Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: trainerroad (Page 2 of 2)

“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.

My Rookie Year On The Tour

I’m doing a challenge run on New Year’s Day, but my next “race” is going to be the Tour of Sufferlandria.

Technically, this isn’t a race either. It’s just a 9 day beat down on the bike.

I got an awesome gift this year–every single Sufferfest video. I can’t decide if that’s because I’m loved, or because people really want me to suffer. I’ll take it either way. They’ll at least respect me when I finish, right? I’ve wanted to try these videos out for a while, and since I’ve been using Trainerroad my interest has peaked.

I’ve been off the bike for a couple of months and focusing on marathon training. But that race was two weeks ago, and I still think my biggest triathlon gains are to be had on the bike. So last night I did a new FTP test, using the Rubber Glove video from The Sufferfest. My old FTP was 305, and I expected that number to fall. (Un)fortunately it went up.

Way up. My new FTP is 399.

I blame it on the hot chick making omelettes.

I’m honestly not sure how this happened–bike setup on the trainer was the same. The only real difference was a slightly cooler environment. I’m hoping this is a true measurement, and that I gained this power with a 2 month focus on high running volume and ample rest going into the test. Either way, I’ve set myself up for some absolutely brutal training rides over the next 6 weeks heading into the Tour.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen over the rest of 2014. I’m reconsidering the self-supported 140.6 because of safety concerns. But I think I’m ready to step up to the big boy plate this year. I’m about 2 years into uninterrupted training and steady improvement–big gains on the bike in the second half of this year and a new found ability to run long distances without bonk.

The two major factors have been Trainerroad and a much cleaner diet with a lot less sugar and grains (thanks Vinnie!). I think I finally have a decent handle on race management as well. That’s probably a fleeting window of opportunity. I’ll start messing it up again soon. But I need to take advantage of this window while it’s open.

So…Great Floridian?

Gaming Triathlon Training

There’s nothing like having another competitive person push, pull, and drag you to the next level of performance.

I’m a big fan of playing games during training when I’m coaching sports like rugby and baseball. Games are a great way to avoid monotony during training sessions–drills are boring and standing in line to do drills is even more boring. Games also keep the intensity of a training session higher because, unlike a drill, you can actually compete and win. Games also help create an artificial pressure.

I’m not sure why I never even tried to come up with anything for Triathlon training. Maybe it’s because I only have myself to worry about, and the monotony doesn’t bother me very much…dunno. But it’s not quite as easy to dream up endurance training games as it is in ball-related sports.

But I came up with a couple anyway–both depend on a partner.

Swimming

Neighbor Ben and I were talking last week about how much benefit we’ve gotten from swimming open water only. It’s way more exciting that swimming in a pool, even if the danger is mostly perceived, and there’s so much more to deal with–sighting, chop, currents, no walls, etc. Then last week, he T-boned me during our swim and had a head-on collision with another lady. We were laughing about it the other night, but then realized we may be onto something.

What if we went out and played Open Water Tag? It would work something like this…

Both players swim out to the middle of a body of water as a warmup–say 500m or so. Player One then goes under water and holds his breath for 30 seconds. While this is happening, Player 2 swims away in any direction. At the end of the 30 seconds, Player 1 comes up and finds (sighting–key skill) Player 2 and sprints (key skill) towards him to “tag” him. Player 2 can swim anywhere he wants to avoid the tag, changing direction (key skill) at any time. However, Player 2 has to swim head-up (strength/sighting) the entire time he’s being chased.

Running

This is another tag-type game–Interval Tag. After warming up, both players do something somewhat strenuous to take a little mustard out of both–something like 20 burpees. Player 1 then runs away on a pre-determined course while Player 2 rests for 30-45 seconds. Of course, Player 1 will be going at a jog after the burpees.

After his rest, Player 2 chases down player 1 and tags him as soon as he can. Once the tag has been made Player 1 (the original chaser) continues along the course. Remember, he just did an interval, so this will most likely be a recovery jog. At the same time, he’s going to want to put as much distance as he can between himself and Player 2.

Meanwhile, Player 2 (who was just tagged) stops to do some type of exercise like pushups/squats/plank. He should be pretty well rested at this point, but he’ll also have some urgency to finish the assigned exercises and get on with the next chase.

Cycling

If you want to play a cycling game, that’s easy. Sign up for Trainerroad. It’s downright addictive in the way it gets into your head and drives you to match the prescribed power output.

My First Five Weeks On The Trainerroad

I started the Trainerroad program a while back, and I’ve written a couple of posts about it already. I loved it from the get-go, for no other reason than it was a real jolt to my time on the bike. I knew in the back of my mind I hadn’t been pushing like I should on the bike during my last training ramp-up, but I didn’t know how to push the right way to keep focused on my Zone 2 goals while continuing to improve. The result was a pretty weak bike leg in my last race. Granted, I was making a conscious effort to hold back, but I would have liked to been able to go faster while doing so.

I missed a couple of weeks on the trainer due to a vacation, but I’m back on that horse again. That little break gave me some perspective, and I can now tell that the Trainerroad program is making me much stronger!

I’m only doing the Intermediate base build program right now, but I’ve gone from struggling to survive the rides to having a lot of juice in the tank for the last intervals of a ride.

TrainerRoad_Carillon

I have a week and half to go until my next FTP Test, but I’m shooting for a pretty big improvement, hopefully making a jump from 252 up to somewhere around 280. That’s about 11% gain.

To top it off, while my power output is going up, my weight is steadily going down. I’m crediting eating habits here, but I’m down 5 pounds in the last month, and if I can hit that 280 FTP and just maintain 193 pounds, I’ll be just over 3.1 FTP/kg.

3.1 is a completely arbitrary magic number I’ve set for myself that seems to be the measure of a “pretty decent weekend warrior”. I’ve never set the goal of trying to be the best cyclist in Brevard or anything like that, but I’m very interested in being a faster triathlete. The weight loss should nicely impact my run as well.

 

Trainerroad Two Week Update

I’ve been using Trainerroad for two weeks now, so I thought I’d provide an update.

I tell you one thang, Hoss, I tell you one dern thing. And you can write this down…

I fully expect this program to vastly improve my speed/power/endurance/efficiency, but if it doesn’t I’ll at least come out of it mentally tough.

I’m talking about plum mad-dog mean.

At the end of the first week, I did my weekend ride outdoors and a conversational pace. This wasn’t in any way based on the Trainerroad program.

For the second week, I did a 1.5 hour longish ride (Eclipse) on Saturday, and I came out of it feeling like I could chew through leather. If fact, there was so much teeth gritting going on, if I’d leather in my mouth I probably would have chewed through it. There were three 20 minute intervals in the “sweet spot”, which is ~90-100%% of FTP, or the absolute max effort you should be able to maintain for an hour.

Still no puking, but I have a feeling it’s going to happen eventually.  The 3×20 minute ride was especially tough because I was barely hanging on at the end of the 2nd interval, and it was scary knowing there was another one coming.

eclipse

The mid-week rides have not been nearly as tough…yet. The intensity is about the same, but the intervals so far have been shorter.

monitor

ericssonNext month, I’ll be adding heart rate data and The Sufferfest to the mix. I’m a little scared.

 

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