Early Season Races & Saunas - Margie Freed

Early Season Races & Saunas - Margie Freed

I’m starting this season off with a lot of excitement! After productive training this summer. I switched gears pretty quickly from a beautiful Vermont fall to experiencing a mid-winter freeze by traveling to Finland. The conditions above the arctic circle were snowy, cold, and perfect for a final fitness touch-up along with some on-snow technique work. It was especially fun getting to train alongside my Craftsbury Green Racing Project ski teammates for about two weeks in this winter wonderland. It felt great to leave the roller skis behind and get out on snow. Besides looking at the beautiful scenery, we embraced the Finnish culture by taking a sauna just about every day. 



Although I’ve used saunas in the past, I have never really used a sauna for true recovery purposes prior to this trip. By having one conveniently located in our cabin I was able to experiment with what worked best for me. Apart from being a great way to warm up after a chilly ski, I found the sauna leaving me feeling wonderfully refreshed! The regimen I used was 10-15 minutes in the heat, then straight into a cool shower, or for extra excitement we’d jog down to the nearby frozen lake, find some open water near shore, and quickly cool off the body. It was a manageable way for me to not get overly dehydrated while still having the energy to sauna twice in one day. I learned that what my body found especially satisfying was the hot/cold contrast. Switching between the hot & cold multiple times in one session was the most refreshing, and left my muscles feeling activated, rather than sluggish after a hard day of training. After this experience I’m extra keen on the benefits of a sauna, and know Finn Sisu has great options!



The other new and different thing I did in Finland was to undertake regimented biathlon dry-fire practice. I’d typically spend about 10-20 minutes per day trying to get my body used to the process of taking the rifle off my back, lining up the shot, pulling the trigger (without bullets), and returning the rifle to my back. This was important because after the ski camp with Craftsbury, I headed to a different part of Finland to join the US biathlon team’s pre-season on-snow camp to continue trying to dial in my shooting and eventually qualify for the World Cup. This dry-fire practice, while tedious, was surprisingly helpful in keeping the shooting process controlled and smooth. I know there is still so much more work for me to be competitive in the shooting stages of a biathlon race when competing with the world’s top biathletes. Although the learning curve can be incredibly steep, seeing how much doing ‘the little things’ can help me improve motivates me to keep working on the process.




The good news is the prep-work at these two camps paid off and I was named to the US Biathlon World Cup team for the season’s first trimester. So I began my racing season in Östersund, Sweden competing in my first biathlon World Cup events. These races deserve their own blog, but to summarize: I learned a lot, had fun, and am left hungry for more.


I then hopped over to Alaska for the beginning of the cross-country SuperTour season. You can read more about this experience in Michaela Keller-Miller’s blog!


Thanks for following along,