Maximising your Time on the Water / Trails / Slopes

We’re all busy people and there are never enough hours in the day to fit everything in. I think I do better than most people though. Despite having a young family, a job, running my own business and all the usual chores to do I still mangae plenty of recreation time by maximising my time.

Be that on the water:

  • windsurfing,
  • surfing,
  • SUPing,
  • wild swimming,
  • canoeing,
  • surf skiing.

On the trails:

  • running,
  • mountain biking,
  • cyclo-crossing,
  • geocaching,
  • hiking.

In the winter

  • snow-boarded,
  • sledging.

Just having fun

  • slack-lining,
  • kiting,
  • racing triathlons,
  • racing quadrathlons,
  • camping,
  • messing about on the beach,
  • fishing,
  • snorkelling.

I’m always up to something. There’s even ‘hobbies’ such as fish-keeping, photography, bee-keeping and astronomy that I fit in. As well as the recreation there is training in the form of swimming, biking, running, weights, circuits and plyometrics to do. And yes, the chores such as the cleaning, cooking, vacuuming, laundry, gardening, and lawn-mowing still get done. The house is up together, the cars get washed and waxed and everything is in order. So how do I fit it all in and maximise my time wisely?

A Place for Everything and Everything in it’s Place

Organisation is the key here. The last thing you want to prevent you from getting out for a windsurf, a bike ride or any other sort of recreational activity is not being able to find the piece of kit that you need. When you have as many toys as me then this can be a challenge. Give everything a place and have everything in it’s place and life becomes so much easier. I can pretty much put my hands on everything at any time. If the wind picks up I can be changed rigged up and on the beach in minutes.

  • My boards are neatly racked with booms on top of them ready to go at a moments notice.
Windsurf Board Racking

Windsurf Board Racking

  • My sails are tidily stacked and usually in size order too. (there’s actually 11 of them stacked up there)
Sail Quiver

Sail Quiver

  • My masts have specific places in the rafters. (There are more on the other side)
Mast Storage

Mast Storage

  • My bikes are easy to get to and ready to go.
  • Mast extensions have a place, helmets and harnesses too.
  • I have a rigging box that I take to the beach with me. It has my most commonly used fins, deck plates, rigging tools, screwdrivers and a whole host of spares in it. There’s no need to check it, I know that everything is in there so I can just grab it and go.
Rigging Box

Rigging Box

  • Surf boards are stored in their own spots.
  • I have built dedicated storage for canoes and surf skis.
Surf Ski Storage

Surf Ski Storage

  • Paddles have places of their own, held in place with sections of old inner tube.


  • Buoyancy aids too.
  • Even my GoPro kit is all neatly stashed so that I can grab the attachments I need and go.
GoPro Mounting Accessories

GoPro Mounting Accessories

  • Heart Rate Monitors dry out in the airing cupboard between sessions.
  • Wetsuits are washed, dried and stored as soon as I finish with them.
  • I have a drawer full of cycling clothes and another with running and swimming apparel.

Elsewhere there are trugs. One with water based kit in it such as swimming goggles, hats, wetsuit lube, gloves for the winter and a towel robe etc. One with biking kit such as MTB shoes, camelbaks, helmets and overshoes for the winter. Another with rash vests, changing mats wetsuit boots and dry bags etc for watersports. Each of these have accessories in them too such as odd GoPro mounts, cable ties, spares and bits of rope. These can be grabbed and put in the camper van at a moments notice.

The camper van of course is a marvel of storage and organisation all of its own – I won’t go there, but needless to say everything has a place and it is jam packed with kit!


Transporting kit can be quite a task in itself. Having the right tools for the job make a huge difference here. A decent bike rack that allows me to get bikes on and off the van quickly and easily is essential. The same is true of a roof-rack and it’s attachments. Such things are expensive but they make such a difference. Not only does it mean that your precious toys can be transported safely and securely but getting them on and off the van becomes a joy rather than a chore and takes a matter of seconds. Why struggle and waste time with inappropriate equipment? Especially when that time could be spent actually on the water or on the trails.

Sometimes a vehicle isn’t needed. In fact if you live on the beach like we do it often isn’t. Even so, I have means of transporting my kit to the beach. Trolleys for surf skis and canoes, wheel-barrows for windsurfing kit and straps for SUPS and lighter surf skis. All are stored in their own places and ready to go when I need them. I have roof-rack straps aplenty too.

Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll


Things break. Ropes snap, sails get damaged, brake pads wear out, boards get dinged, wetsuits ripped and the list goes on. Things need cleaning, polishing, repairing and lubing. Maintenance is an ongoing job when you have lots of precious toys but once again keeping on top of such things is key to maximising your time on the water /  trails.

If something breaks or needs replacing I usually have spares with me and can sort it out on the spot. I then make sure that one of the first things I do when I get back is order a replacement so that I still have a spare next time. If something can be fixed I try to do it straight away – often in the shed while I still have my wetsuit or muddy clothes on. My tools of course all have a place and are in that place ready to be put to good use for such things.

Bikes are cleaned and lubed after every use and I have a good supply of my preferred cleaning agents and lubes all ready to be used.

I try to replace things before they break if possible. When I do so I tend to keep the old, nearly worn out component as it may come in handy as a spare one day. I even do this with my most commonly used sails. I’d hate to miss out on the best day of windsurfing ever because I punched a hole in my 5m sail on the first run – I therefore have an old back up 5m sail just in case! (5.5m and 4.5m too!)

Rigging Tips

Even time spent getting ready and rigging up is time that could be spent on the water so I’m as efficient as can be at this too.

With lots of sails, booms, masts and extensions to choose from it’s almost impossible to remember what settings each needs. A sharpie pen comes in handy here. I simply write the best mast and boom for the job on the sail-bag of each sail, along with the amount of extension needed. This means there’s no down-hauling only to find I needed more or less extension. I know sails generally come with luff and boom length written on them but I don’t always find these to be accurate. Knowing the perfect set-up for each bit of kit just saves time and therefore maximises your time having fun.

Sail Settings

Sail Settings

As well as writing it on the sail-bag, I also mark out booms and extensions. Rigging is fast, efficient and accurate.

I have thought about writing it all on a piece of card and laminating it too but haven’t done so yet as the current system works well and gets me out on the water quickly.

Getting changed

Even simple things like getting changed takes time. Time that could be spent actually taking part in your chosen sport. Once again I have a whole range of wetsuits and apparel. Each is neatly stored in a specific place and more importantly laundered and dried as soon as I’ve finished with it. Yep, on a standard day this leads to loads of laundry, usually a whole set of running kit, a whole set of cycling kit plus at least a rash vest, swimming shorts, wetsuit and boots. In the winter there’s even more. It all goes straight into the washing machine and then through the tumble drier – even the wetsuits. Not only does it mean they are ready for the next session should I need them but it keeps them smelling fresh(ish) too.

We have a ‘beach room’ as well which is a wet-room with a shower accessible directly from the garden. I come into the house this way fully kitted up and straight into the shower. Quite a luxury in the depths of winter and yet another time-saving and convenience all year round.

Weather no Object

A wise man once said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. I’d go along with that. Rain, pah, who cares! Running in the rain is lush, mountain biking in the rain is fine. Watersports in the rain don’t matter – you’re getting wet anyway.

Calm sunny days are made for canoeing, surf skiing, snorkelling and playing on the beach. Wild windy days are made for windsurfing. If there’s a decent swell then surfing it is, if the swell is small but clean then it’s an opportunity for SUP surfing. Cold isn’t an issue – wetsuits work well. Clothes are a good option for land-based activities (and usually a requirement for everyone else’s sake!). Simply working harder keeps you warm too. Layer up and have some fun whatever the weather.

Time of Day

Don’t restrict your activities to 9-5. Most of us have to work. Inconvenient I agree, but such is life.

Book-end your days with early morning and evening recreation. Start early, finish late – you can sleep when you’re dead. I’m often up and out doing something before 5am. Early morning runs or swims are the best. Not only do they wake you up and prepare you for the day ahead, but you feel as though you have got one up on the rest of the world already. This calls for head-torches in the winter so get such things ready now. Night riding in the forests is great fun. Decent lights, warm clothes and a sense of adventure are all you need to take your recreation into the twilight hours.

Motivation Lacking?

Having this much fun is hard work. You need to be physically fit but just doing such activities will help with that. If you aren’t then start easy and just do short sessions. Even so, there are still days when you just don’t feel like it. Muscles are aching. Limbs are sore. You’re just lacking in motivation for one reason or another. Well, first up just remember it is supposed to be fun and few of us are professionals at such things so you don’t have to do it. Even if you are training for something specific or have set yourself certain goals it should still be fun.

However, more often than not I find that if you can muster up the motivation to get out there then you’ll be glad that you did. Following some or all of of these tips will help as it means there will be fewer hurdles in the way to stop you. If getting out on the water, on your bike or just out for a simple run is easy to do then you are more likely to do it. Sometimes it’s just a case of talking yourself into it. Try not to think about it too much, if you have window of time, do something with it don’t just waste it away.

Maximising your Time

Maximising your time to allow for the things you want to do is essentially just a matter of being organised, keeping on top of your kit, managing your time efficiently and making the most of things. It does of course help to have an understanding wife as well!

There’s so much to do and so little time to do it. Don’t waste it wishing you could be somewhere else, don’t waste it moaning about not having any time to get out. Make the most of what you have. Make the most of where you are. Get organised. Most importantly make time, make recreation a priority and get out there. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, just do it. You only have one life, live it!!

2 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author Mum says:

    Well I certainly agree with a place for everything and everything in its place., as I’m sure you know this has been my philosophy all my adult life, Have to admit here ,not my teenage years. However I still wouldn’t want to be as active as you are, most of my spare time is spent reading, knitting, when my wrist lets me, shopping and eating. I’m sure your hobbies are healthier though. I’m glad you make the most of your life and like you said, lucky you have an understanding and supportive wife.

  2. Avatar forComment Author Magnus says:

    Fun to read. Pretty similar situation, except I recently dont run but did orienteering and multisport before. Instead i can add Salsa instructor, Musician in two bands and sound enginneer. And as you I windsurf, SUP and have work, family and side business (A small SUP shop trying to promote SUP with classes and rentals…pretty unknown in northern sweden)
    What I lack is the really nice order you have in materials. I have racks for boards, sails etc. But all small things, and wet things…ghaa. I have order for short periods of time only 🙂

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.