Running after Age 30: Shift Your Mindset from Negative Nancy to Positive Polly


By Curt Davies

Photo at right: Courtesy of Gracey Stinson,

Running long distance is more than just having a physically-able body.
In fact, without having a strong, positive mindset during and before the run, it can be the most strenuous, difficult task you ever set out to achieve. Oftentimes, it can be the people who either stop in the middle of a race, or don’t even attempt the race who have a weak mindset (just to clarify: this isn’t always the case).
I have conducted a list of different ways you can have a positive mindset when training for or running a race; whether it be for a marathon, half marathon or even triathlon. Let’s find out, shall we?
Surround yourself with positive people
When you surround yourself with positive people, you’re likely to have their positivity brush off on to you. It’s inevitable, which is a good thing. Think of all the people who are negative, and try your best to remove them from your life (sometimes, in certain circumstances, that’s not possible).
Find groups who share similar interests with you, and are always happy and outgoing. Even if you’re a little timid and shy, it can help you break out of your shell if you surround yourself with positive, like-minded people. A great way of doing this is to join sports, or even go on Meetup and see if there are any long distance running groups around your area. This is a great way for over 30s to make life-long friends with similar interests to your own.
Remind yourself that you can do it
Every morning and night, months before the race even begins: you need to reassure yourself that you can do it, and you’re not going to fail. A positive mindset is fundamental when running a long distance race. Even if you don’t feel you can do it, saying, “I can do it,” out loud can help you build your confidence, and eventually, you will genuinely believe you can do it.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t think you can initially run the race – most people begin with this mentality, because let’s face it, these races are one heck of a long distance, and can feel unattainable at times, even for the best of runners. It may be a good idea to begin with a 5k race, and then build your way up to a full marathon.
Eat healthily
Having a healthy diet equates to a healthy mindset. Put the junk food away, and start eating healthier, more natural foods. Although it may not seem like eating more healthy foods will impact your mentality at the time, I can assure you that you will feel better after just one or two days of eating less junk.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself to a chocolate bar now and then (or even I’d go crazy) but make sure you keep it as “now and then,” not on a regular basis.
Remember: Having a positive mindset when you’re over 30 can be more challenging than it was when you were younger.
Think of things you appreciate in life
Think of all the people in your life you appreciate. Then think of all the things in life you appreciate. Chances are, you are more fortunate than a lot of people in developing countries.
The fact you’re able to pay to run long distance races, and even read this article on a device should put things into perspective of how good you have it.
I understand it’s probably ill-advised to compare happiness, particularly of those in not-so-fortunate places, but the fact is, it can make us feel good if we know we genuinely have a good life; running just makes it that much better!
Stay focused on what you want to achieve
Whether you want to achieve finishing a race or making a certain time – it’s important that you stay focused on your goals, and not so much on other things (with exceptions of family and friends).
Treat yourself with a good movie or a nice bottle of wine every now and then, but don’t forget about what you want to achieve from your race, and do whatever it takes to ensure you can achieve it. During the months before running the long distance event it is crucial to work hard and be able to physically and mentally run the race.
Set realistic goals
Instead of wishing you could be as good as Joan Benoit or Frank Shorter, start wishing you were as good as you personally can be. There’s nothing worse than setting an unrealistic goal and not even getting close to achieving it. All you’re going to get is an overwhelming sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction to what should have been a really positive experience. You’re over 30 now – things might not come as easily as they used to, unfortunately. It’s best to set a goal you think you can truly achieve, and not something that is beyond your capabilities.
Having a positive mindset is essential for every long distance runner. It can help stay motivated, and overall help you run long distance. By following these points, you are sure to go from Negative Nancy to Positive Polly.
Curt Davies is a marathon enthusiast and is the creator of His website is stacked with information and other goodies regarding marathon running and training for those over the age of 30.

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