I recently ran the Boston Marathon. It’s a difficult race to get a start in as it’s one of the only races that have qualifying standards. The challenge of having to qualify means the field is of a higher quality than for other races, and so for non-elite runners (most definitely me), it’s about as close to the Olympics or the World Championships I will ever get.
I was determined to do well, and trained harder than ever before. I arrived at the start line full of confidence, having run Personal Best times in two lead up races. I brushed aside concerns about the possible impact travelling may have had on my preparation, and the the warm weather on the day, and set off at my target pace.
Unfortunately, everything went pear shaped from there.
By the time I reached the 30km mark I couldn’t ignore the protests in my legs anymore as they had seized up with cramps. Twice I had to stop, unable to move or do anymore than curse (apologies to the parents of the young kids around – they might have learned an Australian colloquialism or two). Eventually they subsided and I could move again, but I was reduced to walking the final 12km to the finish.
While this certainly was not my plan, I realised it was the only way I was going to make it to the end – the ultimate goal.
What could have been a disappointing day was saved for me by the spectators lining the course. I think they gave me even more support because they could see I was struggling. The upside of my slow progress was that I had more time to appreciate this, and there were many things I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed if I had been intent on hitting that time. It also meant I could participate in the tradition of being kissed by some of the women of Wellesley College who came out in droves to support the runners.
When I returned from my trip, my coaches spoke to me about the race and we agreed to write it off as just one of those days. Then they suggested getting back on the horse and trying again.
The nice thing about running is that there is always another race that you can enter, there is always a second chance.
Unfortunately the same does not hold true for your money in retirement. While I was happy to run aggressively in my race knowing that I would either achieve my aim or would fail gloriously having tried and given it everything I had, if you do that with your money in retirement there is no next time if things go wrong.
There are many things in life you can’t control – the investment markets and your health being two that are critical to your life after work. But you can control how you approach them, and you can influence them by controlling the risks you take.
If you are concerned and would like a Second Opinion on the risks in your current strategy, feel free to contact me.
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