How Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, and other leading Olympic athletes follow a daily schedule to remain successful
You don’t become an Olympic Athlete overnight. It takes a whole lot of skill, professional training, and most importantly, buckets full of discipline. Following a strict schedule, be it in terms of food, exercise, or even sleep, and sticking by it religiously is a task which most of us can only cheer on from afar. However, if you recently underwent a resolution to become more productive and fit from the oncoming Monday, and remain actually hell bent on seeing it through, then you could do with some advice from these individuals.
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” – Jesse Owens, American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist
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Surprisingly, these leading athletes do not believe that their maximum productivity levels can be attained from spending the day at the gym. They focus, instead, on the little measures, which we tend to take for granted, like our diet, our sleeping cycles, and most importantly, our state of mind, and build on them for greater long-term results.
Here are the daily habits of some of the world’s most revered Olympic athletes, and how we can take back from them:
“I've learned over the years that if you start thinking about the race, it stresses you out a little bit. I just try to relax and think about video games, what I'm gonna do after the race, what I'm gonna do just to chill. Stuff like that to relax a little before the race.”
A ‘bolt’ of lightening on the tracks and eight-time Olympic gold medallist, you’d think that Usain Bolt would pretty much have the cat in the bag by now. But like everyone else hoping to stand by the legacy they have created, Bolt experiences the extremely mortal phenomenon of butterflies in his stomach in the final days before his races. However, the world champion focuses has developed a simplistic method to overcome his subsequent bouts of stress and panic by talking himself out of it and focusing instead on events and hobbies which relax him to the maximum, like video-games!
While we may not be making history on the tracks ourselves, we do empathise with the same kind of anxiety moments before an important meeting, pitch, event, or show. At times like these, we need to distract ourselves by concentrating on the everyday things that calm us down instead of listing out a series of worst case scenarios that can take place on the D-day.
“For a long time before the Olympic Games in London, I would start and end each day by imagining how the event would be. I would make a detailed picture of the place and my personal goals. This visualization habit is my secret of success. The routine helped me a lot to deliver my best performance on competition day.”
Daniel, an Australian modern pentathlete who placed 6th at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, revealed that his secret to success came with pre-visualising his goals. He would come up with new strategies for each game in a different way, on account of how he played it out in his head. Later, he would employ these same tactics on the real day, a feat which has worked immeasurably in his favour.
While one can never predict the outcomes of a meeting, event, show or network, they can visualise how it could possibly pan out and work on it accordingly. In most cases, having a standard move or plan is a guaranteed call for a positive result.
“In order to stay where I am – and I want to do that – I have to stay dedicated as well as I have been before I became No. 1.”
Djokovic didn’t become Djokovic by waking up at noon and ‘catching some grub’. Having won the bronze in the 2008 Olympics and holding the title of 12-time Grand Slam (Singles) winner, Djokovic attributes his success to following a healthy diet, training, and sleeping routine. To set up his body for executing its maximum potential on match-day, Djokovic relies on his fixed diet that goes in this order – a large cup of room temperature water, two tablespoons of honey, and a nutrient-rich breakfast comprising of muesli or oatmeal, nuts, seeds, fruit, coconut oil, and non-dairy milk or coconut water.
Sometimes, eating healthy and smartly can go a long way in ensuring long-term productivity. It’s time to start treating your body like a temple.
“Following the same routine before competitions helped me do three things. First, I didn’t feel pressed for time. Second, it made me less nervous. And third, I gained self-confidence.”
Former Austrian swimmer and two-time Olympian Petra Zahrl’s secret to success lies in following a standard routine before every competition. This gives her a sense of confidence and familiarity, which also ensures that what she did right last time may as well work out for her this time as well.
Applying this rule to our everyday lives, it’s good to have a fall-back play despite the many creative approaches we can improvise with each new project. After all, consistency is key for a reason.
“I plan on doing things that I can't do because of gym right now...things like going swimming with sharks or jumping off a cliff into water.”
Everyone’s favourite Simone Biles, who made a lasting impression on everyone who followed the 2016 Rio Olympics, believes in balancing out an invigorating training routine with checking off items in her bucket-list. Not taking life too terrifyingly seriously has always helped her see the bright end of the rainbow, and has motivated her to keep putting her extremely graceful feet forward, no matter the challenges lying ahead.
When the world seems to be spinning a bit out of control to your liking, take a break. Re-evaluate. Have some fun. And then get back to finishing what you started.
The key characteristic that each of these Olympic athletes professes to, irrespective of the differing traits of their fixed schedules, is the willpower to remain disciplined through the tasks to which they align themselves. Taking a leaf out of their book, it’s time to reflect on how you can improve on your everyday life and stick by the changes, for a greater future lying ahead.