Running a marathon vs a marathon cleaning session – a case of recency bias and duration neglect

Many hours into yesterday’s cleaning slugfest, R asked me if it was harder than the marathon the previous weekend.

I was squatting on the floor, scrubbing the shelves clean while a knee and the back hurt. My instant answer was ‘yeah’.

It was a case of recency bias – I was still suffering the pain from the cleaning (I was 4 hours in by then). The marathon1 had been a week ago. System 1 distinctly felt the current pain while forgetting the one in the past.

It was also a clear case of duration neglect. At times the cleaning was harder, nastier, and maybe even more painful than the marathon. However those painful periods were few. Most of the time it was just mildly irritating and dirty.

The marathon had been, in the latter half, nearly 90 mins of fighting biting physical pain and mental fatigue. Those final 90 mins were harder than anything I’ve done in a long time. I had to use all my willpower and focus training (thanks meditation & Calm) to keep myself going.

Yet, there were no ‘peak’ incidents of pain or suffering during the marathon – just a long period of struggle. So the brain, using system 1, ranked the marathon below yesterday’s cleaning session in effort. Duration neglect + peak-end rule!

My (self) training on biases kicked in quickly. Almost immediately after I answered ‘yeah’, I corrected myself ‘this is not even close’.


  1. Since the marathon post isn’t up yet: I ran the London marathon last Sunday. I’m still recovering. 

Target for 2019 – Rank within top 50 at Guildford Parkrun

My PB at Guildford Parkrun is 23:12, and my best ranking is 77.
My current time at Guildford Parkrun is 25 mins (5:00 min/km), and ranking is near 120.

To rank in the top 50, I would need to achieve a time of 22 mins or lower. This would require running at an average pace of 4:24 min/km.

Losing 3 mins will not be easy. It’s a good target – challenging but not impossible.

Continue reading Target for 2019 – Rank within top 50 at Guildford Parkrun

Because I’m happy

Woke up happy. The book last night had been good, the bed had been better than previous night, and the dream was not a negative one like usual.

Got happier. Someone donated £5.00 to the Clutter Free fund. Thanks Rami!

Got happier. Got the “You’re in” magazine from London Marathon ballot. I’ll finally be running the London marathon after 4 attempts!

And then happiest person around. Kissed and hugged and made up with mi amore. And hugged some more1 :)


  1. Though I really wanted to hug her, and kiss her last night when I was crying and laughing while reading that book. Still, better late than never :)