I went for a long run the other day, my first long run in awhile since an ankle sprain rendered me incapable of running for several weeks, followed by several more weeks of “regaining muscle strength” which mainly consisted of begging off of long workouts with my injury excuse. I, a self-proclaimed runner, really do enjoy running (I promise!), but on this particular run, my mind fought me every step of that 4 ½ miles. My thoughts ranged from “Don’t worry, you can slow down, you need to pace yourself!” to “So if I don’t add on that extra loop it will end up being a two-miler, and that’s still pretty good…” with nothing but silent whining in between. I don’t listen to music when I run, so it is usually a full 30-40 minutes where I don’t think about anything, in particular, I can just notice what is around me and let small thoughts drift in and out of my brain. This is the closest I come during a typical day to spending uninterrupted time with myself, something of which I think we are in short supply but desperate need. The part of me listening to myself whine eventually cut in and realized that somewhere between now and last December I have become completely out of practice with Type II fun.
Type II fun, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is the kind of fun that is not so enjoyable while you’re actually doing it - but is completely worth the discomfort and effort after you’re done. In contrast, Type I fun is the type of stuff everybody loves, like a blue-bird powder day or hopping on that super long party wave. But Type II fun is my personal favorite type of fun, the type that makes you feel good for long after you’re done with the activity - if you can get behind that slightly masochistic type of pleasure that comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Type II fun makes you appreciate Type I fun, and generally gives you some perspective and a great attitude to go with it.
I have become lazy about running, lazy about reading, eating healthily, and carving out quiet time in the morning to spend with Jesus and journaling. Simply put, these things, however good and beneficial they might be, are easier not to do than to do. It takes much less effort for me to stay in and eat that last half-pint of ice cream while watching the entirety of Friends for my fifth time through instead of going for a run or reading, and easier to sleep in an extra hour before class than to wake up and start my day immersed in the Word. But once I start doing these things again, I remember why they make me feel so good and that they actually make me a better, happier, and more productive person. Their positive effects stretch far past the end of my run or when I finish a good book and spread into all areas of my life. Similarly, the negative effects I experience after I use that same time set aside for running to instead watch four episodes on Netflix in my pajamas while eating dessert for lunch bleed over into other areas of my life.
Type II fun takes mental toughness and accumulating such mental toughness takes both will-power and habitual practice. Sometimes I wonder, especially when I am particularly out of practice with Type II fun, why these activities even qualify under “fun”, but really just getting started is the hardest part for me. Putting on my running shoes and powering through that first half-mile, shutting down my Netflix tab and picking up the book I’ve long abandoned, taking time to reflect and journal. Once I get back into the habit of running regularly, my mind lets all of my petty complaints drift upwards and away, and I’m free to enjoy simply being outside and focus on the ground under my feet.
Type II fun is the best type of fun because it pushes me out of my comfort zone, forces me to be active, and cultivates my most positive attributes. Maintaining balance in my life is not one of my strong points, and so if I feel myself even inching towards my vices, I usually end up sprinting towards the dark side that has the cookies while my healthier tendencies utter a feeble cry for help that is drowned out by my stampeding feet. I’m aware of this self-destructive trait in myself, and so am working on building back up my mental toughness.