Manufacturing Time- How to Train Within a Busy Life

Can you remember the day you woke up and realized that “reality” had set in and that it felt like there were less hours in the day compared to the amount of shit that you were responsible for?   I can.  And if you haven’t had that day yet, it will likely come unless you are one of a very select few.   If you are bothering to read this blog then you likely have some aspirations outside of work and family. You probably aspire to do “something.” Maybe it’s a simple 10k race, or qualify for CrossFit Regionals, or climb Denali. The actual task is not important. What’s important is that you have a goal or desire and likely less than optimal time to prepare for said goal. Enter the concept of manufacturing time. And more than that, manufacturing quality time.

So here is the plot: You have had some fitness or athletic success sometime in your adult life. You were young(er), you likely worked, might have had a spouse or significant other, had a job but maybe not a career and you TRAINED. You trained for something that mattered. All the blank space in your head was filled with thoughts of how you should train harder or better, or the next competition, or the next project. You probably didn’t have to care about how you looked, because your persistent drive to meet your goal took care of those details. You might have worked hard at your job or your relationships but in the end, the TRAINING and the will to WIN took the front seat. You were a wrecking ball and the world was made of glass.

And then you woke up one day and the world was the wrecking ball and YOU were glass. Shit.  Now what do I do? Most likely, you dive headfirst into the “career”, into marriage, into raising children (all good things). But over time, you forget. It could be days or years. But you forget. You forget the hunger. The desire, no the will to the be fucking best. You drown in the sea of the rest of life.

And then something happens. Maybe you wake up and realize you are fat. Or that you are the person that you used to loathe. Maybe those other things (work and family) are actually suffering because you have lost who and what you are. Maybe you look at Fuckbook and find a worthy goal that draws you in. It melts your brain and wont let you go. Regardless, you have breathed a renewed life worth living and are ALL IN.

But how am I going to do that? I have a mortgage, a family….RESPONSABILTIES!!!


You might not get signed by the NFL, or set the new speed record up Mt. Everest, but there is a way. (As I was writing this I almost said it was “simple”, but its not. It’s fucking hard. Its hard to be disciplined, to do what is needed, not what is desired, but it can be done.

Ok, so how is it done?

  1.  Identify the “essence” of your goal. If you want to run 50 miles, then running for a long time is it. If you want to go to the CrossFit games but are weak then picking up heavy shit is it. If you are an infantryman then being durable and being able to cover and move are it. If you are an ice climber then having upper body muscular endurance are it. You get the picture. It’s not one size fits all, but for each goal combined with each person (and their weaknesses and strengths) there is an essence. This concept is beyond important. As an example if you are a 50 mile runner then it is an absolute that at least one day a week is your “long day”.   Is 50 miles a week good? Yes. But if you can’t pull that off then partition your time so that you get at least one day to go run for 3-5 hours in a row. If you are an ice climber then skipping the extended grip/pull-up training session is stupid.   Finding the essence allows you to focus on the necessity and put in a piece of time that cannot be violated. No matter what. If you do no other training during the week, do this.


  1. Pick low hanging fruit. If your training time is limited then don’t screw up the easy stuff. Eat well and sleep as much as you can (watching TV is not a reason not to get adequate sleep). Food is fuel. And food is comfort. When you have a goal then prioritize fuel over comfort. Your sweet tooth is bullshit. If you are running on limited time then don’t short the effect by funneling bad fuel into your body. Sleep. Sleep is good. Career, family and training can all have an effect on sleep (in a minute I’m going to tell you to wake up early if you need to). But you must eliminate the wrong reasons to be low on sleep. TV, Twitter, and an email that can wait for tomorrow are all shitty reasons to be sleep deprived. I wont go into sleep quality, but research and practice sleep hygiene and if needed supplement with things like magnesium to make the most out of the darkness.


  1. Milk the holes. Sounds like a bad porn movie. What I am getting at here is that you need to “milk” the holes in your schedule for all they are worth. Keep a pair of running shoes or kettle bell in your car. You get an unexpected hour of time? Go run. Do swings. Do something that leans you farther toward your goal. Manufacture time. Even the most busy people have these holes in their calendar. Prepare for them and then act.


  1. Make the hole. Worse porn movie. Here you need to look at your “life” and build in those extra moments. This could be blocking out lunch twice a week for exercise. Or it could be hanging a pull up bar in your office (I have a hang board in my office and one day a week I do a minimum of 100 pull-ups…it lets me cut that need out of my structured training schedule.) It could be the dreaded waking up early. No time to workout from 7am to 10pm? Fine, wake up at 5 and get it done. Make it happen.


  1. Accept blackouts and then correct the course. We are acknowledging that you are freaking busy. That may mean that for a few days or a week or even a month that training consistently may not happen. Get over it. From about December 1 to Jan 1 each and every year I basically do not train. At all. I accept it, maximize sleep and health and move on. BUT then when I can correct the course I do so. Generally that means looking into the horizon and planning an intelligent week of getting back on the horse, followed by consistent training, followed by bocks of big volume when available (which leads me to the next item.)


  1. Pile it on when you can. Most of us, even when very busy, have weeks where the other pressures let off. This is your time. This is your time to dump in so solid volume and intensity. It will likely hurt, and you will be sore. But its OK. You know that next week that its back to the grindstone and you will be able to recover. Much like milking the holes, don’t let huge gaps in your calendar go to waste.


  1. The “essence” is the name of the game, but play in other arenas if its all you got. We must keep our eye on our goal and maximize training time to directly improve that goal. That being said, if you have time to train, but because of location or logistics, its not directly applicable then you should jump all over the training regardless. To put it more simply. You are a runner. But you are on a work trip and there is a blizzard outside. And they gym does not have a treadmill. But they have free weight. Then go lift some damn weights. It will help. I promise. BUT, on the next work trip to the same place the blizzard is gone…then get your ass out and go for a run.


This is a good place to start. There is more. Exercise selection. Volume. Intensity. They all play a part. But it start with basics. Busy does not mean sedentary. A career does not eliminate ones self. Make time where there seems to be none. Optimize that time. Find your essence and then be the wrecking ball.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Gavin McClurg

    Awesome advice!

  • Anna

    Great read !!

  • Faisal

    Thanks, practical and simple.

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