Struggling to make a habit stick? Take inspiration from some of the sports worlds best performers!
When it comes to successfully achieving your goals in life, it's been said that you should find someone who's already achieved your desired outcome, and simply do what they do.
So let’s look at the healthy habits of some of the world's greatest sporting legends of all time to discover the secrets behind their success.
Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi won the 2009 New York City Marathon and 2014 Boston Marathon. He maintains, "It’s important to have a routine. I usually run in the morning, when my body is fresh and unaffected by meals. Designate a time and it will hold you accountable.” (1)
Tennis legend Novak Djokovic has no less than 16 Grand Slam titles and has held the ATP No.1 ranking for 275 weeks (2). He also has very specific habits when it comes to his diet. In his book, ‘Serve to Win’, he explains that his morning routine includes a large cup of room temperature water, two tablespoons of honey, and a nutrient-rich breakfast of muesli or oatmeal, nuts, seeds, fruit, coconut oil, and non-dairy milk or coconut water. (3)
Wimbledon champion Sir Andy Murray's post-match routine goes something like this. After taking a shower he has some food and drink and then a massage. After that, he sits in an 8-10C (46-50F) ice bath for eight minutes. (4) "It might not be everyone's ideal preparation for a good night's sleep," Andy told the BBC, "but fortunately I've got used to plunging myself into ice-cold water over the years and I don't mind it." (5)
One of the most important parts of Olympic legend and greatest sprinter of all time Usain Bolt's training regime is sleep. He is said to average 8 to 10 hours each night. "Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” (6) There's research to back up Bolt's passion for pillows. Apparently those who don't get enough sleep are 1.7 times more likely to get injured. (7)
Serena Williams has won more major singles titles than any man or woman in the Open Era. In an interview with Vogue magazine, she highlighted the importance of sticking to a routine that works for you. Her pre-match rituals include walking out to 'Flashdance What a Feeling' by Irene Cara and washing her hands just before the match begins to "make sure that they're nice and dry so I can grip the racquet tight enough." (8)
Eliud Kipchoge, known as the greatest marathoner of the modern era, holds the world record for the marathon distance. According to Valentijn Trouw of Global Sports Communication, who manages Kipchoge, the runner records every single run he does so that when he competes in a marathon he can "look back at the last four months and know he has done everything. It gives him the confidence to go and deliver." (9)
It's not all about marathon training sessions in the gym...or pool. In an interview with the NHS, double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington OBE acknowledged that "shorter regular sessions are less of a chore and are easier to fit into a busy schedule. It'll soon become a habit, like walking the dog." (10)
In the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games, Austrian pentathlete Thomas Daniel would visualise the event, the stadium, and how he would approach each competition every morning and evening. When it was time to compete he played out in real life what he had been visualising for months and recorded his best-ever performance. (11)
Sprinter Iwan Thomas's medal haul includes gold in the World and European Championships and silver in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He credits much of his sprinting success to consistency. Training became part of his life - something he dedicated time to every day as he believed if you consistently train the right way, you don't need to change anything. As Thomas explains, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." (11)
Becoming the Greatest doesn't come by chance. Muhammed Ali knew that better than anyone. "He had hardcore dedication," explains boxing trainer Justin Fortune, "it was all about getting in there and doing your work." (12) Ali was the first to admit he didn't always enjoy the early starts, long training runs, and endless sessions in the ring. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” And who can argue with that?
(7) Milewski MD, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, Barzdukas A. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes