Who knew there were different categories of fun?
Not all fun is created equal. If you want to accomplish great things, it’s the Type 2 fun that you’re looking for. Here’s what I mean…
Two Marathons a Day…
I have a friend who has hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) – all 2,123 miles of it. An impressive feat, it took him nearly six months, and taught him valuable lessons about perseverance and leadership which he shared here a while back.
I have nothing but respect for someone who can set a huge goal like that, and then stick with it until he makes it happen.
But recently I read a book about someone who ran that same trail. His goal was to break the existing speed record. To accomplish that, he had average nearly 50 miles, almost two full marathons, each and every day. What?
The book was North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek. He’s a world-class ultra-marathoner with repeat victories in races ranging from 50 to 153 miles in length.
Breaking the Fastest Known Time on the AT would be the crowning achievement in an already spectacular running career. But it wouldn’t be easy.
If you’ve ever been on the AT you know it’s not like that nice path at your local park where you exercise the dog. Much of it is smothered in a profusion of roots and rocks. The entire state of Pennsylvania has been “lovingly” dubbed “Rocksylvania.” Every one of the five million steps he’d take carried with it the risk of trip, fall, or sprain.
It’s also not flat; total elevation gain/loss is 89 miles. If he were climbing Mount Everest, he’d have to do it 16 times. Only he wasn’t climbing – he was running.
In his book, a striking moment for me came when Jurek describes the end of day 32 of his journey. Having already run for hours and hours, he and a friend running with him still had one final trail section to complete before they could stop for the day. They had to get over 3,000 foot Mount Greylock.
It was tough, rocky going, and the narrow trail bent unrelentingly upward. As the difficult miles added up and they neared the summit, the wind began to blow, clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. Soon it was howling and the fog made it seem as dark as midnight.
By the time they had groped and stumbled their way to the top and started down the down the other side, windspeeds had peaked at 60 miles an hour, and temperatures had plummeted to the 40s. They were cold, wet, and trembling with exhaustion.
The sun had long since set by the time they made it to a dark crossroads where Jurek’s wife had parked their support van. She had a hot pasta meal ready for them as they finally scrambled into the warmth of their vehicle’s cramped shelter.
As Jurek describes the conditions he faced that long, cold day, you can feel the difficulty, pain and challenge. Yet in re-telling this part of the story, the tone is one of joy, adventure, and fun.
He was having fun.
But it was what he called “Type 2 fun.”
Type 2 Fun
As climber Kelly Cordes explains, Type 1 fun is the kind of fun where you are enjoying what you are doing at the time that you are doing it. Maybe it’s a perfect day at the beach, jumping on the trampoline, or a night out with friends. It’s fun in the moment.
Type 2 fun is different – In the middle of Type 2 fun, our experience may not be fun so much as frustration, fear, or discomfort. We might even hate it. It’s only afterwards, when it’s over, we can look back and think, “Wow, that was pretty epic!”
In Type 2 fun, it’s only fun when it’s done.
Maybe like those people who climb Everest. I bet with the wind chill, tiny tents, and an annoying lack of oxygen, they aren’t having a lot of fun, at least right then.
But when it’s over? You probably will have a hard time getting them to stop talking about what a blast it was.
The Fun You Want
And here’s the thing to recognize about Type 2 fun: it has a longer-lasting impact. How often will you talk about that sunny day at the beach when everything was perfect? Sure, it was fun while it lasted, maybe you get a couple decent photos to share on Facebook. But that’s about it.
The greater value to Type 2 fun comes from the struggle. The bigger the fight, the more rewarding the ultimate victory and the greater the “fun” it was (looking back, at least).
Most of us aren’t trying to run 2,000 miles in 46 days, or summit Everest. But the idea still applies if we have big goals we are chasing.
Whether it’s getting ourselves to the gym for another workout, writing another 500 words, studying another hour for the test, or anything else that requires steady, consistent effort, it may be difficult, uncomfortable, and even very un-fun in the moment.
But when we succeed in the daily struggle and look back, we can take satisfaction and pride in the realization that we overcame. We might even say that it was fun. Type 2 fun.
Type 2 Fun – The Takeaway
Setting and achieving goals can be a challenging business, especially after the initial excitement wears off.
The work ahead starts to look difficult, daunting. Maybe it’s not so much fun anymore. At least not in the middle of it. Every day just seems to come with the prospect of having to run another marathon (or two).
When we feel this sensation coming on, it can help to remember that the fun didn’t necessarily go away; it just moved a little bit. It comes later.
Our job is to be patient, put in the work, make the effort. And if we do, then the fun will come.
So get out there and have a little Type 2 fun. You’ll be glad you did (eventually).
Note: If you are interested in learning more about not just setting big goals, but actually achieving them, be sure to check out my course on how you can make that happen.