In April, WNYC's RadioLab ran an episode entitled "Limits." The show covered the experience of Julie Moss, the IronMan triathlete who in 1982 famously collapsed only 400 meters from the finish and finally ended up crawling across the finish line (urging herself to "get up, just keep moving forward...I can crawl, and I crawl."). They also talk about the Central Governor Theory which is the idea that the body has a circuit that regulates a person's physical exertion -- it will send out chemical signals to make the person feel pain or tired, which should encourage them to rest and save their actual reserve of energy. (The physiologist David Jones has conducted great experiments dealing with this phenomenon.) August Bier noticed in the early 1900s that a psychiatric patient could jump almost as high as the world record -- hinting at what a person could be capable of if their central governor was lifted.
With these stories in mind, I began to think about how a psychological state could influence a physical one -- Anti-ATP is about trying to defeat my own central governor. Each cell in the human body houses an organelle called the mitochondria, which produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides energy for the cells and the body. When ATP is being used up, the central governor signals the body to feel tired. Using my armspan as a guide, I drew a circle until I had used as much ATP in my right arm as possible and could longer ignore my central governor.