Balanced: A Typical Day for Gordon McArthur
Word and photos courtesy Gordon McArthur
When I look at my typical day, it's like the Tasmanian Devil spinning through chaos. Lol. But seriously...every day is generally full with a million things to get done. Sometimes I even try to write out a “to-do" list for the day, and when I start hitting item #40, I just crumple it up and walk away.
Managing my design business, climbing professionally, being a dad, a husband, and a friend; it's a lot to take on. Some people say, "you have too much on your plate", and I reply with, "that's why I carry several plates.” I get up in the morning, help get my daughters fed, and ready for school, see them off, and then, head straight to my office and get to work. Usually I have to remind myself to eat, otherwise, with my head gets buried in work, well...it'd be a great weight loss program. Past lunch, I start to think about my training for the day. Luckily, with my "office" being at home, and my "training facility" being 20ft from my back door, everything fits quite conveniently. Generally around 2:00 p.m. I try to finish up what I'm doing for work and then head into the backyard to train.
Throughout the year I have a pre-planned training schedule (typically 6 months planned), so every day I know what I'm doing. Pending fatigue, etc., things can change, but I'm usually up for what I'm scheduled to do/train for. It makes things easier, especially amongst the chaos. Less thinking, more doing. You see, with so much going on, I'm easily distracted, so having things planned out, it keeps me on track, almost accountable in a sense.
When I step into the backyard, my personal training ground, that's when I put my "try hard" pants on. I often think of the backyard as "white noise". I get into my groove, with no distraction, and drop the hammer. I've built multiple structures that lend themselves to a specific style of training. Over the years, I've learned how to push myself on my own, on my training structures, maximizing every session to its fullest. Otherwise, I'm basically cheating myself out of attaining certain goals. It's a harsh reality, but when you stare at yourself in the mirror, there's no hiding from the truth; your efforts that day, how hard you tried, do you really want it that bad?
After plowing through several hours of training I pack up my kit, head back inside just in time for the girls to get home. Then "Dad mode" kicks back in and it's full tilt for the next few hours. Whether going to watch the girls at their after-school activities (gymnastics, swimming, etc), driving them to a friend's house, etc., it's go go go until I'm tucking them in for bed.
Bed time is when the house quiets down. My brain starts to slow itself, heart rate starts to drop. By this time of the day I felt like I've run a marathon. But this time of the day, I look forward to. My wife and I get to hang out, relax, catch up, settle in, and enjoy the peace and quiet. However, some nights...I don't get this long moment of the day. Some nights, I'm back into the backyard, training for a second time, or, as of last year, coaching the next up-and-comers.
And, of course, lets not forget about the travel days. As a professional climber, I have goals, projects, competitions, requirements, that all lead to being "away". This is the hard part. I love everything about being a climber and all that it entails, but sometimes my heart groans when saying goodbye to my family. In fact, as I would think it would have gotten easier, on the contrary...it only gets harder. As my daughters get bigger, grow older, I long to be with them even more. Getting through a typical day, chaos, etc., I still get to be with my family. But when I go away, whilst gone, I find myself thinking about them, likely more than the task at hand.
So, you see, it's full tilt, non-stop, craziness all the time. But some times, just sometimes, do I get to enjoy the coziness of my couch, beside my wife, brain turned off, enjoying the peace of that moment. Sometimes I find myself waking up next to my family, in a tent somewhere in the mountains; with a beautiful setting...just us and the outdoors. Sometimes I find myself on top of the podium, celebrating victory. Sometimes I find myself clipping the chains of a route I just climbed. And sometimes, rarely, I experience a dream-like opportunity and find myself climbing in front of thousands of people...at the Olympics. All of it, climbing, family, work, being social, it all comes and goes with timing of what kind of day I find myself in. For me, there is no "balance", only my best effort to be present in every moment.
Life is busy, every day is full, but I try with my utmost to handle it all, be present, enjoy every moment, and sift my way through certain stresses. I'm always learning how to turn off certain parts of my brain, so my attention is where it needs to be. It can be hard mentally, especially with climbing; maybe I'm distracted by a route/project, or maybe I didn't perform as I had hoped. Turning off the "noise" can be my biggest challenge. It's not easy, any of it, but I chose this life, and I made a vow to be the best at it. And so far, I'm doing pretty alright.
Gordon McArthur is a long-standing Julbo Athlete. You can connect with him on Facebook and Instagram. When he's at home, traveling or in the mountains you can typically find him in the Cortina, Trek or Stunt.