Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Team captains Regina Oja and Sebastian Samuelsson kicked off the Biathlon Climate Challenge and the new training season this past weekend very differently; Oja went for a run, while Samuelsson harked back to winter with a long ski tour.

Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Out for a Run

Despite their different approaches to the start of the new training season, each did their part in the effort to plant 100,000 trees this month. The project motivated Oja to get her season going on a pleasant Saturday. “I feel like it gives me extra motivation. I am not counting my training in kilometers or hours, but in trees. It is like how many trees did I plant? How much did I help the environment? I went for a run by myself and did some home gym, nothing like too special because I have to start step-by-step. Even though I would have gone out anyway, I really went out and maybe did a little bit more because of the Climate Challenge.”

Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Last Time on Snow

On the other hand, Samuelsson started his “Road to Beijing” program on April 26, easing into his very aggressive May 1 program. “I started May skiing almost 50 km with Jesper Nelin on the World Cup tracks in Oestersund. It was probably my last time on snow for this winter. Then in the afternoon, I did some work in the gym.”

Muscle Shock and Feeling Heavy

Both admitted that starting training once again takes some time and patience. Oja continued, “Starting again is always hard, because the muscles are a little bit shocked in the beginning, so take it really easy in the first weeks.”

Samuelsson added, "I think beginning of the new cycle is the worst part!! Usually, I´m not so active during spring so for me it feels very heavy to start all over again; I need some weeks to get into enough shape to enjoy training sessions.”

Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Doing Almost Nothing

The long build-up and four plus months of intense competitions takes a toll on every athlete. April is the holiday and rest month. Although both did no formal training, they were at least a bit active. Samuelsson after a career-best season with sixth in the World Cup Total Score, a BMW IBU World Cup victory and four IBU WCH medals was a bit less active than his Estonian counterpart. “I really did not do much, other than a few and running sessions and a bit of skiing with my girlfriend. April is the month where I do almost nothing. I need it to feel hungry again when the training year starts.” 

Eating Well and Resting

Oja struggled last season with fatigue after basically not taking April 2020 off and then jumping into a new training season. “I never really rested last year…This year I did what my trainer in high school told me, ‘when you feel like you are ready to train, take one more week.’ I did not just stop after the season; it is important to ease off, so I did a little ski touring and walking in Ruhpolding where my parents live. Then I went to Spain with my boyfriend; we walked a lot seeing the sights but I never really trained. I just ate well and rested knowing this was the last time to really rest.”

No Schedule

Both athletes admit there is one special thing that happens every April, with Samuelsson saying, “It´s just nice to have nothing to do! I didn’t need to plan my days; I could just do what I wanted in the moment! That´s what I enjoy the most during that time of the year!” Oja’s thoughts went in the same direction. “Knowing that in the morning, I did not have to wake up at six o’clock, prepare breakfast and be at training at 8:30. I tried to cut off the routine: do different things, sleep as long as I want and live completely differently than when I am an athlete 24/7.”

Biathlon Climate Challenge Training Kickoff: Running and Skiing

Active and Doing Good

With the Biathlon Climate Challenge well under way and the tree count heading towards 20,000 in the first four days, Samuelsson traded his snow skis for rollerskis and was out with Nelin, cranking out kilometers to plant more trees. Oja, seeing friends, teammates and fans getting active to plant trees admitted she was surprised how many people have embraced this project. “I think it is so cool that everyone is write about how they have not been running for a while but they are now, because this gives them motivation, training a lot an doing cool things. I knew many people would be into this, but to see how many are actually taking part. In the beginning I did not realize how big this would be and how many people would be affected by it. This Challenge and the cause are really good. It is amazing that you can be active and do good at the same time.”

Photos: Regina Oja, Sebastian Samuelsson