Using Mantras for Success – Repeat as Necessary

There’s such a huge mental aspect to running and training. Have you ever wondered why athletes use mantras in their training – keywords or phrases they speak or think when facing a challenge? Do these kinds of affirmations even work? And how can non-professional athletes begin using positive self-talk, or mantras, in their own training?

Do you use mantras when you're running or working out? Here's why having a mantra can help you achieve results and why athletes use mantras for training.
This article in the Journal of Athletic Training explains how perceptions of personal trainers & physical therapists of how effective positive self-talk is can affect the recovery process for injured athletes. That’s pretty amazing – your own belief on whether it will work can make you or break you! The study found that visualization and positive self-talk could not only reduce stress levels and shorten recovery time from injury, but also increase adherence to training programs. Basically, if you’re telling yourself you can do something and visualizing your own success, you’ll not only have less time sidelined by injury, but you’re also more likely to keep pushing with your training.

If positive thinking and visualization is effective for athletes who are injured – one of the most dispiriting, depressing times for an athlete – then it would make sense that these techniques would also be effective for healthy, uninjured athletes striving for their best.

How to Incorporate Mantras Into Your Training

So, how to go about it? First, you should realize that you’re going to get more out of your workout if you go into it with a positive attitude. Starting your workout with negative thoughts is not going to help. Your brain is what sends signals through your nervous system to your muscles to work…so if you’re thinking, “This is gonna suck”, then guess what? The signals you’re sending to your body are, “This is going to be really hard and it’s going to hurt”. Your muscles are ‘hearing’ your brain’s message loud and clear. Now, what if instead you start your workout by thinking, “I feel strong, I feel fit, I’m going to rock this and I’ll feel so good afterwards”? Now your brain is sending signals to your muscles saying, “I can do this! This is going to be no problem.”

Along with positive self-talk and mantras, visualization can be a powerful tool for exercise and competition. No matter what you’re trying to attempt, visualization can help. Whether it’s to quickly transition through each stage of a triathlon, or to not feel like you have to give up 10 minutes into a 40 minute speed workout, you can visualize yourself succeeding. All you need to do is close your eyes, think about the challenge, and see yourself overcoming it. For more info on visualization, check out an awesome book called The Runner’s Brain (here’s my review and an interview with the author). 

Here are some mantras for success to try out the next time you work out:

“I am strong and fit”
“I’ve got this”
“Don’t try, just do” (with apologies to Yoda)
“I can do anything for one minute” (repeat as necessary!!)
“Dig Deep”
“I am stronger than I know”

Sometimes, just one word or a simple phrase can help, like “Strong”, “Push” or “Yes I can”. Experiment with what works for you. I personally use the “I can do anything for one minute” a lot, and when I’m starting to flag in a race, “Dig deep” works for me. And you can even wear your mantra as jewelry – check out Momentum Jewelry for some fun, beautiful and motivating accessories.

I’ll leave you with a smart quote from an elegant woman – the late, great Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible’.”


  1. amy wagner says:

    I can’t wait to try out my new mantra during tomorrow’s work out!

  2. dabber bell says:

    I’m seventy seven years old. Been using one simple mantra for over fifty years. Made it up myself. You can also make one up for yourself. You can say it outloud or just keep it to yourself. Mantrs work. Mine still works for me. Good tidings to you and yours. DAB

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! My mantras keep me going when I’m racing, for sure. I think one you make up yourself is even more powerful.

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