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Ski training in Helsinki with a baby and no car
By:  Megan McTavish   (2014/10/06)

Karl, Leena and I have been living in Helsinki for the past two and a half weeks and will be here for a total of three months. 

The reason we are here is so that Karl can do some research for his PhD and with me on maternity leave, it worked out that the whole family could come and we could spend some time actually living here, which is both fun and good for Karl's thesis. 

While Karl is working (at a nice office about a 6 minute walk from our apartment), I have been exploring the city with Leena, meeting lots of Finnish babies (and their moms) and checking out all of the local sandboxes and swings. They seem to have them every 2nd block! 

Leena enjoying the sandbox

Of course, we are also doing as much ski training as we can fit in, and are figuring out how to do this with a baby and no car. So far, we have had many successful outings (and some less successful ones). 

Our instructions on how to get to one of our training locations

Overall, it is proving to be fun and possible to do what we want to do using public transit. One big plus is that I get to ride all of the buses, trams, trains and subways for free if I have Leena with me in her stroller. Pretty cool! 

Getting ready for a day of training, starting with a tram ride!

So, here is what we have figured out so far: 


There are two great strength training options that we have been doing. 

My favourite is "log lifting". There is a big park in the middle of Helsinki called "Keskuspuisto" or "Central Park".  It is a long (at least 10km) narrow park that extends almost to downtown.  The trails are packed, very fine, gravel which is great for running with the stroller. I can easily get to the park using either the tram or the train, run with Leena to one of the many strength areas they have which include logs, sit up ramps, chin up bars, benches, etc. There I stop to do some strength and then run back. 

Log squats

The second option is the Kisahalli, (sorry no picture) which is really interesting. It is a huge place and when I was there this evening there were people doing the following: 
Ping Pong 
Ballroom Dancing 
Hip Hop 
Weight lifting 

Needless to say, it is not boring there! 

Classic Rollerskiing: 

The best place to classic rollerski in Helsinki is in Keskuspuisto. For some reason someone figured out that rollerskiing on the dirt paths worked really well, and in some parts of the park there are actually "tracks" from all the people who ski there. 

Karl rollerskiing

Classic tracks in the dirt.

We can ski to the park from our apartment on paved bike paths, or we can take the train to the middle of the park, or a bus to the northern part (which is the best part but it takes a while to get there!). 

Skate Rollerskiing: 

So far, we have done all of our skate rollerskiing in Lahti which is about 1 hour away from Helsinki by train. It is hillier there than in Helsinki and we have a good friend who lives there so we have gone to visit and get him to show us around, push Karl in interval workouts, feed us lunch, and have his parents heat up their sauna for us. A pretty nice way to spend a Saturday! 

Jani, Leena, Aksel and I at the Lahti train station

Ski walking/striding: 

The nicest place for ski walking and striding is Paloheina which is a ski area at the northern end of Keskuspuisto. The trails there are rolling, with one bigger hill in the middle, and they are all sawdust. Super soft on the feet, and great trails in general! 

Ski walking at Paloheina

Helsinki has a ski hall! It is a big open arena type building with ski tracks going up and down, around corners. It reminded me of a city sprint course. It was super fun to ski in September, but it does take a while to get there on the bus! 



The Finns race a lot. Our old coach from NTDC Thunder Bay (circa 1997) Pekka Kempi said he has done about 40 orienteering races so far this year! He invited us out to his place (40 minute train ride from Helsinki) for a cross country 10km race this past Sunday. It was on a really nice gravel/dirt/sawdust trail in the forest. Karl and I both really enjoyed this event! 

Pekka finishing his race

Karl and Pekka after the race

That's all for now. Next week we are going to Vuokatti where they have both a ski tunnel and will have outdoor tracks (sort of like Frozen Thunder) too. We will write an update about that adventure then.
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