Free Thinking – Retirement Lessons from an Ultra-Race
This spring I completed my first 50k trail race, The Forest Freak – 6 laps up, down, and around Pleasant Ridge Park in South Carolina. It took 6 hours and 58 minutes to complete the 31 miles (and 3,000 feet of climbing) on a muddy trail in a steady rain. Why in the world would anyone do such a thing? More importantly, what did I learn to help your retirement planning?
Retirement, like running, takes preparation. There is no magic potion to go from couch potato to 50k finisher. My journey began the summer of 2015 when I discovered a local trail racing circuit (10 to 13 mile runs) and started losing myself in the woods. Six years and 3,300 miles later, I was finally ready to attempt an ultra-run (albeit the baby in the 50k / 50 mile / 100 mile series).
Retirement doesn’t happen overnight either. Start early, increase your savings on a regular basis, and keep an eye on the long run. There will be ups and downs, days when you don’t feel like training (saving) – do it anyway.
Have a Plan
Every race requires a strategy. How fast will you run? When and what will you drink? If it’s a longer race, how will you replace calories? On really long races, when will you rest or change outfits?
These are decisions that are best made in advance. In the heat of the moment, when you are tired or emotional, it’s too easy to take a shortcut that will hurt you later. Having a plan helps keep you on track and out of trouble.
When planning for retirement, we structure your investments to navigate the inevitable market storms. In trying times, turn off the news and revisit your long-term plan. Call your advisor to vent and seek reassurance!
Run Your Race
All retirements are not created equal. The trajectories are similar, but the numbers vary based on career choice and ability to save. One family’s beach trip may involve an RV, while another stays at the Ritz-Carlton. The sand and waves are the same.
At the start of each race, the runners are clustered together and attempt to self-sort by the appearance of speed. My goal is to start the race near people I think will be running my pace. There is no point in chasing the hardcore speedsters. Chasing the wrong runner – or retiree – can result in disaster. Run your race, live your retirement.
To answer the original question, why would anyone run such a race? Because it was a goal. The pursuit of goals provides purpose to life. What are your goals? See all 50 States? Spend every holiday with family? Publish a novel? Pick a goal, pursue, achieve, repeat!
Completing the Forest Freak 50k marks my one and only ultra-race. The training regimen and race itself took a toll on my body (and mind). Going forward I will return to my normal events – 10k to half-marathon distances. Those are more enjoyable challenges that don’t require a week of recovery. Stay tuned.
Planning a race or retirement? Need help or have questions? Please don’t hesitate to call or email.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.