Investing is a Marathon

I have never run a marathon, but I have certainly watched many. Years ago, as a member of the local Exchange club, it was my privilege to welcome runners as they crossed the finish line, removing the computer timing chips from their shoes. I was fascinated as many of them, having run for several hours, collapsed in our arms, their bodies having been pushed to the very last step that was in them.

As we carried their trembling, and sometimes convulsing bodies to the recovery area, I found myself deeply touched at their dedication. They accepted a very difficult challenge, and with determination, saw it through. Having runners in my family I know somewhat of the efforts that go into preparing for a marathon, and the deep inner strength required to finish one. Those 26 miles are made up of many segments, some positive and full of energy and others so painful and exhausting that the only thing that keeps those feet moving forward is the indomitable will that runners possess. I have often felt that a person who could complete a marathon could accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Most people have areas of their lives where they exhibit similar dedication, such as in their careers, education or even religious beliefs. In these, like runners, they take a long-term view, understanding the need to prepare, dedicate and persevere in order to obtain a desired result. They enter these races with a firm commitment to complete them. They understand that things will not always go well, but they keep moving forward, determined to reach the finish line. When they hit the runners “wall,” and their physical strength is fully depleted, they refuse to give up, pressing forward on mental strength alone.

I sometimes wonder why these same lessons of life are often lost when it comes to investing. Investors make terrible mistakes because they get impulsive or they want immediate results. They panic when they feel some pain or they listen to the voices of negativity that echo in their heads and may quit the race when things get difficult.

The Saint George Marathon can serve as a reminder to all of us that things in life worth having are worth working for. They require patience, perseverance, and courage when the world around you would have you believe the only option is to quit. Life is not easy, often uncomfortable, and rarely goes exactly as we would like it to. But if we keep focused on the finish line and stay true to our training, the end result will be worth the effort.

I have watched many runners give their last ounce of strength as they crossed that line, but not a single one who regretted the effort, or who was not made better for having completed the race. Investors who watched the marathon this week can learn from those dedicated individuals who taught us once again what it takes to succeed. Investing, like life itself, will always be a marathon.