Last weekend I had a very rough run on the Alum Creek trail from Westerville to Easton. I put down 17 miles and struggled through the last 5 miles. Not just tired, but my muscles were completely sore and fatigued. At this point, I had convinced myself that I only had 1 more long run before tapering for the Columbus Marathon (I actually had 3 and just can’t count). I was scared, nervous, and most of all, angry.

Feeling a little down with crashing so hard well short of marathon distance, I texted my buddy Stuart. On his way to Cleveland to support another friend Amanda on her 24 hour endurance run — which you can read about her 83.5 mile run here — he relayed a message through his wife Tory to send back to me. I got some words of encouragement and told not to worry about it, but he also mentioned something interesting that I thought a lot about: Get a .

A freakin’ mantra, ehh? Something to mutter to myself to clear my head and keep me moving in the longest part of my run? Ok. Fair enough. I’ve got one of those. A phrase I picked up from my Uncle Mike about 15 years ago: “You gotta fight to win.”

When these words were first mentioned to me, I was going through some rough times and was making poor decisions. My parents had just divorced and I thought I had to grow up and quickly become an adult (not that I knew what that meant). These words didn’t sink in until a few years after they were mentioned to me, but they have been something that I have tried to live my life to.

“You gotta fight to win.”
-Mike Fahrer

Mike had heard those words from an old football coach. It definitely hit home with me. When I hear those words, I am reminded that life is a struggle and you have to muscle through it. Some things and times are easier than others, but getting down about it isn’t going to change it. You have to fight for it.

So, I have adopted these words as my running mantra. I tried it out on my mid-week runs when my body involuntarily wanted to stop. I repeated my mantra in my head and it helped keep me moving. This weekend on my long run, I am guessing I will be muttering these words quite frequently. Hoping to put down 22 miles tomorrow with a 10 mile follow up on Sunday. Because I gotta fight to win.