Constructive Interference

Robin, this post is for you.

The Physics
Interference, in physics terms, has to do with wave propagation and what happens when two or more waves meet travelling along the same medium. The interference of waves causes the medium to take on a shape that results from the net effect of the two individual waves upon the particles of the medium (1).

Interference can be either constructive or destructive. Constructive interference occurs in a medium where the two interfering waves have a displacement in the same direction (1). With destructive interference, the opposite happens;  in a medium where the two interfering waves meet they have a displacement in the opposite direction (1).

It all has to do with the principle of superposition: when two waves interfere, the resulting displacement of the medium at any location is the algebraic sum of the displacements of the individual waves at that same location (1).

Did I keep it simple enough?

I Want the Best for YouIMG_6940

I started thinking about interference and running, after I attended a Happy Engineering lecture on Tuesday with the amazing Dr. Robin Sacks. She asked the class, “Who do you want the best for?”

Step back and think about that for a minute; even better write it down. Who in this world do you want the best for? And further to that, how do you wish to impact those you wish the best for? (seriously write it down, it feels awesome).

This is what Robin defined as ‘Love’ in her life; ‘love is wanting the best for others.’ She was also talking about constructive interference and it got me thinking about running and how all of this relates.

I Believe in MagicIMG_6584
I think constructive (and deconstructive) interference happens with running, both at races and in training. And I want to focus on the constructive, because I always want to try to see the positive bias i life.

At every race and practice I wish the best for those around me. Why? Because when others rise to the occasion, I believe that it makes me an even better runner and athlete. I can run faster, I can run more efficiently, I can run longer… Constructive interference, we all do better when we are travelling along with similar positive wavelengths (the principle of super position).

And actually, I think something magical happens here. When everyone is on the same wavelength, in a positive, constructive way, I think magic can come into play. I think a magic wave comes joins the mix (super position) and raises everyone to a new level. It doesn’t happen all the time, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does you feel like you have an out-of-body experience (but don’t worry there is a training effect!).

I am in love with running. When we think of the word love we often think of intimate love with a partner, but we all know that love is and can be more than that. Love in our lives invokes values related to kindness, passion (no, not that kind of passion!), excellence, commitment, dedication…values all related to love that when added together equal personal improvement.

Love is full of positive (constructive) energy. So if you emit love as a wavelength to those around you, those open to your love will have a constructive interference moment with your love wavelength as you weave through their wavelength.

I believe love can also  be a form of magic inside all of us, if you want it to be. You just have to believe and remember that love is in you. And be willing to share that love.

In the end all us runners, elites, recreational runners, and everyone else in between, share a common goal, we are all trying to be a better version of our running selves. We want to be able to run faster and/or further.

…Back to wanting the best for others. What did I write down on Tuesday? I said I want the best for everyone, I believe in the ‘One Human Family.’ I also said I wish everyone Happy, Health, and Excellence. Why? Because I cannot define what that means for you, but they are three strong values that if you work and play within can help you be a better version of yourself. And I think, that’s what we’re all after.


1., Interference of Waves (2016), (available at

[I didn’t want to include this in the above. I wanted this post to be positive and a big hug. But I think this is also important … we also know that destructive interference can happen too. You know when one person is having a bad day and they bring the whole group down. Or if you just have someone with a bad attitude that doesn’t want to change. If it’s a recurring theme with someone, sit them down and talk to them. Last resort remove them from the group; no one needs a cancer, spreading disease in something awesome.]