Distance amnesia

Remember when you were a kid and you’d fill your plate with a huge tangle of spaghetti, glop a giant blob of mashed potatoes next to a pile of Thanksgiving turkey, or grab the biggest corner slice of cake? Then you’d feel full after eating maybe half of it? My mom called that “having eyes bigger than your belly.”

I still have this problem, and not just with food. Most days, I tend to think a race distance like a half-marathon sounds totally doable. I mean, I drive that distance to work in what? Twenty minutes? It’s no ultramarathon. But I’ve run five half-marathon races and more than a dozen double-digit training runs over the last two years, and at the beginning of each one, I suddenly remember just how f-ing long 13.1 miles really is.

Why does my brain do this to me? There’s no evolutionary benefit to this warped view of distance. Not like women who forget the excruciating pain details of childbirth, at least until the next kid’s labor begins all over again. I’m not ensuring the survival of the species with my distance amnesia, so why, unless I’m actually in the midst of a long run, do I walk around thinking that 13.1 won’t be that long/painful/difficult?

Until I tackle that first mile and I remember. Again.

Does your brain trick you into thinking a double-digit run sounds easier than it really is?


10 thoughts on “Distance amnesia

  1. Yes! I haven’t even run my first half and I’m already signed up for my second! Now that I’m doing more longer runs I’m terrified for what the next few months hold for me. I do love running, and it’s awesome in the last few miles, but they always sound so much easier than they are!


  2. Oh yes I have this exact same problem. And then half way through the race I swear I am never going to run again. Sometimes even during 10k s because I am going way to fast. I feel like 10 milers hit me the worse because in my mind I have no respect for the distance since it’s less than a half.


  3. My brain does that to me all the time. I remember when I trained for my first marathon–I thought “I’ll never think of any run less than 16 miles as any big deal again.” Wrong! It’s all relative to training, and 13.1 is a very challenging distance. Then again, so is a 5k, because you’re going Bs to the wall the whole time. It’s all what we make of it, right? 🙂 Keep on trucking!


  4. For some incredible (or stupid?) reason, I never think a run is going to be hard, until of course, it is….
    I try to take each KM at a time though, even if I have 20KM to run I just think of the one I’m running now, and not of the 19 I have to go… Hey if my brain is going to trick me, I’m going to trick it back! 🙂


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