I recently heard the term “runner’s amnesia” and it has had me chuckling all week. If you are a runner or have ever run, you most definitely have suffered a case of running amnesia.
The onset typically starts when you first begin. Each day you struggle to breathe and push yourself through a workout. The entire time you curse yourself for ever considering running. You constantly remind yourself how much you hate this. You swear that when you get home you are throwing your shoes away and never running again.
Somehow, by the time you wake up the next day, you seem to have forgotten about that run and you are at it again, cursing your way back through. In fact, you might even go out the next day and see a cute running top or a shiny new pair of shoes and decide that you must get those for training, despite having just said you would never do it again.
As a coach and a runner, the most common case of runner’s amnesia that I tend to see involves endurance races. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard about a runner crossing the line of a half marathon and swearing they will “never do that again” only to sign up a week later. Even better is when they decide that “never again” meant they might as well tackle a full marathon while they are at it.
Years ago I proposed doing a marathon to my husband for the first time. I told him it was a bucket list item that we should do. His response was that he would train with me and run a portion, but not the full race. Today we have done multiple marathons and together coached hundreds of half and full marathoners. Funny how quickly things can change.
As a matter of fact, I remember the morning of my first (and supposedly only) marathon. I was sitting eating a bagel and these strange words slipped out my mouth without me realizing what I was doing, “Next time we do this, we should……” We both looked at each other and had a scary moment. We both knew right then that there would be a next time.
So what is runner’s amnesia? I believe that it is this wonderfully sick mechanism in our brains that allows us to suffer our way through a difficult run or event. It allows us to curse ourselves, our bodies, and our poor judgement. We can even say we will never run again or never do a particular race again. And at the time, all of this is absolutely fair. We are miserable. Our bodies hate us, our minds hate us.
However, by the next morning, our brains have somehow erased most of those terrible memories or somehow recharged them so that we can laugh about how we stumbled across the finish line or threw up into our shoes. Suddenly we are amused by our terrible experience. Less than 24 hours later we think, “It wasn’t that bad!” We start contemplating our next event or planning a revenge.
While it might be a safety mechanism in our brains that allows us to erase terrible, horrible memories, it also is that strange mechanism that makes us runners totally weird. It allows us to forget just enough to get back out there and keep going again and again.
What is your best case of runner’s amnesia? Were you ever unable to not completely forget a bad run or race?