Running 101: How to Fight Your Negative Inner Voice

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

May 24

Running is an amazing experience, but sometimes it’s really tough and throws a few curveballs your way.  How do you tell yourself to stay positive?

It’s time for a new topic in my Running 101 monthly series!  I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!  I’ve previously shared the following Running 101 topics:

This month, let’s talk about how to fight your negative inner voice.  Believe it or not, this happens to even the most experienced runners.  But the good news is that there are strategies to help you maintain your mental toughness!

I’m linking up with Marcia, Patty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the RunSusie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!  

Learn how to fight your negativity as a #runner with these tips! #runchat Share on X

As runners, we can be hard on ourselves sometimes! In this month's Running 101, learn how to fight that inner negative voice! Find more running tips at!

Tips to Fight Your Inner Negative Voice

Have you ever said these things about yourself as a runner?

  • “I’m not fast enough”
  • “I’ll never get that BQ”
  • “I work harder than everyone else…it isn’t fair!”
  • “I’ll never get back to where I was before my injury”

I’ve said so many of these types of things.  I started my running journey in 2011, and since then, I’ve had many moments of self-doubt.  Sometimes it’s fleeting, and sometimes it stays with me for a long time.  But as I continue to grow as a runner from training, running races, and connecting with others, I’m realizing how harmful the negativity can be and how it’s just not worth it to dwell on things you can’t control.  So the good news is that while challenges are part of any running journey, you don’t have to let it hold you back.  Here are my tips on fighting that negative inner voice!  Trust me when I say it’s a work in progress!

You may also like:  Running 101: How to Be Motivated to Run and Train in the Winter

Acknowledge That You’re Being Negative

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you’re doing it again”?  When it comes to running, I’ve had to be called out by friends on many occasions about being too negative.  Ask Bret, and he’ll have many examples to share!  Just last week, we went for a run during a delightful heat wave (read: sarcasm) where it was still over 80 degrees after 7 pm.   I really wanted to go on a particular shaded trail but he ended up taking us on a different path.  I was really annoyed about the whole thing and I almost let my negative inner voice ruin the experience.  Fortunately, I was able to give myself a mental pep talk, embrace the run, and we ended up on the path I wanted to go on anyway.  It all worked out, though it was a really draining run in the heat!

When it comes to running challenges, you have to be able to check yourself and realize when you’re being way too hard on yourself.  Are your concerns legitimate, or are you just complaining?  There is a difference!  Is it me, or does it seem that a lot of runners are perfectionists?  The problem with that is that sometimes our expectations are too high or completely unreasonable, and you end up setting yourself up for disappointment!

When it comes to negativity, if you realize you’re “doing it again”, acknowledge it, assess it, and move forward!

Focus On Your Own Journey

rock n roll philly 2011

RNR Philly – my first half marathon in 2011

This is one of my biggest tips for runners, especially if you’re a beginner.  The biggest trap that you can fall into is comparing yourself to other people.  Honestly, I struggle with this more often than I care to admit.  And when you’re a blogger, it’s even harder not to compare yourself to others.  But even though it’s difficult, it isn’t impossible to fight this kind of negativity with the right focus and perspective.

I’ve been running for over 6 years, but does that mean I should be a faster runner or a “better” runner than someone who started running 2 years ago?  No.  And really, what difference does it make either way?  I had to “check myself” recently while reading another runner’s blog in the Philly running community.  She talked about how she is relatively new to running and gave an update on how her races have progressed over the past several months.  You can bet that my green-eyed monster came out to play.  She was knocking out PR’s left and right, running easily in the 8-minute range even for longer distances.  If only!  Then at the end of the post, she mentioned consistently running over 130 miles a month.  Oh.  Do see now why comparing yourself to other runners is silly?

Running is very individual, especially at the non-elite level.  You don’t know other people’s running backgrounds, physical strengths, genetic dispositions, or their struggles.  And really, it doesn’t matter.  Running is about YOU – it’s something for you to enjoy as a meditation, a workout, or just another challenge.  Running is about your personal growth, and what other people do has no bearing on your success.

If you want to be a miserable runner, obsess over what everyone else is doing.  If not – focus on your own goals and achievements.  Remember how far you’ve come!

Talk to Those Who “Get It”

City Fit Girls, there are a lot of us!

When it comes to having negative feelings about running, you’re not alone.  But I bet if you tried to talk to a non-runner about it, they just wouldn’t get it.  Running is like that sometimes – you need your own people who “get you”.

That’s why it’s great to be part of a running community.  You can seek/provide support for/to like-minded individuals who know what it’s like to get injured, to plateau or slow down over time, to have those moments of feeling “less-than”.  I’ve shared some tips on how to find a running support system, but when it comes to the negative stuff, it’s really important to find people that have been in your running shoes.

Run215 was a huge Facebook running group for Philly runners that was great for these types of situations, but unfortunately, it was recently closed down in favor of its Facebook page and other social media channels.  But there are still so many other resources out there.  Google is your friend!

And I am a huge fan of checking out running groups in your community.  My goal this summer is to get back on the running club circuit and connect with more of “my people”!  The benefits of running groups are countless!

If you ever need to vent about running, find runners that you can connect to either in person or online!  You can shoot me a message anytime!  

Remember the Big Picture

Running is a gift!  It’s a blessing to be able to do what we do, at any pace!  We all have those bad days, and even those bad months and years, and if you’re not exactly where you want to be, IT IS OKAY.

Having negative feelings is completely natural, but dwelling on the negativity can be toxic and hold you back.  Continue to work hard with your running, learn how to trust yourself and build your self-confidence.  Be patient with your progress – it takes time!  And don’t give up when things get tough.  Running will teach you many life lessons…and it’s worth it, even with the ups and downs!

Have you ever struggled to stay positive when it comes to your running/racing?  What did you do to get through it?

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