(Not-so) Simple Economics, by Phoebe Wright


Following my note is the third blog from Phoebe Wright. We are getting some high praise for our favorite 800m runner (well, I did see her run 1,500m at the Payton Jordan, but that is for another day).

Wright_Phoebe1-Pre15.jpgPhoebe Wright, photo by PHotoRun.net

Right now, I feel that Phoebe Wright is my zen master. I am waiting for her to hit me with a bamboo stick when I ask a question. That is what Brother Petiteau did to us in French class in the seventies ( I have digressed, it happens a bit).

Well, enjoy Phoebe's new blog and let us know what you think! Email me at [email protected].

(Not-so) Simple Economics
Chris "Rappstar" Rapp is my pacer. He's like a metronome. I imagine he is Caster Semenya when I am behind him, so I can really visualize racing. He looks nothing like Caster, so it takes some serious visualizing.
Last week, I met him for practice. He rode up on his bike. His leg was hurting, so he said he would bike along beside me as a consolation for me being sans pacer. FYI, a true friend is one that will pedal along beside you while you run! Bonus if they sing "Eye of the Tiger" during the workout. He didn't, but he totally would have if I had asked, and, if he watched Rocky on the regular.

I noticed he was working hard to keep up on the bike and then I looked at his front tire--flat.

It was so concerning, I mustered up enough breath mid-interval to say "Bro, Why are you riding around on a mostly flat tire?"

He immediately sighs and breaks out into a sad story, "I feel like this story would be a metaphor for my life. Before riding here, I noticed my tire wasn't at optimal pressure. It was pretty good, but I was thinking it could be a little, tiny, bit better. So I decided I would pump it up. When I went to pump it up, my tire immediately deflated and this is as high as I could get it pumped up. I always do this. Something will be working fine, but I'll think it could be a bit better. Then when I fix it, it ends up way worse than how it started. Why? Why does this happen?!"

I almost replied "The universe is playing a joke on you? You are a bad bike mechanic? You are bad at fixing things?" But I didn't partly because that is negative and clearly he needed support; but mostly because I was out of breath at this point during the interval.

Rapp then to fill the silence said, "I'm just not going to fix things anymore!"

(Which is probably not the best life plan, but who am I to judge?)

I supported him as best I could, "Yeah. Probably for the best. Maintain the status quo."

Even though the situation is both frustrating (for Rapp) and funny (for me), there is something to be learned here. Every decision has a risk and reward associated with it. In running we make decisions daily that affect our careers. I like to think every single thing I do is making me a little bit better. In fact, I only focus on what the possible positive outcomes are. For example, one time I had an opportunity to use an altitude tent. Apparently you can get a 1% improvement from those suckers! (1% FYI is the difference between a field filler at USAs and an American Record holder.) Of course I want to be 1% better. Duh. I had a good thing going with training and was on a positive trajectory at the time, so I felt invincible and a bit greedy.

What I didn't know is that there is a risk associated with every choice. The risk associated with an altitude tent is the worst kind of risk. The kind of risk with high probability and high damage. You don't want that kind of risk with a low chance of a 1% reward. I'm pretty sure that is simple economics. Econ 101: Don't use an altitude tent, stupid!

Anyways, I did a bad risk assessment and ended up frying myself. I got over trained to the point where it has taken until recently to fully recover from that mistake.

The trick is taking the necessary and slightly conservative risks to get that bit better. And to avoid those terrible mistakes that you find out are mistakes after the fact.

So no matter what the choice is: pumping up a tire, getting an altitude tent, upping mileage, doing one more interval... fully assess the risk/reward ratio. Don't pay a dollar to earn 5 cents.

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