conversation with my mom after a stressful day. It puts things into perspective.

Because in most cases, it is. This is Whether or not the mind is willing is another thing.

This is me being a teacher and coach to myself. Do the work. Get it done. Because there really is no other option. There have been times when I have not finished doing all the work for various reasons: I knew that my race was over, the race director said that my race was over, or that if I pressed on there would be long-lasting physical consequences, like not being able to drive myself home or function the next day. Otherwise, I get it done.

And my newest, most FAVORITE one:

Penultimate day of difficult,  all-uphill backpacking in
Brevard, North Carolina. 
This one came to me as I was having a moment during the Georgia Jewel 35 Miler. I was wet, tired, extremely hungry and DONE.But then when the moment came that I questioned why I was doing this to myself, voluntarily, I stopped and gained some perspective. There are  people who don't get to spend inordinate amounts of time moving their bodies in the way they want or need to. There are people who are so disenchanted with their lives that they are stuck physically and emotionally. At this point in my life, I am grateful to not be experiencing any of those things. I am grateful to be living the dream.


  1. I love your posts and I completely agree with your last reason. It's so humbling to reflect on all those who would give anything to be able to run right now. My college cross-country coach is fighting her third round of breast cancer so when I run I like to think that I am running some miles for her, too.

  2. I have two I use a lot at the moment. "Running is fun" just popped into my head one day when I was having an "I really want to stop" moment and always reminds me that I choose to be out there and that running really is fun! The second I got from the Marathon Training Academy podcast and it's "I eat hills like candy". There are a lot of hills where I live and this never fails to help me get over them!

    I like "they're just miles" except I'm Australian so I'll need to switch it to "they're just k's"!

    You have a great blog here Mirna and I'm glad to have found it. Keep doing what you're doing!

  3. I really need this today. I am running in my first 10k tomorrow and I will be using these mantras during my run. :)

  4. Mine has always been Just Keep Running, not very catchy but it works for me.

  5. Mirna, thanks so much for your positivity and your blogs just keep me going. I'm training for a half in December, but wanted to ask--how do you train for your ultras? Thanks again!

  6. Scott can I can.

    This is when I realize that maybe I'm NOT Scott Jurek, but that I CAN be.

    Just get home

    I run alone, or with my dogs, out in the country. If I go the miles out, I have to go the miles to get home.

    I also write Facebook status updates in my head, which I too often don't write in actuality.

  7. I love a good running mantra! Two that I call on quite frequently are "mind over miles" and "forward momentum" - strange how something so simple can make such a difference on a long run.

  8. Kudos, Mirna!! You are living a true and real dream. I'm running my first half in January, and I needed this today.

  9. I recently read an article about the artist Donald Robertson, who seems to embrace whimsy and fun. I particularly liked his quote "Be pure. Don't try to please people. And don't bury the crazy". So I have borrowed the last part, simply "don't bury the crazy" as a running mantra, to get through the tough spots.
    Many of you fellow runners have probably heard the affectionate criticism from family members and friends who exclaim "you are CRAZY!" for your desire to run, whether it's 5k or 50 miles.
    Thankyou Mirna, for inspiring us with your fun, joyful, and informative stories! Everyone should remember to embrace a childlike wonder of the beautiful world around them (esp. on l-o-n-g runs) and "don't bury the crazy!".

  10. I didn't see the television spot, but I caught the Clayton Tribune story. I just started a blog about a month ago and I am as impressed with the look and feel of your blog posts as I am with your journey. Though I am not an athelete, you have inspired me. I am going to keep posting about what I love doing. Thanks!

  11. I think of RFP, too! Lately, my running phrase has been, 'You're DOING it, Beth.' I find myself getting negative and telling myself that I can't do this, I can't run this far or this section or whatever, and so I have to remind myself, you ARE DOING it!! And then I feel better! Thanks for all your inspiration!

  12. Hi Mirna, you have given me the kick in the pants i needed. Thank you!! "Living the dream."

  13. "Inhale confidence - Exhale doubt" Love all your mantra's, you are keeping it real.

  14. "Nose over toes" is one I use to lean forward and keep going especially up hills. Love your blog!

  15. Mirna- thank you so much for sharing these! I only recently realized that some out loud self-talk can help. I need to use it more though, so thanks for all the great ideas and for being such an inspiration! I agree, even on my worst race day, I'm always great fun to be able to do this wonderful sport enjoying moving my body and the great outdoors! Cheers. Amy

  16. Love these! As a fat girl hiking, there's always a point where thoughts of "I can't do this" and "why do I do this to myself" attempt to take over. My mantra is "there's no pain / there's no cold / just the mountain / and me /putting one foot in front of the other". By the time I'm done mentally reciting it I've taken twelve more steps and I'm twelve steps closer to the top.