"Sunk cost" is a concept I picked up from economics. Roughly, sunk cost is a cost toward some future activity that has already been paid and cannot be recovered regardless of whether the future activity is performed or not. A rational actor does not factor sunk costs into decisions and thus avoids the trap of throwing good [whatever] after bad [whatever]. Imagine, on the day of a concert, not feeling like going even if somebody gave you tickets for free, but now imagine that you do have tickets that you already paid $50 for and can't get a refund. If having spent $50 motivates you to go, then you are in the irrational thrall of the "sunk cost fallacy."
Two correlated facts I've noticed about sunk costs are that: (1) productive people commit the sunk cost fallacy constantly and (2) economists seem to commit the sunk cost fallacy in their daily lives at least as often as the economically-innocent. I suspect this is because whatever the demonstrable irrationality of the sunk cost fallacy in particular cases, it's indicative of perseverence, and perseverent people rule the world. Me, on the other hand, the sunk cost fallacy has probably been one of the more toxic concepts ever to enter my head, as I've used it to rationalize abandoning various uncompleted things.
Anyway, I signed up for a 7.5 mile run scheduled for this past Sunday with one of the economists in my program. I woke up that morning and it was pouring rain. Had I known it was going to pour the morning of the race, I would not have assented to do it even if it had been free.
I called the economist, though, and asked if she thought we should still run. And, of course, she wanted to run, because that's the good-perseverent-person-attitude to have. (Plus, unlike me, she had actually trained for it, although training-time would be almost a perfect example of a sunk cost.)
So, I rolled out of bed and basically just wore the same clothes I wore to bed. The exceptions being (1) running socks and shoes, (2) my Madison Mallards floppy hat, and (3) a garbage bag that I wore for the 45 minute walk to the starting line. I took a photo of myself before I headed out the door:
We were planning on a 10-minute-mile pace, and the economist prepared a playlist of songs exactly so that the tempo would be appropriately matched to the different parts of the run and it would end on her best exercise song ("A Murder of One" by Counting Crows, intriguingly enough). We actually did more like a 9:30 pace and so this song was just starting when we finished.Meanwhile, I just had my Nano on my usual kicky exercise shuffle, with the result that I started the race with "The Humpty Dance" and ended it with "Friday, I'm in Love", the latter being a former breakup-anthem I've since reclaimed as jogging-rejuvenator.
I think the economist thought I was a strange for some of my race practices, namely insisting that we high-five after every mile and regularly shouting "We are tough! We are so tough!"
Ultimately, the sunk cost fallacy here wasn't much of a fallacy, since the run was actually fun and it wasn't even raining for much of the race. Most of the runners had on baseball caps, but I received several complements for being the only one with a floppy hat. In any event, I returned home happy even if completely soaked through: