Running gives me audiographic memory

I was one of those geeks. I had my recurring fitness schedule of going to the gym once a quarter. I sat all day in a chair in front of a computer and did some more of that at night at home. But in 2011, I decided to pick up running. It didn’t help that shortly after that I also founded a Fitness startup and it got me even more hooked.

It was also the time I picked up listening to Podcasts. Running and Podcasts are the perfect combos. Over the last few years, the quality of existing and new podcasts has improved significantly. And I keep the routine of listening to a half-dozen different podcasts while I run 2–3 times a week. I have probably listened to 1,000+ podcast episodes over my lifetime.

Then it happened

I always noticed that I was able to remember stories and quotes from the Podcasts I listened to while running and I never gave it a second thought about it. It’s just when you read an article or book and remembers a passage, or watch a movie a recall a scene. So, what?

It turns out that I’m not only able to recall the stories and quotes from a Podcast, but I can remember with a fairly high precision where I was and when was that I listened to it.

A friend of mine recently told me of a startup he was building, and I said it sounded similar to this other successful business. In a matter of seconds, I quickly recalled that I listened to a podcast interview with the founder of that startup a while ago. I then remembered a relevant portion of that podcast and told my friend about it. Then I remember where I was — physically on the trail I was running in — when I listened to it, and I could pinpoint when it was, making it easier for me to find the episode to send it to him.

The whole series of memories coming to me stuck out. I don’t consider myself having a great memory. I forget names easily. I don’t remember important stories from friends, family, and myself often. And I can’t quote a dialog from a movie to save my life. I might as well quote things like “You had me at hi” or “Show me the cash.”

I’m sure there is a good biological explanation to this that revolves around our caveman’s brain needing to remember places and events when we were running to find resources or to save our lives. There is some solid research around pain and memory, so much so they say if you take a cold shower (on a cold day) after you learned something you are more likely to retain that information.

So, there you have it. On my study of 1, running helps you retain information learned during those activities. Try yourself.

My Playlist

And, I’m sure I’ll be asked this, so here is my current list of Podcasts:

  • This Week in Startups
  • Acquired
  • Hidden Brain
  • GeekWire
  • Stanford Innovation Lab
  • a16z Podcast

My favorite podcasts are the ones that interview founders or academic researchers in social and behavior science. If you have a suggestion, let me know!

Marcelo Calbucci

Marcelo Calbucci

I'm a technologist, founder, geek, author, and a runner.