I am a terrible runner. Seriously, people comment on the way I look when I run, like “Does it hurt to run like that? It looks really painful.” In fact, it sometimes is painful. Before I clued in to buying special shoes for overpronators, I would frequently return from a run to find that my socks were bloody at the ankles from my heels brushing into them.
Yet in spite of my clear lack of form, I have never sought professional instruction for running. I’ve usually just looked at other runners who pass me and try to emulate their style. I’ve made some gains and rarely shed any blood these days, but I’ve relegated myself to being a “slow runner” even at my fastest.
But this morning a small bell rang in my head and said, “Hey dummy, you’ve watched YouTube videos to help you fixed a clogged sink, repair drywall and make a tire swing for your kids. Why haven’t you watched one for your bad running?” I’m super-motivated by the guilt-trips my inner dialogue lays on me, so I searched for “running form correct technique” and came upon this video:
You could say that the video could be a few minutes shorter, but at under 10 minutes it provides great advice in a simple, easy-to-understand format. I watched it and then immediately set about my run, thinking about the fundamentals the video covered…and I cut more than 30 seconds per mile from my time! This was the first attempt at following very easy advice and it resulted in a roughly 5 percent improvement in performance.
That type of metric works for me because it’s easy to track. In about the time it takes me to run a mile, I was able to save what will be countless minutes (and better race results) of time spent flailing from head to toe.
The reason I’m talking about running on a blog about financial independence and benefits is because of another metric we hear and talk a lot about: how much time you spend learning about your benefits. Various studies have shown that the average American worker spends anywhere from 20 to 5 minutes researching the benefits they would like to elect each year. If their company is clued into this statistic and has a solid communication plan, they may be helping you make the most of that limited time. But chances are they are not, and you are not making the most of your benefits as a result.
So, here’s a question and a challenge: What is your metric for learning more about your benefits and what are you willing to do for that metric? Is it money? Quality of life? Time? Sense of achievement? If I told you that, regardless of what your employer does for you, that by spending one hour every open enrollment period researching your benefits could save you thousands of dollars and/or accelerate your FIRE goals, would you do it? Would you shave off that extra 30 seconds by simply paying more attention?