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Bill Bowerman Quotes

William Jay

Bill Bowerman quotes: unorthodox ideas about training, racing, learning and living.

“We should always strive to be our best and to believe in ourselves, even if we don’t always achieve our immediate goal.  The importance is in the process and our motives.”

“Victory is in having done your best.  If you’ve done your best, you’ve won.”

“Everything you need is already inside.”

“If at the end of a race you know yourself that you have done your best, you’re a winner.”

“There are few things that can compare to being young and healthy and a part of a team that you want to be on, and doing well – as well as you could – and being proud.”

“We should treat ourselves and others with the utmost care, meaning, ‘We believe!’  The alternative is costly to our health, to what we can achieve, and to what the world will miss.  Personal values, sports training and business… believing isn’t relegated to any sector!”

“Don’t give anything away.  Never make it easy for the guys you are trying to beat.”

“The idea that the harder you work, the better you’re going to be is just garbage.  The greatest improvement is made by the man or woman who works most intelligently.”

“Your insistence that you have no talent is the ultimate vanity.  If you have no talent, you have no limits.  It’s all an act of will.”

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”

“A teacher is never too smart to learn from his pupils.  Basic principles never change.  So it’s a matter of fitting your current practices to the event and the individual.  See, what’s good for you might not be worth a darn for the next guy.”

“It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

“If someone says, ‘Hey, I ran 100 miles this week.  How far did you run?’  Ignore him!  What the hell difference does it make?  The magic is in the man, not the 100 miles.”

“You don’t run at the mouth, you run on the track.”

“If you have a body, you are an athlete!”

“I still bother with runners I call hamburgers.  They’re never going to run any record times.  But they can fulfill their own potential.”

“[On exercise] To procrastinators who complain that they cannot afford the 15 or 20 minutes a day, I echo the words of Arthur Lydiard: ‘You cannot afford not to take the time.’  As long as we live we can benefit from exercise; we need exercise.”

“Men of Oregon, I invite you to become students of your events.  Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves.  But if you can find meaning, in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: life.”

“Pre [Steve Prefontaine] thought I was a hard case.  But he finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race.  It’s to test the limits of the human heart.  And that he did.  Nobody did it more often.  Nobody did it better.”

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

“All of my life – man and boy – I’ve operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the damn race.  Actually, when I became a coach I tried to teach people how to do that.  I tried to teach Pre how to do that.  I tried like hell to teach Pre to do that, and Pre taught me… taught me I was wrong.  Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort could win a race, and a magnificent effort can lose one.”

“That’s all training is.  Stress.  Recover.  Improve.  You’d think any damn fool could do it.”

“One of my principles is, ‘Don’t over-coach.'”

“God determines how fast you’re going to run; I can help only with the mechanics.”

“The athlete makes himself, the coach doesn’t make the athlete.”

“Citius.  Altius.  Fortius.  It means Faster.  Higher.  Stronger.  It’s been the motto for the Olympics for the last 2,500 years.  But it doesn’t mean faster, higher and stronger than who you are competing against.  Just Faster.  Higher.  Stronger.”

“As I have said in the past, one of the reasons that I love running so much is that I am learning something all of the time and many of the lessons that I learn are not just applicable to running but to life itself.  And reading the philosophies and theories of the past great running coaches, I get to learn both about running and life.”

Now hear from the other man behind Nike: Phil Knight quotes.

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.