Here’s what I know, future me and present me are mostly the same person, even if past me often seems like a stranger. So it’s odd that I’m so willing to sacrifice the interests of future me when something mildly interesting happens to present me, for example, future me has a big ride planned, but present me doesn’t feel like training. After all, pizza.
The problem here is that present me and future me are on a collision course. One day I wake up and one has become the other. I’m under-trained. Actually, it’s not even this simple. Being under-trained is a problem you deal with on the day, and mainly I approach it this way: Well, it’s gonna suck. I’m gonna have to turn myself inside out. But I can do almost anything for a few hours without dying.
This is a bit flippant, a bit mordant, and more than a little dumb, especially as I complete laps around the sun, and each of these Herculean efforts brings me, in fact, closer to death.
But the problem is actually larger, because, while I regularly dismiss things that are going to happen in the future (when is the future, after all?), once I’m within about a week of any particular event, I suddenly become racked with anxiety about just how Herculean an effort I’m going to have to summon, and just how much it’s going to hurt. The actual accounting on that pizza runs to about a week of poor sleep, butter-flown stomach, and self-doubt, compounded at the end by a day of physical pain and most times a salt halo around my stupid face.
This turns out to be a normal phenomenon, the sacrificing of long-term results for short-term gain. There are myriad classic behavioral experiments that bear it out. Think of the one where you offer a kid a dollar today or a dollar and ten cents tomorrow. A disturbingly high number of kids takes the dollar. And we’re not better than kids. We eat the pizza and skip the ride, except when we don’t, and maybe RKP readers are better than the average (I’m going to panderingly say that you are (even daring to split that infinitive to do it)).
This week’s Group Ride asks, how often do you make the right riding choices, rather than the wrong ones, expressed as a percentage? I’ll put my own choices at 25% good. You get extra credit if you can explain, credibly, why you sacrifice the long term better in favor of the short term merely good.
Image: Victor Sonna