Last Month Was Awful!

To my fellow athletes (and other-job-doers too) who are in a rut: you are not alone.

Since returning from training camp in Germany a month ago, I’ve been clawing my way back from biathlon burnout. The training camp environment has always posed a high risk of burnout to me, and this particular camp burned my “fire within” down to its embers and left me feeling like…ash. The subsequent week of rest and easy training went by too fast and was followed immediately by our annual “testing week,” which jams five race-effort sessions into seven days. That was like throwing a big bucket of water on dying coals. I had to pull out of our final test; it was the first time in memory that I didn’t finished a workout I started.

Rollerski time trial in Jericho, VT… the last workout before I bailed.

With the first World Cup competition less than eight weeks away, it was a tough call whether to take a two-week vacation from my personalized training plan, or to push ahead, knowing I might be digging myself a deeper hole. After much discussion (crying) with my coach, I decided to continue training, but with a few scheduled 3-day breaks, reduced high intensity, and a commitment to taking it day-by-day. I slowly started to rekindle my fire within, the intermittent breakdown notwithstanding.


Behind every “I’m so happy to be here doing what I love!” there are moments of “Why am I doing this?”


This past week, I logged my second-highest training volume of the year: 22 hours and 35 minutes, plus several additional hours of shooting, and most importantly I did it tear-free and even enjoyed myself. So I can say with relative confidence that my internal flame is flickering once again.

Succeeding at the highest level of sport is deceptively hard. Behind every “I’m so happy to be here doing what I love!” there are moments of “Why am I doing this?” But the world almost never sees those moments. It is taboo to talk about them, because doing so might discourage young athletes, disappoint sponsors, or detract from a perfect public image. And after all, unlike true hardship, this is a choice. But like many taboo topics, moments of doubt are clandestinely universal. We can help each other out by acknowledging their existence.

Shout out to my sports psychologist, Sean McCann, who is a sage. Just look at him!

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Sean McCann, US Olympic Committee Sports Psychologist

Also shout out to my coach, Jonne Kähkönen, who sees me at my worst and never gets mad.

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Jonne Kähkönen, US Biathlon Head Women’s Coach

Also shout out to my teammates who step up the positive energy in times of need.

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I have lots of great teammates, not limited to the ones pictured here, L-R: me, Maddie, Joanne, & Jennie
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Training Camp in Germany

Thanks for visiting my new website! For all my blog posts prior to September 2016, please visit my old website.

I am finishing up a three-week training camp in Germany during which I’ve had plenty of time on my hands to make this new site. Training camp consists of eating, sleeping, training, and finding ways to occupy the remaining hours with restful activities. Eat-sleep-train appeals to some, but I thrive on a more balanced lifestyle. This is not a new challenge for me; see my 2013 blog post, “A Window Into Training Camp Psyche“. (I’m in PHASE RED now.)

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Not all bad: one of the highlights of the camp was this hike with our Swiss and Finnish friends.

We spent the first two weeks of the camp in a little Bavarian town called Siegsdorf, which is only about 20 minutes from the World Cup biathlon stadium in Ruhpolding. We did a lot of roller-skiing, shooting, and hiking. For some of our workouts we were joined by the Swiss national team, the Austrian women’s national team, Finnish biathlete and 2-time World Cup Overall champion Kaisa Makarainen, Megan Tandy from Canada, and Amanda Lightfoot from England.

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Roller-skiing in Bavaria with our international group of training partners

For the third and final week of the camp we relocated to Oberhof, in eastern Germany, where there is another World Cup stadium as well as an indoor, refrigerated ski hall. (Last summer we went to a different indoor skiing facility in Torsby, Sweden, which I wrote about here.) Unlike the tunnel in Torsby, the Oberhof Ski Hall  is built above ground. From the outside it sort of looks like a mall, whereas the Torsby tunnel looked like a giant mole-hole. Inside, they both look and feel the same- about 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Inside the Oberhof Ski Hall

This weekend we finish off our camp by racing in German roller-ski national championships. The spectators are already starting to arrive! Saturday is a 3-person relay and Sunday is a mass start. Since Maddie is sick, Susan and I will be racing in the relay with our Canadian friend, Megan Tandy. On Monday I will travel home to my apartment in Lake Placid where Erik, his best friend from college, and my parents will all be waiting for me! I can’t wait.

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Good thing I have Susan and Maddie to prop me up after three weeks of training camp. Here we are modeling our new Adidas ZNE hoodies.