I’ve recently taken up the hobby of running (very slowly) and have been making my way through the available Libby eBooks for both tips and inspiration. Running advice feels similar to personal finance advice in many ways. There are some broad concepts that seem to have secured broad agreement, but dig deeper and there are endless different variations within those areas. There is a mountain of advice available from veteran gurus, rockstar professionals, and amateur and semi-pro enthusiasts.

Here are some good quotes from the book 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days by Dean Karnazes. His books are more on the inspirational side, as he obviously just loves endurance running and there is less arguing about exact training schedules or nutritional tracking down to the electrolyte. He doesn’t appear to sell his own trademarked method, which means he can take a step back.

Most important to just start and listen.

If I could offer only one piece of advice to runners, it would be this: “Listen to everyone, follow no one.” That’s because each runner is unique, so there’s no single training system, shoe, or breakfast that is equally effective for every athlete. I always encourage other runners to experiment during training and find what works best for them.

Personal finance parallels: The fact that you are interested in learning more is more important than which book you read first. Sure, there are some semi-dangerous quacks out there, but if you keep reading a cross section of the most commonly recommended books, then you should soon gather enough information to discover the general themes.

Discover your own unique strengths.

Each runner is unique. There is no single formula for running success that works equally well for everyone. Some runners are naturally speedy and struggle to build endurance; others are the opposite. Some runners are injury-resistant, others are injury-prone. Some runners recover quickly from hard workouts while others take longer.

Personal finance parallels: Some people happen to be talented at skills that are very highly-compensated at this moment in time. Some people are great at sales. Some are clever risk-takers that find opportunities with high upside and tolerable downside. Some are conservative but can focus for long periods of time. Some people are good at not needing to spend much money to be happy. Some people are just better at tolerating corporate bureaucracies.

Take action and prioritize your own specific goals.

“You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.”

Experiment, expect some surprises, and adapt.

To continually improve as a runner, try to really tune in to how your body responds to training and continuously evolve your training methods accordingly. When you’re a beginner, the best you can do is follow one-size-fits-all training guidelines obtained from a coach, a book, or a more experienced runner. As you do so, however, you are sure to discover that they don’t always meet all your individual needs. Eventually, these general methods will need to be modified and tweaked to better fit your personal goals and approach. As Charles Darwin has written, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Personal finance parallels: There will always be a fascination with the idea of “early retirement in your 30s” or “millionaire by age XX”, but the real world is much messier. Your business does great. Your business fails. You have a kid (or more). You experience a health scare. Your parents or other relatives need assistance. My life doesn’t translate well to an inspirational book, but I know that paying attention to my finances has made my life better by allowing me to spend more quality (relaxed) time with my family. The game changes, and you have to keep adapting.

I hope that going down the path of running will provide a sense of personal fulfillment and enjoyment, on top of any health benefits. That’s how I feel about personal finance as well. I hope that people know that going down the path of learning about and improving their personal finance practices can help provide a happier, calmer, and more fulfilled life, not just more money.

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Parallels Between Running and Personal Finance Advice: Listen, Experiment, Self-Assess, Adapt from My Money Blog.

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