A Runner’s Selective Amnesia: Push out memories of the crappy runs to keep room for the epic ones

Runners need to live in a constant state of selective amnesia. Namely, we need to push from our minds the runs that feel like we are dragging lead bricks behind us or the times when our legs decide to pretend they’ve never run a decent split on the track ever before.

keep running

We keep running EVEN through those crummy runs.


We push from our minds the miles that are more painful than they should be and let the recollections of these dark workouts and dismal races slip into the darkest of chasms within our grey matter. We do this so that we have the fortitude to lace up and go out for that next run. Selective amnesia, you see, is quite a prolific coping mechanism for a runner.

The memories and moments that we cherish are the workouts that click, when we feel totally in sync with our stride. We are running controlled, relaxed, smooth, and ON. We savor the days where we come back from a long run with a new ‘personal distance record’, ironically we will even remember the moments BEFORE that long run where we wonder if we’ll be able to do it. We let consciousness retain those dark, slivers of doubt because in the end we proved those doubts WRONG. We now have more proof that the whimpers and whispers of doubts are fallacies and lies, we CAN do much more than our brain wants us to believe.

runner from behind

Let the bad runs fade into the background and look forward to the better ones.


Runners, we will even keep aroundall those mundane and ‘normal’ miles run because they are constants. They may not be all that thrilling or exciting, but they are the bulk of our running history and we can’t thrive on just the epic highlights. These regular runs also define us in that without these recollections we’d really only be runners a handful of times in our lives…I mean those EPIC runs only come far and few between. We continue to run in the quest of them, but we don’t stop because we don’t hit a certain quote.

Keep on living in that realm of being able to decide that once a certain heinous run is done, that it never existed. Do that so you are brave enough to shower and then run again. Those really bad runs test us and help toughen us up, we NEED them in fact. But rather than letting the craptastical runs DEFINE us, we are entitled to let them slip away into oblivion.

Selective Amnesia.

1) Have you had times where you felt ‘off’ and like your run was much harder than it should be? Did you pretend that once some of those bad runs were done, that they didn’t really happen, OR, that they didn’t suck as much as they did so that you were ‘brave’ enough to get out there and run again tomorrow?

2) How do you cope with bad races? Do you try to learn something from them and then give yourself permission to ‘forget’ them?

3) What is one run you will NEVER let selective amnesia do away with?
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23 Comments

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23 Responses to A Runner’s Selective Amnesia: Push out memories of the crappy runs to keep room for the epic ones

  1. Paige

    Just had a terrible run on Sunday. Then on Monday I started to get sick. Makes sense now! I don’t try to forget the bad runs. They make me enjoy the break through runs even more!

  2. Kim

    One of my worst runs ever was my senior year of college during a cross country meet (I think it was a big one, too). I had not been training because….(long boring story)…anyway the coach asked me to go ahead and compete. BIG, HUGE, AWFUL, PAINFUL mistake!!!!!
    I have never forgotten (20++++) years later how bad it was. I swore to myself that I would never again race when I wasn’t prepared.

  3. This is why I never write anything down! I don’t even remember my exact 5k time! I just to out and run. I have a general idea of whether or not I am getting faster, but I try not to be too complicated with it!

    P.s. what would it cost me to have you hook a brother up with a new logo for my blog? Haha. I hate mine, and you kick some artist ass.

  4. I think our memory for pain is much shorter than our memory for pleasure. Otherwise, why would women have more than 1 child, ever? ;-)

    That being said, I’ll never forget the run on which I learned that cold, windy, rainy days could be 10 times worse than snowy ones. It was my first fall in a new city, and I went out for an easy run on a 45 degree fall evening. It started to rain. I chose approximately the windiest route ever. My arms were NUMB by the time I got home. Needless to say, I never again forgot to add a little extra warmth on those cold, wet days!

    I’m a scientist, so I know that a sample size of one doesn’t make for a very reliable experiment. I don’t start to worry/stress until I have a few bad runs in a row.

  5. My worst run/race was the Disney Princes half marathon and I won’t forget it. I was so excited for it and even dressed up as Snow White. I learned a lot about shoe selection from that race. A running store put me in shoes that were way too big and I trained in them but they never felt right. I figured the store knew better than I did (first lesson I learned) so I wore them during race. I was soooo miserable!! I ran my next race a couple of months later in my old shoes and felt fabulous!! Now I am gun shy about buying new shoes. I have worn my old ones out!!

    • oh no, of all the races to have a mishap…i’m the biggest disney fan so i feel ur pain! and i’m mad at those stupid shoe store workers who wrongly fit you!

  6. I still have yet to run too many races, but even my first half marathon… I remember at around mile 10 all I wanted to do was run off the race and lay down. I didn’t think my legs could make it those last 3 miles. I somehow managed to keep going. Instead of forgetting it though, I remember it and am trying to improve so that it doesn’t happen again the next time!

  7. Although it’s never fun to have a terrible/bad run, at the end of the day, running always makes me feel sooooo incredible grateful for my health. I mean, to CHOOSE to run, for your own purposes/fun, is pretty amazing and a blessing!

  8. I always figure that a bad run means you just have to go out again and have a good run another day. I try to remember that most of my runs are good and fun and not let that bad one get me down. Plus, I’m usually still pretty proud of myself for completing the run even if it wasn’t so fun on a particular day.

  9. I ran my first race this year. Although virtual and incredibly slow, I will not forget it because it was something I didn’t think I could do. This mornomg I ran daster than yesterday. So yesterdays run does not exist. Except in Daily Mile. LOL

    I just love your posts!

  10. Selective amnesia is definitely good approach for after those runs that felt awful from start to finish!

  11. Ana

    So i had to really kick myself in the tush to get out this afternoon for my run…there was snow on the ground…but i just wanted to let you know that since i started reading this blog it has really helped me get started on those first five minutes of running that suck the most…and your right the endorphins do take over! Hahaha…so….thanks :)

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