High Volt­age

SkiTrax - - Contents - By Kikkan Ran­dall

by Kikkan Ran­dall

If you had asked me sev­eral years ago if only a sin­gle World Cup podium would mean a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son, I would have said you were crazy. Yet af­ter an up­ward tra­jec­tory in re­sults over the past sev­eral sea­sons, and ac­tu­ally for most of my ca­reer, last sea­son felt like a step back­ward.

The signs were al­ready there early in the sea­son, but it was easy to dis­miss the con­cerns, as the plan had been to build shape into the sea­son for a peak at World Cham­pi­onships. By the end of the World Cup Pe­riod One, how­ever, it was becoming ap­par­ent that I was over­tired and needed a break. So I re­turned home for a cou­ple weeks to re­cover and re­boot for World Cham­pi­onships. The rest helped, but then I found my­self out of shape. My re­sults in Falun, Swe­den were far be­low ex­pec­ta­tion, and I ended up be­ing sick on and off through the rest of the sea­son. My one shin­ing light was a podium in the skate sprint in Lahti, Fin­land.

Find­ing the an­swers to the re­gres­sion in my re­sults was not an easy task. I sat down with sev­eral in­te­gral mem­bers of my team to dis­cuss ob­ser­va­tions and poured over my train­ing log. In the end, we de­cided I had lost the crit­i­cal bal­ance be­tween train­ing, re­cov­ery and out­side en­ergy com­mit­ments in my life.

One ma­jor fac­tor was the emo­tional en­ergy I was car­ry­ing af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment at the Sochi Olympics and how mo­ti­vated I was to re­deem my­self and prove to my­self that I could be at my strong­est at a cham­pi­onship. With Worlds ahead in Falun, I prob­a­bly didn't rest enough last spring and started off the train­ing year too in­tensely, thus al­ready start­ing the year with fa­tigue.

A sec­ond fac­tor was my work with some out­side or­ga­ni­za­tions that I care deeply about. In the spring of 2014, I was elected chair of the FIS Ath­lete Com­mis­sion. It was some­thing I was ex­cited to do, but lead­er­ship of the group in­creased my in­volve­ment with FIS ac­tiv­i­ties and re­quired an early trip to Europe in the fall. Around the same time, I also started on the mis­sion of of­fi­cially in­cor­po­rat­ing Fast and Fe­male in the U.S.A., ap­ply­ing for non-profit sta­tus and hir­ing our first staff per­son. Again, this was some­thing I was re­ally ex­cited and mo­ti­vated to do, but it greatly in­creased the num­ber of emails I was an­swer­ing be­tween train­ing ses­sions and took more men­tal en­ergy away from my re­cov­ery times.

The third fac­tor was not putting enough em­pha­sis and com­mit­ment to­ward my re­cov­ery. I was train­ing a sim­i­lar amount to the pre­vi­ous years, but was miss­ing sleep to an­swer emails, get­ting up early for con­fer­ence calls and trav­el­ing a bit more. I was also not ac­knowl­edg­ing that I was get­ting older and that re­cov­ery was becoming ever more im­por­tant.

Re­gain­ing my bal­ance has been a big learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I've re­learned the im­por­tance of tak­ing it easy enough in the spring to let your body fully re­cover be­fore be­gin­ning a new train­ing sea­son. I took six full weeks off this spring, and then started back with a very con­ser­va­tive sched­ule for an­other four weeks. By the time I started train­ing again, I could tell I was fi­nally out from un­der the fa­tigue I car­ried all last year.

For the out­side ac­tiv­i­ties, this step has been a lit­tle harder. I've had to learn to say no a lit­tle more of­ten, and I've had to take a step back. Thank­fully, the peo­ple I work with are very sup­port­ive and un­der­stand­ing. I stepped down as chair of the FIS Ath­letes Com­mis­sion, but will still be in­volved as a cross-coun­try rep. With Fast and Fe­male, I've got an in­cred­i­ble board of di­rec­tors and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor who are han­dling more of the de­ci­sions and the day-to-day op­er­a­tion of our Amer­i­can or­ga­ni­za­tion. My spon­sors have also been very un­der­stand­ing, and we've tried to get much ac­com­plished in the spring so as to al­le­vi­ate the de­mand dur­ing the high train­ing times.

And fi­nally for re­cov­ery, I have given much more at­ten­tion to de­tail and made the com­mit­ment to pro­tect my re­cov­ery times and make re­cov­ery meth­ods such as sleep, nu­tri­tion and body care my top pri­or­i­ties. This spring, I be­gan work­ing with a com­pany called Over­skudd that helps track the qual­ity of my sleep so that we can op­ti­mize both my train­ing and re­cov­ery meth­ods. This sum­mer, this has al­ready been a great tool that helps me see when I'm in bal­ance and not.

De­spite the great re­sults I had been en­joy­ing over sev­eral sea­sons, it turns out that I am not su­per­hu­man. I thought I could train at a high level and still man­age all my out­side ac­tiv­i­ties. Turns out, even Kikkan­i­mals needs to rest, and some­times I guess you have to learn the hard way. Now that I'm armed with bet­ter knowl­edge and per­spec­tive, I'm do­ing my best to cor­rect some of the er­rors of last year and get back on track.

Kikkan Ran­dall has since an­nounced her pregnancy and will sit out this sea­son – see page 6. Sk­i­trax wishes her and hus­band, Jeff El­lis, the very best.

U.S. women's Coach Matt Whit­comb with Kikkan Ran­dall at Park City, Utah train­ing camp.

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