Why Getting “Into a Funk” Is Actually a Good Thing, According to This Olympic Gold Medalist
You know how many Olympic medals I’d won by age 24? Zero.
You know how many Mikaela Shiffrin had won? Three — two gold, and one silver. The alpine skier also won the world championship three years in a row, and placed first at the World Cup slalom four times.
Shiffrin is the very definition of a badass, and to top it all off, is insanely kind, brilliant, and funny. She is, as the kids used to say and probably no longer say, everything — which makes her the perfect choice as the face of Longines, AKA the watch brand that also happens to be the official time keeper for the World Cup ski racing competition. I got the chance to meet Shiffrin before hosting her on a panel for the launch of Longines new Conquest Classic collection of watches. We chatted a bit about how she motivates, as well as how she disconnects when she spends so much time racing against a clock.
What’s your training schedule like?
“Right now, it’s six days a week, or five and a half day. It’s a lot of conditioning training at the gym right now, strength, agility, cardio, core. Then I'll have a ski camp in August for two weeks in South America, and then another ski camp in South America in September for two weeks. In October, I'll go to Europe and that's the final prep on snow before the season starts at the end of the month. Then we're racing until March. Then I have another ski camp in April, or the beginning of May, so it's just kind of traveling the world, chasing snow. And when I'm not on snow, then it's in the gym.”
On days when you really don’t feel like you can do it, how do you pick yourself up?
“That’s like every day! Ha! The most important thing is getting into some kind of routine. I don’t really have days where I don’t want to go skiing, but there’s plenty of days when I don’t want to go to the gym, or do interval circuit training, or strength, or whatever. Usually it's a three-hour workout that doesn’t look like fun. But you just kind of start, and then all of a sudden, you’re halfway through, and then you’re at the end and you think, ‘Well, that wasn’t great, but I’m alive, and I’m done.’”
After putting in all that work, how do you deal with a loss or a bad result?
“Sometimes you kind of have to get into a funk, I think. It's important. You have to know that you care enough to feel so totally terrible that it makes you motivated to work harder for the next one, or to work smarter. There are some races where I feel so disappointed and devastated. But then I look at my video, and look at the girl who won. Getting down and analyzing what happened and figuring out what I can do better next time helps. Losing is an important piece of the puzzle to get better. But for sure, at some point, you just have to let it go.”
Your whole career is measured in seconds and you have to be so aware of time — how do you break from that and stay present?
“Sometimes it’s as easy as taking an epic shower, or just putting my phone away and having dinner with my family or friends. But there are periods where, for sure, I need [to disconnect] for longer. I was just in Costa Rica for vacation for nine days, and that was a bit more extreme of a disconnect. But when your whole job revolves around being connected, it’s crazy how quickly something like that becomes normal.”