How World Champion Jessie Diggins Stays at the Top of Her Game

Being a professional skier is a wonderful but slightly strange job. It’s more full-time than I could have ever imagined, yet I can’t imagine myself doing anything else! I’m a cross country skier, which means that I spend most of my time in spandex, doing battle with gravity up hilly courses and then speeding down without metal edges on my skinny little skis. I train six days a week, usually twice a day, and on my day off I’m still taking time to take care of my body. Sounds exhausting? Yes, but it’s also incredibly fun! And in order to keep loving it and enjoying the training sessions, I need to make sure I’m taking good care of myself and staying in the zone. Luckily for me, creating simple little habits makes a world of difference in how my body stays in shape and recovers, leaving me ready for the next day. Here are my top five tips for staying healthy, motivated, and performing at my peak whether it’s a regular day of training, or a day at the Olympics.

I use the beat to get my heart bumping!

It can be hard to get out the door, especially when the weather is rainy or cold. So I have playlists cued up for those moments when I need a little “oomph” to get me started! Energetic songs with a good beat never fail to get me off the couch and in a good mood…and when I’m in a good mood, I’m ready to go chip away at my biggest goals.

Looking to kickstart a playlist? Here’s the top 5 on mine right now:

  • Handclap by Fitz & the Tantrums
  • Bluebirds by Life of Dillon
  • Dreaming by Smallpools
  • Bad Liar by Selena Gomez
  • Shots (Broiler Remix) by Imagine Dragons

Block out distractions with Bose noise cancellation (and a rocking playlist).

There can be a lot of extra noise – both literally and metaphorically – at the race course. It’s important to be able to block out the distractions and focus on my warmup, my race plan, and ski testing with my wax technician. I can’t control how fast other people ski, what the course looks like, or whether someone crashes in front of me. However, I CAN control my own pre-race routine and the way I execute my plan. Having noise cancellation on my headphones and a focused playlist before my events helps me get in the zone…and stay there.

Rest is key.

Funny enough, the thousands of hours spent on the roads, in the gym and on my skis training don’t really make me faster – they break me down! It’s when I allow my body to rest that it finally rebuilds and comes back stronger and better than before. Which makes getting a good night’s sleep my top priority! Going to bed around the same time every night and having a bedtime routine (such as brushing my teeth and reading a book in bed) help my body know that it’s time to shut down and recover. We often sacrifice sleep at the hands of other things we deem to be more pressing, like answering one more email or organizing one more thing. But the truth is, getting adequate sleep lets us take on so much more the next day. Which means prioritizing sleep is my secret weapon.

Wind down with a stretching session.

At the end of a big day or a tough training session, it’s helpful to take 10 minutes to slow down and take care of my body. I have a “snuggle up and relax” playlist that I put on while taking a few minutes to stretch, foam roll or do a short yoga routine. Taking just a few more minutes out of my day to help my body relax makes a big difference in how I recover and bounce back from each workout. As a result, I find myself looking forward to my stretching sessions because they feel so good! I train hundreds of hours with my teammates, but these 10 minutes are entirely my own to make sure my body feels good.

If your brain works like mine, these 5 songs will really help you slow down and chill out:

  • The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov
  • Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits
  • Let her Go by Passenger
  • Wrap Your Arms Around Me by Gareth Dunlop
  • Ophelia by The Lumineers

Prep healthy meals.

As a cross country skier, I spend a LOT of time going uphill as well as down the hills and across the flats of the course! Which results in my body burning through around 3,200 calories each training day. While it can be easy to grab a granola bar on my way out the door, coming back from a 3 hour long run in the mountains means I need a big meal full of nutrients to help my body recover. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with fun playlists to keep me entertained as I prep colorful meals with lots of veggies! My plate usually looks like this: 1/3 carbohydrates, 1/3 protein, 1/3 veggies/fruits/healthy fats. Having a balanced diet means that I not only have better energy, but my immune system is firing on all cylinders and I stay healthier through a long season full of travel and racing.

It’s small little tweaks like adding a few more varieties of vegetables to your meal or getting out for a run even when it’s grey outside that can add up to a big difference. These habits keep me healthy and happy, and they can work for you too! The most important aspect to staying healthy and fit is to keep training fun, and stay motivated. Use whatever works for you – a fun playlist during workouts, a training partner that you commit to workouts with, or a group activity. Just keep getting out the door and enjoying it!

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