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Investing – a Marathon, not a Sprint

15 November 2017

Shalane Flanagan, the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon in 40 years

On Tuesdays, a group of us generally goes to a local track and does a workout; the idea is that it will build our running speed. Well, this past Tuesday, only two of us showed up at 5:30 AM, and my running buddy was so much faster than I am, I had no chance of keeping up with her.

So, I had plenty of time to think, as I ran 800s (that’s two laps around the track). We were supposed to do four 800s at 2-mile pace, then jog for 5 minutes, and then do four more 800s at 5k pace, in addition to a warm-up and a cool-down mile at the beginning and finish of the workout. Which is code for “a lot of running by myself that morning.” And so I began thinking, which can be a dangerous proposition.

When running, I have a tendency to go out fast, on both workout runs and races, and not finish. So, on Tuesday, I told myself, “Go out too fast and hard, and there’s no way I’m going to finish eight 800s. I’ve got to go at my pace, slow down for now, until I get faster, and don’t run out of energy or get my heart rate too high, because that leads to me either yakking, or stopping and having to walk.” So, the idea was to run at my pace, given my current abilities and the weather (which was actually a nice fall day) in New Orleans.

So, as I was running, I was thinking that investing is a lot like running 800s. You’ve got to invest the amount of money that is right for you, whether it be in a retirement or a non-retirement account. You don’t want to go too fast, i.e., get too aggressive in your asset allocation (do not invest 100% of your assets in international funds in Mongolia, whatever the promised returns), and you want to be comfortable with what you are doing with your investments.

Depending on your age and your investment horizon, you may have a long period of time to run, or it may be a shorter run. Longer runs are nice and steady; you keep investing your money, week after week, and before you know, it, your goal starts to appear on the horizon. As you get in better shape, you can run faster. Most running workouts are about building confidence and endurance; they’re not about running full-out.

Take a minute and ask yourself, “What are my goals? Where do I want to be in 5, 10, 20, or 30 years? Are my investments properly allocated both for my risk tolerance and to align with my goal? Am I comfortable with the amount of money I am investing, and how I am investing it?”

It’s always a good idea to be true to yourself, when investing as elsewhere. Sometimes it is more important to finish your own workout, and not race toward another’s goal. That way, you will have enough energy left to get yourself a cup of coffee, and go to work later that morning.

And remember – investing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Until next Wednesday –



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