DIY Relationship Drafting

In 1960 Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500, even though his car was “25 to 30 miles an hour slower than everybody else”.   How did he accomplish this feat? Johnson is credited with discovering the concept of “drafting”. In a nutshell drafting is following close enough behind another vehicle to take advantage of the fact that the other vehicle is overcoming wind resistance…and allowing the second vehicle to move at a speed equivalent to the first vehicle. Interestingly enough Johnson tested this theory. In the race in question he assumed that his pit crew had somehow increased the speed of his car, however when he went back on the track he was only capable of his pre-drafting speed. Realizing what was happening he slid in behind the fastest car coming out of the pit and rode it all the way to victory. Details are in the above link.

Drafting isn’t unique to auto races; it’s likely you’ve heard of folks doing so on the road behind a semi. This is a dangerous practice as if the semi quickly slows or loses a tire then you may be in serious trouble. But studying drafting in this form reveals another aspect. Drafting behind a semi doesn’t make you go faster…but reduces your fuel consumption due to decreased air resistance. How about a third example? In his book “Lore of Running” Tim Noakes makes the following statement, “…about 8% of the runner’s energy is used in overcoming air resistance.  But by running directly behind a leading runner (or drafting) at a distance of about 1 m, the athlete can save 80% of that energy. In a middle-distance race this would be equivalent to a savings of about 4 seconds per lap.” Note that this plays out to just less than 16 seconds less per mile, a critical advantage in a tight running race.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with being a Happier Husband. Please bear with me. Around two and a half years ago I decided to take up running and train for a 5K. I didn’t know anything about drafting as a running technique and frankly I probably wouldn’t use it even now. I’d rather not follow that closely to someone who smells much like I do during a hard run. After running my first 5K I was hooked on running and exercise. I made it a point to get to the gym regularly and to run outside. I did several other races. As I became more excited about improving the health of the body God had given me an interesting thing happened. My wife signed up for a gym membership and we began going together. Then she decided that since I could run a 5K, so could she. In fact we did our first 5K together on October 13, 2012. Since then we’ve done a Warrior Dash (mud and fire and all kinds of fun ickiness) and a 10K (6.2 miles). This weekend I’m running another 5K at our alma mater…and my wife and son will be doing it as well.

You know what had happened? She started drafting me. I had broken through the resistance of being inactive and she followed in my wake. I’m nothing special here; I had friends who had walked the same path well before I started down it. But the point is when I began to make a positive change she was right there behind me, drafting me. There is another aspect of drafting that I have yet to mention. In racing a pair of drivers will often form a “drafting partner” relationship. This is an agreement to draft each other during the race. We already understand the advantage to the car following, but what is the benefit to the lead car? Not to get too much into physics here, but apparently the lead car deals with drag (a force slowing down the car) from both the air resistance at the front AND the swirl of air behind. The drafting partner in the following car breaks up the air swirl between the cars forming effectively a bubble of low resistance. This allows both cars to travel with less drag and therefore at a faster pace.

When Sally began going to the gym and running races I was encouraged to keep training and running. She made it easier for me to maintain the good habit I had started. So even though I had broken the initial barrier to inactivity, she was a big part in keeping us both on track. This is exactly how God works in relationships.

Here is how Paul expressed it in relationship to Jesus, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 1:11

If you begin to make positive changes in your personal life, whether in your relationship with God, or your physical health, or learning new information and skills you will have broken a barrier. You will be a trailblazer. If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse I’ll give you one simple suggestion. Work on improving yourself.

One final thought to ponder. Drafting can affect more than just you and your spouse. If the two of you improve your relationship it will be an example to other couples. Working to improve causes a ripple effect and makes everyone you touch see that more is possible.

Now go out there and get drafted!

Love you all!


  • Bradley Gann

    Wow man, your aerodynamics are solid. Great explanation. We experience the same thing here with eating healthy. If one of us is doing good, the other one suffers…ahem…benefits, I mean. Haha.

    • Troy Stoneking

      Thanks Bradley! I appreciate the comment…and the fact that you totally get it. :-)

  • Pingback: Last Man Standing | A Happier Husband()