36+ Best Bill Bowerman Quotes: Exclusive Selection

William Jay “Bill” Bowerman was an American teacher of competitive response and co-founder of Nike, Inc. Over his career, he trained 31 Olympic athletes, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4 minute milers. Inspirational Bill Bowerman quotes will positively influence your day and give you the push you need to succeed all week long.

If you’re searching for life quotes and sayings that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of David Goggins quotes, Bill Parcells quotes, and Niki Lauda quotes.

Most Famous Bill Bowerman Quotes

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. – Bill Bowerman

The magic is in the man, not the 100 miles. – Bill Bowerman

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart. – Bill Bowerman

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. – Bill Bowerman

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. – Bill Bowerman

Victory is in having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you’ve won. – Bill Bowerman

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. – Bill Bowerman

Everything you need is already inside. – Bill Bowerman

If you have a body, you are an athlete! – Bill Bowerman

The athlete makes himself, the coach doesn’t make the athlete. – Bill Bowerman

Don’t give anything away. Never make it easy for the guys you are trying to beat. – Bill Bowerman

To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. – Bill Bowerman

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

A teacher is never too smart to learn from his pupils. But while runners differ, basic principles never change. So, it’s a matter of fitting your current practices to fit the event and the individual. See, what’s good for you might not be worth a darn for the next guy. – Bill Bowerman

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. – Bill Bowerman

This killing of Israel athletes is an act of war. And if there’s one place that war doesn’t belong, it’s here. 1200 years. From 776 B.C. to 393 A.D., your fellow Olympians laid down their arms to take part in these games. They understood there was more honor in out running a man than in killing him. I hope the competition will resume, and if it does, you must not think that running or throwing or jumping is frivelous. The games were once your fellow Olympians answer to war – competition, not conquest. Now, they must be your answer. – Bill Bowerman

There is no bad weather, just soft runners. – Bill Bowerman

A race is a work of art. That’s what he said. That’s what he believed. And he was out to make it one every step of the way. – Bill Bowerman

It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. – Bill Bowerman

God determines how fast you’re going to run; I can help only with the mechanics. – Bill Bowerman

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

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. – Bill Bowerman

Of course, he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt about how much he wanted to win. But how he won mattered to him more. – Bill Bowerman

I think people can handle 150 to 200 miles a week. But something has to give somewhere. If he’s a student, how’s he going to study? He may be at the age of chasing and courtship, and that’s an important form of sport and recreation, too. – Bill Bowerman

Several of my critics have said, ‘Bowerman just tacks up a piece of paper in the locker room and turns his runners loose.’ They’re partially right. I do give the athletes a relatively free rein and for good reason. One of my principles is? ‘Don’t overcoach.’ – Bill Bowerman

Now to explore the limits of the one competitor above everyone else you’ve always loved to face: Steve Prefontaine. – Bill Bowerman

Finally… my favorite one of all, which you can see for yourself in the movie Without Limits… – Bill Bowerman

Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort could win a race, and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn’t necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to. God knows I tried. – Bill Bowerman

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. – Bill Bowerman

Personally, I wish that I could have met the man and had the chance to train and run under his guidance… how awesome would it have been to be able to hear all of those inspiring Bill Bowerman quotes and wisdom first hand… – Bill Bowerman

Pre 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.Pre 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. – Bill Bowerman

But Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. – Bill Bowerman

The greatest improvement is made by the man who works most intelligently. – Bill Bowerman