U.S. Ski Team camp in Bend, Ore.
Aqua jogging

Due to different modes of training and changing conditions, cross-country skiers can't really quantify their training in mileage or kilometers, so the athletes tend to focus on the amount of time spent training. Since elite athletes always trying to push their limits, these athletes tend to think that more hours in the training log equates to faster racing. I know I am often guilty of this mentality and always try to eek out a few more minutes of training to make my log look more impressive. However, at our first U.S. team training camp of the year in Bend, Ore., I have to look at my training a little differently.

Because of some nagging injuries, I need to be more cautious with my training time at this camp and am often off the snow before my teammates. Since I'm used to being one of the last off the snow, this has been a mental challenge for me. While I know the shorter sessions are a necessity for me to recover and return to full strength, I have to fight the temptation to train longer. I have to be ok with less.

I have been pushing my body pretty hard for the last 13 years as a full-time, elite cross-country skier and now is the time for patience. I have to be confident in the work I've done and be content with the training I am able to do. Right now, the best way I can push myself is to be smart and recover. 

Instead of spending the hours and hours on snow, my coach and I have been finding creative ways to still get the normal volume of training with less impact on my body. I’ve been cycling more, jogging in the pool and using a stationary SkiErg to work my upper body. I’ve also been focusing on getting the best recovery after workouts with stretching, icing and massage every other day. I am slowly building my way back up to my normal training routine.

Even though I can feel the excitement of the 2014 Olympic season already building, there is still plenty of time to make sure I get back to full capacity. I’ve learned through my career that if I take a little time now to get healthy, then I will be able to take full advantage of my training time this summer. If I choose to push it now, I only risk greater injury and lost training closer to the season.

It’s not the best training log that wins the medals, it’s the right mental game. Train smarter not harder. That is my motto as I begin this Olympic training season. Wish me luck!