Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

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oragne lovre
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Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by oragne lovre »

With a single-digit decline of the market, there are several threads implying a falling sky. Some buy-and-hold, stay-the-course bogleheads recommend some tactics that help cope with a falling-sky when it truly occurs. In my opinion, long-distance running such as marathon tremendously helps reinforce long-term investing mentality.

Marathon running teaches me several invaluable lessons. The first lesson is that I have to take the first step, be it the very first marathon or first investing plan, to make it happen - those who think they can never run a marathon or can never tolerate financial risk of investment will never achieve either of them. The second lesson is that a marathon, just like long-term investing, reminds me to allocate my limited energy source, which is analogous to invested money, evenly throughout 26.2 miles, which reminds me 30-year investing time frame. The third lesson is that a marathon runner, or a long-term investor, should not get too exhilarated when circumstances look easy - I witnessed many runners who ran so fast in the first easy 20 miles that they suffered in the next 6 miles. The fourth lesson is that I must not mentally give up when situations are despairing - I must keep my legs moving in spite of listlessness and must stay the course when the market is precipitously falling. The fifth lesson is that the potential reward is gratifying - crossing the marathon finish line or re-evaluating a bought-and-held portfolio leaves me with unforgettable feeling. I CAN DO IT!

Other marathon bogleheads out there, please chime in!
Last edited by oragne lovre on Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
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Rainier
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by Rainier »

Yes, but I'm not the best pacer. I have a strong fade, but still put in some decent times. Not sure what kind of investor that makes me.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by JupiterJones »

The fifth lesson is that investing, like marathon running, is "an experiment of one" (to quote George Sheehan).

You have to find the shoe that works for you, and the training plan that works for you, and the diet that works for you, and.... well you get the idea.

Veteran marathoners can give you all sorts of advice about what has worked for them, but it's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. While there are basic underlying principles that are fairly universal, the implementation of those principles is highly individualized.

Which, you know, is just like investing.
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oragne lovre
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by oragne lovre »

JupiterJones wrote:The fifth lesson is that investing, like marathon running, is "an experiment of one" (to quote George Sheehan).

You have to find the shoe that works for you, and the training plan that works for you, and the diet that works for you, and.... well you get the idea.

Veteran marathoners can give you all sorts of advice about what has worked for them, but it's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. While there are basic underlying principles that are fairly universal, the implementation of those principles is highly individualized.

Which, you know, is just like investing.
JupiterJones,

Excellent point!
I also enjoy your George Sheehan link; it's an inspiring story and an excellent primer for a morning run.
The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
MathWizard
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by MathWizard »

I agree, especially with 3 and 4.

I think they have to do with emotions in both investing and with running.

It's nice to have an analogy.
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Aptenodytes
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by Aptenodytes »

I only ran one marathon, but what I recall was putting faith in the empirically-grounded knowledge about what to do. I forget all the specifics by this point, but I remember following the scientifically proven advice assiduously. Something like run 40 miles per week for the bulk of the training period; run one 20-mile run a few weeks before the marathon; calculate your target pace and stick to it; etc. I followed all the advice and I finished the marathon and had fun doing so. Even managed to squeak in just under my 3:30 goal.

So I'd boil the analogy down to this: listen to the right people, be hyper-disciplined about following their advice, even when it is painful, and you'll cross the line happy.
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cfs
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by cfs »

Lung Distance Running and Long Term Investing.

Well, I took care of my Lung Distance workout very early this morning, done by 0600. And I concur with the original post. Investing for retirement is like training and running 26 milers. A normal market day is like running rolling hills where I keep steady pace and enjoy the scenery. A bear market day is like running steep hills, I find it challenging, but is good to improve my strength and my speed. A bull market day is like running steep downhills, I find it fun, but I proceed with caution to avoid injuries.

Thanks for reading.
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asha1001
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by asha1001 »

Charlie Munger said a while back that he and Warren Buffett have seen their investments in Berkshire Hathaway decline by more than 50% several times in the last 4 decades. Investors should expect the same and when it happens know that markets fluctuate, sometimes wildly. If folks can't handle a 5% decline in the S&P then its probably a good idea to tune out whats happening in the market and not look at your portfolio.
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by smileartist »

Trust in your training plan. Don't get sucked into someone's else's plan/pace. When the going gets tough, and it will, remember that this is what you trained for and stick to your plan. Likewise, stick to your ISP. Someone else's plan may work for them and their circumstances but not necessarily yours. If you gave it proper consideration when written it also will get you through the tough times. Stick to it!
BTW I didn't mean for this to be bold but I can't seem to get rid of it. Sorry.
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restandinvest
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by restandinvest »

I'll chime in with some half marathon insight. :D The key is early pacing (the tortoise and the hare). Discipline yourself to run your pace while everyone else races by you early on. Then enjoy running the same pace at the end while everyone else is exhausted. Translation: let all the actively managed rabbits run out ahead, then pass them up later with boring index funds. Works every time.
“As I have earlier noted, the most important things in life and in business can’t be measured...It is character, not numbers, that make the world go ‘round." John Bogle
Code Commit
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by Code Commit »

Great OP and replies so far.

Another thing that strikes a chord with me is that there are no shortcuts. You have to put in the time in training to have an enjoyable race.

When I have not prepared for, say, a school exam, there have been occasions when I crammed the prep and still got good results. That rarely happens in a marathon. Cramming your training almost always results in an injury, DNS, DNF or a miserable race. The same applies to investing. You cannot take undue risks just to catch up.

You also have to trust your training plan and not jump from one fad to another.
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dodecahedron
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by dodecahedron »

Never ran a marathon, but do have fond memories of working my way up to a few 10K's, an accomplishment beyond what I ever would have imagined possible when I first started out (as a totally nonathletic hopelessly out shape couch potato and a smoker to boot!), and I do have fond memories of the encouragement and inspiration I got from reading George Sheehan's wisdom in his regular columns n Runners World magazine in the mid 1970s. Also loved Dr. Joan Ullyot's book for women. Even though I gave up running after about a decade (worried about my knees), the experience was transformative, life changing, and eye opening for me. (For one thing, I spontaneously and painlessly gave up smoking a few weeks after I started running and never felt a single pang of withdrawal or craving since then, almost 40 years ago!)

The analogy strikes a resonant chord for me. If I break things down into small steps and long term goals, I can do far more than I would have thought possible. I used to sing in my head as I ran. Whenever I feel daunted and overwhelmed by any big thing, I love this Pete Seeger song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u90qRE2F7CM
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by livesoft »

Rainier wrote:Yes, but I'm not the best pacer. I have a strong fade, but still put in some decent times. Not sure what kind of investor that makes me.
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by Raybo »

My knees won't allow me to run any real distance any more. Instead, I take long bicycle rides and, not surprisingly, I see similarities between bicycle touring and investing:

- Have a solid plan

- Know what you can fix and what you can't

- Train well

- Be flexible enough so that when something goes wrong it doesn't ruin everything

- Sometimes its rains and there are headwinds, so bring rain gear and be prepared for some hard slogging.

- Enjoy the ride
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.
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oragne lovre
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by oragne lovre »

restandinvest wrote:...Translation: let all the actively managed rabbits run out ahead, then pass them up later with boring index funds. Works every time.
Thank you for pointing out the inherently boring similarity of both running long-distance and investing in index funds. Yes, they both appear boring to death to many people but work tremendously well for those who understand their unassuming benefits.
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MoonOrb
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by MoonOrb »

One thing I learned while training for the few marathons I ran is the value of proper rest and recovery. Put another way, don't over train. Don't let your running journal run your life--the point is not to accumulate miles for the sake of accumulating miles, but to reach a goal. Rest and recovery can help you accomplish that goal.

To analogize to Boglehead-ism, there is something to be said for recognizing the value of enjoying some of your life now, and not seeing your life dominated by being more frugal than necessary.
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oragne lovre
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by oragne lovre »

Livesoft,

Thanks for the interesting article, which reminds me that I should pace myself even more evenly in upcoming October Long Beach Marathon.
The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by JupiterJones »

Another thing they have in common:

People who don't do it, don't think they can ever do it, and they certainly don't want to hear you talk about it. :D
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oragne lovre
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by oragne lovre »

Noam Wasserman, author of The Founder's Dilemmas, makes another metaphorical comparison between a marathon and founding of a startup business : "Members of entrepreneurial community often say that the founding process is "a marathon made up of a series of 100-yard dashes." Every 100 yards, the founder/runner faces a key decision with long-term consequences. Unless you have a clear picture of the path to the finish line, decisions made during any specific dash can throw you off course or put you out of the race altogether."
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Re: Marathon Running and Long-term Investing

Post by WhizKid »

+1.
The fifth lesson is the best analogy: you don't have to come in first to feel like a winner.
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