Sep

2

TurtlesFirst, let's differentiate between longevity between species, and longevity within a species.

I suspect that many species that are slow tend to develop special protection. Their slow speed allows them to channel their resources into long term survival, versus momentary escape or satisfying a fleeting hunger.

A few species that come to mind are turtles, snails, camels, armadillos, possums, koala bearsand sloths.

I would suggest that many companies seek this special protection from the government and regulations. Utilities, insurance companies, banks come to mind. Further, I would propose a test of such companies. Like the overweight couch potato that starts trying to pick-up speed late in life, carrying the excess baggage can be dangerous. In times of stress those protected companies that have grown faster than their peers are likely to suffer the most. They have put too much reliance on a system designed for conservation of energy. It has been my experience in investigating insurance companies that those that have expanded by an order of magnitude of 10 say in a generation of 20 years, often tend to two mistakes. Both cause overestimating their chances. They assume their sophistication puts them ahead of their new peers. Or, two, they assume their common sense got them this far, so no need to change their ways. Both end up as road-kill like the possum and armadillos that are no match for their new worst enemy the car.

Armadillos

Now longevity with-in a species, that is a different story. Taking stress you were designed for keeps the system alive. As for how the long distance running increases your longevity… I have developed many theories and postulates. Here are a few that I think science and my experience have backed-up.

1. Blood is critical — the fuel , the lubricant , the cooling system for all the organs. Its creative destruction increases with stress. It's easy for a runner to become (especially young women) anemic without proper diet due to this destruction of cells. But the stress on the heart muscle increases strength. Yes, it beats faster while exercising, but you only run 1 - 2 hours tops most days. So it will, after it's gotten stronger, beat slower for the remaining 23-22 hours. But it's not just in the heart. It takes about 10 years of running to develop your total vascular system. Hence, why 20 year old Kenyans who have run since grade school whip 20 year old western runners. This excess capacity means normal function with less work, not more. Hence accepting proper stress often leads to less total stress. Things like needing reading glasses, or even s&xual dysfunctions need not happen until much latter.

Runners2. We need a healthy immune system and an early indicator for illness. Often at the first sign of illness, I will go out for a run and try to maintain my schedule. The problem I often had with Fall marathons was the taper of my running coincided with colds and flu season's arrival. Also if something is wrong, often undetected, the stress of a race will bring it out. While such stress may make the symptoms and you miserable for awhile, it gets your attention that you need help. I have known several whose life was saved by such early detection of cancer because of a bad season running. A company which is open to criticism from the top down would indicate healthy stress.

3. Many people don't know how unhealthy they are. They are afraid of the truth, and finding the truth hurts. Most people would rather gradually lose functions than test their abilities. They would rather imagine that they are as good as they once were. Sure this can cause the sudden weekend warrior to die on the court. But much more likely is a slow decline till they find themselves in a nursing home. Many are content with the status quo, unwilling to try new things soon find themselves irrelevant. A program of running combats this tendency.

4. Also most people don't know when they are mentally off center. Stress has many in a tight grip. They find outlets, but often these mask the stress momentarily, rather than releasing it. The residual builds into depression or destructive aggression. A good long run, a big bowl of pasta, and a nap, puts things in perspective. A company lashing out at an analyst, or CEO disengaging would indicate no relief allowed. The opposite, leadership while still able to maintain a sense of humor would indicate proper perspective.

5. To achieve a good speed in a long race requires many systems to all work together well. There may be some self-selection happening. Those able to run and run well may already have eliminated the weakest. It is a young man's sport. Further those that have invested in maintaining their bodies in their youth, are most likely to value the abilities of a youthful body… eliminating known vices and careless risk. By analogy if youthful energy and creativity is rewarded in a company, I suspect, the company most likely will take care of its other risks. What I think all this means for stocks, is look for those stocks in times of economic stress that are sticking with their knitting… growth stocks that are still expanding, acquiring. Or highly regulated stocks that slowly grow, but are content to conserve energy for survival.


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