How Runners Are Like Warren Buffet

MY COACH THINKS I’M RICH.

I found this out last week while trying on shoes at Running Lab, where Marie works part time. “These shoes are on sale,” she said, indicating the Brooks Pure Flows I had on, “but that shouldn’t matter to you. You have all the money in the world.”

This may look like a hydration pack, but it's really stuffed with $100 bills. Just in case I need them on a run.

This may look like a hydration pack, but it’s really stuffed with $100 bills. Just in case I need them on a run.

She was ribbing me about the cost of all the races I’m running this year (yes, it does add up) and that I’d dropped $160 on the Hoka One Ones this winter. Hey, they fit and felt good, and they were a big reason I kept up my outside training during the long winter of our discontent. But as I told her, it’s a good thing I have a full-time job.

As it happened, I later came across an article by J.D. Roth, founder of the Get Rich Slowly blog – The 10 Habits of Financially Successful People. Roth identifies valuable traits that he has observed in his wealthier friends and readers, and that, conversely, are lacking in people who are struggling financially.

“Most people (including me) follow a few of these rules but not others,” Roth wrote. “The most successful people I know do all of the things on this list; the least successful people do none of them.”

I couldn’t help notice that the runners I know follow many of the habits. I don’t know how financially successful they may be, but they run with purpose and stick with it, whether it’s to complete a race, lose weight, replace a smoking habit with a healthy one, or just keep fit. That’s being successful in my book.

Here are a few of Roth’s rules, as I see successful runners applying them. I’m paraphrasing his text in places, along with my own thoughts.

They surround themselves with positive people. They prefer to spend time with folks who have can-do attitudes. They don’t waste time listening to why something can’t be done. Instead, they make it happen.

This is the most obvious habit I’ve observed. I’ve never heard any runner say, “There’s no way you could do that.” And Marie has called me crazy when I tell her some of my goals, but has never said I shouldn’t try for them.

Crossing the 50-mile finish line at Run Woodstock last year. No one told me I couldn't do it!

Crossing the 50-mile finish line at Run Woodstock last year. No one told me I couldn’t do it!

They aren’t flummoxed by failure. They know that bad days and bad races are inevitable and to treat them as lessons learned rather than signs of weakness or reasons to give up.

Okay, so as we in the world of quality improvement say, there’s an Opportunity for Improvement (OFI) for me here. I’m working on it.

They manage their time effectively. They recognize that training time is precious. So, they set priorities and pursue them with passion. This means rolling out of bed early on weekend mornings to get a run in, or attending running clinics to improve their form, or getting in laps when they’d rather be watching TV.

They do what’s difficult. They may not look forward to or enjoy every workout (heaven knows I don’t) but they get out the door and get it done. Runners, in my experience, demonstrate the deferred gratification we all say we admire, putting off the available comforts and distractions to put the miles in and obtain the rewards.

They grow and change over time. They adapt. They evolve. They seek knowledge and experience, and they allow the things they learn to mold them.

This is an especially valuable attitude to have as we mature as runners. There comes a time when even with training and a great attitude, we can’t match the results we had when we were younger. But there are many ways to be better runners that have nothing to do with being fast. In the end, fulfillment comes from the running, not the medals.

Now here's someone who must be following ALL the habits.

Now here’s someone who must be following ALL the habits.

So there’s a few habits I’ve noticed. Which good habits do you practice as a runner, or have seen others practice?

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