Bill Bowerman Quotes in Prefontaine (1997)


Bill Bowerman Quotes:

  • Bill Bowerman: Nobody can coach desire, Pre.

  • [first lines]

    Bill Bowerman: Pre turned distance running into a blood sport. You wanna know what he meant to folks around here? What was it


    Bill Bowerman: kids said back then? "You just had to be there."

  • Bill Bowerman: 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.

  • Steve Prefontaine: Bill, has it ever occurred to you that there's such a thing as overcoaching?

    Bill Bowerman: Yeah... I'm against it.

  • Bill Bowerman: Know what your problem is, Pre? Vanity!

    Steve Prefontaine: Vanity?

    Bill Bowerman: Yes, vanity, Pre! Your belief that you have no talent is the ultimate vanity. If you have no talent then you have no limits, it's all an act of will. Your heart can probably pump more blood than anyone else's on earth, and that takes talent. The bones in your feet are so strong, it'd take a sledgehammer to break 'em. Be thankful for your limits, Pre, they're about as limitless as they get in this life.

  • Bill Bowerman: George Young is in town.

    Steve Prefontaine: So?

    Bill Bowerman: So, he holds the world record in the two mile.

    Steve Prefontaine: Well we're running the 5,000 at the trials, Bill. What... you don't think I can beat George Young?

    Bill Bowerman: He's got one hell of a finishing kick. Now you're not gonna run away from him... flat out.

    Steve Prefontaine: Ah shit, we're back to front running again?

    Bill Bowerman: Nothing would please George Young more... or the crowd. You'd be giving the crown the performance they want and him the one he expects.

    Steve Prefontaine: Well you could call a race any goddamn you want, but I wouldn't call it a performance.

    Bill Bowerman: What would you call it?

    Steve Prefontaine: A work of art!

    Bill Bowerman: If you can't beat George Young, you can't win in Munich. Beating George Young is gonna take some kind of time.

    Steve Prefontaine: O.K... what kind of time?

    Steve Prefontaine: 13:23? 13:23? That's seven seconds faster than the American record, MY American record!

    Bill Bowerman: Your American record.

    Steve Prefontaine: How do I do that?

    Bill Bowerman: You wear him out. Decending series... negative splits.

    Bill Bowerman: Slowly, you go a little faster than he thinks your going. By the time he figures it out, he won't have enough left to hurt you.

  • Bill Bowerman: For the time being, let's not have you working out with the team. You'll be facing Viren all over again at the Montreal Olympics. I don't want you racing anyone now. I just want you running. You have to explore the limits of the one competitor above everyone else you've always loved to face... Steve Prefontaine.

  • Bill Bowerman: All my life, man and boy, I've operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the race. Naturally, when I became a coach I tried to teach people how to do that. Tried to teach Pre how to do that. 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 can 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... but... Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. '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: Of course he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt how much he wanted to win. But how he won mattered to him more. 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 to the limits of the human heart. That he did... Nobody did it more often. Nobody did it better.

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