A few weks ago I wrote a post about how I had no motivation to go to the gym. I stated that I hadn’t been to the gym in 3 months, now 4, and how it was a relief to not ‘have to’ go to the gym and I was enjoying the break mentally. On further reflection, I came to the conclusion it probably wasn’t motivation I was lacking, but more desire.
A mate of mine, who had been a professional referee and had recently retired posted a comment on my post:
Love reading these mate! Gotta say I was the opposite…when my time came to an end exercising was one thing that helped me cope. It kept me mentally refreshed taking time out for me and focusing my energy. I enjoyed training how and when I wanted to, not on someone else’s schedule. I felt great physically and that really helped me feel good. And increased my energy levels meaning my kids get the benefit.
To which I replied:
Yeah interesting. I think writing these and reading is what keeps me mentally fresh.
In saying that when I was in Poland I began doing km runs, 6kms around a lake with on, I loved it and it was mentally refreshing. If you’d told me I’d ever do that without being made to I’d have told you u were proper crazy, not all there. I only started because the season before when training by myself in Dubbo I was doing hill sprints and short distance work. Rocked up to Quins one wkn, played following. Had no K’s in the legs, learnt a lot from that, hence the in .
When I saw the specialist he said no long distance running. Will wreck knee completely and you’ll have issues walking and will have to get a knee replacement, that was pretty frustrating and disappointing to hear, otherwise I’d definitely be out running.
The transition of life after rugby, or any professional sporting career, can be quite challenging to say the least. This is what I have always known, but it has seriously been reinforced after interviewing many past professional rugby players on my podcast ‘a yarn with Beau Robbo’. The transition, combined with living in a city on the other side of the world without any friends or family and a small family, is compounded. Add to that the extra emotional strain of being a stay at home dad, with 2 little kids aged 1 and 2 and working weekends and shit could seriously blow up in your face.
That’s why it’s important to have my release/escape. This has been ridiculously important for me to get away from it all when I’ve simply had enough. Podcasts are a huge one for me, especially when I am with the kids, such as when going for a walk. Generally, the podcasts I listen to are business/entrepreneurial podcasts or property podcasts.
Producing the podcasts has been great too. The editing maybe not so much, but the excuse to ring up a bunch of blokes who I had played with, against or sometimes barely even knew has been thoroughly enjoyable. For those I don’t know ridiculously well it’s great to get to get to know them and hear their advice about retirement and their story in general. For those blokes who I did play with the excuse of an interview for the podcast allows me to call them up, which I wouldn’t otherwise do, some I haven’t talked to in years. I get to see their face, which is a lot more personal and much better for the dialogue in the podcast and gives us a greater connection.
Because the purpose of the interview is to get an insight into how they found the transition and how they handled that, I get to ask some pretty deep and confronting questions, that probably wouldn’t be appropriate to ask unless you had half a dozen beers under the belt with blokes you hadn’t seen in years. But the catching up with these blokes has been great for me mentally, I look forward to chatting to them and there’s always plenty of reminiscing of the good times which is what I need after a long couple of lonely days with the kids. Even the couple of days after the interview, I’m generally still buzzing and reminiscing about what we discussed. This helps the transition as they talk about things that I may be feeling or experiencing.
Books are my real release, mainly at night when the kids have gone to sleep, it allows my mind to escape from everything else that is happening. It takes my complete focus, and I find it’s a lot more effective in helping me get to sleep than sitting there on your mobile scrolling through pointless social media feeds. Books generally come under 3 categories; history, business or biographies, although biographies are never sporting biographies funnily enough.
Creating and producing the podcasts gives me a sense of achievement, as do writing the blogs, they are something that I can see that I have done, which I think is something you probably don’t get when you are a stay at home parent. When you feed the kids, what do you have to show for it? A load of dirty dishes. Putting clean clothes on them, half an hour later, dirty clothes that need washing.
I think it’s important that everyone know and have their releases, sometimes these are hobbies, yet I feel hobbies sometimes can be more time and labour consuming. Maybe that’s just my perspective though. This is especially important for those transitioning, talking to a lot of the guys on the podcast, many state how important it is to find another passion. These might not be ‘passions’ as such, but they are what allows my mind to be at ease and block out everything else.
I do think this is incredibly important for stay at home parents. This is arguably one of the most mentally and emotionally exhausting jobs in the world. You need your YOU time, and you need to be really looking forward to it. I don’t watch TV. The only TV I generally watch is cartoons when the kids are watching it. I think this is probably a good way to let the brain take its mind off things, but I like to be more constructive with this valuable ME time. I want something that not only gives me a break but I’m genuinely thinking about, and I find myself looking forward to the book I’m reading and excited with anticipation of what will come next in it.
Being told the long distance running was a no go by the specialist was absolutely devastating. I had never gotten into running whilst playing. Running only served a purpose when I was playing, and that was to get fit. It was only ever interval training and I definitely didn’t enjoy it when I was doing it. But being in Poland cooped up in a 2 bedroom apartment with a crazy 1 year old and the partners parents, running really became my saviour. There was a beautiful lake that was 1.5kms from the apartment and it was a genuine pleasure to run around that I really started to look forward to. It was just ME time. 35-40 mins, plus the time it took me to ride there and back, was a lot of the time, the best part of my day, getting away from the chaos of what was going on in the apartment. Maybe once we finally settle down and stop living the nomad lifestyle I’ll get into riding a bike, just being alone and enjoying nature whilst getting to have a look around. Who knows, time will tell.
On reflection, ideally, I would have liked a lot more ‘alone time’, out of the house, by myself, whilst being a stay at home dad. I think solitude is very important for me personally, it’s not for everyone, but is for me. Sometimes I simply want to enjoy my own company.
If there’s one thing I will say, I highly recommend finding your ‘release’.