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  • Writer's picturerganderson915

But you had fun, right?

When I tell someone about a bad race, I’ve noticed I tend to follow up with, “but I still had fun, so it’s okay.” I ask leading questions to others in that way, too. “Was it fun, at least?” I don’t know if everyone justifies their activities, jobs, or lifestyles in that way, or if the idea is unique to me and the people I’m around. In any case, I’ve decided that this thought process feels a little like BS, and it has actually helped my motivation to replace it with something that feels more authentic to me.

Saying that I ski for fun, or for fun with friends, or any variation is, while partly true, not the full story, and I think this distinction has made a world of difference.

I ski largely because it is hard.

Getting out of bed every morning to go do hours of endurance exercise is simply not always fun. In fact, it’s rarely fun. The percentage of training time that I notice I’m having fun is minuscule compared to the amount of time I feel focused, neutral, deep in thought, or dealing with some discomfort. While I often train with people, I train almost an equal amount on my own, and even a great friend can’t completely eliminate the pain of pushing my body through a hard interval session or race.

I think “fun” is a risky way to justify anything worth doing, and a good way to burnout when things inevitably get hard. For me, doing something because it is hard allows me to embrace the parts that aren’t fun, and allows me to lean into all that goes into real growth. Not every race is going to go well, and not every day is going to be a blast - even with great teammates. Things can be hard - even more often than not, and sticking with something despite that fact can feel really good.

In the book “Do Hard Things” by Steve Magness, the conclusion is that (spoiler alert) one of the keys to perseverance is having a strong sense of meaning - or a good reason why the hard activity is worth it.

Of course, I tried to apply this concept to my own skiing. What deeper meaning can I find to push harder in races? Seeing my name higher on the results, qualifying for a new trip, tons of money, fame, glory?? None of these really hit home, or felt like a strong enough reason to dig to that next level when the race gets painful. I’ve noticed that, for me, any external goal - results, prize money, etc. goes right out the window once my body starts hurting in a race, and I quickly concede that I don’t actually need it.

What does motivate me, on the other hand, is proving to myself that I can do it, because it is hard, and because it isn't always fun. The will to accomplish hard things helped me learn violin (a LOT of non-fun) when I was growing up, helped me get through my major in college, and it helps me now in my ski career. Of course there are also a lot of fun parts, but it has helped me to pinpoint that they aren’t what drives me every day. Maybe this perspective can help you, too.

Doing something because it is hard can be reason enough. Or, maybe you want to do things just for fun!! Whatever floats your boat. Thanks for reading.


*disclaimer - I’m not suggesting that anyone should do something they hate just because it’s hard, but offering a different way to look at things that are important to you when the going gets tough.

taking a breather in the middle of an interval set this week. ouch

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