As daily routines go, it was pretty grim. Every morning just after waking up, Andrew Browne would gingerly shift his lumbering frame, sit at the edge of the bed and slowly place his feet on the ground.
The pain that followed was inevitable. It was merely a question of how sore it would be on any given day.
This wasn't just a passing phase either. Throughout Browne's 11-year professional career with Connacht, he faced the kind of challenges that have become increasingly common for many rugby players nowadays.
Retirement had been on the Galway native's mind for some time before he pulled the trigger without hesitation two years ago. Enough was enough.
At 31, Browne's decision came as a surprise to many, who felt he had plenty left to give. But most people were unaware of the world of pain his body was going through.
Browne has since turned to secondary school teaching, while he gets his rugby fix from coaching Galwegians in the All-Ireland League (AIL).
Despite still being heavily involved, the former lock has no regrets about calling time on his playing career.
"I just had enough," Browne insists.
"There was no one incident that I can pinpoint where I was like, 'This is where I knew I was going to retire'.
"Playing rugby had run its course for me. People were telling me that I was still very young, but people who are not in the game don't understand it.
"They don't experience or feel what you are feeling when you get up every morning - your body is in bits and you have to go into training.
"That just wears you down. Once you are doing that for a significant amount of time, I knew myself that I had had enough of it."
Browne was dogged by injuries throughout his career, but he managed to clock up 156 appearances for Connacht, including coming off the bench in the memorable 2016 PRO12 final win over Leinster.
It's a fair innings for any professional, and while Browne regrets never getting capped by Ireland, he believes his battle with his body held him back at different crucial stages.
"The mental side is the worst part of it," Browne admits. "I had an Achilles injury for the majority of that last year and I had continuous Achilles problems throughout my career.
"I was getting up every morning, sitting at the side of the bed, putting my feet on the ground and wondering what my Achilles was going to be like.
"Will I be able to walk pain-free this morning? The majority of time, I couldn't.
"I would get up and have to limp to the bathroom. You would be limping for the first hour of the day before it even warms up.
"That automatically puts you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. You're driving into training and it's the last place in the world you want to be going because you are going into an injured group to do the same rehab work day-in, day-out.
"You would never really verbalise that you were hating it at the time. Obviously you would be like, 'This is s**t', but you wouldn't be alerting lads that this was a big issue.
"And it wasn't really. It's rugby - you are going to get injured and you are going to have those bad days.
"When I moved away from rugby, I found it a bit of a release mentally. It's funny, leaving the game put me in a better mental state day-to-day."
It's a stark insight into the kind of punishment that rugby players put their bodies through on a daily basis, and for those like Browne who were on the middle rung, it often meant for very little reward.
Unless you are a top-tier player, negotiating contracts can be a tricky business, as Browne learned.
"Every one or two years, it's such a mind-f**k," the 33-year-old says.
"There is very little security. You might only get a two-year contract if you are lucky.
"The stress of that coming around so often is quite hard. It can drag on for a long time too. The lucky ones get their contracts sorted early in the season, but when I look at my own career, I don't think I ever had a contract sorted by February.
"If you were to look for another club then, it's a very short window. That's another load of stress that you don't have to worry about when you step away from rugby.
"People who aren't in the game don't realise that there are so many of those factors taking place."
Then there are the gruelling bodily changes that players are regularly asked to make. With rugby increasingly becoming about power, piling on the mass is a given for every lock.
At 6ft 5in, Browne had the frame, but he regularly battled with his weight, as he explains:
"Rugby demands a lot of your body. I had to gain a lot of weight, which was very unnatural for me.
"I'm walking around now at 100 kilos, but my heaviest ever was 118 kilos. That is completely unnatural, so physiologically that creates a lot of pressure.
"I suffered a lot with my knees and my Achilles, and I think carrying that excess weight played a part in that.
"But on the other side, it is a necessity because you just have to be heavier. I couldn't play rugby now, even if I wanted to because I would just get thrown around the place.
"It has long-term effects too. I am always going to have sore Achilles, sore knees, no matter how much weight I lose or no matter how well I look after my body.
"Some lads make huge sacrifices for the rest of their lives, just to play the game."
Even if Browne never got that elusive first cap, or got to play with or against his older brother Damian, who since retiring has gone on to complete some of the world's toughest challenges, he knows that he owes a lot to rugby. That is not to say he would ever like to throw on the boots again, however, nor was he tempted to remain in the game when he had offers from other clubs upon retiring.
"I don't miss playing," he continues.
"I'm standing on the sideline now and I have zero interest in being out on the pitch.
"I had thoughts about retiring sooner. Any time you get an injury or even if you are out of form and not getting selected and worried about your contract, you always have those feelings of, 'What if I don't get another contract? Will I just retire?'
"It's constantly in your head."
The two years out of the game has allowed Browne's body to recover from the damage it suffered over the years.
Himself and his partner Emma are expecting their first child in August, which means that another major life change is on its way.
Amidst it all, Browne is also hoping to complete his teaching degree, while Damian is already attempting to lure him into one of his jaw-dropping expeditions.
"The year I took off, we trained together a lot," Browne adds. "He was getting ready for climbing the seven summits at the time. He is actually supposed to be climbing Everest now.
"The training was great and ridiculously tough all at the same time. I already knew how his mind worked, but I really got a first-hand insight.
"He has hinted at me a few times about doing different expeditions. Some day I would love to do something together. We have hinted that we might row an ocean together."
Browne's rugby boots may be hung up, but you get the feeling that he is not finished challenging his body just yet.
In this series, Cian Tracey speaks to former players about retiring early and life after the bright lights go out