Strong, With Child. How Kikkan Randall Keeps ‘Pregnant Fit’

Kikkan Randall is among the most successful U.S. cross-country skiers in history, including Olympic glory and consecutive World Cup titles. This year, Randall is taking time off to start a family with husband Jeff Ellis.


But through her pregnancy Randall is striving to stay fit, both for a healthy birth as well as to keep her body strong as she looks ahead toward returning in 2018 to the Olympic Games.

Randall was in town last month with her sponsor Fischer Sports, and she stopped in for the morning at GearJunkie. We sat down to talk about gear, her training program, and her excitement to begin a new life chapter with the impending birth of a son.

Interview: Skier Kikkan Randall

Congrats! How have you been?

I am excited to start our family, and also I have enjoyed pregnancy as a break from my routine. This is my first pause after 20 years of training! I am getting a lot more rest, but still keeping a fitness program going for sure.

Indeed, we have seen the photos! It looks like you’re in the gym or outdoors every day.

The no. 1 goal is a healthy pregnancy, but also I want to maintain some fitness along the way and keep aerobic strength. I was concerned about keeping my upper body in shape while pregnant. I am not so concerned about my legs. So, I have been working with weights and training my arms and staying strong.

Kikkan Randall and husband Jeff Ellis

How do you find information on pregnancy for athletes?

There’s not much out there for elite athletes. I just did research and found some info from elite runners who had kids during their careers. I have a couple books, including “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy.”

You are a top athlete who’s trained for years. What reality checks have you had along the way while pregnant?

As far as fitness, my thought went at first from “improve performance” to then “maintenance.” But I have learned that you can maintain a high fitness level through pregnancy. The body is strong and adaptive, but you need to listen to your body and be OK to back down.

Related: Kikkan Randall is a GearJunkie ‘110 Outdoor Ambassador’

Tell us about your physical regimen.

I work with my personal coach in Anchorage. We developed a weekly training program to start. It has tapered some from the beginning, but at eight months pregnant I am still feeling fit and strong. While pregnant I have still managed to ski 1.5 hours in the morning and then another workout each afternoon.

Kikan Randall

How has your training changed?

Abs… I avoid some exercises there. Also, there is a loosening of the joints when you’re pregnant. One day I was pulling on a ski boot and I strained my forearm, so that was strange. And I also rolled an ankle running; I’d never done that before. And obviously I am just more cautious overall. I don’t bomb downhills on skis, and I stay inside when it’s too icy out there.

What do people say when they see you working out, skiing, or biking?

Some have urged caution, either talking to me or to my husband. But most people have been very encouraging. However, you need to find like-minded people to encourage you.

After the baby comes, when will you begin training again?

It depends on a lot of things. C-section or natural birth, for example. I don’t want to rush back into it. But by February 2017 there are big races and the World Cup, and the goal is to be there. Then, if I can, the 2018 Olympics is my goal.

–Kikkan Randall is sponsored by Fischer Sports. Follow her on Facebook.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.