Your Brain Forgets the Pain of Your First Marathon
Why would you endure such a painful experience twice? You probably forgot how awful running 26.2 was the first time around, says a new study
By the time you're a few miles into your second marathon (or even your second training run), you're probably wondering how you could possibly be fooled into running the monster race twice. But the answer is actually pretty simple: You forgot how utterly body-crushing your first marathon was, a new study in the journal Memory suggests.
In the study, researchers polled 62 runners immediately after they crossed a marathon's finish line (check out these 12 Amazing Finish Line Moments) and asked questions like, "How intense is the pain you're feeling right now?" "How unpleasant was that?" and "What kinds of positive and negative emotions are you experiencing?"
The exhausted marathoners were hurting at an average of 5.5 on a seven-point scale immediately post-race. But when researchers followed up with the athletes three to six months later, those guys remembered far less pain and unpleasantness than what they reported at the finish line. In fact, they recalled their pain to be at 3.2 on average-significantly less than their original discomfort.
The study also found that runners who performed poorly during the race or who rated their initial pain closer to seven on the scale tended to remember their agony more accurately at the follow-up than those who ran decently. But on the whole, even the most miserable still didn't remember plodding along mile after mile, hating their lives all the while. (Although here's 25 Good Reasons Not to Run a Marathon.)
The researchers concluded that the pain we feel with intense exercise isn't remembered accurately-which seems really unfair, but in reality may be the only reason you keep pounding the pavement or hitting the gym day after day. And hey, this is a great reason to sign up for that second marathon (or third or fourth...).