I was recently reminded of the time I did a long-distance bike trip on a bike with mountain biking tires. Here’s how that colossal misjudgment came to happen.
The first time I did a really intense workout to prepare for an upcoming mountain climb, my legs were shaking, I thought I’d pass out or throw up, possibly both, and instead I hung in there with the thought, “I can do anything for 20 minutes.”
And I could. So when it came to the next progression in the training, a fast, steep hike, I was equally as wobbly but thought, “I can do anything for a couple of hours.”
By the time it came to actually climb the mountain, I arrived with a 50-pound pack and the mantra, “I can do anything for two days.” I didn’t summit the mountain on that particular attempt but I did prove that I could endure for two days.
So when a friend invited me to do a long-distance bike ride down the California coast and my work schedule meant I could only be on the trip for two days. I thought, “No problem, I can do anything for two days.” It seemed to me that biking is very similar to mountain climbing – takes a lot of leg strength and more importantly, the same endurance muscle.
But I didn’t think long-distance biking was going to be the mainstay of my hobbies so when it came to shipping my bike to the starting point, for reasons of time and money, plus a little ignorance, I just sent my bike that had mountain bike tires. Not super heavy duty, grip the trail mountain biking tires but grippy enough to have a high amount on friction on a paved surface.
By lunch on the first day of the bike trip, my legs were completely gassed. I don’t think I’d experienced that level of fatigue even on the toughest mountain climb I’d done. I made it to the end of the day and then had to immerse myself in an ice bath to have any hope of getting my muscles flushed and restored to ride the second day.
But hey, I can do anything for two days and I made it.
Which is to say, it was a good lesson in endurance. Now when I look at a particular phase with my children that is getting my goat, I think “I can do anything for two years.”
But, and this is a big one for me, I’ve learned that enduring and enjoying are two different things.
On a recent Sunday morning, I was at home with my kids who are now 7 and 3 years old, and they were happily engaged with each other on a project. It left me with 20 minutes of discretionary free time and I was thrilled. As I actually took my time with some self-care, I marveled at the feeling of freedom and enjoyment I was experiencing.
That’s when it hit me. I thought “I can do anything for 20 minutes.” But that’s “anything” said with a sense of wonder and good fortune of an unexpected gift. That’s “anything” that acknowledges the enjoyment that comes with a little lessening of the strictures I tighten around myself. That’s “anything” that remembers that life is to be enjoyed and not just endured.
I’m so good at putting my head down and grinding out the miles to the end of the planned route each day. But it’s completely different training to raise my nostrils to the wind and my eyes to the scenery and notice each mile as it goes by. It’s a practice that is a lot less of a dramatic story tell but instead makes for a story worth telling.
So on Sunday, with a nod to the authors of The Power of Awe, I intentionally savored having unexpected moments to myself and micro-dosed some mindfulness full of gratitude and enjoyment and that made the experience even more impactful.
So I’m entering a new phase of training, one where I’m allowing myself the freedom and unscripted time so “I can do anything for 20 minutes.” I’d like to work up to “I can do anything for 2 days” but I’m taking my workouts slowly.
Please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com and I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
(featured photo is mine)
24 thoughts on “Endurance versus Enjoyment”
I love this: “But it’s completely different training to raise my nostrils to the wind and my eyes to the scenery and notice each mile as it goes by.” Yes…the need to be present…head up, catching the breeze and sniffing…noticing. So good! 🥰
Noticing — yes!! Thank you, my friend!
Your slowly increasing “I can do anything for x amount of time” statements are definitely something I relate to! While I agree that it is needful to exercise endurance, it’s equally difficult to raise our heads from the grindstone and find enjoyment in the present particularly when we’re in “endurance mode.” The “I can do anything for x time” statement is necessarily focused heavily toward when “x time” is over and behind us, thereby desensitizing us to fully registering the now. It leads to whole sections of our life feeling under-processed, living in memory like a blur, not a fully lived experience.
I love your change of emphasis from the “x amount of time” to the “anything” part of the statement–it is full of possibility instead of resignation. Very thought-provoking!
I love your observation “thereby desensitizing us to fully registering the now. It leads to whole sections of our life feeling under-processed, living in memory like a blur, not a fully lived experience.” What a delightful way to put it! Thank you, Gail!!
Your time to yourself will increase dramatically over time. It’s a good thing you know the difference between enjoyment and enduring. It will be helpful in the future.
Thank you for this affirmation that the time comes back – it gives me something to train for! Appreciate it, my friend!
I can’t believe how much free time I have now the kids flew the nest!
Amen to that!
“life is to be enjoyed and not just endured” this is a wonderful life lesson to live and to pass on to the kids! it’s not just about grinding it out, but as you said, lifting our nostrils and enjoying the trip! I love this!
Thank you, Tamara! It’s something I forget again and again so I appreciate you picking up on that.
In our grind it out culture it is easy to forget isn’t it!
Some great advice here Wynne – sucking it up to get to the finish line or enjoying for enjoyment sake. I love how you took control of the situation and savored having unexpected moments to yourself. Great mindfulness advice for us all!
I love that you picked up the mindfulness aspect – works well with the meditation you’ve been doing! 🙂 Thanks, Brian!
It’s amazing what a shift in our mindset can do for us. It’s like when we say “I have to do…”. Just shifting that to “I choose to” or “I get to” changes everything and makes every task so much more enjoyable. Thanks for the important reminder, Wynne!
“That’s “anything” that remembers that life is to be enjoyed and not just endured.” – it can be really difficult ensuring this happens can’t it Wynne, especially when life is so busy doing the essentials. Sometimes I used to feel calving out time for some enjoyment time was another ‘job’ in itself. We all seem so busy most of the time, including our children. Your post hits the spot. 😊
Thank you, Margaret. You really encapsulated this so well – we are so focused on the essentials that its hard to carve out the time. Yes, yes, yes!
Great piece Wynne- I like the changing definition of “anything”. It’s a powerful word no matter how you define it.
Thank you, Todd! I imagine that your training for a half-marathon has given you a similar arc with “anything!”
In some ways it has! I often think, when I’m having to endure something, “ if I can run x miles in the heat, I can do this”…
I like this being mindful Wynne! I think that life is made mainly for enjoyment and living in the present moment, because as the Dalai Lama says, this is the only moment we have.
This is the only moment we have – right!! I think you do such a great job being in the mindful present. Thanks for the inspiration!
Love the shift in perspective! 💞
My new cardiologist wants me to go to the gym and lift free weights with a personal trainer. I am checking it out on youTube, but can’t imagine it being enjoyable. I like walking and swimming, but between the pollen and the red tide, I am trying to stay inside. As the red tide and pollen go down, I am doing some thinking about what I want to do going forward. This post is food for thought. Thanks, Wynne! <3