Mindfulness makes the miles count

August 30, 2017 Kikkan Randall

As a cross-country ski racer, I spend hundreds of hours per year training outside in the elements, logging the miles necessary to become a Champion. While a lot of this time is dedicated to pure focus, tactics and technique training, I get to spend a fair amount of time “in my head,” just letting my mind wander. I’m always surprised where my mind goes during these training sessions and how much mental clarity I experience.

Kikkan 'Kikkanimal' Randall - 4-Time Olympian, 'Get-Activist' and Mom Athlete

When I’m training, it doesn’t matter what kind of mood I start in. I can always swing myself around to my inner-positive-cheerleader mentality. A lot of what I think about while training centers around feelings of positive energy. My mind focuses on ways I can improve myself. And not just becoming faster, higher and stronger in the athletic sense, but also how I can be the best family member, teammate and society member too. I often finish my workouts with a mental to-do list of new habits to develop, tasks to get done, and a supreme feeling of motivation to be productive. So, if you’re feeling stuck in a motivational slump, try getting out for some exercise to revitalize your inspiration!

Throughout my career, I’ve experienced firsthand how much my physical state and my ability to perform is tied to my mental state. Both go hand in hand. If my physical shape is 100 percent but my mental state is not, I struggle to perform. The same is true when my mental state is high, but my physical shape is lacking, performance tanks. Therefore, I’ve learned how important it is to cultivate your physical shape and mental shape with equal tenacity.

Along with my journey as an Olympic athlete, I’ve collected a few tips for how to use mindfulness while training to improve your workout and yourself. Try these out to make your miles really count!

  • Go alone sometimes. I love to train with other people but find I get my most productive mindset going when I’m training solo.
  • Start by letting your mind clear. Focus on the rhythm of what you’re doing or try counting to yourself with each breath. 1…2…3…1…2…3…
  • Tackle a simple problem first. Success in finding a solution will encourage your mind to take on bigger challenges.
  • Think big without limits. Create an image of how you want to be and then work backward to create a roadmap of how you are going to get there. Keep breaking down the process until you have clear goals you can accomplish today!
  • Mantras. If you get an excellent idea, repeat it to yourself a few times and try to relate the concept to something you saw on your workout. That way you will remember it when you get home so you can write it down!

We all know working out is an important key to our physical health. But if we take the time to use our mind as well as our bodies while we exercise, we can get even bigger gains and get even closer to becoming our best selves!

As we celebrate Immunization Awareness month, now is a great time to focus on self-improvement. I’m on the road to my fifth Olympics this winter and I will be making sure my immunizations are up-to-date to keep my training on track. I encourage you to head out for a workout in this beautiful landscape we live in and use those endorphins to take positive steps today for good health and a happy life!

Good luck and see you on the trails!


Providence St. Joseph would like to thank Kikkan Randal for partnering with us to share her experiences as an athlete and a powerful mother.

Providence is pleased to share the stories of great people like Kikkan who have an interesting perspective on wellness. As part of our population health program, we will continue to share insights and stories that help others learn how to live healthier.

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