“Sufferfest” – It’s Not Just A Marketing Gimmick

Here’s a classic case of “be careful what you ask for”.

For my birthday, I received the entire set of Sufferfest videos. I was (am) super-excited about this. Even though I loooove watching movies while I’m on the bike an playing Trainerroad, everything I’ve heard about The Sufferfest videos is great–hard rides, great music, cool video to keep you motivated.

But then came the realization that those “hard rides” are no freaking joke. I’ve been using Trainerroad for several months now, and the rides in their training plans are definitely tough, but Sufferfest takes it to a whole new level.

I’ve completed done three Sufferfest rides so far. The first was “Rubber Glove”, which is an FTP test. Of course that was hard–FTP tests are always hard. Nothing special there. A couple of days later I rode “Fight Club”, but I did it 90% FTP. I was fresh off a test and a big FTP jump and was a little nervous about it. Turns out I was right in being cautious–I was barely able to hang on to the end.

And then Saturday I tried “Blender” on 100%. This is an hour and thirty seven minute bludgeoning. Or, in my case, an hour and twenty three minutes of bludgeoning. I just wasn’t able to hang on for the last set of time trial intervals.  I could blame this on a few things–full belly, not fully recovered from the 50k I ran a few days before, all the stuff I did on Saturday before that, etc. But the truth is, it’s just a really hard workout.

One of the things I really like about the Trainerroad training plans is that they run you just up to the edge, but they are doable. They build confidence. Sufferfest is something completely different entirely. From the description of “Blender”…

This is the video that softens you up, takes you to the edge of exhaustion, sneaks up behind you and kicks you over that edge and down the hill, then makes you run up while being chased by a raving mob all the while pouring molten lava down toward you.

I got caught in that lava.

I tried to find a gear that I could grind hard enough to get to the prescribed power, then I tried to find one I could spin fast enough to get there. I just couldn’t pull it any longer. The heart rate never recovered from the sprints that came before the time trial, and I was even going embarrassingly easy on the recovery.

Just toasted. I didn’t have 399 watts left in me. I barely had my dinner left in me.

But this is a good thing. This is like going out to ride with a group that you know you can’t hang with. The game becomes to find out how long you can hang. Then you come back a few weeks later and try it again (after you’ve forgotten how horrible it felt) to see if you can make it a little further. Then, all of a sudden, you make it one day.

I don’t think I’m going to be using Sufferfest videos for my day-in, day-out triathlon training. The beat down is just too severe when you consider you have to go out and run and/or swim the next day. And I’m not interested in doing a lot of training above my lactate threshold. But these are great for checking in every now and then to see where you are.

This is also changing my plan a little bit with regards to the Tour of Sufferlandria at the end of this month. My plan was to ride on 100% for as many days as I can, but that doesn’t seem feasible at this point. Lots of people have recommended 90% FTP, and I think that would still be pretty tough. I’m not trying to win the thing after all…it’s my rookie year.

I may give it a go next weekend with “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” at 100% just to make sure my previously mentioned excuses of full belly and exhaustion weren’t valid though.

Feel free to throw things at me in the comments. Apparently there are quite a few people out there who think riding the ToS at 100% isn’t all that hard.

I think these people may need to re-test their FTP.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Print
  • email