What Motivates Kikkan Randall

Kikkan Randall is a five-time Olympian, an Olympic gold medalist, and World Champion. She’s a mother, a wife, a breast cancer survivor, and staunch advocate for getting active. One of the friendliest people you’ll meet, these are all facts that you already know if you know the name Kikkan. So we thought we’d pick Kikkan’s brain to find out more about the person beyond the accolades. 

Let’s start the day off on the right foot. What’s your breakfast of choice?
Oh boy, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!! It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up! If I’m fueling a big day of working out and adventuring, a big egg scramble with lots of veggies and cinnamon sugar toast on the side is my go-to. On Saturdayss it’s a family tradition to make buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup. Such a treat to look forward to every week! And of course, coffee!

Throughout your athletic career, who were the people who inspired you?
I have always looked to role models for inspiration on how to set big goals, how to go about achieving those goals, and I have especially loved “underdog” stories. I have an Aunt and an Uncle who were both Olympians and I really looked up to them growing up. My Aunt Betsy still holds the Alaska State High School mile record on the track, I managed to get within a few seconds but never passed her record. During my Olympic debut in 2002, I was inspired by Beckie Scott, the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. When she stood on the podium, it inspired me to figure out how to make that happen as well, which is so cool to say actually happened 16 years later!

Who inspires you now?
Now I look up to several athletes that have been able to transition their incredible athletic careers and brands into new careers in business, broadcasting, and leadership. I also am inspired by women like Michelle Obama that have been able to balance family and career and make a positive impact on the larger society through the causes she cares about.

How does fitness fit into your routine?
I am appreciating how challenging it can be to maintain fitness as “normal person” now that my job is not just training! I find setting intentions and goals for myself is important, especially being realistic about the amount of time I can fit in the day to exercise. I also find being flexible and creative is helpful, there are a lot of non-traditional ways to “workout”. Recruiting friends and workout partners is also a great way to keep it a priority. My baseline goal is an hour a day. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes less, but I find that hour is realistic and it’s important for me to make that hour as non-negotiable as possible.

And how about nutrition. Where does food fit into the overall picture for you?
Good fuel in helps the engine run strong and clean. And when you run the engine hot (i.e. with exercise) you have a little room for rewards! The Olympic Rings are full of colors and eating colorfully and simple is a goal. I want to enjoy what I eat and I like the challenge of finding food and recipes that I know are healthy but also delicious and easy to make. Like maple syrup for example, is good with a surprising number of dishes you wouldn’t always anticipate and it’s got incredible natural electrolytes! One of my favorites is maple syrup on cottage cheese. My son loves maple syrup on snow!

How do you take on strength training?
I see strength training as vitally important for body balance, injury prevention and for being generally strong and confident! I have a couple routines that work great in a home gym or gym environment but I am always ready to be creative and find ways to do strength wherever I am. When I was competing, we did a lot of heavy lifting for power development. Now my goals are mainly around time efficiency, burning calories and good all-around strength. I’ve had fun building a great home gym set-up that’s been really handy for fitting in workouts with a busy schedule, especially beneficial now with COVID!

What’s your sleep philosophy?
Aside from breakfast, my next big fixation is I LOVE sleep!! I’ve always been a big sleeper, getting solid stretches of 9 hours or more at night and a nap during the day (when I was a full-time athlete). Not so much time for naps anymore so I try my best to get in bed by a decent time so I can utilize the early morning hours. I try not to let my weekly average dip below 8 hrs a night. Growing up in Alaska made me a hearty sleeper anytime, anywhere, no matter how light, but these days I find a really good mattress and flannel sheets make sleep so good!

There are very few people on planet earth who are Olympic gold medalists. What makes you the athlete that you are?
In the Nature versus Nurture converation, I certainly have some good Nature in my genes (from both my parents) but I think I also have some inherent qualities like interest in pursuing challenge and taking risks, a dogged commitment to push through obstacles, and a healthy baseline of optimism. The Nurture influence from my family growing up only fueled my innate drive and I learned some great lessons about commitment, giving back to my community, and developed a love for collaboration. 

Time is always tight. You’re running out the door, what’s your go-to UnTapped product you’re reaching for?
Definitely the coffee waffle. A good, yummy pick-me-up at all times of the day!!