How I Overcame A Huge Limiting Belief By Running

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Over the last four years, I have overcome a number of limiting beliefs about myself.

I didn't believe I had what it takes to go back to school to get my coaching certification. But I did it and became a coach.

I didn't think people would take me seriously as a coach and I'd never get any clients. But my coaching work is the centerpiece of a thriving business.

I didn't think I could ever learn the computer skills necessary to build a blog. But I did and now have two highly successful sites.

I didn't believe my writing was good enough to merit much attention. But I have thousands of lovely followers who express gratitude for what I write and share with them every day.

Like most people, I had dozens of limiting beliefs about myself and my abilities that had held me back from my potential for years. So what changed for me? What allowed me to push past my limiting beliefs and accomplish what I've accomplished in the last four years?

What happened was this: the pain of the status quo became bigger than my negative thoughts.

At the age of 50, with the realization I likely had more years behind me than ahead, I could no longer tolerate my own limitations. The knowledge that I wasn't expressing my potential and the deep longing for more descended on me like an ever-present dark cloud. I had to do something.

I started seeking my life passion, and my efforts ultimately led me to coaching. With my heart pounding and loads of doubt, I signed up for coaching school.

woman running with her headphones on limiting beliefs

But once I busted through the initial fears of going back to school, starting a new business, and becoming relatively proficient as a blogger, I felt like Superwoman. I felt like I could do just about anything I set my mind to. Seeing my own potential in action was exhilarating.

  • I overcame my belief that my learning skills had atrophied since I graduated college.
  • I overcame my belief that I wasn't a good enough writer.
  • I overcame my belief that as a “right-brained” thinker, I didn't really need to learn computer skills and that it would be too difficult for me.
  • I overcame my belief that it was impossible to build a successful online business.
  • I overcame my belief that it was too challenging to write a book.
  • I overcame my belief that I had already “peaked” as professional and as a person.

But there was one limiting belief that was stubborn, one that continued to plague me in spite of my knowledge it was still holding me back in many ways. It was a belief that had been simmering for years, but it came to full boil when I turned 50.


With all of the other limiting beliefs I overcame, the age factor played a role in stoking my fears and doubts. I am too old to go back to school, to learn something new, to start a business, to write a book, etc. For a long time, I didn't reveal my age on my blog or with my online peers because I thought I was too old to be accepted in such a youth-dominated field.

But with every success, with every accomplishment, I was learning that age didn't hold me back, it wasn't a factor to prevent me from doing what I wanted to do.

Believe me, I don't feel the way I once perceived a 54-year-old woman should feel. On the inside, I could be in my 30's. It feels exactly the same. My experiences in life are different, but my essential self is just the same.

Related: How To Change Your Life When You Feel Stuck

However, all of the messages from the media and our youth-obsessed culture, remind me daily that yep, I'm an old fart. And of course,  the image looking back at me in the mirror also reminds me that I'm not in my 30's any longer.

So the “I'm too old” limiting belief remained a nagging annoyance — until recently.

How running busted my limiting beliefs

I have always been a health-conscious person. But when it came to exercise, if it started to hurt or get too uncomfortable, I could use the excuse that I was young and slender so I didn't really “need” to work at it too hard. So I'd eventually quit my exercise program.

I also told myself for years that I was not a runner. I didn't like running. Running hurt. I tried it off and on since my teens. Every time I'd try, I'd push myself to run really hard for the first couple of days. Then I'd be sore and tired and give up.

In the last few years, I took up biking and rebounding to get some exercise. I enjoyed both. But something about running was taunting me, challenging me to prove myself wrong.

Recently I started noticing more people my age or older running by the river near my house. I developed some new friendships with people who are runners and who took up running in their late 40's or 50's. I started to ask questions about running, how to begin a running program without injury or too much pain.

man running limiting beliefs

I learned that the pain you experience as a new runner eventually dissipates if you practice running correctly, have the proper shoes, and begin slowly.

So I made the decision to try again.

Of course, in my first week, I reverted to old patterns. I pushed myself too hard, ran up and down some hills, and injured my knees.

But this time, I didn't use my injury as an excuse to stop altogether. Once my knees healed, I started again. I ran for 2 minutes and walked for 5. I did this for 30 minutes a day for the first week to establish the habit of running.

Related: Self-Awareness: 30 Essential Actions For Living Authentically

I slowly increased my running time and decreased my walking time. I slowly increased my distance. I took a day off between long runs. I reminded myself that the pain of the first mile would dissipate. It did.

The other day I reached a milestone. I ran 5 miles without stopping. I know I can run 6 if I choose. Or 7. I am a runner, and I'm not too old.

I recently attended a group run with a running club. The director of the club is in his 70's. He could out-run just about anyone in the group. He busted through his limiting beliefs about age before they ever appeared.

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I have learned I can accomplish just about anything I want to accomplish. I have learned to ignore the voices in my head. I have learned it's never too late, you are never too old. If you want something, just do it.

What about you — what are your limiting beliefs that have been holding your back from your potential? Or if you've overcome a limiting belief, how have you done it? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 32 comments
  • Dianne

    Yes!! I just did my first 5k at age 67. I walked instead of running, but I had spent the last few years believing I was “too old” to try. My knees too arthritic. What a sad realization that my thoughts, not my body, has kept me from trying and then doing it.

      Barrie Davenport

      Wow Dianne! That is fantastic!! Yes, it is our thoughts that get in the way of our accomplishments. So what do you have planned for 70?? 🙂

  • Molly Larkin

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Well, this just goes to show how irrelevant age is because I always thought of you as young because that is your essence. it’s the quality of life lived, not the years. Very inspiring that you successfully took up running after some false starts. As they say in the I Ching, “perserverence furthers.” Thank you for leading the way!

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Molly,
      Thank YOU for your lovely comment about my youthful essence. I feel young and wish I could erase the number from my mind. Perseverance does further — and there are also times of life when something just feels more important and achievable. Knowing that I’ve been able to accomplish so many things has given me the confidence to try things I thought I couldn’t do previously.

  • rachel

    Hi Barrie

    Thanks for this article because it is a good reminder in this age of age bashing what nonsense it is.

    Well done for the running. I am struggling a bit with it at times as I started from a low bar of fitness but intend to keep going and progressing. I keep going back to it each time I have to have a break. I love walking so that helps.

    And of course a lot of your writing is better informed because you really know what you are talking about.

    All the best


      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Rachel,
      Keep at it with your running. I started from a low bar of fitness as well. Just keep adding small bits of time to your running every day. You’ll be surprised how quickly your body adapts. And be sure you have the right running shoes! That’s really important.

  • Simon

    Hi Barrie

    I recently resigned from a cushy government position that paid me around R1m per year (a princely sum in South Africa !). The sad part of it was that I was no longer as committed as I had been in the past for a number of reasons. I was becoming like many civil servants who had started “waiting” for a salary, monthly. It was killing me.

    I am now pursuing my trucking business and I have had to learn lots of new things. I am of course scared out of my wits and I think that many people would not understand my decision. I have always been a resourceful and committed person and I want to bring that to my business as well.

    One of the big changes I have had to come to terms with was that I have to scale down my lifestyle and become a lot more focused on living a life driven by a budget ! Thats hard for me and my family.

    But the converse of staying in a job and dying slowly was becoming too much.

    My business is about a year old and of course there are many challenges. I would rather deal with those challenges and start living life rather than being a spectator in it.

    Limiting beliefs was a major part of the journey so far : I am not a salesperson-type, I was not a frugal person living within my means, I saw money as a status symbol and not for using it to live a fuller life. I have had to conquer these thoughts but I see light at the end of the tunnel !

    Thank you for your writing and please continue to inspire us with your experiences and insights.

    Simon South Africa

      Barrie Davenport

      I bow before you! You made a huge, bold, courageous decision. Not many people have the guts to walk away from a high-paying but soul-sucking job and do what they really want to do. Bravo for you! A standing ovation!! Keep taking the actions you need to take to make your business successful. Relish the awareness that it is YOURS and yours alone. You have what it takes to make it. Living a scaled down lifestyle is really one of the best things you and your family can do. It gives you more time with family and less focus on stuff and money. When those limiting beliefs sneak up on you, just take some forward moving action on your business and keep your mind occupied with that. It’s the best cure for anxiety I know of!!

  • Sheila Ryan Hara

    Thank you, Barrie, for a spot-on post that is both inspirational and funny! It is so true that we all tend to limit ourselves by conforming to the images and stereotypes that society and media dish out to us. As a middle-aged American woman living in the Japanese countryside, my very presence sticks out like a sore thumb when all I want to do is fit in. Being overweight doesn’t help, and neither does an otherwise loving husband who thinks it amusing to point out my body shape and size, as if I weren’t aware of these things already. So what am I doing about this? My best friend from college is a Zumba instructor and she has always gently encouraged me along the path to fitness without being preachy or pushy about it. At age 44, I am beginning to realize that I am the only one who can take care of myself, so I had better start doing it! Thanks again!

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Sheila,
      Yes, empowering yourself and taking full and complete responsibility for your decisions and actions is both liberating and scary. Why not take the Zumba class? Go for it! If Zumba isn’t for you, start walking and add 30 seconds of running during each walk. Then increase it to a minute and so on. Take it slow and make it non threatening. You can do it — if I can, I KNOW you can. 🙂

  • Toks

    What an inspirational blog and made me aware that we can rise above our limiting beliefs and reach for our goals 🙂 thanks so much 🙂

      Barrie Davenport

      You are so welcome Toks! I’m glad you found it inspirational.

  • Cheryl

    I have never been athletic and, in fact, hate most sports. I identified myself as the “brainy, artistic” person, but NEVER and athlete. I would walk my dog daily and do the occasional trail hike, but nothing else. Earlier this year I was feeling physically run down and knew that age 40 I had to start moving more regularly. I started the Couch to 5K running program with a group of ladies in my town. By the 3rd week everyone had dropped out except for myself and one other person. We stuck with it and made it the full 8 weeks to achieve running a 5K distance without stopping. I felt SO GOOD! The program was great because it was so gradual that I never got too sore or tired to want to stop. I can now say that I AM A RUNNER! I physically feel better, but more importantly, it helped me overcome that mental block that said I was too old and I would never be an athlete. I used to roll my eyes at people that talked about running – now I ask what’s on their running playlist!

      Barrie Davenport

      What an amazing story Cheryl! Thank you so much for sharing it — and congratulations on your amazing achievement. I was the same person, not an athlete and too brainy and artistic to bother. 🙂 What a lame excuse, right? I know you are proud of yourself. You should be. Achieving this goals should make you feel like you can do anything. Yippee for you!!!!

  • Jeanette Long

    Thankyou for your blog Barrie. I have shared several of those limiting beliefs. Firslty writing and being creative and like you – 18 months ago I started my blog and and slowly building my confidence in my writing skills. Running is one i haven’t overcome however I have a trainer and am working on it!
    Thanks for sharing your insights I enjoy your blog and have enjoyed your book. Jeanette

  • Katalina

    Thank you so much for this one! Last week I biked some 40km, but it is running I dream of (literally) and I struggle with the thought that I’m too old (49). This post was a balm …

  • Keith

    Hi Barrie,

    What an inspiring and motivational post! A lot of the limiting beliefs are so similar to mine, and a lot of other people I would imagine.

    I am on a similar path with the same doubts you had. I graduate next weekend from my coaching course so of course the self-limiting talk kicks in as I get closer 🙂 Despite this I plan on pushing forward and every time I read an inspirational story like yours it puts more fuel on the tank 🙂

    Well done on what you have achieved so far and good luck on all of your future endeavours. And despite what our little voices may tell us, we are never too old.

  • sushma

    I want to thank you for this post and also Want toshare my experience. I have completed. 50 years on 7 august. But i have been feeling for last two years that the work which i am doing doesn’t give satisfaction. I am no longer as comitted as i was in the past. I am a teacher for last eighteen years and was satisfied and contented. I don’t understand what exactly i am searching for.last week i got a chance to spend three days with a life coach. It was a wonderful experience which compelled me to think that it was exactly the same which i want to do. As i am a teacher so learning process continuously goes on. I don’t have limiting believe that you faced. I want to join that life coach but not sure that it would help me to meet my desire and will feel contented. That life coach has offered me a good position in his group because of my personality and age because . he is only thirty-two year old and want a mature person.what you suggest?

  • Nicki

    I have been wanting to start running for so long, but much like yourself I had the same problems/excuses and ended up quitting. I did half of the Insanity program (then had surgery so had to stop) so I know I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. I just really need to get out of my head and check into my body when I’m out there. 🙂 Thank you for this!

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Nicki,
      I tried the Insanity program too — and had to stop because it killed my knees! Try running again. Get the right shoes (go to a running store and let them fit you); start out really, really slow and easy; increase your running time very slowly; and find a running buddy! You can do it!!!!

  • naureen

    Very inspiring…some limiting beliefs have such a strong hold that they continue to linger despite every effort.. but I keep trying. Your posts always help. Thanx 🙂

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    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?

    There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Many thanks

  • Judy

    It is so good to read about “older” runners! I began running almost two years ago at age 61, and love how good I feel with each accomplishment. Whenever I had thought about running before, it fell by the wayside after exhausting myself with “too much too soon”. This time sticking with a couch to 5k plan and taking a running class worked me into being able to run a number of 5k races, a 10k, and the Mackinaw Bridge. I’m now working on a half marathon schedule! I feel like a kid at Christmas! The race is at the end of April and my goal is to finish 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement.

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