Liz Gleadle has become Canada’s finest female javelin thrower through years of dedication to detail. So when she tells you that her morning routine is a huge contributing factor to her success, it’s worth listening. Now the Olympian is offering an Olympian & Paralympian Online Experience – a 90-minute group Zoom call – in which she explains how we can all “win the morning like an Olympian”. Just don’t forget your bathing suit…
Do you bounce through your front door in the morning, ready to take on any challenge that life might throw at you? Or is it more a case of stumbling around, half asleep, waiting for that second coffee to kick in?
Believe it or not, despite their levels of fitness, many Olympians are in the second camp, taking a while to get going and tune in to the day, or starting it groggy and dehydrated. Liz Gleadle, the Canadian javelin star, was certainly one of them.
Gleadle, who competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and is training for Tokyo 2020, however, has got an enquiring mind (and a degree in kinesiology). Unsatisfied with her morning routine and how she was feeling, she decided to experiment with various different ways of supercharging the start of her day.
After trying out different forms of exercise and dietary ideas, she has honed her routine to perfection, and believes that her energising, targeted mornings have contributed to her being healthier, happier and – crucially – throwing a javelin further.
We won’t all be suddenly throwing a spear 63.30 metres (like Gleadle did last year at the Pan American Games), but the average human can certainly benefit from her regime. Which is why Gleadle has set up her Olympian & Paralympian Online Experience, called “Win the Morning like an Olympian”, in which she actively gets participants to take part in elements of her morning prep.
Taking place at appropriately 8.30am, live from Gleadle’s Vancouver home, she is a welcoming and fun host, but the information she is giving out is all based on hard facts. “I don’t do anything without a good reason for doing it because track and field is a game of centimetres,” she said. “Every little thing I do helps me in some way. I looked at the science of all these things and I know they will benefit me and keep me motivated.
“I have a night-time routine and training routines, but the morning one is the easiest to share. How we start our day is what regulates the rest of the day.”
Gleadle explains a little bit about why she began to obsess over getting her mornings right. A great storyteller, much of it dates back to her experiencing a horror injury in the run-up to London 2012. She was hit on the leg by a rogue hammer throw in training – anywhere else could have killed her – but her recuperation taught her some serious lessons.
“I used ice baths and visualisation of my training to recover really quickly,” she said. “I was told it would be eight weeks before I’d be walking again properly, but I did it in four. I then broke the Canadian record and made it to the Olympic finals. That was when I really realised that when you do additional things towards your goal, not just the training itself, it can make a huge difference. It can support the thing you want the most.”
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Happy International Olympic Day! . Fun Facts: Although the birth of the modern Olympic Games was in Paris 1894, Olympic day was introduced in 1948 to promote sport across the globe regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. . Normally I'd celebrate Olympic Day by chucking spears across a field and doing a lift, but I'll be keeping it low-key post-op with a fast paced walk in the woods! 🏞️🌲🌳 . #Olympics #olympicday #Rio2016 #London2012 #sport #javelin #trackandfield #athlete #teamcanada
Gleadle soon began to apply this logic to her mornings. “I’m not a morning person. I do an explosive event, and I’m expected to be warmed up and ready for 6am to throw javelins,” says Gleadle, 31. Back in 2012, as a young thrower, her training was particularly brutal (“Monday through Wednesday was hell, Thursday and Friday was a smaller hell”), and she needed to be ready.
She therefore developed five pillars to her morning: drinking saltwater and lime juice, movement, journaling, meditation and cold showers. “I don’t always do all five, but I always do the saltwater and the shower, which can be done in three minutes,” she said.
Participants on the course are invited to give each element a go. All kinds of folk have undertaken the experience, from stressed parents to busy executives, and they are all expected to mix up a concoction of lime juice and sea salt to kick off with.
“It should taste nice, like a margarita,” Gleadle said. “But the idea is that it really wakes you up, if you start the day dehydrated like I do. It boosts electrolytes, activates your adrenal glands and helps your digestion. And by boosting your hormones in the morning, it regulates your blood pressure and helps you sleep better, too.”
The group then moves through the four other elements. There is 90 seconds’ worth of movement – mainly stretches and squats, which we learn can fire up the body very quickly, bestowing all kinds of benefits. Gleadle then discusses how journaling has helped her to focus on her targets, both big and small, which in a subtle way has allowed her to boost her confidence and believe in herself (there are some moving and funny stories).
She then leads the group through a meditation – the benefits of which soon become clear, with members of the group declaring it’s the most relaxed they’ve felt before breakfast for a long time.
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I made the rule that I'm only allowed to have coffee once I've meditated. Not surprisingly, this is the easiest it's ever been to get myself to meditate first thing in the morning 😂 . Anyone else have any hacks to get themselves to more easily adopt a good habit? . . . #meditation #meditationmonday #motivation #motivationmonday #coffeeaddict #habits #dailymotivation
Finally, and there is no escaping it, comes the cold shower. Everyone dons their bathing suit and heads off to their bathroom for a breathtaking 40-second blast in freezing water. It’s totally invigorating and, as Gleadle explains afterwards, has a huge number of surprising health benefits.
At the end of the experience, the whole group feels like they’ve learned a lot. Whether they apply all five elements to their own days or not, they’ve been equipped with a set of tools that can improve any morning.
“My favourite part of this journey has been the opportunity to continuously learn and apply new information, habits and activities that unlock our incredible human potential,” Gleadle said. “I want to share my most curated and effective habit – a morning routine that sets you up to win the day.”
All in all, it’s an impressive experience. Should Gleadle throw her way to victory in Tokyo, anyone on this fascinating call will, at least partly, understand how she got there.
“Win the Morning Like An Olympian” is part of the Olympian & Paralympian collection of Online Experiences available in partnership with Airbnb, providing athletes with the opportunity to earn additional income, as they share their passion and stories with people around the world.