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Blog / News

BLOG-Closed Energy Equation

patrick harkins

I was listening to an interview with Mark Allen a couple of weeks ago(on "The Competitors" podcast-check it out if you haven't already), and he used a phrase that caught my attention-he said that the Hawaii Ironman is a closed energy equation. I usually try to avoid equations of any sort at almost any cost, but Mark Allen is usually pretty interesting to listen to, so I stuck with it.

He went on to explain that, in the history of the event, only a handful of men have ever gone under 4:30 on the bike and 2:50 on the run. And similarly few women have ever gone under 5 hours on the bike and 3 hours on the run. Plenty of folks have done one, and usually failed spectacularly on the other. The idea is simple-you only have so much in you, so be careful with your expenditures-but I'd never seen it broken down in such plain terms.

Later that week, I was listening to a different podcast(I listen to a lot of podcasts) about business, specifically about being an entrepreneur/starting small business. The idea was similar, but applied to a person's career. The person giving the interview said something along the lines of, "you only really get one period in your life where you are prepared to do ANYTHING that's required-sleep in your car, sell all of your possessions, risk your personal relationships-in the interest of making your particular endeavor succeed. Afterwards, you can still put forth plenty of effort, but it's not the same. In fact, often just knowing how much energy is required is often prohibitive".

Again-closed energy equation.

So, needless to say, this idea of energy/balance/whatever you want to call it was on my mind. And then I headed out for the GSD the following Saturday. Those of you that have been on the GSD group ride know that, during the summer, it's usually pretty predictable. Hard in the same spots, easy or at least steady in between. But this particular Saturday, for some reason, the script went out the window. The first 30 minutes were absolutely full gas. I was struggling, and I started to worry: if this kept up, I'd definitely be dropped before the end of the ride. LONG before.

But then I looked around and thought: "There's a lot of energy being expended here. These are pretty much the same guys that come out every week, and this is the same ride. I wonder if this equation is closed as well."

Sure enough, the last hour of the ride, which is usually full of undisguised aggression,  was full instead of sagging shoulders and long looks down at underperforming legs. A little more camaraderie and a little less  VO2 max.

One more closed energy equation.

So now, of course, everything I see is through that lens. It seems a very interesting way to look at life-which is, of course, the ultimate closed energy equation.

Be careful where you devote yours.