Like a Runner In a Marathon, Focus on Finishing ‘Best’
Insight Weekend Investor

Like a Runner In a Marathon, Focus on Finishing ‘Best’

Man tying jogging shoes.A person running outdoors on a sunny day. The person is wearing black running shoes.Focus on a side view of two human hands reaching down to a athletic shoe.

As I write this, it’s early September, kind of a turning point of the year heading into the fourth quarter and a change of seasons. And here in Dallas, where I am a real estate investor and HomeVestors franchise owner, we live in a very, very warm-weather climate, and another change that you see at this time of year is a lot of people out running.

You see it really peak in late August to early September. The reason for that is that Dallas’ big marathon comes in the month of December, which is one of the few months in the year when you can comfortably run 26.2 miles in this climate. Because we’re now about 18 weeks away from that race, runners—especially marathoners—are seriously beginning to train for that race as the Texas heat is starting to cool down a bit.

I have run marathons myself, and as I drive down the road and see all these people out running, I can’t help but equate their preparation and their ultimate goal—running in that marathon—with the process that we as real estate investors go through.

As I watch these runners out preparing for the big race, I wonder whether the goal is to participate as part of a relay team, to run a half-marathon or finish the entire 26.2 miles, maybe even with a particular time in mind. Every one of those runners I see has a different goal, and every one of them is an admirable and achievable goal. And I can also say that probably very few—if any—has the goal to finish first.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with not setting your sights on finishing first but instead having some other goal. The key thing is not necessarily to finish first, but to achieve your own specific goal.

Set an Achievable Goal

That same concept is very applicable to real estate investing—especially for the new investor. New investors are going to have a variety of different goals, depending upon their skill level, time available and any number of other factors. And just as one might discourage a beginning runner from having a goal of finishing first in that marathon, I would also advise a new or beginning investor to dial back from a short-term goal of being first, or being the No. 1 investor in his or her market.

It’s a lofty goal, but an unreasonable one for an investor just starting out, to think something like, “I am going to buy the most houses this year, more than any other investor in my market,” or “I’m going to acquire the most rental properties,” or “I’m going to do the most seller-finance deals,” or “I’m going to buy the biggest apartment complex in my community.”

I would be very hesitant to encourage a new investor to set his or her single and primary goal as being first, but instead—as with those runners—I would encourage a new investor to focus on finishing “best” and then finishing first later.

What It Means to Finish ‘Best’

Let me tell you what it means to finish best versus first.

For that runner, the training and preparation is a very important part of his or her quest for success in completing that marathon, or whatever the goal. It’s just the same for you as a new investor.

Just as a runner is going to have those days when he or she will go on a short run and other days go on a long run while preparing for that big race, you as a new investor are going to have small deals—maybe a lot of small deals—and then you may have big deals come along also as you move closer to your goal.

For a runner, a lot of those early miles can be the toughest ones, tougher than the later miles. And you’re going to feel and encounter the same thing as an investor. No doubt your early deals are going to be your toughest deals as you figure things out.

Don’t Give Up When The Going Gets Tough

And it’s so critical at this point that you don’t quit, just like that runner who is going to have a tough time finishing that three-day at the beginning of that eight-week training. You’re going to have a tough time getting through some of those initial deals while navigating the complexities of real estate, but you’ve got to keep moving forward because you’re going to hit your stride eventually—just like that runner. And you’re going to get your second wind, and those deals are going to come easier and easier.

Just like that runner who is able to go farther and farther, you will be glad you didn’t quit when you start getting bigger deals and more deals and easier deals. You’ll be executing them better, so you’ll be having even better results.

The key is that you hang in there and focus on your readiness and don’t give up when the going gets tough early on, because trust me, it will.

Work on Increasing Your Endurance

Endurance is key for you as a new, part-time or weekend real estate investor, just as it is for that runner, when the day finally comes to run that big race. There are going to be some good miles that day and there will be some bad miles that day. Some of them will be easy and some of them will be hard, and it’s no different for you as an investor as you’re charting the course to reach your year-end goals.

Along the way you are going to have some good deals and you’re going to have some bad deals. Things are going to go your way at times, and at other times things will not go your way. There will be some periods of time where you can’t seem to find the right property or get the leads you want, and then there will be other times you’ll have more leads than you know what to do with and you’ll have more houses to buy than you’ve ever imagined.

So you‘ve got to be prepared to endure both the good and the bad. You may say, “Gosh, it’s easier to endure the good,” but I want to caution you to not become complacent during the good times. When the leads, deals and profits are coming in easily, that’s no time to sit back and perhaps stop your marketing or let off the gas or slow down. You’ve got to keep working hard through the good times just like you’ve got to endure the bad times.

Just as you can’t give up during the bad times, you can’t give up during the good times either. It’s all a question of endurance and sticking with it, keeping your goal in mind and moving forward just like that runner who endures the good miles with the bad miles, the uphills with the downhills, in order to ultimately achieve his or her goal—no matter what it might be—at the end of that 26.2 miles.

Your Goals Will Keep You on Track

I’m talking a lot about goals here, just as I have talked a lot about goals in the past, because it is so critical. It’s the one thing that’s going to keep you on track and keep you working on your preparedness, your readiness. It’s going to keep you focused on increasing your endurance.

When you go to your local real estate investing club or networking event and talk to colleagues and peers who are also real estate investors, you’re going to hear their goals and achievements and some of them are going to be focused on a certain number of rental properties that they’re going buy and own that year or maybe a certain amount of multifamily doors. They may say, “I’m going to own 60 doors this year” or maybe they’re trying to carry so many seller-finance notes this year or do so many rehabs or so many wholesale deals. These are all examples of goals where people are trying to be their best. They’re not trying to be first, but they’re trying to be their best, and you should adopt that same mentality.

Pick the measure and goal that works for you and complement your objective and your lifestyle and your abilities and your resources so that you can achieve that goal and be the best at whatever you are seeking to achieve as an investor. Everyone’s goals will be different, and at the end of the day or at the end of the race, all that matters is that you achieved your goal.

One runner may be trying to beat a certain time while another is simply trying to finish the race. Both goals are incredibly admirable, and I would be hard-pressed to try to calm the celebration of a runner who has just completed a 26.2-mile marathon and achieve whatever his or her goal was—even though that didn’t mean coming in first. I’m sure you wouldn’t even be able talk those runners out of their excitement of whatever their goals were for that race. Whatever the goal, they were the best as it was related to that goal even though they weren’t first. And they were ready and they endured and they achieved what they set out to do.

So don’t give up too early in your investing; victory is closer than you think. Focus on your readiness and your willingness to accept the good and the bad. Endure and stay the course and set goals that are going to let you know when you’ve won.

Listen to Kevin’s podcast here:–finish-first

About the Author

Kevin Guz is a Dallas, Texas-based residential real estate investor with more than 10 years of investing experience. He owns a HomeVestors (or “We Buy Ugly Houses”) franchise as well as the Clear Key companies, which focus on residential real estate wholesaling, rental property management and self-storage leasing. He also is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Texas. He enjoys sharing his ongoing personal experiences, perspectives and learnings from his start as a part-time or “weekend investor” and full-time corporate professional through his ultimate transition to a full-time real estate investor and business owner. You can listen to his podcasts at