High Volt­age

SkiTrax - - Contents - By Kikkan Ran­dall

by Kikkan Ran­dall

Af­ter the Olympics in Sochi, I knew that I wanted to keep ski rac­ing, but was not ready to wait an­other four years to start a fam­ily. So my hus­band and I did some strate­gic plan­ning and de­cided the 2015-16 sea­son would be the best time to take some time off from rac­ing to have a baby and then re­turn to rac­ing for the 2017 World Cham­pi­onships and 2018 Olympics. It seems some other women on the World Cup cir­cuit had sim­i­lar ideas.

In the plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion phase be­fore I got preg­nant, I tried to learn as much as I could about guide­lines for train­ing while preg­nant and what other Elite fe­male ath­letes had done dur­ing their preg­nan­cies. It wasn't easy to find in­for­ma­tion, es­pe­cially about Elite Nordic skiers, but I was able to col­lect enough ad­vice from healthcare pro­fes­sion­als and find bits and pieces of sto­ries from some top-level run­ners. The rec­om­men­da­tions all con­firmed that it was con­sid­ered safe to main­tain the same level of train­ing the ath­lete was ac­cus­tomed to be­fore the preg­nancy, but not to in­crease the level or in­ten­sity. All types of train­ing were per­mis­si­ble. All sources em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of lis­ten­ing to your body.

The first month I was preg­nant, I didn't even know it. I was train­ing as usual for the up­com­ing race sea­son and at­tend­ing a vig­or­ous train­ing camp in Swe­den and Nor­way, com­plete with a four-races-in-three­days se­ries at the end of the camp. On the eve be­fore the first race, I had an inkling that I might be preg­nant, so I called my doc­tor back home. She as­sured me that if I was in­deed preg­nant, rac­ing should have no neg­a­tive con­se­quences and she wished me luck. I com­pleted the four races, ac­tu­ally felt pretty strong and notched a few de­cent re­sults. It was ex­cit­ing to learn on re­turn­ing home af­ter the camp that I was al­ready four weeks along.

I im­me­di­ately shared the news with my coach and we de­cided to shift the goals for my train­ing. Goal No. 1 was to have a healthy baby, and goal No. 2 was to main­tain as much fit­ness as pos­si­ble with­out compromising goal No. 1. We de­cided to re­duce my vol­ume slightly and dial back my in­ten­sity train­ing to a shorter du­ra­tion of aer­o­bic thresh­old in­ter­vals. Dur­ing the first trimester, I ex­pe­ri­enced some ex­tra fa­tigue and some queasi­ness, but only ended up giv­ing up on train­ing one day. Most days, I felt bet­ter af­ter train­ing, and I was able to main­tain pretty nor­mal heart rates and speeds. I was still able to par­tic­i­pate in most of our US Na­tional Team camp in Park City, Utah to­ward the end of the first trimester. It took me a lit­tle bit to ad­just to get­ting slower ev­ery week while ev­ery­one else was get­ting faster, but mostly I was just ex­cited to still be a part of the team.

Com­ing into the sec­ond trimester, I got the awe­some boost of en­ergy that ev­ery­one talks about. I was able to set­tle into a good train­ing rhythm at home and was train­ing twice a day most days. While the con­di­tions were good, I con­tin­ued ski­ing, run­ning, bik­ing and work­ing on strength. When the weather took a nasty turn to­ward the end of the Novem­ber, I moved my train­ing in­side and kept crank­ing: tread­mill, spin bike, Skierg, Ex­er­ge­nie and swim­ming. I kept a flex­i­ble mind­set, do­ing the train­ing that fit my en­ergy lev­els and safe con­di­tions. I also let my­self be open to other op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond train­ing, which I nor­mally can't af­ford to do. It was hard to be watch­ing the races from the side­lines, but also re­fresh­ing to be able to fit in more fam­ily time, some ad­vo­cacy work for the team, work for my spon­sors and a few fun ac­tiv­i­ties, too. Even with some flex­i­bil­ity, I still man­aged to train a fair amount, and by the end of month six, I was feel­ing pretty strong.

Now that I've en­tered the third trimester, my belly is def­i­nitely start­ing to grow and there is no deny­ing I'm preg­nant! How­ever, ski­ing con­tin­ues to feel good and I've added in some run­ning time on the Al­ter-g anti-grav­ity tread­mill to keep touch with my nor­mal pre-preg­nancy run­ning pace. The strength work also con­tin­ues to go well, and I've been pleas­antly sur­prised with how my core is still feel­ing strong and in­tact. At this point, I am in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fied with the amount of train­ing I've been able to ac­com­plish so far, and from now un­til the baby comes, I am ready to play it by ear and fit in what I can. Although my pace has slowed and my train­ing clothes are get­ting tight, I am happy to be able to con­tinue be­ing ac­tive ev­ery day and am get­ting so ex­cited for the baby to come in April.

With just a cou­ple of months to go now, I find my­self re­flect­ing both on my ca­reer thus far, as well as the ex­cit­ing changes that are com­ing in the near fu­ture with a new baby in our lives. As a fierce com­peti­tor at heart, it's been chal­leng­ing to sit out the sea­son. Yet, I think this year away from the same rou­tine I've had for the past 18 years might end up be­ing the best thing for my re­turn to rac­ing next sea­son. There is no doubt work­ing my way back into rac­ing form will be tough, but I am feel­ing re­freshed and in­spired and can't wait for the next chap­ter of my life to start.

(above) Ran­dall (r) and her ski­ing buddy Aino-kaisa Saari­nen from Fin­land, who is also preg­nant.

(left) Ran­dall in the weight room happy to keep ac­tive and fit while “get­ting so ex­cited for the baby to come in April.”

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