World Champion Routine Secrets


Emily Jackson (3X World Freestyle Champion and Marketing Director at Jackson Kayaks) and I discussed the topic of routines in our recent zoom conversation for the Mind Body Paddle Community. Abby Holcombe, Junior Freestyle World Champion, also joined us.

According to recent studies, the use of routines helps the brain use procedural memory (helps us go into flow state, don’t have to think about what we’re doing) instead of working memory (having to figure things out as we go). The findings showed that when athletes have consistent routines, it boosts their performance under pressure.

These routines include morning routines, daily routines and pre-competition routines. Some can be more involved, while others can be very simple. Emily shared a simple routine that she uses before every session on the water. Her routine is that she asks herself: “What do I need to let go of right now to get on the water?” She then goes through a mental list of what stresses, thoughts and emotions she needs to let go of so she can focus on her paddling.

What I loved about her routine is that it’s simple and doesn’t take much time. Too often we think of routines as having to take hours to be effective. This just isn’t true. A simple question or action can serve as a very effective grounding and focus exercise to get you into the flow state.

I’m a big proponent routines, and especially a consistent morning routine. It’s the key to setting your day up for success. Inspired by my conversation with Emily, I want to share a few simple morning routines with you.

Here are 3 quick and easy morning routines for you, and 1 pre-paddling routine:
  1. When you wake up, express gratitude for your life and for another day to live your best life. This turns your mind toward what’s right instead of what’s wrong.
  2. Scrape your tongue back to front 7X before you brush your teeth. This will remove bacteria that causes bad breath, and help strengthen your gut microbiome.
  3. Step outside early in the morning and take in the natural morning light. Evidence shows that taking in early morning light helps to boost your mood, boosts serotonin production and helps you sleep better the following night. Personally, I enjoy drinking a warm cup of lemon water on my back porch early in the morning. I get hydrated while boosting digestion and mood.
  4. When I put on a river I put my hand in the water and thank the water spirits for flowing and for keeping me and my group upright and breathing. I say these words at the beginning of every river. It helps connect me to the present moment and to the river.

These are quick and easy routines you can test out for your mornings and see how they feel. Remember, the power of a routine is like compounding interest. They work when you practice them consistently over time.

Abby Holcombe (Freestyle Junior World Champion) who was also on the called shared that she doesn’t get too attached to her routines even though she is consistent with them. Her point is that if she has to skip one, she doesn’t want to be so attached that she freaks out about having to skip. It’s an important point. You want to be able to function with and without your routines, and skipping once or twice isn’t a big deal. The key is to keep coming back.

If you want guidance and support for cultivating a morning routine that is practical and works for you, I recommend you join my Guided Fall Cleanse coming up in October. As part of the cleanse you get morning routine outline and resources that include a guided meditation and yoga class. It’s truly a full mind and body habit reset. Here’s the link to learn more and register.