Runner’s Amnesia

by kevbalance Comments (0) Articles, Commentary


This article, written by Muddy, first appeared in our Sept/Oct 2014 magazine issue.

All runners, no matter what niche they occupy, have a vast array of physical and mental strengths.  The list of attributes that we’ve acquired throughout our lifetime of running is long and varied yet familiar enough that it is unnecessary to inventory them here. At the core of our existence is perhaps one of our greatest athletic strengths that, for the majority of society, is usually categorized as a fault.  I’d argue that the inability to remember is a crucial aspect of our success as runners. Whether it’s minute details or snippets of time or major cataclysmic events that occurred mid-race, our collective inability to remember those past events helps us perform better in the future. He wasn’t training for a fall marathon but the pragmatic yet often droll philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche nailed it when he said, “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”

We run because we love it.  However, not every run is candy canes and lollipops.  Some runs, for the betterment of ourselves, can be downright miserable—but ultimately a good thing long term.  In the twisted psyche of a runner these runs (workouts and races) are usually designed to be awful.  It is supposed to hurt.  If it were easy, wouldn’t everyone do it? Why subject oneself to suffering for the sake of suffering—a clear violation of psychological operant conditioning?

Luckily, we needn’t worry about the cause and effect of this rather silly enigma.  We have running amnesia. Our disability is beneficial in that it allows (causes) us to keep returning to the battleground to suffer and better ourselves. For instance,

As a runner you never really remember how much those hill repeats hurt.  You forget…until near the crest of that incline on your first of eight repeats. The workout seemed like a good idea at the time, didn’t it?

As a runner you never really remember how much the final four to six miles of a marathon hurt….until “The Wall” crushes you physically and spiritually. Yet you continue to register, train, and compete in these unnecessary sufferfests.

As a runner you never really remember how bad the deer flies can be on trail runs…until you’re out on yet another hot, sweaty, insect infested ten miler in the woods. Every summer they return.  How could you forget, again?

As a runner you never really remember how awful track workouts can be….until you feel the burning in your lungs and legs as you fight back the urge to vomit near the end of that oh-so-fun interval.  It’s only “I-pace.” it wasn’t this hard last time, was it?

As a runner you never really remember how insidious water/moisture can be on warm long runs…until later when you climb into the shower. Oh the stinging of chafed, raw skin! How could you have forgotten Glide, again?

As a runner you never really remember exact mileage run or the order and arrangement of said runs…until you look back at running logs of the past.  Avid runners make for infallible readers too!

As a runner you never really remember how taxing marathon pace (MP) workouts can be when plopped in the middle of two hour plus runs…until you do it yet again on tired, depleted, worn out legs. Is it really possible to run a marathon at this pace?  I forget.

As a runner you never really remember how much the weather plays a role in running…until you start out shivering in long sleeves on a crisp fall morning, only to end the run nearly naked, sweating and dehydrated. How do we forget what to wear each season?

As a runner you never really remember how disgusting gel packets can be…until you’re attempting to choke down your second, third, or even fourth during a race while wearing a percentage of those you’ve attempted to previously “consume.” Do these things even help?

As a runner you never really remember how valuable training partners/running friends are…until you try to complete one of the aforementioned workouts all alone.  We all forget how much misery loves company.

As a runner you never really remember how sweet (and salty) success tastes…until you sip from the cup of satisfaction again.  Victory is yours, renner.  You’ve earned it.

Our list of “rungetfulness” could continue meandering on and on, yet it’s best to stop here. Truth be told, there are probably hundreds more running-related memories that apply. What’s yours? As I sit here, staring at the screen, I keep asking myself : “What else are you forgetting?”  Honestly, I can’t remember — and that is a good thing.

Muddy remembers one thing— always run on the LVL.

To read more from our Sept/Oct 2014 issue, click here.

To read from our current issue, click here.





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