Mantra Me that PR

My own personal pacer, Megan, and me postrace.

My own personal pacer, Megan, and me postrace.

I set a 5K PR today and I have my new running mantra to thank.

On Thursday, I set out for my usual 5-mile lunchtime loop run. I had done intervals the day before and wanted to take it easy to prep for my race this weekend, a 5K. So, I started the run around 9:04/mile pace and I was feeling pretty good.

It was an overcast day and it was one of those runs where I was able to just let my mind wander, not worry about the work waiting for me when I got back, and just enjoy the miles. My second mile pace dropped down to 8:37. Huh. I guess I’m feeling pretty good, I thought. I decided to try to just maintain the 8:30ish pace for the remainder of the run and finish feeling good and fresh for my race.

Third mile: 8:34/mile. Ok, not too far off the previous one but getting faster and still feeling good. Fourth mile: 8:24/mile. This mile gave me pause because I thought I was on my way to a pretty solid progression run so at that point I set the intention to finish strong and fast (hoping for a 7:?? for my fifth mile).

This is when I came up with my new run mantra- “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

I wanted the 7:?? For my last mile. I really wanted it. So I channeled my inner Mary Cain, known for her incredible final kick, and kicked it in… “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

When I finally went in for the last 200m of my run and heard the beep of my Garmin for mile 5, I looked down at my watch- 7:45/mile.

I was really proud of myself after this run and it truly taught me the importance of having a mantra that you can fall back on to help you kick it in during that last hard mile.

Saucon to Boston 5K

So today when I went to run the Saucon to Boston 5K, I told myself, if it starts to feel too hard and I’m beginning to feel too uncomfortable I’ll just remind myself of my mantra. Well, I used it today and it worked.

I went to the race with Megan and Kelsey. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this race. It was local, we signed up last-minute, and it was very small but it meant a lot to me to be able to do a run dedicated to Boston and the victims of the bombings. It was a beautiful morning, a little warmer than I would’ve liked, but it just felt great to get outside with friends and the local running community.

We did an easy warmup mile and Megan told me if I wanted to PR she would pace me for the race. Secretly, I really wanted to set a new PR but I hadn’t really done my normal race day prep so I wasn’t sure if my body would cooperate. I was feeling pretty good on our warmup so I told Megan I was all in, let’s set this PR.

My previous 5K PR was set at the Boston Marathon B.A.A. 5K on April 14, the day before the Boston Marathon. My time there was 25:23, a 5K PR by more than 2 minutes. I knew my next PR wouldn’t be that big this time, but I really wanted to break the 25-minute mark.

Race Time

This was a no-frills race- no chip time, about 100 people, no corrals- but I almost like those races better than the bigger ones. We lined up kind of close to the start and when the gun went off, Megan and I set off, dodging running strollers, people running with dogs, and little kids. Despite the obstacles, we were able to get into a break and ran the first mile in 7:56.

I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, my breathing was heavy, and my arms kept creeping up instead of staying in the optimal 90 degree position. But Megan, being the awesome pacer she was, kept reminding me to take a deep breathe and relax my arms. She said we’d run the next mile a little easier since we got a bit too excited at the start.

This was an out-and-back course on a gravel rail trail so when the turnaround point was in sight I could feel my body settle in- this is it. We kept trying to pick people off and Megan continued to remind me to keep my arms relaxed and ease my breathing. It all helped but by mile 3, I was starting to enter the pain zone. I had yet to look at my watch, I didn’t want to know where we were in the race or what my pace was, but at 2.58 miles, an 800 to go, I looked and saw we were on pace to PR. Megan yelled at me for looking but I feel like that’s when I was able to kick it into gear. I didn’t feel great but I reminded myself of my mantra: “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

The finish line was in sight and Megan turned to me and told me to open up my stride and that it was “balls to the wall here on out.” I did as I was told and gunned it to the finish coming in at 24:59, squeaking just under my goal of breaking 25-minutes. I was ecstatic and so proud of myself! Was it fun? No, not really, I felt like crap most of the time. But I did it, thanks to Megan and my mantra.

Thumbs up for PRs!

Thumbs up for PRs!


We walked through the finishing chute grabbed our waters and went to pick up our shirts. Not too long after Kelsey joined us. She set a PR too of 25:50, nearly a 3-minute PR! Her race strategy was the keep us in sight for as long as she could, and it clearly worked.

I never knew the benefit of having a mantra because I never had my own. I tried to use other people’s mantras but I truly believe a mantra is something that can only be manifested on a really tough run. Mantras are so deeply personal in that respect, but I think that’s why they work, right? “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

What is your running mantra and how has it helped you?

24 thoughts on “Mantra Me that PR

  1. Congratulations!! That is a fantastic feeling! One of my favorite running mantras for long runs is “Running is a privilege.” It reminds that even if I’m feeling like crap, I’m running and there are so many people out there that do not have that option. Always keeps me going :)

    • Reminds me of “Finding Nemo” with “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” Definitely a good mantra :)

  2. woohoo congrats on the PR that’s awesome! yep mantras are so personal because words fall differently to every persons ears and brains, so what gets people motivated to kick in another gear might just not “it” for another. pretty cool, actually!

  3. Congrats on the PR! Just thinking — imagine what kind of PR you would have set had you had the PERFECT run! It sounds like you’ll be hitting another PR soon.

    I need a running mantra. During 5k’s I just try to imagine how sucky it is to run fast-ish during a half marathon, so if I can just stick it out hard for 3 miles, it’ll all be over… and that’s a hell of a lot easier than running for two hours! I might borrow your mantra in a couple weeks when I run (hopefully) a PR in my next 5k!

    • Feel free to borrow my mantra! I’ll definitely be using it at my next race. Best of luck chasing down that PR!

  4. Congrats on your PR! Even though I’m only 12 weeks into my running journey, I 100% agree that running is more mental than physical. Encouraging yourself and pushing yourself through the challenges is what will help get any runner through to the end. Because I’m trying to remember that I’m still new to the running world and I often find it difficult to not compare my slower run times to others’ faster times, my current mantra is from Dean Karnazes: “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

    • Welcome to running!! It’s an amazing journey but great to hear you’ve already discovered your mantra! Happy running :)

  5. For 5ks and 10ks I’ve found that if I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up after the first mile or so, I’m not pushing hard enough! I know it’s an odd way to guage if you have more to give or not, but it works and others have told me they think this way also.
    For all races, when ever I get to a tough section, ie hill or running out of gas, I tell my self this is where you will win or loose your PR. What do you want to do? This also works pretty well to keep me pushing.

    • I hear ya! 5Ks and 10Ks can be really tough but if you push through the pain face, the reward is so worth it!

  6. Love the idea of this mantra – am running a 5k this weekend so will try it out ;) I’ve never actually used mantras during work outs/runs (normally I have to use them to get my ass out of bed and out the door!) but I think they are a fab idea. Congrats on your new PB – that is super speedy in my books!

    • Thank you! I had never really used a mantra either but this definitely helped me the last two times I used it. Good luck at your race this weekend!

  7. Pingback: {Monday Motivation} There’s Something Magical About Running | Fit Girl. Happy Girl.

  8. Pingback: Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger | The Souzapalooza Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s