Emperor Blog

The drive, the determination and willpower to keep going when the going gets tough.”

After making a vow that I was never going to run any virtual event again after dismally failing to get myself into race mode during a tough 21-kilometer virtual race I ran last year, I decided to try once again this year. Well; it seems very clear that I do not stick to my words.

Before the end of April this year I decided to register for a virtual comrades marathon. Perhaps motivated by the fear of missing out. The Comrades marathon centenary challenge proved too impossible to resist. But the challenge was that I had not been training as much as I would do in preparation for the comrades in the past. I only trusted my strong mind.

As the date, 13 June was drawing closer, I sat my targets as you would your financial investment targets in the beginning of the year or season. My targets were set at running 10km for very 60 minutes. I wanted to get to 45 kilometers (halfway) in 04:30:00. And then aimed to get to 60 kilometers closest to 6 hours. These were specific and clear in my head. Mentally I believed I could achieve them all, yet physically in doubt because of the training. But with a sound pacing plan I thought they were all achievable. I had opted for a route that would take me past my house soon after the 60 km mark with 30 km left to go. This was a big mistake.

At 05:00: 00 in a cooler and cloudless morning, I click start on my watch. Kilometer by kilometer I was in control. The result was that after the first hour 10 kilometers had been shed. I was on my way to running 90 km alone. The longest I had pushed myself to run alone had been 60 km in the past. Had never ventured beyond that, this was going to be a game of the mind.

Pacing was going to be the difference maker and I have not been great at it. I have never been consistent in pacing and that has killed me during races in the past because its either I go too fast or too slow and I still get too tired in both ways. So, I was consistently looking at my watch to make sure I was not too fast. Many a times I had to force myself to slow down. One important lesson, even for investing, slow down, look at your performance rate. It might give you an important hint.

My support structure were there doing their best to keep me well fed and well rehydrated. I was going well passing 21 km. I got to 30 km feeling strong and in control. But I had dropped a little in pace because I was seven minutes behind target time at halfway. Was this a sign that I my muscles were starting to give in?

I refused the temptation to think about that. I fought to stay close to my 60 km time target even though it was visibly clear that I was drifted off pace. I accepted 35 minutes behind target and turned my focus to last 30 km until the 90. From the 62nd Kilometer onwards, it became a struggle. I started to cramp. The sun was a bit too much on the body. Loneliness kicked in. I missed the spectators who cheer and keep us going at Comrades. Things were becoming mind over matter. Twenty-eight kilometers was like a thousand kilometers away. I kept my cool and focused on one at a time. Then distance accumulation came to a standstill, while time started racing fast.

I dropped from being a 6 minutes per kilometer runner to a to 11 minutes per kilometer shuffler. I was walking the most than running. Every step was becoming a painful effort. At 68 km I found my wife and my son waiting. They had been with me until 60 km before I told them to go and wait for me at this point. I stopped and looked down the road towards my house. It was only 100 meters to a shower and a good rest with a possible cold something…. With 22 kilometers left when I could not even run, it was very tempting to just throw in the towel and give up on the madness of hobbling along for an agonizing twenty kilometers to a finish line that was never as energizing as the usual finish at the stadium. There was no motivation, no physical fitness.

All was gone; pain was my only friend. I took a bottle and drank the water, poured some on my cramping legs and started towards the finish. I refused to give up. This was no longer a physical game; it was a mind-numbing mental resilience. I needed to be as stubborn as a mule in refusing to think about home. I summoned all my mental strength and marched on. At times I could not even lift my feet off the ground without cramping. I shuffled along as I limped from one dreaded kilometer to another. I started counting myself down every time my watch clocked another kilometer as done. It was then that I said to myself, “Your mental resilience will get you to the finish line as long as you don’t stop.” Refuse the temptation to give up on your investment. “It is always too soon to quit.” Norman Vincent Peale is right with that quote. Stay the course.

I did not stop. Every small step towards the end goal was success. After a grueling and agonizing 11:22:37 hours, I stopped my watch as it beeped for 90km. I had run a virtual 90km and I was ecstatic. The slogan “no pain no gain” suddenly made sense and sounded perfect and relevant.”

I accomplished what I had set out to do because I had refused to give up when there was a chance and reason to do so. I reached my pre-determined end goal because when all physical fitness and strength including self-motivation had left me, I summoned my mental strengths to pull me through hours of pain and dread.

“Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on, but you keep on going anyway.”

On your financial investment journey, you need to be mentally tough and refuse to give up. Just keep on going.


Happy Investing!

From Emperor Brand Ambassador Sibusiso Vilane 



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