Family Wealth blog

The 30-Year Retirement Marathon Challenge

The legs of a large group of marathon runners racing, with the years 2023 through 2029 along the bottom. The title reads: The 30-Year Retirement Marathon Challenge.

Retirement is often referred to as a marathon, but what if I told you it could be a 30-year marathon? With increasing life expectancies and improved healthcare, many individuals can now reasonably expect three decades of retirement.1 That could mean lots of golf, tennis, travel, reading, or whatever else you’ve looked forward to during your working years. Of course, you will also need to pay for whatever you do and, unfortunately, this will also include basic living expenses and that improved healthcare mentioned above. So, planning for the prospect of a retirement that spans three decades or so will require some serious training, or in financial terms: planning.

Just Keep Running

To truly grasp the length of a 30-year retirement, let’s use an analogy from the world of marathon running. Imagine an average marathon runner who maintains a pace of 5.86 mph, the equivalent of just under a 4.5-hour marathon pace.2 Now, imagine if this runner could somehow continue running without stopping for 30 years.

In this scenario, our indefatigable runner would cover an astonishing 1,539,808 miles! That’s the equivalent of running around the Earth’s equator more than 61 times. As if that wasn’t hard enough, how much further could that runner go at what is considered not just an average pace, but at a “good” one? It turns out they could go 1,806,465 miles, which is just over 22% further. Imagine if any part of that improvement in retirement quality could come from better retirement planning?

And if your plans for retirement are even more ambitious, consider that Eliud Chipchoge still holds the world record he set in a 1984 marathon of two hours, one minute, and nine seconds.3 In our 30-year marathon example, that would be a 120% improvement over the average runner. Dream big and start running!

Just as a marathon runner prepares for the long race ahead with training, nutrition, and mental fortitude, so too must we prepare for the long journey of retirement. The distance may seem daunting, but with the right preparation and strategy, it is certainly achievable. (Okay, maybe start with a half marathon and work your way up to the millions of miles stretch goal…)

This “marathon miles” analogy underscores the importance of early and consistent planning for your retirement. The journey may be long, but every step you take now brings you closer to a secure and comfortable retirement.

Your Training Plan

The world’s most successful athletes use visualization or mental imagery to up their game. They picture the outcome they desire—be it a hole in one or a goal or a home run—and it brings them closer to making good things happen. Now, it doesn’t always result in the ideal outcome, but it tends to improve their chances of success. Think of this technique as you read these five suggestions for “training” for retirement:

1. Start Early and Save Consistently: The key to a successful 30-year retirement is to start planning and saving as early as possible. The power of compounding can work wonders over such a long time horizon. By consistently saving a portion of your income and investing it wisely, you can build a substantial nest egg that will support you throughout your retirement years.

2. Create a Comprehensive Financial Plan: A comprehensive financial plan is essential for navigating the complexities of a 30-year retirement. It should include a detailed analysis of your current financial situation, projected expenses, and income sources. By understanding your financial landscape, you can make informed decisions about investment strategies, tax planning, and estate planning.

3. Diversify Your Investments: Diversification is crucial when planning for a long retirement. By spreading your investments across different asset classes, you can reduce the risk of relying too heavily on a single investment. A well-diversified portfolio can provide stability and growth potential, even during market fluctuations. And this should change over time, even during retirement.

4. Stay Flexible and Adapt: A 30-year retirement is a long journey, and circumstances can change along the way. It’s important to stay flexible and adapt your financial plan as needed. Regularly review your investments, expenses, and goals to ensure they align with your evolving needs. Consulting with a financial advisor can provide valuable guidance and help you make informed decisions.

5. Plan for After Retirement: That’s a nice way of saying don’t forget to do your estate planning. As family wealth advisors, we think of long-term investing as including future generations. This brings us back to the visualization technique. Imagine what you’d like your children’s and grandchildren’s lives to look like, and let that influence your retirement marathon planning as well.

The Takeaway

Embarking on a 30-year retirement marathon requires careful planning, disciplined saving, and strategic decision-making. By starting early, creating a comprehensive financial plan, diversifying your investments, staying flexible, and even considering estate planning along the way, you’ll improve your chances at navigating the challenges and opportunities of a long retirement with confidence. It’s never too early to start planning for your future. Remember to consult with a financial advisor if you need a “coach” to help you fit these strategies to your specific circumstances and goals.





Disclosure: This information is for educational and informative purposes and shall not be considered a specific recommendation. Readers are advised to speak with their advisor at JL Bainbridge to determine their specific recommendations that meet their investment objectives and to review their portfolios. The material being provided is thought to be accurate. However, the information is compiled from multiple resources and may become outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect by new research or corrections without notice. J.L. Bainbridge & Co., Inc., is not a broker dealer and does not offer tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor for assistance regarding your individual situation. It should neither be assumed that future results will be as profitable or that a loss could not be incurred. For more information related to our firm, please see our disclosure brochures at and

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