No Make-Ups

Embrace the path you've taken. Make it a conscious choice, and avoid regret for the path not chosen.
Embrace the path you’ve taken. Make it a conscious choice, and avoid regret for the path not chosen.

“I’ll make up for it tomorrow.”

Simple fact: no, you won’t. I myself have used the “I’ll make up for it” thing. And the next day I push hard, or ride a little further. Maybe I stretch a little longer, or skip a can of Pepsi or three.

But I realized something that changed my perspective, and I think for the better. No matter what I do tomorrow, I cannot change what I have or have not done today. If I ride twice as long tomorrow, it doesn’t “make up” for not riding today, because I’ll never be able to ride “today” again. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

And we intrinsically know this. That’s why when we miss a particularly beautiful riding day, with great friends, no wind, and nice temps, we say to ourselves, “I’ll make up for it.” But while we’re supposedly making up for it, what we’re really doing is making ourselves work harder through guilt for not having ridden the other day. This taints a positive experience with negativity.

Now, I should note: I’m not talking about things that we are required to do: like working, or taking care of your family, etc. No,  I’m talking about doing or not doing those things that are by their very nature optional. And though we cyclists hate to think this way, riding is optional. Drinking sodas? Optional. Watching football? Optional. Eating cheesecake? Kinda optional.

You get what I mean. The problem with wanting to make up for optional activities is that the point of partaking (or not) in those optional activities should be to enhance the quality of your life, not diminish it. If you skip a ride because you’re tired, or you want to watch that football game, or any other reason, that’s okay. If you want to eat that cheesecake because it tastes good? That’s okay. Want to add another 10 miles onto your 60 mile ride? Go for it. But you must embrace your decisions. Make them your own. Understand that the result of your decision is what you want to accept.

This is not indifference. It’s not that you’re going to pig out or overwork or ride less and just not care about the consequences. That’s the opposite of “making up” for it, which is called “not giving a shit.” No, what I’m talking about is taking control of your choices so that if you choose to do something, you haven’t just chosen the action, but the possible results of that action as well. If you don’t want to accept the result of an action, then you should choose a different action.

If you choose to not ride, don’t feel guilty about it. Understand your choice and make sure that it is a decision that you want to make. The result of not doing that ride? Maybe you lose a little training, and you don’t get to hang out with your riding friends. But maybe you get to spend extra time with your kids, or you get to sit on the porch relaxing, listening to Gillespie or Davis.

By accepting and understanding the results of your choices, you can better enjoy them, without feeling the loss that comes with not choosing the alternative. You want to eat that cheesecake? Dig in. Don’t let the idea that you have to “make up” for the calories ruin the positive experience of enjoying the cheesecake. You chose it. Tomorrow, if you choose to ride, that’s cool, too. You’re not riding to make up for eating that cheesecake. You don’t need to make up for a positive experience. You’re riding to add another positive experience in your life.

Choice isn’t about regretting the path not taken. It’s about understanding the path you’ve chosen. Don’t make up for yesterday. “Make” today, and you’ll never have to worry about today tomorrow.

Semper equitare.