Lindsey Vonn's winter success is built on dedicated summer training
Lindsey Vonn is recovering from a broken ankle. That hasn’t stopped the 2010 Olympic downhill champion from training, whether that means gutting out ab workouts with a boot on in the sunshine or lifting weights in a gym.
Training with injuries has become old-hat for the 30-year-old four-time World Cup champ, who seems to “always be needing something every day” in terms of recovery.
But, having learned over her career just how important it is to get the training in every day, Vonn doesn’t let injuries—even ones as serious as a broken ankle—get in her way.
“When I was growing up and first starting out, I was just doing the bare minimum,” Vonn tells SI.com. “I thought my skiing was enough. As I progressed I realized working out in the gym was one of the most important parts of being a professional athlete and being successful on the slopes.”
For Vonn, the summer offers an opportunity to prepare for a winter full of races. She hits the gym for six hours, five or six days each week. When home in Vail, Colo.,she makes sure to take advantage of her surroundings. “I try to get out on my road bike as much as possible,” she says, “do some climbs up the mountain and be outside, which is nice.”
When the training shifts to the ski hill, she cuts her gym time to two hours a day. “In the summer, I’m mostly in the gym preparing for the winter,” she says. “The most important thing is to be strong so I don’t get injured again.”
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Vonn’s workouts have evolved over her career, encompassing pretty much every conceivable routine. “I did a large volume of endurance training on the bike two to three hours a day for a while,” she says, “and I had a phase where I was doing just explosive power training for a couple years. I did two years more of cross training and more running. I’ve done everything and I feel like now I’ve found a happy medium and found how much cardio, how much power lifting, how much balance I really need to be strong in every aspect of my sport.”
But, while maintaining that balance, Vonn also likes to keep herself interested. When home, she’ll fall into a steady routine, but she makes sure to to break that up every three weeks or so, taking a lower-intensity week in which she does “something fun,” such as visit her sister in Los Angeles. “I go out to Park City [Utah] and see friends and train out there,” she adds as an example. “I like to keep things interesting because it can be pretty monotonous.”
Well, until she breaks an ankle.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.