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Triathlons and Investments: More Similar Than You’d Think

Triathlon race

After finishing my 4th triathlon recently, I’ve come to realize that triathletes are a lot like investors. How on earth can I compare sweaty athletes in Lycra to well groomed investors sitting in front of their computers? If you think about it, I believe you will agree that being in a triathlon and investing have many similarities.

The Elite Athlete/Investor

If you have ever done competitive events like races or triathlons, you’ve seen the elite group. You know the type. They have the correct clothing and gear. They have 2% body fat and seem to be made solely of legs and lungs.These people train for events for many hours a day and are the ones that finish in the top 10%.

Elite investors are also a rare breed. Warren Buffet or Donald Trump come to mind. These type people are smarter than the average bear either by a combination of luck, study and/or natural talent and personality. They have huge sums of money and seem to rarely make mistakes. When they do, they are able to use the lesson learned to produce positive results.

The Weekend Warrior

In every event I’ve ever done there are a few people who should have never entered. These are the ones who maybe were athletic in high school but haven’t done much since. However, they still think they are better athletes than most of the population and sign up for events like the 4th of July triathlon. They don’t train other than doing 12 oz curls with a beer while watching Ice Road Truckers on TV. These are the ones who end up pushing their bikes up the biggest hill or walking most of the running portion.  

You also have this type of investor. They take no time to study the markets or how to pick the best funds or stocks. They don’t look for the investments that will make the most money with the lowest fees. These folks are looking to get rich quick. They think they have a hot tip or follow the advice of the snake oil salesman only to find out that their money is gone and they somehow did not beat the market.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In most races, you find competitors, like myself, who are athletic and work out routinely, but are not at the front of the pack. We train for events, but not excessively so. We are well rounded athletes who might have a favorite portion of a triathlon, but can handle the other two events as well. We might be really slow runners, but ride the bike portion really fast to make up for it. We might not place, but we do finish without having to walk with a limp for the next week.

I think most investors also fall into the same type of category. Maybe we aren’t financial geniuses, but we’ve done enough homework to understand the power of compound interest and the tax advantages of various investment strategies. We are well diversified. We might have more experience with one type of investment, but realize that you have to spread your money around to keep balanced in the case of a bad economy. While we probably won’t ever be elite, and we certainly won’t blow all of our money on one deal, we will reach retirement with a good balance to carry us through. We also make sure we have different streams of income to keep us afloat if something else fails.

There are also far too many people who never exercise or invest money. I could only assume, but I bet most get to a point where they certainly wish they had.  I don’t want to have any regrets, so I’ll continue to be slow and steady in my athletic and investment endeavors, and I’ll continue to think up crazy analogies while spending two hours in a triathlon. You have to do something to pass the time!

Which athlete/ investor type are you? Are you a better swimmer, biker, runner, or investor?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

14 comments

  1. Great analogy, Kim, and congrats on finishing your 4th triathlon! There are always people in races who should not have signed up or should have trained more. I always worry about injury and some people who try to run a half marathon when they haven’t run more than a few miles in the past year are really setting themselves up for a bad injury. In the same way, if you have all your money in one stock you are setting yourself up for much more risk than you probably are comfortable with.

  2. Great comparison!

    Unfortunately, I have a family member who runs marathons and they couldn’t be more of a financial mess. I guess it doesn’t apply to everyone! =)

  3. I really like this comparison. I’m definitely in the camp that thinks the vast majority of us should be in that last group. There will certainly always be people that are the best of the best, but with investing I think those people owe even more to luck than do the top triathletes.

  4. I used to be the The Elite Athlete/Investor but these days with my limited amount of time I am far more like a Weekend Warrior (or every second weekend warrior).

  5. Great analogy Kim! I think, as with many things in life, having balance is key in both areas in order to have some semblance of healthiness. I am great on the investment part…working on the exercising part. 🙂

  6. Love it! I’m the slow and steady type myself too (and I’d do the best in the running portion). I’d love to be a little more elite (aka a little more riskier/knowledgable), so hopefully as I learn more about PF, I’ll be able to move slowly to the front of the pack.

  7. Slow and steady surely wins the race! Great analogy!

  8. I am a very good cyclist and former runner, but at my age, I am a better investor. Your article reminds me of the tortoise and hare story. My long term strategy is to keep growing my portfolio over the long term.

  9. I’m the type of person that does well with a training plan and a financial plan, so I definitely get the comparison!

    Congrats on finishing your 4th tri! Friends keep trying to talk me into them, but the open water swims terrify me!

  10. Awesome comparison Kim! I would be interested to know what your training schedule is like. I am training for my second marathon now and would love to venture into triathlons as I have done and enjoy both of those other activities. With investing, I’m definitely slow and steady. No need to get in a rush. That’s when mistakes happen.

  11. Congratulations on your latest triathlon, that’s awesome! I’m pretty slow and steady when it comes to investments right now. Once I’m done with my debt, I would like to look into learning more and playing a little more with penny stocks and some of the higher risk stuff. I don’t mean parking our whole portfolio into anything like this, but taking the time to learn and then experiment. Thanks for the article, I hadn’t thought of the athlete/investor parallel before!

  12. Well done on the triathlon! I think I am above average with cycling and investing, running and swimming just about average or under. Starting the slow and steady run got me to 30 minutes now!

  13. Congrats, Kim, on the latest triathlon gig! I used to do 5k’s, and your analogy here is right on. I was like you – trained well, but not at the front, and that was ok with me, b/c what’s important is the effort. I’ve now traded running in for walking and biking, as running is just more work for me now than I want in an exercise program, but I’ll never forget those training days – they sure are powerful, aren’t they?

  14. I’m grateful for the blog article.Truly looking forward to read more. Cool.

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