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Road to Marquette:
Training for the 2004 National Masters

Best Michigan Cup Results - Ever
April 15, 2004 - By Mike Muha

I know it's been a while since I last updated this series - it's been a busy season at work and on the racing circuit. And then I came back from my vacation in Costa Rica utterly exhausted (too much sun??). And I was busy trying to get photos, results, and other people's stories up on the web site. 

But the season is over and it's time to wrap up. How'd I do? What would I have done differently? Was the money I paid coach Torbjorn Karlsen worth it for a second year?

The National Masters Championships

The National Masters Report updates I posted painted the picture of how I did at National Masters - I pretty much froze my butt off. But it wasn't until I started working on this article that I started seeing a pattern: 

Report Race Age place % behind winner
Registration & Race #1  30km Freestyle 10th
Torbjorn Karlsen
The Sprint Relay  Sprint Relay 
3 x 3 x 750 meters
Day 3, Day of Rest  - - -
Day 4, The Duathlon  Duathlon
5km Classic, 
7.5 km Freestyle
Sten Fjeldheim*
The Balaclava Classic  15km (13km?) Classic 9th
Sten Fjeldheim**
*14.4% Behind 2nd place Torbjorn Karlsen in Duathlon.
**16.0% Behind 2nd place Torbjorn Karlsen in Classic. 

Let's do a comparison with Torbjorn, who won the first race and came in second in the other two individual events. Over the week, I lost by an increasing percent to Torbjorn: 10% in the first race, 14% in the second, and 16% in the third. This certainly says to me that I didn't have the endurance to do multiple hard efforts close together. 

In the freestyle races, I suffered on the steep uphills. But on classic skis, I kicked butt in the uphills. This suggests that I stride better than I V1.

Best Ever Michigan Cup Season

The Michigan Cup series started off slowly with a 24th finish and 18% off the winning pace at the Chestnut Valley Freestyle. By the end of the season, however, I'd accumulated three top-ten finishes, including a 5th and 6th place. I'd never finished higher than 8th overall in any previous Michigan Cup race - ever! I was having my best Michigan Cup season ever!

Race Overall Place % Behind top 3 % Behind Winner
Chestnut Valley 11km Freestyle 24th
16.7 % 18 %
Milan Baic
Hanson Hills 12km Classic 8th
9.5 % 12.2 %
Denny Paull
White Pine Stampede 50km Freestyle 49th
17.6 % 19.8 %
Milan Baic
Gran Travers 16km Classic 11th
8.1 % 9.8 %
Hugh Pritchard
Garland Grip Classic 5th
4.8 % 7.7 %
Denny Paull
Garland Glide Freestyle 36th
12 % 12 %
Denny Paull
Black Mountain 30km Classic 6th
2 % 3.4 %
Denny Paull

I ended up 14th overall in the Michigan Cup. If I'd done one more race to replace any of my freestyle races, I would have moved up the standings.

Looking at the results, it appears that I'm a much better classic than freestyle skier, but it shouldn't be overstated. Chestnut Valley was worse than last year. The White Pine Stampede was my first 50km in years and I was just getting over being sick. The Garland Freestyle was the day after my best classic finish ever, and I had nothing left.

What emerges from looking at my racing log?

First, I really am probably a better classic than freestyle skier, particularly on uphills. I think part of that comes from all the running Torbjorn had me do this year, and part comes from technique and waxing ability - it's seemed I was running up hills that had other people struggling.

Second, I don't have the endurance or recovery to do multiple races in close secession.

What would I have done differently?

I'm think I should have done more skate bounding and skating without poles - especially up hills. I need to become a stronger skater.

I also think I needed to practice more back-to-back hard efforts, or find a more efficient way to recover. Putting more volume in might have been hard - I may have to accept the fact that I don't have the time.

I also noticed that my doublepole needs work. In classic races, I gained on the uphills and lost on the flats (watching Dave Fanslow slow pull away on the long, flat sections at the Black Mountain Classic was particularly frustrating). In fact, more upper body strength and endurance could help my skating as well.


I went back to my log and added up all the hours that I trained and raced from April 2003 through March 2004. The sum? 259 hours. That's a little less than 5 hours of training and racing per week! There are lots of people out there who put 5 hours in during one session!

My goal - and the reason I rely on Torbjorn - was to maximize the training benefit I could get during the few hours I had to train. I certainly think Torbjorn's coaching has paid off in spades! If I had relied on a less structured method of training, I don't think I would have done nearly as well.