I gained my label as a distance runner in high school running track and cross country. However, I didn’t really get back into running until about six years ago when I ran my first half marathon. Since then, I’ve run two full marathons, eight half marathons, and enough events in the range of 5K-15K that I’ve lost count. My most unique experience has been the “8 Tuff Miles” course across the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands which I’ve completed three times.
This year, I set a new PR (Personal Record) and met a goal I had quite literally been chasing for several years in the “Cap City Half Marathon”. Hovering around two hours for a couple years, I would have been happy to run even just two seconds under two hours. I finished in 1:55 and was ecstatic I met my goal.
While working at PDS and training for races simultaneously, it often strikes me how much the guidance we give our clients parallels the strategy I employ while training. In particular, the advice PDS gives to individuals working toward their retirement goals. I’ve picked four pieces of advice I would give to someone whether they are preparing for retirement or running:
Preparation: Know your options and pick your plan. You will need to choose a training schedule you can follow. It should be one that fits your schedule and your level of ability at that time. In your employment, you should pick the retirement plan and options that are most appropriate for your current position and level of saving.
Fuel: Make sure you are covered in case of emergency. I have three things to keep me fueled during a race. The morning of a race I eat a breakfast that I know works for me (a banana and a CLIF bar). I keep hydrated (just ask anyone at PDS, I drink a TON of water). I also take advantage of water stops as needed in a race. I have a backup energy supply on me for anything over an hour of running (I buy GU Energy Gel in bulk – my favorite flavor is vanilla bean). Just like you have to be prepared in a race, a key component of retirement and savings is fueling up your emergency fund. While I have certain things that work for me, an emergency fund will be specific to your needs and comfort zone.
Pace: As time goes on, you will likely be able to speed up your pace. With additional running and training, you will get faster and stronger. Your race pace will start to reflect that. I’ve taken over a minute and a half off of my mile pace from my first half marathon to my most recent. With your savings and retirement contributions, as your income increases, you will have the opportunity to direct more towards your retirement goals.
Finish Line: Your goal is the finish line. Whether your goal is three months or thirty years away, PDS hopes to celebrate with you when you get there! The more effort and discipline you put towards your goal, the sweeter the reward.
I admit that it is hard for me to imagine what my retirement will look like since I have quite a few years to go. However, I’ve done my initial preparation, and I’m still working on adding fuel and increasing my pace. If I can compare the feelings of pride and achievement from earning a medal at the finish of a race to crossing the finishing line into retirement, then that is a goal I’ll happily keep working toward!