Over 30’s running: Negative Nancy to Positive Polly

28 November 2014

Words: Curt Davies | Photos: Shutterstock

Running long distance is more than just having a physically-able body. In fact, not having a strong, positive mindset before and during the run can make it the most strenuous, difficult task you ever set out to achieve.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Saying, "I can do it" out loud can help you build your confidence and eventually you will believe you can do it.

Follow a healthy diet.

Often, a negative or weak mindset can lead to runners either not even attempting a race or stopping midway in a race (just to clarify: this isn’t always the case). As a result, I have compiled a list of different ways to help you create a positive mindset when running a race; be it a marathon, half marathon, triathlon or just training for a race.

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). Instead, find groups who share similar interests and are happy and outgoing.

If you’re a little timid and shy, surrounding yourself with positive, like-minded people could also help you to break out of your shell. You can do this by joining a sports club or go onto Meetup and see if there are any long-distance running groups around your area. This is also a great way for over 30s to meet and make new, life-long friends.

Remind yourself that you can do it

Months before the race even begins, you need to reassure yourself every morning and night that 'you can do it and you’re not going to fail'.

A positive mindset is fundamental to running a long-distance race.

Even if you don’t feel like 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 because most people begin with this mentality. Let’s face it, these races are one heck of a long distance and therefore can feel unattainable at times - even for the best of runners. It may be a good idea to begin with a 5 km race and then build your way up to a full marathon.

Eat healthily

Having a positive mindset when you’re over 30 can be more challenging than it was when you were younger, so we need all the help we can get. One sure-fire way is to follow a healthy diet, which 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 every now and then (or even I’d go crazy), just make sure you keep it to 'now and then'.

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. For many of us, we are more fortunate than a lot of people in developing (third world) countries. To put into perspective how good most of us have it, think about the fact that you’re even able to afford to participate in a long distance race, as well as read this article on a device. Appreciate the good life we have; running just makes it that much better!

By following these points, you are guaranteed to go from Negative Nancy to Positive Polly.

Stay focused on what you want to achieve

Whether you want to finish a race or make a certain time, it’s important that you stay focused on your goals, and not so much on other things (with the exception of family and friends, of course). Treat yourself to a good movie or nice bottle of wine on the odd occasion, but don’t forget about what you want to achieve from your race and be prepared to put in the hard work to achieve it.

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 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, so things don’t 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.


As mentioned earlier, having a positive mindset is essential for every long-distance runner. It can help you stay motivated and keep you going when you feel you can't face another training session or take another step. The rewards that come with crossing the finishing line are what make it all worthwhile; and having a positive outlook just makes the whole experience that much more memorable and special.

By following these points, you are guaranteed to go from Negative Nancy to Positive Polly.

More information
Curt Davies is a marathon enthusiast and has his own website that is stacked with information and other goodies regarding marathon running and training for those over 30. To find out more about Curt and all things marathon related, visit www.marathondriven.com

Also in this issue

Don't miss these and other fantastic movies and games that are coming out...

The Coca-Cola Dome was abuzz with excitement as the crowd eagerly awaited...

Bound by an intricate system of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscle,...

When it comes to remaining focused and dedicated to your training during the...

Running long distance is more than just having a physically-able body. In...

From early childhood, I have been categorised as ‘sports mad’. My most...

Here are some great events to look out for this December.

Whether you're tenting at the top of Thukela Falls in the 'berg in winter or...

The IRONMAN South Africa event is staged in Port Elizabeth in April each...

Welcome to the 28 November 2014 issue of DO IT NOW Magazine.