Imagine an impressionable teenage boy casually channel surfing one Saturday morning. Looking for something to watch, he stumbles upon a bike race where hundreds of athletes were flying across the screen.
That was me! I later came to find out this wasn’t a bike race, but a triathlon – specifically the Ironman World Championships. These athletes were swimming 2.4 miles in the Pacific, biking 112, and running a marathon (26.2 miles) – in one day!! All of this under the hot Hawaiian sun.
I soon found out there were shorter distance races in the sport and I immediately wanted to do one. I told my dad about it and found out he used to these when I was too young to remember. He was really excited about it and within a couple weeks he got me a road bike and we both signed up to do one about 9 months later. I was already running at the time, and I started to bike around my neighborhood a couple days a week after track practice. And then on the weekends I’d swim back and forth in the small pool in our backyard. Fast forward a ways and I completed a triathlon that was a .25 mile swim, 6 mile bike, and a 2 mile run and I LOVED IT! When I went to college, I joined the school’s triathlon team, and 4 years and ~50 triathlons later, I accomplished my goal of doing a full distance Ironman (the same distance of the first one I saw on TV).
Expensive Hobbies and FI
Triathlon can be a very expensive sport. On the low end this can be $1,000 for a decent entry level bike, running shoes, a pool membership, and $50-$1,000 per race depending on the distance you want to do, and some people like to race many times per year. On the high end, you can be paying over $100 per month for coaching, the high end bikes/wheels/power meters etc. can run you $15,000. There are some people that get new stuff every few years as the technology changes even though the improvements are negligible for the majority of athletes. From the outside, triathlon looks like a sport only for the wealthiest of people. Fortunately, frugality and financial independence aren’t mutually exclusive, so you can still pursue pricey hobbies while pursuing lofty financial goals. I have two bikes, each of which I bought for around $3,000. And I’m sure that’s on the lower end for the majority of long distance triathletes. My car isn’t worth much more than half of one of my bikes! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since the start of 2014, I’ve spent approximately 2,000 hours on a bike so the expense is 100% worth it in my eyes. It’s hard to put into words how much I value the time I spend training and racing. I’m frugal in other areas purely so I can spend the money I want to on this expensive hobby of mine, while still meeting my savings rate goal of at least 50%.
Life is about value. I could reduce my spending by roughly 25% if I decided to swap to a lower cost hobby like rock climbing or ultimate frisbee where the cost of entry is minimal. But there’s no way in heck I’d ever do that! That’s not because I have something against rock climbing or ultimate frisbee, but triathlon is what I love. I also don’t question a single penny I put towards it. There are few things that bring me more joy than going as fast as I can in a race with my funny helmet and wheels and my unflattering skin tight race suit.
(No, this isn’t me, this is Jan Frodeno, one of the fastest triathletes)
FI, unlike triathlon, isn’t about getting to the finish line as fast as possible. It’s about finding out what you love to do and what you want to do for the rest of your life if you choose to stop working early. While this is something I currently spend a fair amount of hours in, when I’m eventually able to retire early (potentially in around 15-20 years?), I plan to put in even more time! If you take care of your body, this is a sport people are able to do into their 80s and I don’t see a reason not to shoot for that!
Whether you love or hate your job, the majority of us will be retiring FROM a life of working too many hours without spending as much time as we want pursuing our interests, passions, and hobbies. The hard part is figuring out what you’re retiring TO.
What are your biggest time consuming hobbies, and how will retiring before the age of 65 help you when it comes to them? Let me know! Would love to hear what you love to do.