What’s your idea of fun?
For ultra-endurance athlete Mark Beaumont, there are two kinds.
Last year, the 35-year-old smashed the world record for circumnavigating the globe by bike, cycling around the world in under 80 days (he finished in 78).
This staggering feat saw him tackle an average of 240 miles daily from Paris across mainland Asia and Australia to Canada and back again, cycling over 18,000 miles through two points on opposite sides of the world.
It’s the kind of crazy mission that channels a specific term Beaumont has coined: “type II fun”.
“This is where the challenge can be a bit miserable at the time, but you look back on it very fondly when it’s over,” Beaumont tells Men’s Health.
“Life is about doing stuff that takes you out your comfort zone and this kind of type two fun will end up being your fondest memories, I guarantee it.”
The difference between type I and type II fun
Type II fun is a concept that Beaumont explores more in his book about his 80-day cycling quest (named in tribute to the classic adventure novel by Jules Verne).
Under his approach, type I fun is the obvious variety: Secret Cinema, hot tubs, knocking back Aperol Spritz with your mates into the early hours; whatever floats your boat.
Type II fun is a whole different and more subtle beast.
Type II fun involves pushing yourself – potentially to the absolute edge of your stamina – to achieve a result that you can be proud of.
It’s the kind of challenge that gives you substance and purpose, even if it feels pretty hideous at the time.
Why type II fun is important
Type I fun delivers instant gratification, and it’s fleeting.
You feel great in the moment because you’re satisfying an immediate need (whether that’s bingeing on Amazon Prime or eating your body weight in pasta).
But that feeling only lasts as long as the experience itself: you don’t learn anything new about yourself, and it doesn’t affect you on any deeper level.
Type II fun, on the other hand, can build you up in ways you never even imagined, and lead to satisfaction in a lasting, more profound way.
Research shows that when we set stretching goals, whatever these may be, we install confidence in ourselves.
The mere act of aiming for an ambitious challenge – effectively punching above your weight – means you introduce purpose and meaning to your life, in place of mundane routine.
It’s fuel, essentially; encouraging you to higher levels of performance and commitment. You’re aiming for something bigger than yourself, and so become a bigger person as a result.
What is a type II fun challenge?
You don’t have to go the whole hog à la Beaumont and battle headwinds, bum sores and five hours’ sleep a night in order to realise type II fun.
It could be anything that involves pushing your own limits. But introducing a physical element is a good idea, simply because you’ll feel better for it.
As Beaumont himself says, “Scaring yourself a little bit while staying fit and healthy is a great combination… try it.”
With that in mind, here are five great challenges that tap into the power of type II fun.
Dive in and get set to stretch yourself like never before (plus, load up on good old-fashioned type I fun with some celebratory drinks in the pub afterwards = win).
Hike the Everest trail in Nepal
Muscle up for this legendary nine-day expedition through the hazy foothills of Nepal. You’ll be following in the footsteps of mountaineering greats as you follow an off-radar route through Sherpa villages in the shadow of Everest, Lhotse and more of the world’s highest peaks. Hitting the top point at 5,000 metres with the Farak Ri viewpoint, amid thin air, fluttering prayer flags and the whole of the Khumbu Valley spreading out before you, will be a literal and emotional high.
Climb a glacier in Norway
Jostedalsbreen glacier in Western Norway is the largest of its kind in mainland Europe, and navigating its icy crevasses is no mean feat. Grab your ice picks and crampons as you rope up for an epic few hours on the icy terrain. After dodging ice towers, crawling through caves and heaving your way up steep, glacial steps, you’ll be drunk on the power of nature – and ready to tackle absolutely anything.
Come canyoning in Jordan
If you want to throw yourself headfirst into a full-on challenge, Jordan’s Wadi Mujib is your guy. Canyoning in this desert ravine is the kind of escapade that will definitely make your heart skip a beat. Haul yourself over giant boulders, rappel down slippery chutes and generally put your grit to the test amid churning flumes. A day here will make you feel like a true Bear Grylls: pumped up and ready to roar.
Summit Rainbow Mountain in Peru
There’s a certain point on the summit hike up Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, at 5,200 metres, that you may start to doubt yourself. The Andean air is thin and freezing, and each new step feels like an enormous challenge. This is a huge act of physical and mental stamina, and yet the multi-coloured summit is worth it, bringing with it a rush of sudden emotion. With an overnight camp at 4,000 metres, you can get up there nice and early to see the peak come alive in a dazzling prism of colour. This is your moment: the one you never thought you’d achieve.
Tackle North Africa’s highest mountain in Morocco
At just over 4,000 metres, Mount Toubkal in Morocco is a lesser behemoth than Rainbow Mountain: but it’s still the highest peak in North Africa. Getting here involves a demanding two-day hike through ancient mule trails in the Atlas hills, culminating with a dawn scramble over scree fields. The fabled “roof of north Africa” is your prize, offering an incredible view across Morocco that (on a clear day) stretches from the Sahara to the Atlantic Sea. Hear that cry of elation? That’s you smashing the limits of your own self-belief.
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