1. “What I want is to be number one.” 

2. “What I like most about the track is the feeling I get inside after a good run.”

3. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

4. “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” 

5. “Nobody likes tainted victories.” 

6. “It really gets grim until the competition begins. You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” 

7. “It’s not who’s the best—it’s who can take the most pain.” 

8. “I’m going to work so that it’s a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it.” 

9. “My philosophy is that I’m an artist. I perform an art—not with a paintbrush or a camera. I perform with bodily movement. Instead of exhibiting my art in a museum, or a book, or on canvas, I exhibit my art in front of the multitudes.” 

10. “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” 

11. “Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race. It’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.” 

12. “A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways they’re capable of understanding.” 

13. “I’m the one who has made all the sacrifices. Those are my American records, not the country’s.”

14. “I have a positive mental attitude, and I think I’m divine, but I also think it takes a heck of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.” 

15. “I don’t just go out there and run. I like to give people watching something exciting.”

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16. “If anybody wants to beat me, let them run a world record.”

17. “Running gives me confidence.”

18. “It doesn’t feel that good when you’re ahead the whole way.”

19. “When people go to a track meet, they’re looking for something—a world record, something that hasn’t been done before. You get all this magnetic energy, people focusing on one thing at the same time. I really get excited about it. It makes me want to compete even more. It makes it all worthwhile, all the hours of hard work.”

20. “Success is not how far you’ve got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

21. “You said I was weak. You said I couldn’t do it. Thank you. You gave me everything I needed to prove you wrong.”

22. “You have to give yourself more reasons to keep going than you could ever come up with to stop. In the end, the feeling of satisfaction that you will have will be worth it.”

23. “Why shouldn’t I do what I want to do? I’m an American citizen.”

24. “Kids made fun of me because I was a slow learner, because I was hyperactive, because of a lot of things.”

25. “Every once in a while, I think, ‘What am I doing out here running, busting myself up? Life could be so much easier. The other guys are out having fun, doing other things, why not me?'”

26. “If I lose, forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself. But if it’s a slow pace, and I get beaten by a kicker who leeches off the front, then I’ll always wonder, ‘What if?'”

27. “American athletes, especially distance runners, are at a big disadvantage against the rest of the world. We’re expected to live by all the rules, like not being able to coach, but still train and make our own living.”

28. “I’ll tell you one thing. I love every one of them. I’ve thought about the Olympic Games every day of my life since 1968, but there is a breaking point in each race when you wonder if all the sacrifice is really worth it. You think, ‘Why should I do this? I don’t have to run this hard.’ But that’s when I think about them. They keep me going.”

29. “I’ve been in international competition, and now, I know what the big boys can do. You don’t go out and just run. There’s an offense and a defense.”

30. “No matter how hard you train, somebody will train harder. No matter how hard you run, somebody will run harder. No matter how hard you want it, somebody will want it more. I am somebody.”

31. “Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.”

32. “People say I should be running for a gold medal for the old red, white, and blue, and all that bull, but it’s not gonna be that way.”

33. “This is my last year at Oregon, and it means a lot to me. The people have been great to me up there, so if I have to run three races to win the Pac-8 title, I’ll do it. Oh, sure, I’ll probably be tired, but the people shouting will carry me across the finish line.”

34. “If you can make money with your talents, why not?”

35. “No one will ever win a 5,000-meter by running an easy two miles. Not against me.”

36. “Coos Bay is a sports-minded town. You had to be an athlete to be somebody.”

37. “There are big odds against me. Nobody under 25 has ever won the Olympic Five. But if everything goes right, whoever wins will know he has been in one hell of a race.”

38. “It’s hard to run a mile when you’re not a miler and to kick when you’ve led all the way.”

39. “I decided that if I was going to continue in track, that I didn’t want to lose—that I wasn’t going to lose.”

40. “The best pace is suicide pace, and, ‘Today looks like a good day to die.’”

41. “Something inside of me just said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him,’ and I just took off.”

42. “I know places you better speak low if you’ve been to college. Men will come across the room and cold-deck you if you hold your glass wrong.”

43. “Did you ever run behind a slow pack? You get a trailing wind and a lot of body odor.”

44. “If the Olympics come around, and I’m in shape, then I’ll compete, but I won’t be representing the United States. I’ll be representing myself.”

45. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

46. “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” 

47. “World records at 19. I don’t want that. Later, yes, and when it comes, I’ll learn to live with it, but it won’t be my first love.”

48. “No matter what you do, there is always more to it. You could be running, driving a bus, or answering phone calls, and there can still be a deeper meaning for why it matters. When you dig deep and find that meaning, it adds depth to your life.”

49. “I used to say, ‘Hey, man, what kind of a stupid question is that?’ to a newspaperman asking me heavy things right after a race when I’m still in an emotional state. Now, I at least try to answer.”

50. “What does it prove, running in the AAU meet?”

51. “If I want to go to Europe and get thrashed by the Europeans, that’s my business. Every race I lose, I learn from and get tougher.”

52. “I knew I had to show everybody that I could excel at something, but I didn’t know what.”

53. “I like to be able to go out to dinner once in a while. I like to be able to drive my MG up the McKenzie River on a weekday afternoon. I like to be able to pay my bills on time.”

54. “Having a true faith is the most difficult thing in the world. Many will try to take it from you.”

55. “For me, running against the Poles and Czechs would be like running against high school kids.”

56. “You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.”

57. “I don’t care about being on television.”

58. “When you get to the point in a race or in life where you want to stop, you have to think about that goal that you want to achieve, and it will give you the strength to push a bit harder.”

59. “People often cheat themselves by giving less than their best. Talent will only take you so far, and by not providing a sincere effort, you are not taking advantage of the gift.”

60. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good for the great.”

61. “There’s always someone trying to talk you out of what you believe in. Anybody. Everybody. Your own mother. All I know is that if you do believe in something, you tend to make people very, very nervous. I believe in myself.”

62. “I guess you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”

63. “The AAU doesn’t care about the athletes. Why should I care about them?”

64. “When things get tough, you have to remember why you started putting in work in the first place.”

65. “If he’s having a good day and running the right race, nobody can beat Frank Shorter at 10,000 meters, nobody except me.”

66. “The marathon? Well, a former Oregon runner Ken Moore told me, ‘A runner isn’t a man until he runs it.’ So, I guess I won’t be a man for quite a while.”

67. “I don’t want to win unless I know I’ve done my best, and the only way I know to do that is to run out front, flat out, until I have nothing left. Winning any other way is chicken shit.”

68. “You probably chose x-country because you were too small to play football.”

69. “The best way to live is when you are pushing yourself to the max.”

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