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Triathlons are grueling tests of stamina, strength, and spirit. The multi-faceted sport consists of three strenuous physical disciplines of endurance. In its more familiar format, participants swim, cycle and run. Every year I take on the challenge of doing an Olympic distance triathlon, which is a one-mile swim, a 26-mile bike ride, finished off with a six-mile run. In doing so, it keeps me young or at least trying to feel that way. Actually, the real reason I do them is that I like, no, I love pizza.
So I choose to kill myself on a yearly basis because in order for me to eat pizza I need to burn lots of calories. If I’m going to burn lots of calories, I have to move. Well if I’m going to move enough to burn those calories, it absolutely has to be something I like. So I figured, hey I love swimming, and I like biking; why not do a triathlon? The only problem, running. I literally hate running—I mean hate to the point that if I died and went to hell, I’m quite certain, they would just put me on a treadmill non-stop. That probably has you scratching your head and thinking, “then why on earth are you doing a triathlon?” The reason is that it reminds me of life. There are things I am going to love. There are things I am going to like. And without a doubt, there are things I am going to hate, but I still have to endure them. So I like the reminder.
Not so long ago, my business partner, Jim, which is a super marathon freak—his nudging is also another reason I do these crazy triathlons—convinces me to do a half Iron Man with him. Now, I have done three half Iron Man’s in my life. They are not for the faint of heart. A half Iron Man consists of a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a nice sprint to your bike. Don’t forget about the part where you change out of your swimming garb to ride a bike for 56 miles! In that 56 miles ride, your bottom becomes so numb that you forget you have one! Once you successfully complete that, you change yet again and set off on a 13.1-mile run. That is the distance of a half marathon. So again, I reiterate, they are not for the faint at heart.
In taking on the task of trying to complete a half Iron Man, you need to train properly. We are talking months of training for each sporting activity. Well, this particular time, I signed up, life happened, and training fell by the wayside. Failing to train was completely my own fault. I just kept putting it off and putting it off. Then a little over a month before the event, which is the time you are supposed to be ramping up and tapering off, a health situation arose. It wasn’t anything serious; just something else to set me back. I easily managed the tapering off part, as I wasn’t allowed to exercise for the next 30 days.
Lo and behold the day of the half Iron Man comes, and I’m not prepared. Not even a little bit. However, since I’ve committed to it and participated in them before, I decide I am going to give it my best shot. Usually, I would aim for setting a personal record, but at this point I know if I can just manage to get through it, I’ll be a winner. So here I am in the early morning before daylight hours, with all my other triathlon friends. They’re all fit and skinny. Not me. I haven’t even begun the race, and I’m about to die. I can literally already feel the sweat pouring off of me.
So the competition starts with the 1.2-mile swim. That’s awesome. I breeze right through it because I enjoy swimming. Now, I like biking, but I’m questioning if I can actually pull this off. During the bike ride, I have to climb a hill, and I thought I saw Jesus for a second. However, somehow I managed to finish all 56 miles. I feel like maybe I can do this as I head into the run. I limp along for about six miles. Then it happens. Cramps. Cramps set it. This is an athlete’s worst nightmare!
We all know why the cramps came. I didn’t prepare. My body did not get the right amount of fuel before the race. Not enough exercise, not enough water, not enough preparation went into running the race. Just like our finances, if you’re not preparing correctly you’re going to run out of gas over the long term. Making provisions for retirement, your children’s education, or buying a house is much very much like training for a triathlon.
With weeks and months of proper exercise and diet, a triathlon is fun. Your body strengthens for the race and can endure. In the past, when I have completed half Iron Mans I enjoyed them. Prepping allowed me to focus on a goal and work toward setting personal records. That’s no different than tackling your finances. If you adequately fund your accounts, retirement can be a blast. Those prepared for retirement are often meet with enjoyable experiences.
The journey to complete your race is painful. There are days you are tired and want to quit. Sometimes you don’t even want to get out of bed. Sometimes we workout so hard that our muscles cramp up. Taking steps toward a financially secure retirement—or whatever goal you have in mind—can employ the same type of pain. We save money and it hurts to do so. We spend money we don’t want to occasionally. However, we have this goal, and we’re going to run this race to retirement. For those of us who prepare properly, retirement can be a dream come true. Don’t think you can just show up to retirement and live like those who have prepped for it. It just is not going to happen. Lack of preparation for retirement means you will get cramps. You will not make it to the end. Your lifestyle will have to change drastically. So don’t run your race the way that I did—unprepared.
I have worked with people that did not properly plan. Now as they head into retirement, and years have gone by, and inflation hits. All the sudden they are having to sell their house and downsize from their family farm they lived on for years. All because the didn’t take the race seriously and prepare. Don’t let that happen to you. You have to plan.
Proper planning is an ongoing method. When I get ready for a triathlon, I actually have a planning guide that shows me exactly how much I need to push my body every day. I’m able to track what I eat as far as intake. I’m able to look at each individual exercise and know which muscles I need to strengthen to help me accomplish my goal. Additionally, I have coaches that show me, watch me and tell me what I’m doing wrong. They’ll sit me down and say, ”Justin you are weak here. You are strong there.”
Now, can I outperform my coaches? In some areas, I absolutely can. However, my coach is there to mentor me along the way. To ensure I’m doing all I need to do to reach my goal. Under the guidance of these coaches, I have met my goals. I have actually set personal records in triathlons. So reaching your goals is possible with a good maintenance program and good coaches.
Your financial goals are not any different. Let your coach guide you. Hire a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to keep you on track. They are there to see what you might be missing. The perspective of their expertise could save you money. When it comes to finances, you are not going to be able to keep track of things the way a coach can. They can give all of their attention to your finances so that you can enjoy life. They monitor changes in taxes, or insurance change, the way politics change, or the many other changes that come along in the investment world. That’s where a good coach or financial advisor comes in. They’ll keep a close eye on these things, setting you on a good plan to help you. They can guide you through the various changes to enabling you to reach your goals. So follow your coach’s advice!
Sure you could possibly do it on your own. Additionally, you may even achieve the same results. However, there is probably a greater chance that life will happen and the cramps will come because you ended up sidetracked along the way. Even Michael Phelps, one of the most world’s winningest athletes, has a coach. He knows he needs someone to point out his weaknesses. So if you’re not working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or someone who can come alongside you, that you know, trust, and respect do so now. Taking their advice could mean the difference in cramping up before you finish the race. Don’t show up on race day expecting to win trophies or hoping to have a strong performance, only to find out can’t make it through. Retirement, like a triathlon, can be rough, so prepare years ahead for the finish line. You’ll be glad you did.