Living Tired

I’m tired, both physically and mentally. It’s normal for this time of year. I love the summer and I stuff as many activities as I can during the summer months. So when fall comes, I’m tired. This year, it’s more than that.

Life is busy. Work is busy and stressful. Relationships are hard. Self care is hard. Mentally I’m exhausted. I’m super busy with hobbies (golf 2x per week, bike rides 2x per week, running 2x per week – that’s already 6 days a week). We traveled for 3 long weekends during the summer that were super fun but tiring. Add a tough toe injury all summer and facing a bout of COVID from my wife. It’s been a busy summer. No wonder I’m tired.

But being tired can be a good thing. It’s not always a bad thing. I work out a lot. It’s an outlet of self care for me. I find running and biking very meditative. I’m tired and sore this week from a bike ride that I did on the weekend. I’m still recovering. But it’s ok. I needed that. It’s good for me.

But when is working out too much. I work out every morning on the treadmill for a run, elliptical or recumbent bike for 40-60 minutes. I love this time in the morning before work. I make myself a coffee, put on Netflix and get in a workout to start my day 6x a week. I go for a lunch time walk 5x a week; usually this is 35-45 minutes. That’s just my baseline activity for the week. Outdoor bike rides, 2x a week, are on top of that. I’ve tried to run in my morning workout 2x a week, so that doesn’t add workouts, but it does up the intensity. Add 2x golf to that list. And physically, I’m doing as much as I can and want to. And I’m thinking about adding swimming to the docket this winter. Haha!

Is it too much? Am I obsessed with working out and it has become a problem? Can I take a rest day? These are questions that I ask myself at the end of the day. I even asked my therapist about it last week. He concurred with my assessment: I need this time for me. It’s me time and with everything else I should protect it! But I should be careful to not overdue things and monitor my energy levels, of course.

While rest days are tough for me, usually the day after a long ride or run is a rest day. In this case, I went for a long bike ride on Sunday, and Monday was a rest day. I did find time for a walk with the dogs, but that was it. Nothing strenuous. That’s a rest day for me and it was well earned.

Side Note:
On Sunday, I completed my first 100km bike ride!!! I’m so happy and proud. It was a huge milestone and I was a little emotional about it. Unfortunately, I had paused my workout at the halfway mark to take a quick picture and take a quick rest. I had travelled another 5-6km before I realized I forgot to turn my workout back on. That meant when I got back home, I would be 5-6km short of 100km on my watch. So I put in an extra 6km to make sure my watch said 100km. Going for a new record by 20km, and adding another 5km was quite the effort. I needed a little help from my wife getting in the door and getting settled. When I uploaded the ride to Strava, the app recognized the ride as 106km; so perhaps I went the extra KMs for nothing. Regardless, 100km is a huge milestone!!

Why would I be concerned though? Well, I’ve noticed that I’m having a rough time mentally these days. I find myself a bit angry at life and a bit down trodden. I’m feeling a little blue. I’ve had a tough time dealing with adversity. I get a little too fired up playing golf. The little things are bothering me a lot.

All of these things are strong indicators for me, that something is a bit off. In the past, this would happen due to excessive drinking. It might take me a month or two to realize it, but I would slow down my drinking, and my mental toughness would return. However, I don’t drink anymore. So what I’m feeling is due to life circumstances.

Things are just tough mentally now. And I let it creep into my every day life. During my last therapist appointment, I made a couple of notes beforehand and wrote:

EXPECTATIONS! STRESS LEVELS! NO TIME OFF! WORK! FAMILY! SELF!

AM I DOING TOO MUCH?

WHY AM I SO MAD PLAYING GOLF?

This is what weighs me down. The expectations that I put on myself as a son, husband, puppy dad, friend, golfer, bike rider, runner, brother, etc., are incredibly high. I expect so much out of myself that I make it impossible to meet my own expectations. And that kind of thinking really seeps into every day life. No wonder I don’t think I’m mentally tough and that I do so poorly in the face of adversity. I barely leave myself any wiggle room.

My stress levels are high right now. Work has been super busy all year. I’m on some significant projects at work, and I’ve had some back to back to back assignments without any rest time. This creates a scenario where the stress levels stay high without a break. It’s mentally exhausting.

I’ve had very little time off this year. My only “significant” vacation for the year was in April for 6 days off of work. Essentially, I’ve had a lot of long weekends but no vacation longer than a week off. I didn’t even realize this. We just happen to book a bunch of long weekend travel this year, instead of something larger. Some of that is related to COVID. We just aren’t super comfortable traveling yet.

There has been a lot on my mind this year. And I when I add high expectations of self, high stress and work, very little time off, some challenging family situations and fitting in self care; it’s no wonder that I’m tired. It’s a lot to manage.

WHY AM I SO MAD PLAYING GOLF?

Enjoying a fall round of golf in October!!

I found myself not enjoying golf and getting fired up on any missed shot. I was setting myself up for failure. I’m using golf as a sign of a successful summer and only a lower handicap means success. I mean, if you set goals and miss them, you’re a failure, right?

I’m mad at getting new clubs that set me back; maybe I bought the wrong clubs; maybe I shouldn’t have bought new clubs. I’m mad at injuring myself and thus having to golf all year without any practice. I’m mad about my handicap finally getting into single digits and then suddenly scoring higher the rest of the summer. I’m mad at my overall scores creeping higher instead of lower. ME MAD!!!

I lost sight of the game of golf. I forgot how to have fun playing golf because I made golf a goal. And I see how good I am at golf as a reflection of how I’m doing in my life. I’m not a pro athlete, but it makes you appreciate them even more. How do they handle the pressure of this each and every day?

I know it sounds crazy and sounds easy to think differently. But that’s my personality; it’s how I’m wired. I go all in. I’m all in with golf. I put all my chips into the middle this year. I dedicated myself to improving, reaching a single handicap and playing the best golf of my life. I dedicated myself to playing twice a week. Surely, if I played 2x rounds a week, I would immediately get better at golf this year than last year.

My big mistake is not resetting my goals after I hit a potential season ending injury. I hurt my right big pivot toe big time. The right foot is used to push off in the golf swing and pivot forward. There is a ton of pressure on that toe. I had to recover. I had to drop practice sessions. I had to tape up my toe before every round. My swing was impacted. And yet, my expectations stayed the same. Silly man!

In hindsight, it’s been an awesome year of golf. I have steadily improved this year, and my ball striking is better than ever. I’ve had multiple rounds on the edge of greatness that were impacted by bad putting. I’ve had multiple rounds in the 80s that would have been 70s with average putting. But most disheartening is my mental game. I’ve spent so much time on it, and it was derailed by an injury and some challenging rounds. I’m disappointed in myself.

One of the reasons is that I pushed thru the injury and stayed as active as I could, and this included golf 2x a week, without a practice. Why no practice? In a round of golf, a hole takes 15 minutes, and if I average 5 shots a hole (bogey golf), that’s a shot every 3 minutes. If 2 of those shots are putts, and 1 is a chip (on average), then that’s only 2 shots every 15 minutes that put pressure on my toe.

On the other hand, during practice, you’re hitting a full shot every 10 seconds. I can hit 80-100 balls in an hour. That’s quite a bit of impact on an injured toe. I’ve had to change my warm up routine before a round. Hit less full shots, Do plenty of chipping and half shots. Hit less drivers. And no practice sessions during the week to make sure that my toe fully recovers.

I hope I have corrected my attitude and expectations. It took me nearly all summer to change my perspective. A playing lesson with my golf coach has turned things around for me.

First off, I decided to “pretend” that I’m a bogey golfer. For anyone that knows golf, being a bogey golfer is great! Bogey golf is a goal that most golfers are happy with and puts you in pretty elite company. But I want to be better than a bogey golfer. But with that comes expectations.

So I started to track my score against bogey golf instead of tracking my score against par. It really made no difference to my golf swing, but all of the difference of how I feel mentally when I make a bogey or worse. You see, as an 80s golfer, double bogeys are awful and can derail a round. However, as a bogey golfer, you just need a single par to offset a double bogey. It’s really a shift in thinking about recovering from a bad score. I needed it. I just needed to do that for a couple of rounds to realize that I can recover from a bad hole.

Stay focused and enjoy the game! Next shot!

NEXT SHOT – it means stay present; you can’t change your last shot; all you can do is look at your next shot and do your best. It helps eliminate expectations. This was given to me by my sports psychologist years ago, and I’ve held on to it.

NEXT SHOT – This is my life mantra. Truthfully, I’ve considered getting a tattoo of this on my forearm as a constant reminder. To me, it means live in the present, and see what’s in front of you. Sometimes we get so focused on looking at the past or looking into the future, that we forget to see what’s right in front of us.

NEXT SHOT – In golf, it means focus up and focus on your current shot. In life, it means stay focused on now…stay present!

Recently, I signed up for a playing lesson with my golf coach. That was an amazing experience. Actually playing golf and getting feedback from my coach during a round of golf was invaluable. We found a few things that I can clean up to get better. My full swing is in really good shape. I’m losing a lot of strokes around the greens (pitching, chipping, putting). I found confidence again that I can hit good shots. And I also reset my expectations. I’m going to hit bad shots and good shots. I need to continue to play and just hit the next shot. That used to be my mantra and I need to find it again.

Most of all though, I had a blast playing golf with my coach. She is a wonderful coach and mentor. She is so full of joy and energy! Golf was super fun again! I hope I can hold on to this. I’m 4 rounds in and I’m loving and enjoying golf again and I’ve started to shot some lower scores as well. Golf is supposed to be fun! I hope I can keep this feeling.

AM I DOING TOO MUCH?

I love self care. Self care for me is anything from hobbies to physical well-being to relaxation & meditation to eating well to exercising & being fit to healthy relationships and managing your time.

I tend to go a little overboard on self care. My house is full of items to help me with self care.

  • An outdoor hot tub.
  • A mini-gym downstairs with: treadmill, elliptical, rower, recumbent bike, weight machine, weights, and a direct drive machine for my bicycle for winter riding.
  • A sauna blanket from Heat Healer for relaxation.
  • A Theragun for daily massages.
  • Compression leg sleeves from Reathlete for recovery.
  • Exercise bands, yoga bricks, towels, exercise balls, foam rollers for stretching and a variety of back stretching devices.
  • A chin-up bar.
  • Meditation cushion.
  • ETC.

At times, it’s a little overwhelming. Honestly, all of this stuff costs money and if I’m not using it, I feel like I’ve wasted my money. And I keep buying more. But there simply isn’t enough time in the day for all of this exercise, self care and recovery. I realized that I just cannot do it all.

Some days, I feel like stretching. Some days, I don’t feel like stretching, but still do it. Some days, I don’t feel like it, and I don’t do it. And yes, I might feel sore or tight the following day but I’m prepared for that.

The same goes for a lot of these items. I’m working towards allowing myself to do what I can each day, without feeling guilty. All of these things have a place and time for me. And it’s ok, if it’s not every day.

At the end of the day, self care should be healthy for me. And if I’m getting stressed out because I’m doing too much or I’m not doing enough, I need to sit down and just relax a little. Stop putting pressure on myself to do at least 1 of everything every week. Honestly, the hardest thing for me is to just sit and relax and “do nothing”.

Bike Riding

Bike fitting with Flexion Bike Fit

It’s true that I added to my hobbies this year at the end of July. After my toe injury, I had to take a break from running. I also attended the PTO Canadian Open. Not long after that, I bought a road bike and started cycling. Cycling has become part of my weekly activity now with a ride during the week and a long ride on the weekends.

There’s also been a lot of trips to the bike store for supplies, things needed for rides, things needed for maintenance, etc. I also took an afternoon off and went for an official bike fitting to make sure that my bike is fit to my body. That was fun.

So biking has taken up some time mentally and physically and will be a part of my life moving forward. Things were definitely easier when I was just a runner. I have a bike in the house to store and take care of, I have a collection of biking gear and clothing and I have a winter ride setup ready to go which has already frustrated me!

I’ll be looking to enter some long distance road bike events next year. The Devon 100 and the L’Etape Edmonton (80km or potentially the 130km race).

Biking has added a second out of three discipline from triathlon. It’s interesting to note that I still haven’t done any swimming. If I want to participate in triathlons, I’ll have to train even more. I’m hoping to start some swimming over the winter during free lane time at city leisure pools. From there, I’ll figure out if it’s something I enjoy and want to pursue, or if I’m fine with biking and running.

If I do pursue triathlon, I’ll have to add swimming to my training program, add multidiscipline sessions to my training (i.e. biking and running in the same session) and enter events. At this point, it sounds a little overwhelming while still being a little exciting and thrilling.

Naked activities

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

No, this doesn’t mean doing things physically naked. But there is a concept with athletes to disconnect during your activities. This means running or cycling without watching your device for pace & without music; just get out there in the world and enjoy the fresh air.

You can also call this being present during your activity. It’s enlightening. It’s being in the moment. It’s hearing and paying attention to regular sounds. It’s feeling the sun on your face or back. It’s feeling the wind blow thru your hair.

I experienced nakedness first hand this week on a walk with my dog, Jack. Normally, I walk with Jack at lunch, and I call one of my buddies for our lunch time virtual walk. If he’s not available, I might walk with Paula and our other dog, or I might call someone else.

This week, I just went out for a walk; me and Jack. No phone calls. No one else around. No music. And I really enjoyed the walk and found myself enjoying Jack’s company and smiling at us. This is the spirit of doing something naked. I encourage you to try it sometime. There is something so raw about being alone and experiencing your activity naturally.

Multi-Tasking

There are some scary reports out there about multi-tasking. Some reports are suggesting that we fit in 31 hours into a 24 hour day with multi-tasking. The “just be present” crowd must go crazy at such reports. Somehow, we’re adding 7 hours into our day with multi-tasking. Think about all of the times you are doing something and add looking at your phone, or add listening to music, or add…etc.

Instead, just try being present. If you are watching a tv show, turn off your phone for 1 hour. Watch the commercials. Pay attention to the show. I bet you’ll see and notice things new about that show.

If you drive and usually listen to a podcast or music, turn it off. Just drive and experience the road and traffic. It changes your perspective.

Summary

I don’t know where I was going with this. I’m tired and I wanted to share.

We all have busy lives. We all have stress. We all struggle with relationships. We all struggle with fitting enough things into the day.

I guess my point is that I’m doing what I can to take care of myself, and I’m still struggling. I really needed my therapy appointment last week to talk thru some struggles and get my psychologist’s thoughts on life. If you are struggling, reach out and ask for help. Talk to a psychologist. It helps.

Take care of yourself. Practice lots of self care. Do what you can to stay fit and eat healthy. In my case, that was also being sober. Get outside and just go for a walk. It’s a glorious fall!!!!

Sometimes being tired at the end of the day means I worked and played hard and I’m ready for bed. It’s ok to be tired, but it’s also okay to look into why I’m tired and do what I can about it.

And find out what is fun in life for you. Find your passion. If you are doing something, but not enjoying it, ask yourself why? Find the fun! Find thankfulness! Be naked! Enjoy life!

2 Responses

  1. I enjoyed reading the entire blog but smiled in hearing that you’re discovering how to be in the present with your activities. I’ve never understood why people had so many distractions when there is such beauty to take in, the feeling andsmells of the fall air, crunching of leaves under foot, eyes wide open to your surroundings. I can literally feel the neutrons firing in my brain. Love the feeling of connecting with nature. Nothing else like it!

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