Just a kid from the small logging town of Coos Bay, Oregon, track legend Steve Prefontaine was kind of an unlikely hero. But the lanky college student became a national icon during the 1970s and has remained an inspiration for runners ever since–and not just for setting and holding records. Today is National Running Day, and we’re celebrating it with the words of the “Pre.”
Just 24 when he died, Prefontaine was an unstoppable force who helped define Nike as a brand and the University of Oregon as the track mecca it’s become. And while Pre’s unwavering dedication to competition and pushing the boundaries of human capability were admirable, it’s his powerful words that ring in the ears of those of us who find solace in a pair of waffle-soled shoes. At his memorial rock in Eugene, where a car crash ended his life, there are frequently race numbers, spent shoes, or flowers left by runners who want to pay homage to his inspiring memory.
Here are six of my favorite Prefontaine quotes. Takes these with you when you hit the track, the trail, or the treadmill today and know that even if you’re running alone, you’re in good company.