Morning Routines - Pro Surfer Alan Stokes talks us through his morning routine and shares some top tips to help set up your day
….it’s a routine I’ve curated over the years, to be ready for early free surfs, photoshoots and competition, but I’ve found starting my day like this to be really beneficial if it’s a day of other work commitments too. My days are often pretty front loaded, early surfs have often been the norm as I try to dodge crowds, or howling winds and work around the tides.
I wake up pretty early, I like to give myself time to get the fundamentals in place, helping me be where I need to be, when I’m on the water or at work. 5am to 5.30am is a pretty normal wake up time and gives me plenty of time to prepare. I watch the sunrise, when I can, is a primal thing for me, getting that natural light in, triggers the start of the day and sets up my rhythm.
The main objective in the morning is to get my body moving, and at times put it back together from the day before, whether that be surfing, training or just life….i’m renovating a house at the moment! I spend a good hour, or more, mobilising. I try hard not to rush this, I really like to take my time here, to feel into it. I have to do this consciously, breathwork helps me to retain focus here, I’ve got really into breathwork in various forms over the years and it’s become a crucial part of my routine.
Getting into my body, I like to work on the areas that need it first, so if I’m carrying a niggle, I do the prehab or rehab first to make sure it’s done, anchored in my day. For me at the moment, this is working on my hip flexors, doing some lengthening work through eccentric work and dynamic stretches. This has a direct correlation to how my lower back is feeling, so it is paramount in my routine at the moment. I take on good advice here, but I also really tune into how I’m feeling, as this can vary day to day, I adapt to that. Then I work on the more surf-specific movements, for me the important ones here are getting some rotation through my hips, lower-back and mid-back, nice dynamic movements, starting slow and building intensity. It usually ends with a bit of light loading and core activation to wake those neural pathways specific to surfing.
I’m conscious to get some water onboard in the morning alongside this, then I get the kettle on and put together a good breakfast in the gaps between the above. I usually have one or two coffees in the morning, when I enjoy them the most and can get the caffeine metabolised and out of my system, so it doesn’t affect my sleep.
If I can combine, some movement and mobility, with some breathwork, and see the sunrise, that’s the dream start. If this is an hour, I reap the benefits, or on some of those busy days it could just be 5-10 minutes and I still notice significant wins in my focus and readiness, in this era of whirlwinds, giving yourself sometime in the morning really pays off!
The early morning is also my productive time, as there’s less distractions, I’ve co-founded a surfboard brand, FORM Surfboard and have numerous commitments with other brands, so I’ll use a portion of this time to check in on emails, if anything is pressing I can reply and I can also prioritise the admin tasks for my day, I find this clears my head and helps my productivity.
Then, I grab my coffee and check the surf. That fresh air is really important to consolidate my routine, whatever the day holds. My body is ready, my mind is calm and the movement through fresh air seems to compound that. If I’m surfing, it’s time to see what the surfs doing, hopefully it’s pumping, that helps too! Otherwise, it’s life commitments, but at least I’m ready!