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Catch A Phrase and Hang On!

Mantras are invisible stimulants or peaceful reminders.

Mantra Ironman 70.3 run: "Move arms, legs will follow."

I chose the we move category for this post because when I first discovered the power of mantras, my legs were crumbling beneath my body while trying to finish my first Half Ironman.

These powerful little phrases have impact. Impact on attitude, focus, strength, and performance. How can just a few choice words create such a buzz?

Mantras are words of authority over us when our resources have been depleted. Powerful phrases that are willing to get in the ring with our toughest critic, ourself, and fight until there’s blood and gore. Mantras dominate with force and will drag us wherever we said we wanted to go.

The difference between mantras and prayers is you’ll shout them out to any God who will listen. Especially if it’s late in the game or at the end of your rope.

Do a few choice words carry that much power? Can mere words be vehicles that transport us to a better place? If the best of the best believe they work, maybe the rest of us should give them a try.


Mantras help elite athletes reach their peak performance. Here are a few of my favorites:

“This is what you came for.” Scott Jurek, Ultramarathon Champion

“Define yourself.” Deena Kastor, World class marathoner

“Pain is weakness leaving my body.” adapted from Dean Karnazes, Utramarathon Man

“Be water.” Bruce Lee, Martial artist

“Age is just a number.” Dara Torres, Olympic champion swimmer


Mantra Ironman swim: "Hit hard. Survival of the fittest."

A mantra is effective because embedded within it is a command. Repeated in your mind, this phrase is capable of transforming you on the spot. Like popping a pill of inspiration, focus, or stimulation. Some mantras calm frazzled nerves while others kick you in the ass. It’s important to have several in your brain library.

Mantras are not just for sport. Use them at work, with relationships, and with your kids. Even have some ready for waiting in line at the DMV!

Consider these ideas when generating your own mantras:

Create them before you need them. 

Pull from strengths you know you have within. Think of qualities you most admire.

Keep them brief.

Avoid tongue twisters because you’ll likely be repeating them over and over.

Make sure they drive behavior.

“Be fierce and strong” is better than “Hang in there.”

Have a mixed bag ready. Think of areas where you’re most likely to need a boost of confidence.

Here are a few of mine:

Strength–  “Champions win in the second half.”

Power– “Make the training worth it.”

Perseverance– “One step forward.”

Patience– “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Gratitude– “Wag more. Bark less.”

Speed– “Hot potato feet.”

Calm– “Let it go.”

Courage– “Courage follows fear.”

I’m a lover of mantras, quotes, and all words that inspire. That is why you see quotes beneath my butterfly on every post.

Words can zap, sting, and pinch. They can also revive, restore, and invigorate. Words are instruments of expression with powerful melodies. They toy with our physiology much the same way a song can release adrenaline.

When I hear the song, Shout, by Otis Day and The Knights, I absolutely have to stand up and throw my arms in the air.

When my brain hears the words, “Make It Happen!” I have to, well, make it happen. My mind and body fight back much of the time but when I lose, I always win.

"Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done."

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  1. Angela Wang #

    I just want to say that not only could I not possibly keep up with you physically, (though I can hear you saying that’s not the point), but the laundry and dirty dishes are piling up around me as I attempt to keep up with all your posts. I can’t wait for Father’s Day since I plan to have fun retweeting my favorite Sid Sense(es). Haven’t thought in these terms for awhile, but, have you considered cloning that guy?

    June 4, 2012
    • fitskitz

      Ha ha:)! Yes, I would like to clone Mr. Sidney for sure! The best I can do is try my best to carry the torch and spread the flames! As far as laundry and dirty dishes– unfortunately they will still be there whenever we don’t have anything better to do! (and when is that?). Thanks for your comment and reminding me about Father’s Day around the corner!

      June 4, 2012
  2. Michael Carter #

    Thanks for sharing this mantra post. It helps to have a fall back to basic strategem in training and especilly competition for me.

    June 4, 2012
    • fitskitz

      The older we get, the more “fallbacks” we need! Thanks for your comment:)

      June 4, 2012
  3. Love this post too. My fallback, more as it relates to dealing with others, is the Serenity Prayer. I have had to use that MANY times in the past couple of months and it helps me realize what I can control is the ONLY thing I can control. As far as your other mantras, it appears that I might have to “ramp” up my workouts in order to “need” them! 🙂

    June 4, 2012
    • fitskitz

      Or shorten it to “Can’t control–let it go!”

      June 4, 2012
  4. Andrew Ortbals #

    Great Post! Mantras do help in times of pain and suffering. They can give you that little extra push to finish what you started. This one I have taken to heart especially during those last few miles of a marathon when the only thing that matters is keeping your legs moving. “Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.~Ken Chlouber, Colorado miner and creator of the Leadville Trail 100 mile race”
    ― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

    June 4, 2012
    • Brianna Ortbals #

      Love that one dad!! Wish I’d known that one in the past!!

      June 5, 2012
  5. Mike #

    Internal, personal mantras are what keep me going and I have many that I have developed through the years. You are so right on with what you shared. I am also glad that you have found this outlet for all the many things you wish to put out there. I also feel like sharing so much of my own philosophy of life and often use my tennis lessons as a vehicle to share much more than just tennis technique. Life lessons and sports lessons have so much in common, I have found. I am a “gem seeker” and have already found many “gems” in what you have shared, so thanks.

    June 4, 2012
    • fitskitz

      YES SIR! The connection between physical (sport) and mental is HUGE! If I were a practicing therapist today, I’d get people moving first, which opens the door to their minds:). After all, problems are here to stay. We just have to be better problem solvers, eh?! Let’s get our brain chemicals working for us on a regular basis.

      June 5, 2012
  6. Brianna Ortbals #

    My favorite of yours that I didn’t know is “Wag more, Bark less.” Love it!

    June 5, 2012
  7. DonnaK #

    You mentioned in your Acknowledgements something about sharing insights as a part of fit mind and body. Looks like the above readers are following your advice by posting their mantras and why they believe in their secret words.


    Because music was a self-taught achievement for both my parents and me, it remained a main entertainment in the 1950s before we had a television (the radio reception was pretty bad in the Colorado’s flatlands too). Anyway, I learned that within music theory, one recognizes several notes as a chord rather than one note at a time which makes learning easier. Then if accompanied with scales and individual adaptation, one can produce a harmonious melody. And therein lays my secret to marching to my own drum beat and stumping upon my own soap box. Oh sure, I probably stepped on a few people’s opinions but, as I see it now, it was my moment of WIIFM as explained in Sid’s Sense dated June 5th. My life’s musical rhythm has its ups and downs but, thankfully, my beat goes on!

    Thanks – this is a fun post.

    June 6, 2012
    • fitskitz

      I LOVE that mantra!! Just put it in my library:)

      June 7, 2012

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