Who doesn’t love to watch Olympic athletes compete?
That perfect dismount; that world record-breaking 50-yard dash; that extra second shaved off the butterfly! This is an elite group of people in the peak of their physical strength and endurance. But how do Olympians get that way outside of the gym?
It must be all those hours working out, right? Wrong.
Although intensive training is a big part of an Olympic athlete’s success, there are many other factors that go into winning the gold. Although we may never aspire to be an Olympian, here are some tips from Olympians we can use in our own daily lives. Even if you are going for a gold medal in your senior year thesis.
Sleep Like an Olympian
Surely you’ve seen the numerous articles and studies out there that stress the importance of sleep. Sleep is recovery, and not enough of it can be detrimental for Olympic athletes or being awake for that morning lecture. A hard workout builds us up, but sleep gives us time for recovery.
Ryan Hall, Olympic marathoner, says he needs 8—9 hours of sleep a night and takes 90-minute naps during the day.
When starting a new workout program or cramming for exams, it’s vital to get extra sleep to help our muscles and brains rebuild themselves. Pulling an all nighter may not produce winning results on that paper.
Even if we’re not doing a new workout routine, there are a million reasons why adequate sleep is good for our body, brain, and mental health. If you just can’t seem to squeeze in any more sleep, or you have trouble falling asleep, try yoga nidra. It is said that just one hour of yoga nidra is equal to an entire night’s sleep!
Fuel Your Body Like an Olympian
We are what we eat. So, eating an Egg McMuffin every morning before class (guilty) probably isn’t the answer to feeling great. Olympic athletes are on an extremely strict diet, but it’s not just to look good. It’s to fuel their bodies for optimal performance.
Gymnast Gabby Douglas eats chicken breast and grilled asparagus with balsamic vinegar. Soccer player Julie Johnston drinks a smoothie with mangos, bananas, peanut butter, milk and spinach and chicken noodle soup. Weight lifter Morghan King eats a stir-fry with lean meat, rice and veggies.
Usain Bolt eats a lot of veggies and fruits, and there’s no chocolate cake in his diet!
It’s best to stay away from dieting fads and instead, focus on what your body needs. Maybe that means avoiding trigger foods such as dairy or gluten. Listen to what signals your body is giving you.
Train Your Mind Like an Olympian
“You have to train your mind like you train your body,” said gold-medalist Caitlyn Jenner.
Here are some tips Olympians use to maintain a positive attitude that you can incorporate in your daily life:
Visualize the outcome you want
Dream a little! Many Olympic athletes visualize themselves winning that gold, or conquering that play. The power of optimism is extremely motivating. But it doesn’t stop there. You actually have to allow yourself to feel it. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Athletes in the past couple of decades have traded in aggressive, Type-A coaches and tactics for something more relaxing: meditation. Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have all been known to practice meditation with great results. Meditation has numerous benefits, namely reducing stress, increasing focus and attention span, and boosting emotional well-being. It’s a great way to clear out mental fog to stay calm and focus in a crazy environment like school or work.