Caroline Küntzel on routines for performance and SIC kit

You may be mistaken for thinking that only professional athletes are the ones organising their days around sport. However, creating good routines for sport, fitness and competition at any stage of your fitness or paddling journey can help you achieve more than you thought possible. Being an athlete and juggling a busy life is super common and it is possible to do it all! Mini routines and habits make all the difference in how you approach day to day life to help you achieve goals and maximise your potential. Having a specific race week and race day routine can also be beneficial for those who suffer with pre-race nerves. I caught up with SIC global athlete Caroline Küntzel, who is a big advocate of routine in her life and happily shares this on her social media. She explains how her routines and daily habits shape her life for sport. It may all sound very serious, but Carolines outlook on sport is more about fun! There is a lot to learn from this ambitious young woman, she has some brilliant advice for all paddlers. Approaching Caroline was a no brainier for me as I am super interested in routine for performance, not just at the highest level of competition, but even at grass routes level. For those already maximising their training time, adding some pre-performance routine or post performance routine will take you to the next level. Caroline helps explain how…

Caroline thank you for taking time to talk to TotalSUP, please can you introduce yourself?

Thank you so much for having me here at TotalSUP! My name is Caroline Küntzel, I am 20 years old, born and raised in Thisted, Denmark. The past 2 years I have been living in a small house together with my boyfriend Jeppe, which is my base between races. I started doing SUP when I was 15 years old, but I grew up with my dad doing all kinds of watersports, including SUP surf and wingfoiling. So I have always been familiar with the water, but only first started to enjoy it when I discovered my passion for SUP 5 years ago. Since then I have never looked back and now I am the european champion in sprint as well as ICF tech & ISA sprint world silver medalist. 2 years ago I decided to focus completely on short course racing from 200-1000 meters.

Thank you Caroline, you have already had such a remarkable career, what’s on the cards for this season and what kit will you be racing with this year please?

This year I have an exciting schedule. While still waiting for the World Tour to release some dates, my plan is to attend as much of the APP World Tour as I can. This year they decided to split prize money to individual categories, which means I can now focus even more on short course racing and the APP´s famous technical sprint as we saw in Alicante. Besides that, I will be attending some of ICF´s world rankings and world cups, to gain experience and gather points towards the World Championship in Thailand in November, which I will also be attending. Then we have the European Championship in Peniche in October and hopefully the ISA will soon release some dates. So overall a fun and packed year with many exciting races.
So this year I am using my SIC RS 14×21,5 LV! I am super happy with this board, since it really fits my type of racing well. It is easy to accelerate and also good at maintaining speed. It handles chop and waves well, which is key in technical and sprint racing, where you meet different scenarios. I love that SIC have both the 265L and the LV version of the RS. This really allows for finding the perfect size for different body types. For me having a more low volume board, means that I can transfer all my energy into getting the board up to speed fast, instead of having the pull the board up to speed or not reaching my full potential. I am only 163 cm tall and the right board is key when performing in a short sprint race!

How important do you think it is to create routines and healthy habits for fitness and performance?

It is always good to build up a few routines, to make sure you get things done, even on days where it might feel difficult. Routines are good for creating healthy habits and for making sure you maintain good fitness and stay focused. Of course not following routines and being free to do what you want on a given day, is good too, being sure that you are not always training because you have to, but because you are having fun doing it and feel passion towards it. I think it is all about finding a balance that will keep you going. For me I have 6 days a week where I follow a plan with healthy habits and my routines to make sure I get around the right areas of training and feel strong in the upcoming competitions. Then for the 7th day a week I have my “rest day”. Here I am free to do whatever I wanna do, whether that is going for a low pace bike ride or reading a book.

Do you have specific areas of life where you maintain a good routine to benefit your training?

Since training is currently my main job, I find it very important to have a good morning routine to start the day well. I wake up, go directly onto my yoga mat and do 10 minutes of morning yoga, 10 minutes of mobility and end it off with 5-15 minutes meditation. Then I go for a good and healthy breakfast, usually some eggs, avocado and oats. While eating I read a book or watch the news. Through the last few years, I have found that a calm morning is the most ideal preparation for me, before a day with training or racing.

Another area where I am very much into my routines is my post training routine. Doing the right cool down on my bike combined with stretching or yoga is the best after a long training. Then I get my protein shake and start preparing lunch or dinner. I find that when I do a proper cool down and stretch, followed by ideal food, I feel so much better and also I reduce the muscle pain from my training and get the most out of it. This is very important when I train as much as I do, because I want to be ready for the next session.

Does this change leading up to a big competition?

I do have different routines depending on the competitions. My training and work within projects are probably where the biggest changes are to be found up to competitions. For a big competition like the world championships, I don’t do any big projects or work. I prioritise reading, walks, calm activities, proper food and hydration. I usually start this week before. If I have multiple big competitions in a row, this can be difficult, so here I find it okay to break the routines and just follow it as well as possible. The most important thing for me when using my routines and healthy habits, is to remember that it is a tool for me to calm down and make everyday life easier, so that it can benefit the overall mission. So for me all in all, routines are here to support having more peace and a clear mind, knowing what I need to do, so that I can focus on the important tasks, like when I am standing on the start line of a big race.

I do have a pre-performance routine for race day. I have a specific morning routine, where I usually eat oats and fruit, do yoga and a short activation exercise to feel my body’s level of readiness. Then I check off a list of my race gear and food that I need for the race. When arriving at the event site I check out the conditions, attend the briefing and try to get an idea of when to warm up. I have my specific pre-race warm up that I use before my race.

How can other paddlers start to organise their time better to get the most out of training and improve performance?

Having an online calendar helped me a lot to know how much time I really have and also to identify my routines. Then after that, I started to understand which workouts I needed to prioritise to reach my goals. This you can achieve easier by having a coach or an online program. If your time is limited, the key is to have short sessions arranged during the week or even every day, 10-30 minutes, doing speedwork, mobility, yoga or even a short interval run. Then make sure you have dedicated time to do your longer 1-3 hour workouts a few times a week, focused towards specific areas where you want to improve. Every Sunday I plan my weekly schedule and spend the less busy days for my priority work, like long strength training or interval paddles. Then on my busy days, I instead do one of the shorter sessions or active recovery, to make sure you are fully charged for the priority work.

If you have limited time and already know your passion within the sport, my best advice for greater performance is to specialise within either tech/sprint or longer distances 10k+. This way you can make so much more of your time and reach your targeted goals. If you aim towards too many different areas or change focus all the time from race to race, the chance of reaching your goal gets lower. Focus your time on one or two areas and you will be able to channel all of your energy into that instead of dividing out your focus. This is probably my best advice. I know it is hard in a sport like ours, but there are so many dedicated races now that it is actually possible. This way you also don’t have to attend everything, but instead save your time and money, and go to the races you’re really prepared for. This is one of my key pieces of advice, which helped me focus more in a busy everyday life. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the training there could be done, but by choosing one area, you can better create routines and make it specifically towards, for example long distance.

Sometimes we all drop ‘off the wagon’ so to speak, have you ever experienced this? In your opinion what can be done to maintain consistency?

For this I have a few advice or things that I do. Since I started doing SUP on an elite level, I have not had any longer periods where I didn’t want to train. But what I have experienced is burning out for a shorter period, after training too much, not seeing progress for a while or after losing sight of my goal. This is what I do:

Keep it fun and exciting. Depending on how much you work out, this can be difficult. But find something in each session that excites you. If you can’t find that, you probably need to change something. If you don’t see progress, get advice from a coach or specialist. Changing up your training is good and also helps your body get stronger and adapt to new things, this keeps it exciting. If you find it difficult to see the fun in your training, try to implement something you find fun. This can be like buoy turns, surfing or ending it with a meditation sitting on your board.

Stick to your routines. Some days you might not feel motivated. Sometimes you just need to get up and go anyway. This is a key reason to have your daily routines and stick to them.

Taking a rest day. I know for myself that I burn out more easily when I am overtrained or when I have too much work. It is good to identify when you have too much going on or are exhausted and will benefit more from taking a rest day. To avoid “dropping off the wagon” you need to get the right amount of rest and balance it out with the amount you work out. Some days you get more energised from training before or after work, and sometimes it is the opposite.

Identify your long term goals. If you have a clear goal in mind, the chance of burning out or not working out for a longer period gets smaller. Remind yourself why you workout and why you love the sport. This is key to better performance and even getting to the gym or water in the first place.

Are there any mottos you will be living by this year to keep you on track?

Prioritising mindfulness, having fun on water and proper rest will be one of my main goals to live by the next months in order to secure good performance and achieve my dreams. Besides that I always live by the motto: “Push limits, stay creative and see that everything is possible”.

Thank you so much Caroline for your super useful insights…

To find out more about Caroline, you can see her on Facebook, and check out her website where you can find more information on clinics she has running this year.

About the Author

Emily Evans

Emily is a SUP Athlete hailing from Wales UK, she is a qualified SUP coach through British Canoeing and Waterskills Academy. When Emily isn’t training or pursuing her day job in construction she enjoys exploring the topics of SUP and sporting performance through the medium of writing.

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