Tamara Tikhonova made her international début at the 1985 World Championships, where she won a gold medal as a member of the Soviet relay team. Tikhonova missed the 1987 World Championships, but competed again at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, where she won golds in the 20 km and relay, a silver at 5 km and was fifth over 10K. At the 1989 World Championships, Tikhonova won a silver in the relay, a bronze in the 10 km freestyle and was 11th in the 30 km freestyle. Tikhonova made her last international appearance at the 1991 World Championships, where she won gold in the relay and was third in the 10 km freestyle. Tikhonova also won a bronze at the 1988-89 World Cup. After retiring from sports in 1992 Tikhonova has worked as a cross-country skiing coach in her native Udmurtia.