Birkie breakdown 2004, or Mark Ernst is right

This year’s Birkie was supposed to be a breakthrough year for me. In previous years I had the grand goal of making the third wave while training less than 150 hours per year. It was to be gradual improvement of technique that would do the trick for me. In fact, in spite of years of less than adequate training, I had worked my way from my worst starting wave in wave six to wave four. But I wasn’t going to improve on that, so last year I decided to find out what it would be like to take my skiing and health a little more seriously.

First of all, in November of 2002, I had gone through a long arduous streak at work, on top of a number of years of inadequate training, and found I had gained a little weight. I bought a scale. It was shocking, 254 pounds. I had never been any sort of elite athelete, but this was heading down a path of horrors that eventually could have kept me from doing many of the things I like, besides eating anyway. The ski season, in spite of the shortage of snow that year helped a lot, but there was a long ways to go.

Last spring I bought a new road ready bike. I liked enough I started doing club rides. By June it looked like I was on a pace for a 250+ hours training year, the most I had done by far. I continued that into the fall and then took part of Mark Ernst’s hill bounding workouts. 25 pounds lighter than that day in November. But what seemed to be the thing that would really push me over the edge was getting some one on one coaching, mostly with UWGB coach Bryan Fish. After a number of hours, and building on information I had gotten from Scott Wilson and Kine Torinous earlier, I realized I had a new weapon in getting speed out of my old body. The USSA techniques, of which I had blogged before, seemed like a rocket for me.

Talking about this with Mark, he said that he thought it wouldn’t matter that much because without a really good motor, you really can’t experience the finer points of technique. Shocking! Philistine! And frankly, since a lot of evidence seems to show that you can only gain about 15-20% aerobic capacity over your genetically determined VO2Max, technique seemed like the only option.


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