How the hell do you do this every day?

In a comment on my last entry, someone asked:

Do you have a job? Hobbies? How the hell do you do this every day?

“How the hell do you do this every day?” is a fair question, and I have gotten a version of it for a couple of years now.

Yes, I have a job. It’s a full time, professional, relatively high-profile job in downtown Toronto. I live in the city, but I do have to cycle or take public transit every day.

Yes, I have hobbies. (Though my main hobby is jiu-jitsu.) I like to read, cook, talk to my best friend and my roommate, have occasional (Precision Nutrition-friendly!) brunches with other friends, watch documentaries, surf teh Internetz, tidy my house–yes, tidying is a hobby for me–etc.

It really doesn’t take as much time as people think. My training volume on this program is–depending on where I am in the program–somewhere between 13-16 hours a week. That’s significantly less than the 20 hours week (including teaching) that I was averaging last year. As I have said before, if the average person attempted to train as much as I do, I think they would be horrified and would hate me forever for recommending this program to them. But the reason for that hatred would not a matter of the time required: it would be the intensity with which I am training.

If you train smart, you don’t have to train for a long time. My training is specific targeted to address my goals of improved functional strength, drastic fat loss with muscle sparing, world-class conditioning, and advancing my grappling technique as much as possible between now and May 23rd.

But you don’t have to be an international athlete to find the same program useful. Fifteen minutes of interval sprints will do far more for fat loss and conditioning than the “regular” long cardio session. See Krista’s article on Fartlek training,  details about Alwyn Cosgrove’s afterburn training, Dan’s article on Tabata training over at T-Nation, or Alex Koch’s article on Tabata training from Men’s Fitness (don’t laugh).

So those are some specifics on training. But there’s a different thing that lets me do this, too. It is, in fact, the more critical component.

Wanna know what it is? It’s the way my life is prioritized and structured.

I live close to where I work and train, and I don’t have a car, so transit time between home and those places is reduced: it takes me about 20 minutes to get from my house to work or the gym, and ten minutes to get from work to the gym. I don’t watch a lot of television (but I do watch a couple of hours every week; I don’t want to be completely pop culture illiterate). I’m not really a bar or club person. I don’t eat out much. And I prioritize my training, health and fitness pretty highly compared to things that aren’t good or fun for me. If I break down the stuff I am obligated in some way to do during a week, it looks like this:

  • 56 hours sleeping
  • 40 hours working
  • 25 hours training (including changing, showering, hanging out at the gym on the weekend acting like a jiu-jitsu bum, etc.)
  • 8 hours in transit (public transit, walking, cycling)
  • 12 hours morning prep (cooking meals, tidying the house, catching up on email, reading the news, getting ready for work, etc.)
  • 6 hours evening prep (grocery shopping, packing food for the next day, catching up with my roommate, getting ready for bed)

That totals 147 hours. With 168 hours in a week, that still leaves another 21 hours of free time a week – three hours every day of the week including weekends – for me to do whatever I want. This might include walking home or to the gym from work a couple of days a week… as long as the weather is nice. It might also include watching television, taking a nice vanilla bath, hanging out with friends, or contemplating my navel. It could be anything! My time is my own! Ha ha! Suck on that, leisure!

Most people, even very active people, train two or three times a week for maybe an hour, even two hours. Let’s say that’s ten hours a week with showering, etc. Compared to my 25 hours a week, that’s nothing… and with the 15-hour weekly difference in our training schedules, you get another two hours a day that I don’t have. You get five hours a day. I get three.

I sympathize with people who say they don’t have time to work out. Believe me, in my late-1990s dotcom days of 80-hour work weeks, it was challenging for me to find time to work out, too. But I usually did, even though I hated it and was terrible at it. Everybody has time to work out.

What I discovered was that if I make training a priority, it’s easy to fit it into my schedule. Parents will leave work on time because they have to pick up the kids from hockey practice. Me, I leave work on time because my appointment with Geoff is at 6:30pm, and Mark’s class schedule doesn’t change. There’s no way I’m wasting those opportunities.

I don’t know if that was useful, but it was informative for me to write it out so I could see exactly why I never feel stressed about training so much.