Hope for your financial life and beyond

Of Marathons and Money: Pre-Race Edition

When was your last life-changing day? We have these randomly littered at various points throughout the course of our life. Most life-changing days we never see coming…they just spontaneously happen. The day of that spiritual awakening…the day you get a proposal and a diamond…the day of a personal tragedy…the day we get fed up with __________ (fill in your blank) and decide to do something about it. It is the day we realize, “Huh…things are going to be different.” My most recent one occurred on October 15, 2011, the day I finished my first 5K race.

Something about finishing that race drove me to continue running. Now – almost 800 miles, 7,000+ minutes of running, and 3 half-marathons later – I am set to tackle my first full marathon this coming Sunday. 26.2 miles. Crazy…I know.

It is interesting how committing to something this grand forces you to alter your lifestyle. I never used to be a morning person. My typical sleep pattern was to get up by 6:30 am and hit the pillow at night about 11:30. Now, as I have been running before work, I’ve became a 4:00 am to 9:00 pm guy and I love getting up early in the morning, even on non-training days.

Food intake also changes. Pasta had never been something I particularly enjoyed as part of my regular diet. Now I eat some form of it 4-5 days a week. I’ve also been introduced to the world of energy drinks and supplements having consumed more G2 and GU-Roctane gel packets during training than I can count. And, to my astonishment, I have found myself frequently perusing running oriented websites, learning about various training and racing tips. Never would have done that before.

I have also found it fascinating that my commitment to running has coincided with our families’ desire to set our financial house in order and for me to begin a blog focused on personal finance. Coincidence…maybe. But so many parallels exist to these two commitments. I believe they have subtly enhanced one another along the way.

Fear. Fear can be a great motivating factor. My push towards running was rooted in a family history of health problems. I want to live as long as possible to see my children grow into adulthood. If I can enhance that opportunity by living a healthy lifestyle, then I will sacrifice to do that. Likewise, I want to enhance my lifestyle through proper handling of my money. I want to ensure a secure financial future into retirement for my wife and I.

But there is another aspect to fear that’s relevant here, in that you have to overcome it. I’ve had many thoughts like these in the last year – “It’s too hard” – “Can I do it? (Quickly followed by a voice that says “You’ll never be able to do it”) – “Will people think I have gone crazy?” – “What if I fail?” I’m sure there is many a motivational speaker with numerous theories in hand on how to overcome these fears. All I know is you have to face your fears down to accomplish anything great.

What fears are you facing right now in your life or with your finances?

Needing a challenge. I think all of us reach a point in our life when we ask, “What’s going to drive me forward?” What is that thing that will push me to accomplish something great? The essence of the question lies in the desire to get the most out of our body, mind and life that God gave us. The 5K was nice, but I knew when I crossed the finish line that this length of race was not going to be enough to keep me motivated.

I would say most anyone in decent health could get ready for a 5K in less than two months. (Not saying you are going to win in that short of a training time…just that you could finish one.) But to complete a marathon requires a whole different training ballgame. It’s a HUGE challenge! 18-weeks minimum training, and that was after I had already trained for some half-marathons and was in decent running shape.

I also felt that dealing with our personal finances and beginning this financial blog were challenges I needed. It’s very frustrating to have nothing left at the end of the month, to always be dipping into savings to pay for things you “need”, to have disagreements with your spouse over what types of items to purchase and to feel like you are never going to get ahead – only play catch-up.

My wife and I finally reached a point where we said, “That’s enough…we’ve had it. Let’s do something about this.” And we challenged ourselves to do so – pushing daily to make each monthly budget work out better and better.

Then I coordinated a Dave Ramsey FPU class at our church. Then I started reading through the Bible to learn what God had to say about this issue. The more I learned the more I wanted to share and help others. But how? Blogging…really? That sounds scary…actually getting my opinions about this out there for the whole world to critique (see “Fears” above). But it was the next challenge I needed, so here I am.

There are so many more connections I have found between my running and my personal finances. I’ll cover a few more in my next entry. Check back on Monday for “Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition” to see how I finished.

So, what challenge is going to move you forward right now?

Next Post: Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition

Prior Post: Scary College Debt Statistics

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