Like clockwork for Nicole Joraanstad

Courtesy USA Curling.

Nicole Joraanstad says the mental preparation is just as important as the physical preparation in curling.

It's 7 a.m., which means Olympic curler Nicole Joraanstad is arriving at work as a recruiter at TDS Communications in Madison, Wis. She knows she's going to have to work really hard without many breaks so that she can leave at 2:30 p.m.

The clock says 3 p.m., and Joraanstad is arriving at a local ice rink, where she remains for about 50 minutes -- tick, tock, tick, tock -- of practice.

Courtesy of USA Curling

FaceTime has helped make the travel bearable for Nicole Joraanstad.

Believe it or not, it's already 3:50. Joraanstad sprints out of the rink to head either to the gym for a workout or to grab her 13-month-old daughter, Emma.

Then she's home. If she didn't get in a second workout, she'll hit her home gym, where she has everything from a rowing machine to kettlebells, after Emma's 7 p.m. bedtime. She hits the sack herself shortly thereafter, then gets up to do it all again.

"Sometimes it's hard to find the motivation to work out after a long day," admits Joraanstad, a seven-time national champion. "But I look at my husband and he's like, 'Go get it.'"

So, she walks by the laundry that needs to be done and focuses on the bigger picture: playing well at the Olympic trials, which will be held in Fargo, N.D., Nov. 10-17. She and her three teammates will need to win to get back to the Games, where they finished 10th in 2010.

Besides neglecting the laundry, here are some other ways Joraanstad says she is "getting it done."

Curling: A long, short game

A typical curling game takes about 2.5 hours, and it goes in cycles: 25 seconds of work while I'm sweeping, and then about a minute off while the other team throws. There's no break, so it's really important to have both physical endurance and mental focus.

Building up

For the past four years, I've worked with the same personal trainer. He keeps things new and fresh on a daily basis. One day, I could be doing moves with just my body weight, and the next I'm doing heavy squats and deadlifts, and the next I'm doing a circuit with a rowing machine. When my team got to the Olympics in 2010, I really saw my work pay off; I could play three games a day over two weeks, if need be, and my endurance didn't hold me back.

Pull, burp, pull, burp

My favorite workout is doing ladders with pull-ups and burpees. We usually start at one of each, and work up to 10 of each; on really hard days, we'll work our way down from 15. I could do maybe two pull-ups when I first started training, and now I can do 15. That gives me a ton of confidence.

Focus, Grasshopper, focus

Because the games are so long, we train our mental focus just as hard as we do our physical conditioning. Our team has a regular weekly call with a sports psychologist, who talks about things like dealing with a wandering mind or concentrating on the process, not the outcome. He also gives us homework; a recent one was watching a video clip about a samurai and a fly, which was about distractions. If you let one distraction in, it will always lead to a bigger one.

Support + FaceTime = key

Now that I'm a mom, traveling and training can be tough, but two of my teammates also have kids, and our goal, ever since 2010, is to get back to the Olympics. My husband and I have a great support system, including both sets of grandparents, and my teammates and I FaceTime with our kids. Emma will give me a smooch on the iPad, which I love.

Curling for the masses

Curling doesn't have the sponsor dollars or endorsements that, say, Alpine skiing does, but it's a sport that is accessible on two levels. It's really growing in the U.S., and so curling clubs are popping up nationwide. Plus, when people watch us, they realize we're ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They can connect to us in a very real way.

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