Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Today I spent five hours taking an exam on the International Building Code. After that I spent time responding to emails for work and I still had to get my workout in. Being exhausted and brain-fried from the test, I was not in the mindset to enjoy much of anything.

As I said, the exam took five hours, after that I was rather beat up, and my mind was mush. The good news is that I am confident I passed it but I won’t know until Friday. Then after getting caught up on work emails and returning calls, it wasn’t until later in the day that I could get my workout in and today was a ride day.

The reason today was a riding day is that last week I hurt my foot. I’ll just say I have a very bruised heel and it’s an impact injury that has kept me from running the past few days. The upside is that I can ride pain-free and really, I see it as a blessing in disguise as I imagine these past days spent and the next few days on the bike will go a long way to help me recover from some other overuse stuff that has been nagging at me the past couple of months. I get to maintain and even build fitness without the impact and stress of running for a few days. It’s really a win-win for me.

But riding isn’t the same as running and to get the same quality workout and to gain an equal amount of benefit as I would from a run takes dedicated and focused work. Riding like that requires a steady and somewhat uncomfortable level of effort over an extended period and that is how I planned the ride/workout for this afternoon/evening.

The workout unfolded to be 11 miles of riding uphill on paved road followed by another five miles of riding uphill on and unpaved Jeep road. In total, sixteen miles, or two hours and 38 minutes of hard effort uphill with about 5000 feet in elevation gain. And I still had to turn around and follow the same track home.

It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun I bet, and to be honest it wasn’t and when I hit that two hour and 38 minute mark I was DONE. By done I mean totally spent, depleted, couldn’t pedal anymore, and I wouldn’t pedal anymore. I really hit the wall so I stopped turned the bike around and cruised down a bit before deciding to take a break and just sit on the bike for a few minutes while eating a Power Bar, my favorite flavor, oatmeal raisin.

The overall ride still had two segments left to it. First was the technical downhill of five miles before hitting the paved road again and it was in this section that I had my “aha” moment of the day… because as I was riding down I hit that moment where I was just having fun, it wasn’t work, it was just me enjoying what I was doing. On most long rides that are harder than most, there is always that definitive moment where I involuntarily break out into a wide grin that won’t go away and that is what happened as I was negotiating the twists, and turns down that rocky road this evening. I “remembered” that mountain biking isn’t just work, and it’s not just a tool for training. I remembered that it is also something that I do for fun too. I was reminded that it is even okay to have fun doing it as well. It doesn’t have to be work all of the time.

How often are we caught up in the things we love to do and yet we forget to have fun doing them? How often do we take things so seriously and completely leave out any room for fun, enjoyment, or laughter?

Life is too short not to enjoy it. Life is serious; just don’t forget to have fun while you are at it. Go ahead and grind yourself up climbing the side of a mountain as long as you also remember to take some time to bomb back down the hill and feel the exhilaration of being alive when you are done.

Don’t forget to have fun. It’s important.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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