Before my first ultra-marathon, I reviewed the course map a lot. The map showed 4,700’ of elevation gain. A gain I struggled to conceptualize.

For perspective, the Boston Marathon has roughly 800’ of elevation. The Manchester City Marathon had 1600’ of elevation gain. Trying to envision 3x the elevation from that course was beyond me.

The map didn’t do the terrain justice. What I envisioned 4,700′ to be wasn’t anywhere close to what my legs experienced.

The terrain builds perspective. It shows your level of preparation. It’s also a teacher. How can you learn from the landscape so the next 4,700′ isn’t as painful?

 2000-2002, 2007-2008, and 2020 are the terrain.

S&P 500 Returns from Jan 2000 through Dec 2002
S&P 500 Returns from Oct 2007 through Dec 2008
The S&P 500 returns from Feb 2020 through Mar 23, 2020

The map will often look the same. The terrain will always feel different. 4,700’ over 2 miles is vastly different from 4,700’ over 31 miles.  You’ve felt both ends of the spectrum, and the charts above prove it.

What lessons did you learn from the 2000-2002, 2007-2008, and 2020 terrain? Can those lessons build self-efficacy and make you a more prepared investor as you approach the terrain ahead? More than anything, use your experience to avoid the ‘this time is different trap.’