Moms are famous for multitasking, but how do these World Cup mommas do it? We recently heard from Kikkan Randall on her return to the circuit after a year off to have her first child in mid-April, and we got a second opinion from Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, who gave birth to a baby girl in early May.
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(Above, clockwise from left: Saarinen and her husband, Tom Gustafsson; Saarinen and Randall starting their seasons in Rovaniemi, Finland; “SuperDads” Randall’s husband, Jeff Ellis, and baby Breck with Gustafsson and baby Amanda; Saarinen and Amanda with Randall and Breck)
At 37, Saarinen has been to three Olympics and racked up five medals, including an individual bronze in the 30-kilometer classic in Vancouver in 2010. Now with a 7-month-old infant in tow, she’s back for another World Cup season.
In an email in late October, Saarinen explained that her training had returned to a normal level.
“But I had to do some adjutments in early months,” she wrote. “The total training amounts were a little bit lower than normally, because there was not enough time or strength to do normal training. Therefore I tried to do more training times.”
What that amounted to was slightly fewer training hours than past years, but more training sessions. The length of these sessions was her biggest change, she explained. They were shorter.
“My new normal morning routine was to do short but intensive strength and running before breakfast when baby (Amanda) was still sleeping,” she wrote. “I did 10 – 15 minutes intensive running. At 4 min/kilometer pace.”
That’s 9.3 miles an hour, or 6:27 minute/miles, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then she did 20 to 25 minutes of intensive strength, which she rotated among three series. One focused on core work, another was hard, intensive training to raise the heart rate, and the third was basic strength.
“This running and strength routine I did every second day,” Saarinen explained. “This worked for me good. For some reason I was lucky for being able to run very early, which is not so normal, but felt good for me. Little by little, when body feels ok, I started to do longer trainings and about three months from birth I was dong completely normal trainings.”
So that’s it — (part of) her recipe for success. Last weekend at the World Cup opener at home in Finland, Saarinen scored points in both races (her first World Cup races since last year’s opening races in Kuusamo) placing 16th in the 10 k classic and 29th in the sprint.
“World Cup season started and progressing in schedule,” she wrote Monday on Instagram. “Thumbs up for Ruka atmosphere as well as #xcteamfin success.”
(In the classic sprint, Saarinen was one of six Finnish women in the top 30, and in the distance race the next day, six Finnish women cracked the top 20.)
While Saarinen couldn’t be reached after the races, her social media posts indicated little Amanda was at the races with her.
“Finally the world cup starts with usual ski test stress :)” Saarinen wrote last Friday before the races, with a photo of her stroller (and baby inside) parked on the snow. “Inside #Thule #Urbanglide there is no stress, only cozy day nap.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.