Not all Fun Has To Be Fun

Hey friends, it’s time to talk about FUN.

I’ve listened to a ton of interviews recently with reigning World Champ and current Cross Country World Cup leader Kate Courtney, and in several times she’s mentioned the concept of “Type 2” fun.

After doing some googling for “Types of Fun”” I realized this idea isn’t one I’ve heard discussed very much in my little corner of the fitness world, and I’d love to share it with you. I’m also going to layer in my ideas on Recreation, Exercise, and Competition, because I think that these concepts are totally aligned!

Okay, so let’s discuss the 3 Major Stages of Fun, starting with Type 1 Fun.

Type 1 fun is simply Fun, which according to the Merrium-Webster dictionary, is “ what provides amusement or enjoyment.”

Examples for me include dinner dates with my wife, sunset picnics with friends, casual hikes or bike rides, or playing with someone’s kids or dog. These are activities that are fun the entire time that you’re doing them, that you never want to end, and that never suck.  These are pure and simple good times.

Type 2 Fun

Type 2 Fun gets a little bit weird, because these are moments that are only fun in retrospect.  These moments started out with the intention of having fun, but they actually sort of suck a little bit.  These are moments that feel like suffering.

When you’re done though, when you’re reflecting on the completion of the activity, that’s when things feel worth it, and because they were worth it, that’s what makes them fun. 

Examples for me include that Cross Country race I did last weekend, getting stuck in a blizzard on Mt. Toubkal with Katie on our honeymoon, or losing feeling in my fingers, or toes, on a century ride in February.

Type 2 Fun is “fun” that isn’t, and I think this is the fun that’s the most important to have. It’s when time slows down, you might go to dark places, but you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, eat some humble pie, and earn experiences that you’ll remember for a lifetime. 

Type 2 Fun is the kind of suffering that leaves us satisfied and wanting more.

Type 3 Fun

That’s different than Type 3 fun, which is entirely synonymous with suffering and isn’t fun when it’s happening or in any form of memory. It’s likely going to be the last time you participate in any given activity.  

Type 3 fun is never fun, you might feel like you’re actually going to die, and it might require a formal rescue.

The only personal example I have for needing a “rescue” is the time I arrogantly capsized a catamaran in St. Lucia, but I’m not even sure that counts as Type 3 Fun.

For context, every single article I’ve found about the Fun Scale reference Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica, which seems like an appropriate level of suffering to warrant the Type 3 label.

Type 4 Fun?

I was chatting with some Ninjas about the Fun Scale this last week, and someone asked me, “What about Fun that’s fun while it’s happening and then not?” Let’s call this Type 4 Fun, otherwise known as Regret, or hard drugs.

Okay, so based on the Fun Scale you’ve probably realized that not all Fun is “fun” and being able to tell the difference can be really important!

It’s probably safe to say that most of the time we’re participating in activities we should be focused on having good ol’ fashion Type 1 Fun, but that we should also occasionally push ourselves into the Type 2 Fun. Let’s also recognize that if you’ve gone to Type 3 fun, you’ve probably gone too far.

Based on my “Recreation, Exercise, and Competition” model, I think we can also think of activities as Type 1 or Type 2 fun.  Short and easy recreation activities or exercise may be really enjoyable, but long hikes or high-intensity intervals might not necessarily feel enjoyable. That makes them Type 2 fun, and that’s actually okay.

Not all Fun has to be “fun”, and it’s essential that we each find a balance of Type 1 and Type 2 fun that supports the lives that we want to live!

For example, it’s easier for me to remember how ripping through ribbons of singletrack during that race then spending 10 minutes trying not to puke when it was over. That race was the epitome of Type 2 Fun because, by the time I was at home and showered, I was looking for another race to sign up for!

My major takeaway for you is this:

There are different types of fun, and a life well lived probably has a decent balance of fun that is and fun that isn’t.

Okay friends, that’s it for today – Thanks for joining me. If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate hearing from you, or sharing it with someone else who you think would enjoy it, too!

2 Replies to “Not all Fun Has To Be Fun”

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