8 Money Lessons I Learned from Running a Marathon

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Recently, I accomplished something personally significant. On one day, I ran the Disney Half Marathon. On the next day, I ran the Disney Full Marathon. That’s 39.3 miles in two days.

I made the decision to go after this feat in early 2022. Prior to the decision, I had not run a race of greater distance than a 5k, that’s 3.1 miles. As I trained over the past year and ran a few races, there were many lessons learned. I couldn’t help but think of how some of the lessons learned applied to achieving financial health. I am a nerd like that.

So, here are eight lessons I learned from running a marathon:

1. You can’t simply show up and expect to finish.

I learned that finishing a marathon doesn’t magically happen. Even though I trained for a marathon, the race was not easy. If I didn’t put in the work prior to the race, it’s possible I would not have crossed the finish line. In a similar way, one cannot expect everything to simply work out with their finances. It is not magic. Financial health results from wise decision-making and effort. If you choose to avoid sacrifice and leverage debt, you cannot expect experience financial health.

2. You need a plan.

I learned that I needed a plan to train for the race and needed a plan during the race. My training plan helped me understand what next steps were needed to meet my goal. How many miles should I run today? My running plan laid out the best way to ensure a solid finish. What should my pace be and what should my nutrition look like during the race?

In finances, you need a plan. You need to know what steps to take next. We recommend the 8 Money Milestones as the plan to follow. This is your macro level plan. But you also need budget to help you determine what should be given, saved, and spent.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of discipline.

From the beginning of my training to crossing the finish line, I learned that completing a marathon required significant discipline. I needed discipline to train when I didn’t feel like it. I had to watch my food intake. During the race, I needed discipline to maintain my pace and discipline to pay attention to your body, making adjustment along the way.

Financial health requires discipline. It requires a person to say “no” to purchases they want. It requires a person to decline an invitation to eat out with friends. It requires a person to monitor their generosity, saving, and spending. 

4. Avoid all unnecessary weight.

I learned that when running a marathon, I must be careful how much weight I carry, as additional weight can hinder my ability run as I desired. According to the Bible, debt is a burden, a weight. Debt will hinder your ability to get financially healthy. The more debt a person holds, the more difficult the journey toward financial health.

5. You must believe you can reach your goal.

I learned that there is a significant mental component to completing a marathon, including my belief that I can finish the race. I need to maintain this belief, even as the miles become more difficult. Likewise, one must believe they can obtain financial health. A defeatist attitude will likely leave you, well, defeated. You will give up far too early.

6. Surround yourself with the right people.

I learned that completing a marathon requires encouragement. During my training, I needed to surround myself with people who would cheer me on. During the race, it was helpful to find someone with whom I shared a similar pace. This helped me maintain focus and discipline.

When you decide to pursue financial health, surround yourself with the right people. Find those who are excited about your decision and will cheer you on. Maybe you could even find some who will share the journey with you. If someone regularly discourages you on your journey, it I okay to no longer inform them about your finances and goals. You can still be friends, but you don’t necessarily have to share this part of your life with them.

7. Be generous during the journey.

I learned that encouraging others during the race is enjoyable and helps the miles go by more quickly. Generosity is the reason we pursue financial health. God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but to be conduits through which His generosity flows. But generosity is not just the destination; it is also the starting point. Don’t wait to be generous. Be generous now, during the journey.

8. Every good gift is from God.

I learned that the running of a marathon is a God-given gift and should be treated as such. As someone who has had athletic-induced asthma his entire life, I do not take for granted my ability to run. Because I can take a preventative medication prior to athletic activity, my asthma is controlled. Had I been born prior to the development of this medication; I would not be able to run a single mile. At the end of most runs (and often during runs), I thank God for the opportunity to do such an activity. Even my training runs are ended with thanksgiving. 

God is the giver of all good gifts. He provides us all with some amount of resources. We should be thankful for such resources and steward them well for His Kingdom.