Everything You Think You Know About LTHR is Wrong

 
THE APEX LTHR Rationale  

Since APEX Coaching first partnered with The Sufferfest we have continued to refine our training philosophy. Some of this has been in response to feedback and questions from the close-knit community of Sufferlandrians toiling tirelessly in their torture chambers and Embassies around the world. A common question from those concerned about maximising their Return on Suffering is how best to set up heart rate training zones based on Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR)

What is LTHR and How do you Use it?

First let's define what exactly Lactate Threshold Heart Rate is, and why it is useful. If you were to do a sustained, maximal, one-hour effort your average heart rate during that effort is your LTHR. Just like maximum heart rate, LTHR can vary widely from person to person. Knowing your particular LTHR is vital if you want to get the most benefit out of your workouts. The key to maximising your training is to make sure you are Suffering at the correct intensities for the correct amount of time. Knowing your LTHR will allow you to tailor your training zones to your specific heart rate and maximise your Return on Suffering.  

For subscribers to The Sufferfest Training Centre App, you have the ability to input your LTHR into your profile. The app then uses this value (in parallel withor Functional Threshold Power (FTP) if you’ve determined that) to automatically set recommended heart rate zones for each section of the workouts. This functionality shows you, in real time, what zone you should be in at any given moment. But in order to take advantage of this feature you first have to determine your LTHR.  That’s where the head scratching often begins.

The Old Way of Calculating LTHR

Enough digital ink has been spilled on the “correct” way to measure LTHR to fill the crater of Mt. Sufferlandria. The old, traditional method is to take your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of a 30 minute all-out effort, or alternatively, your average heart rate for a 20 minute max effort. This value would then be used to set up your training zones. At APEX Coaching we feel there are some downsides to using this method. The main issue is that your heart rate during a 20 or 30 minute all-out effort will give you a higher heart rate than you could hold for an hour long effort. That’s like saying, “I can average 1,000 watts for a 10-second sprint, so I should be able to average 1,000 watts for 10 minutes.” While optimistic, this isn’t realistic. Let’s look at why.  

Physiologically when you ride at intensities above your FTP your body starts releasing stress hormones, such as norepinephrine and epinephrine (commonly referred to as adrenaline). Your heart rate increases in response to the epinephrine in your blood. As the levels of epinephrine rise so will your heart rate. That is why it is tricky to base your LTHR off of a test where your average effort is greater than FTP. All that epinephrine is muddling the results, making it seem like your LTHR is higher than it actually is.  

Our observations and empirical studies at APEX Coaching have led us to believe that there is a better, more effective way to calculate LTHR and use it to determine the appropriate training zones to give you the greatest Return on Suffering.  

The APEX Method for Determining LTHR

If you have a full hour to do a maximal effort, you certainly have that option. Just make sure you don’t have anything strenuous to do for the next two days. Like walking. There is, however, a quicker way. It’s not going to be pretty, but it will get the job done. It’s time for some Tough Glove.

The aptly named “Rubber Glove” is a Sufferfest fitness (ahem) “examination”, a workout designed specifically to help you determine your FTP or your LTHR. On its face it seems harmless enough: one hour on the bike consisting a solid warm-up, some high-cadence drills and then a 20 minute maximum effort, but it has been the undoing of many a Sufferlandrian.

A few words of advice before you step into the doctor’s office. The key is not to go too hard too early. The more evenly paced you can complete this maximal effort, the more accurate your LTHR will be. Perfect pacing can take time to master, so don’t fret if you struggle with your pacing during your first few cracks at Rubber Glove. If you have your heart rate monitor connected to The Sufferfest Training Centre during the workout the app will take care of calculating LTHR for you, and then set heart rate zones for all subsequent workouts based on that value. If you don’t yet have a subscription to The Sufferfest app, find your peak average 20 minute heart rate from this ride (please note this is not the same as your average heart rate for the 20min of Rubber Glove, your heart rate will remain elevated after finishing your effort, and we want to make sure that is taken into account). Once you have that peak 20 minute heart rate you will want to subtract 12 beats per minute from that number, and Voila! You now have your LTHR. Since individuals vary in LTHR, if your peak 20 min heart rate is under 155bpm then we suggest subtracting 10 beats per minute instead of 12.

How APEX Developed a New Way of Calculating LTHR

The APEX philosophy of LTHR and training zones is based off of APEX founder Neal Henderson’s years of experience as the head of Sports Science at The Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (BCSM). During his tenure he performed over 10,000 physiological tests in the lab. By comparing the results of these tests with data collected from athletes in the field, he was able to refine the testing protocol to create a new, more accurate method. It’s important to note that everyone’s heart rate will respond differently to the same workload, and no one method for calculating training zones will be universally applicable or yield results that are 100% accurate for every single individual.

If you have previously set up LTHR based on your average heart rate from a 20 or 30 minute test it is likely that the LTHR you get by using our method will be a little bit lower. To accommodate this we have adjusted the Recommended Perceived Exertion (RPE) values and how they equate to HR zones on The Sufferfest LTHR mapping sheet. A good example of this change can be seen in the HR Z2, or “Endurance”, pace. Previously the upper limit for Z2 was 83% of LTHR. Based on the APEX method we have increased Z2 to 87% of LTHR. But don’t worry. Despite the change, you haven’t gotten slower. You’re training has only gotten more effective.

Keep in mind that your heart rate can vary quite a bit from day to day. Things like hydration, fatigue, and stress can have a profound effect on heart rate. That is why when determining how hard to go during a given effort it’s best to combine heart rate with RPE (and power data if you have the ability to measure it through a power meter of via virtual power). By comparing multiple factors like heart rate and RPE you can adjust efforts accordingly. You will also want to ensure your Torture Chamber has adequate cooling by using a good fan. Your body produces a lot of heat when exercising, and if you start to overheat your body responds by diverting some blood closer to the surface of your skin where it can be more readily cooled. Your legs still need the same amount of blood, though, so the only way your body can simultaneously provide blood to your legs and divert it to the surface of your skin is by increasing your heart rate. This can cause of what is called “heart rate drift”, which is when your heart rate rises above your LTHR despite the fact you are doing an effort under your FTP.

If you’ve used the old standard method of determining LTHR you might feel that this new method results in an LTHR that is “too low”, meaning that longer efforts—particularly sustained climbs like those in Hell Hath No Fury and Thin Air— are now “too easy”. Physiologically speaking, a sub-threshold effort gives your body 99% of the same training stimulus as a full on threshold effort. However, the total stress on your body is higher after threshold efforts compared to sub-threshold efforts. In practical terms this means if you’re using the heart rate zones based on the APEX LTHR method as part of a complete training plan, going “easier” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, quite the contrary. Staying right below threshold will leave you fresher to smash tomorrow’s workout.  Hitting two workouts back to back is a much better training stimulus than hitting day one at full gas but falling apart on day two.  If you aren’t as concerned with being fresh the next day, then by all means, see what the weather’s like up there above your LTHR and Suffer like there’s no tomorrow. You won’t hear the Minions complain.

Read more from Mac Cassin

Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is a coach at APEX Coaching, with a focus on masters and junior racers. As an elite cyclist who also has to balance the demands of ‘life’ with his goals as an athlete, Mac has a deep understanding of how to get the most out of those who have limited time to train. Mac has raced at the World and PanAmerican championships and holds several US national and state titles. His studies were in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado and has worked as a research assistant in the CU Neurophysiology lab.

Did we miss anything? Make sure to ask a question or leave a  comment in the space below.

December 22, 2016

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Is ERG mode killing your training?

With the advent of the smart-trainer, indoor turbo sessions have made a massive leap into the 21st century. In addition to allowing you to capture and review performance data from your workouts, many smart trainers also offer what’s called “ERG Mode”. This mode allows the The Sufferfest Training Centre App to dynamically control the resistance of the trainer to match a given workout profile. We call it “AARGH Mode”, or “The Minions in the Machine”.

Tell The Sufferfest Training Centre what your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and it sets power targets for the workout based on that value. Trainer resistance is automatically adjusted so you are forced to hit those targets, whether you like it or not.

While ERG Mode does represent some serious next-level Suffering, there are some situations in which good old slope or “dumb trainer “ mode may be a better option. Today we’re going to break down the pros and cons of ERG Mode so you can use it—or not—most effectively.

ERG Mode and Pacing

One of the biggest problems athletes have when it comes to training is pacing themselves during an interval. All too often riders start out an effort well above a sustainable pace. One reason is that innate Sufferlandrian impulse to turn it up to 15 and rip the knob off. Another is athletic optimism. When you’re fresh it really does feel like you could hold that effort. By having a smart trainer control your effort it forces you to pace it correctly. This gives you a much better idea of how RPE can shift throughout a single interval, or throughout an entire workout.

Revolver is the perfect example. If you’re not familiar with this little slice of Sufferlandrian sadism, you are tasked with holding roughly the same power for 15 (more or less...) 60 second (mostly...) intervals. When you naively stroll into interval number one, the first 10 seconds feel like a cool breeze carrying scents of bergamot and Couchlandrian coffeecake. By the last 10 seconds of the 15th 16th, interval you’d swear that someone replaced the fine blood you usually have in your body with dark, smouldering lava crystals. While they feel different, they should be done at the exact same effort for maximum benefit. That is where ERG mode really makes a difference. It’s far better to hit all 15 16 efforts at the same, barely sustainable effort, rather than destroying yourself on the first few only to whimper and soft pedal through the last half of the workout..

ERG Mode = AARGH Mode: There is No Escape

Not only does ERG mode hold you accountable during the actual intervals, but it also keeps you in check during the recovery between efforts. Despite our best efforts, when riding a normal trainer or outside, the tendency is to completely back off the power as soon as you finish a hard effort. With ERG mode you still get to recover, but at a level that is more active recovery than spa day.

Lastly, ERG mode also helps you deliver consistent power over a given effort. Our natural tendency is to surge and ease off power at random times. With ERG mode you don’t have that option. The trainer will increase and decrease resistance in response to your output, resulting in consistent power, whether you’re pedalling at 70 rpm or 110 rpm. This allows you to complete workouts exactly as they are intended, meaning you maximise your training time and ultimately your Return on Suffering.

When To Resist the Urge to ERG

Despite these benefits there are times when ERG mode can actually be detrimental to a given session. The most obvious is during sessions when you are trying to determine your Functional Threshold Power, or FTP. If you haven’t been to see the doctor for a dose of tough glove that is Rubber Glove, you’re in for a….treat. The whole idea of doing a power test like Rubber Glove is to determine the absolute maximum effort you can sustain, allowing you to set your FTP for future suffering. The issue with ERG mode is that The Sufferfest Training Centre sets the power targets for all of the efforts in a workout based on your  current FTP. It’s a classic Sufferlandrian Catch 22: how can one possibly know the percentage of one’s old FTP that is sustainable for 20 minutes when the reason for the Dr’s Visit is finding your new FTP?

The main limitation of ERG mode is this: all effort levels are based off of your your FUNCTIONAL Threshold Power. That F-word makes all of the difference. FTP isn’t a fixed value. It’s  a fluid, ever-moving target, one that can change from week to week and even day to day. When you’re on the bike you have your own internal Suffer-meter that tells you whether pushing 220 watts feels like a 5 out of 10 or an 11 out of 10 on any given day. 

As smart as it is, your smart-trainer isn’t plugged into your Suffer-meter. You’re going to have days when you feel like your legs are made of Couchlandrian balsa wood. Everyone does. Sometimes it’s because you are at the tail end of a 2 week block of structured suffering and your body is reaching its limits.  Or maybe you just didn’t eat and drink enough before entering your torture chamber.  On those days your FTP might be 5% lower than when you last did Rubber Glove. Again with the F-word. What is Functional Threshold Power one day won’t necessarily be the next. That’s normal.

You have to put your ego aside and listen to your body, it knows a thing of two. Take the hint and dial back the intensity of your workout by 5% or so. If you don’t and insist on pushing it, the chances are you’ll overextend yourself, not complete the workout, and send your mental state into a Downward Spiral that is more toilet-like than Sufferlandrian, all because of a single bad session. But remember: a single bad session does not a Couchlandrian make. It simply means that you need to rest and recover as enthusiastically as you Suffer.

The opposite can also be true. After several weeks of good, consistent Suffering, and *gasp* proper rest,  your FTP might have gone up 5%. Unless you’ve booked an appointment with The Doctor, your smart trainer would have no idea. It can’t read your mind. You might end up breezing through a workout that was supposed to leave you with a third-class, one-way ticket to grovel town. That means you didn’t quite Suffer like you should have, and that makes GvA shed a tear. 

Apart from Rubber Glove, there are two other videos that simply aren't suited to completing in ERG mode: Violator & Half Is Easy. These short, rapid fire, on/off efforts are best done in slope mode, so you can unleash your high speed and power for each effort (without waiting for the resistance to ramp up).

With ERG Mode, there is nowhere to hide. There is no try, there is only DO.

Every tool has its purpose. Building a house? Use a hammer. Dialing in your carbon race bike? Maybe try something less...hefty. Pacing, accountability, consistency—all of these are made easier by ERG mode, that beautifully nasty Minion in the Machine. But tools are only as good as the craftsman who uses them. When it comes to establishing baseline metrics like FTP, or when your body is telling you something different, let your smart trainer play dumb and get reacquainted with your shifters. They’ve missed you.

Read more from Mac Cassin

Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is a coach at APEX Coaching, with a focus on masters and junior racers. As an elite cyclist who also has to balance the demands of ‘life’ with his goals as an athlete, Mac has a deep understanding of how to get the most out of those who have limited time to train. Mac has raced at the World and PanAmerican championships and holds several US national and state titles. His studies were in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado and has worked as a research assistant in the CU Neurophysiology lab.

Did we miss anything? Make sure to ask a question or leave a  comment in the space below.

December 20, 2016

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Dropping LSD: Base Training Isn’t Right for Everyone

Winter is a glorious season in Sufferlandria. Lava snow covers the slopes and peaks of Mount Sufferlandria, reflecting the glow from the occasional volcanic eruption. Turbo trainers are dusted off, Torture Chambers spruced up, and talk turns to that age-old winter tradition: Base Training.

Time to do LSD, right?

Conventional wisdom holds that winter is the season of LSD: Long Steady Distance. This means countless hours riding at a steady mellow pace for weeks and months on end in order to lay a ‘foundation’ for the more intense training sessions in the spring. Without all those base miles, the thinking goes, your body can’t possibly handle all that intensity later on. But is that true?

Fortunately for the time-crunched Sufferlandrian, the supposed benefits of high-volume, low-intensity training is more about tradition and less about science. Don’t get us wrong: doing long, steady base miles can improve your overall fitness, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way, or even the best way to structure your winter training if you want to be fast.

The Myth of Creating a ‘Base’

The problem with the traditional “base phase” of many training plans is the time commitment required to see any real benefits. To see any substantive return from Long Slow Distance rides you need to dedicate a minimum of 16 hours a week, with some weeks requiring upwards of 25 hours of training.

While that might be an option for Sufferlandrian monks and full-time professional cyclists, chances are you’re not able to get out and train that much. For you, LSD riding is a waste of time -- time you don’t have.

You see, studies have shown (see reference at the end of the article) that when athletes with a fixed amount of training time switch from training that includes high intensity efforts, to only low intensity training will actually see a decrease in critical metrics like VO2 max, your body's maximum ability to utilise oxygen. Training only works when your body is subjected to a new stress that it hasn’t encountered before. Training stress triggers adaptation and improvements in fitness. Only when you present your body with a different challenge, a novel stimulus, will it make changes to become stronger and more efficient. If you’re a seasoned Sufferlandrian with a few years of riding under your belt, then doing a few 10 hour weeks of nothing but Long Slow Distance rides will only serve to de-train you. You’re riding a lot, but you’re getting slower. If you’re going to keep your title of Sufferlandrian Speed Demon come spring, you can’t afford that.

Many unfortunate souls have convinced themselves that doing high volume weekends during the winter is enough to get those benefits from LSD riding. No - not going to work. For LSD riding to really work you need to be hitting those big days at least five times a week. So hitting your weekends hard and riding once or twice during the week for an hour isn't going to cut it.

What you should be doing in the off-season

The question then becomes, “How should I be suffering over the off season?”  Well, your off-season training should include:

  • Sessions that really push you to your limits (“Nine Hammers”, anyone?)
  • Sessions that are taxing but...manageable (something in a leisurely “Thin Air”, perhaps?)
  • Enough quality rest to prevent cumulative fatigue (Yoga! Yoga!)

All of our training plans, which work in both the offseason and the season, are based upon balancing these elements.  

Another kind of training that you probably aren't doing but really should

Another key area to work on year round—and one that most athletes neglect— is neuromuscular training.  Unlike swimming or running which require good technique, cycling is a bit more forgiving. You can be “pedalling squares” all day and still go fast, albeit not efficiently.  One of the biggest differences between elite and amateur cyclists is how efficient their pedal stroke is.  By incorporating a variety of cadence drills (like you can find in our plans) you train your muscles to contract when they are supposed to, and relax when they are supposed to.  

Ultimately combining quality neuromuscular training with a dash of high intensity efforts and an assortment of “this sucks but it isn’t that bad” type efforts, you have the perfect recipe for improving your overall fitness over the winter, while leaving enough in the tank so that you can crush all comers once the arm warmers and booties come off.

Why you won’t burn out in Summer

But can you just go into intervals without having a ‘base? Won’t you just burn out come summer time? No. You won’t. Incorporating high-intensity training into your winter programme isn’t the culprit. It’s only true if you hit things too hard, for too long, too often and overtrain in the spring. Burnout is usually more likely when a rider is already engaged in high-volume training that piles high-intensity training on top of it.

Suffering, not LSD, Makes you Fast

As a Sufferlandrian you already know the benefits of high-intensity interval training. Get in, Suffer, get out, rinse and repeat. We use it because it works, regardless of whether the lava snows are covering the dormant vineyards of Sufferlandria’s Whine Region. To quote Sir Neal Henderson, “More is always more, but more is not always better.” By incorporating high-intensity efforts into your winter training program you can continue to increase your fitness without increasing volume, and emerge from your Torture Chamber in the spring ready to show mere mortals the true meaning of Suffering.

Read more from Mac Cassin

Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is a coach at APEX Coaching, with a focus on masters and junior racers. As an elite cyclist who also has to balance the demands of ‘life’ with his goals as an athlete, Mac has a deep understanding of how to get the most out of those who have limited time to train. Mac has raced at the World and PanAmerican championships and holds several US national and state titles. His studies were in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado and has worked as a research assistant in the CU Neurophysiology lab.

Did we miss anything? Make sure to ask a question or leave a  comment in the space below.

References
  1. Mujika, Iñigo, and Sabino Padilla. "Detraining: loss of training-induced physiological and performance adaptations. Part I." Sports Medicine 30.2 (2000): 79-87.

 

Do As You're Told: Why You Need A Structured Training Plan

Why You Should Follow a Structured Training Plan

Sufferlandrians are known for their superhuman capacity for, well...Suffering. They’re also known for their self-sufficiency and strong sense of motivation. It’s part of their identity and a source of national pride. So when the subject of the value of structured training plans arises, some Sufferlandrians are skeptical. You might even be one of them. And sure, you may lock yourself in your Torture Chamber every day with almost religious devotion, regardless of what other commitments you may have. And sure, you may be seeing fitness gains. The high-intensity interval training that a Sufferfest session dishes out will do that. So why follow a structured training plan? Can’t you just pick a video, flog yourself into oblivion, and call it good? You could, but you wouldn’t be making the most of your time. Structured training has many advantages over random, undirected workouts.

Consistency

Whether you’re trying to learn a new language, master an instrument, or vanquish your competitors come race season, there’s one common, critical component: consistency. Talk to any coach and they’ll tell you the most important thing you can do to get faster is to be consistent with your training. An odd workout here and there isn’t enough to produce real fitness gains, and will only get you so far.

  • Having a plan laid out for you is a fantastic way to start cultivating discipline, and to leave behind the notion that you can only get in a good workout when you are feeling motivated for it. 
  • Having a training plan written out helps take some of the decision making out of your hands. No more time wasted scrolling through all of the workouts trying to figure out what ride you’re doing that day. With everything mapped out for you, you know the workout you do each and every day is going to be the one that will ultimately make you faster down the line.
goal-oriented
  • Any training plan you undertake should have some rationale behind it. Not only should it cater to your skill level, but also towards your specific fitness goals. If you want to ride your first century but are only doing speed work you probably aren’t making the most of your training time. Left to their own devices, Sufferlandrians will tend to do workouts that emphasise their strong suits. Nothing makes a sprinter cringe like climbing, and you’re more likely to see a Sufferlandrian wildebeest doing a gymnastics floor routine than a self-professed climber doing sprint work. Training plans are about creating a more well-rounded, complete athlete.
  • A well-designed training plan will include a wide variety of interval types, and will introduce them at very specific phases of the plan in order to maximize their effectiveness. For everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn).
  • If performance gains aren't your motivation for Suffering and your goal is to improve your overall health and wellness, following a training plan will help you strike a good training balance so that you can you don't accumulate too much fatigue and burn out. More on balance in the next section.
balance

The word "balance" gets used a lot these days, and with good reason. Busy Sufferlandrians are always trying to balance their burning desire to be a total BADASS, with the everyday commitments of being a good employee, husband, daughter, spouse and friend.

  • A good plan will help you strike the right balance between Suffering, lower intensity training and rest or days off (*gasp*), as well as make enough time for your other commitments, like paying bills, shovelling snow or schlepping the kids to ballet/piano/hockey/Mandarin practice.
  • A good plan will also help you manage the balance between training stress, fatigue and recovery in order to get the maximum Return on Suffering.
why the sufferfest?
  • The Sufferfest has partnered with APEX Coaching, whose staff includes some of the best minds in coaching and sports science (your humble servant among them). With plans tailored for all skill levels and covering disciplines from road to cyclocross, Olympic distance triathlon to cross country mountain biking, you’ll be able to find one that fits your needs and goals.
  • Subscribers to The Sufferfest Training Center App now have free, exclusive access to the full array of training plans. This allows you to check out all of them, eliminating the risk of paying for a plan only to find it’s not what you’re looking for.
  • Sufferlandrians are busy people. All of the training plans, like The Sufferfest workouts, are developed to give maximum benefits in minimum time. Less time training means more time crushing your enemies, or making lava snowmen, or opening up that Pain Shake shack you’ve always dreamed of.
  • Each plan integrates our new Yoga for Cyclists videos developed for The Sufferfest by Abi Carver, founder of Yoga 15. Instead of just being a one-trick pony you’ll can be guided to make improvements on and off the bike to help you become a more complete athlete.
  • Did I mention the full array of training plans is available free to subscribers of The Sufferfest Training Centre App? Hmm. Must’ve slipped my mind. Really, there’s no reason not to. You can start a plan and see how you like it, and if you decide you want to try something else, there is no penalty for moving on to a different one.

Do you want to get faster? Be more disciplined? Maximize your Return on Suffering? Stop “training” aimlessly and train with purpose. You have nothing to lose. Your competitors, on the other hand, they’ll probably wish you didn’t.  

Read more from Mac Cassin

Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is a coach at APEX Coaching, with a focus on masters and junior racers. As an elite cyclist who also has to balance the demands of ‘life’ with his goals as an athlete, Mac has a deep understanding of how to get the most out of those who have limited time to train. Mac has raced at the World and PanAmerican championships and holds several US national and state titles. His studies were in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado and has worked as a research assistant in the CU Neurophysiology lab.

Did we miss anything? Make sure to ask a question or leave a  comment in the space below.

 

December 07, 2016

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Meet the Director of Strategic Suffering!

THERE'S A NEW MINION IN TOWN!

Greetings, fellow Sufferlandrians. Have you suffered today? If so, I may be partially responsible. My name is Mac Cassin, and I am the Director of Strategic Suffering at The Sufferfest.

First, a little background. In addition to devising new and painful ways to maximise your Return on Suffering, I’m also one of the coaches at APEX Coaching, the Boulder-based coaching firm founded by Sir Neal Henderson (evil mastermind behind “Blender”,“Nine Hammers”, “The Way Out” and “Violator”, to name a few). I know firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Neal’s sadistic but results-oriented training methodology, having been personally coached by Neal since I was an aspiring junior racer. During my time working with him he has taken me from a fairly mediocre junior to five collegiate national championships on the track (including the collegiate record for the 4K individual pursuit), the opportunity to represent the USA at the Pan American Track Championships and a spot to race the Team Time Trial at the 2015 UCI World Championships.

I LOVE TO SUFFER -- JUST LIKE YOU!

But I’m not just a pair of legs. In addition to my experience riding at the elite level I have spent time studying Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder. I understand the science behind different training philosophies and can separate fact from I-read-it-on-the-internet fiction. I joined the team at APEX in 2015, focusing on helping Masters riders and racers with limited time get the most out of their training. You could say that I specialise in maximising Return on Suffering. My favourite Sufferfest video is The Omnium, having raced a few of these on the track. (The Sufferfest version is harder!)

With the release of The Sufferfest Training Centre App, The Sufferfest has evolved from producer of the best indoor cycling videos to a comprehensive training platform for time-crunched athletes. APEX Coaching is proud to be a part of this evolution. Neal and I worked closely with the Minions to develop a full array of resources you won’t find anywhere else, including a library of detailed, easy-to-follow training plans for cyclists of all disciplines and skill levels. These 10-week and 3-week training plans (now available free to all subscribers to The Sufferfest Training Centre App) integrate Sufferfest workouts, outdoor rides, skills ‘n’ drills, and off-the-bike training to address the needs of the complete athlete. Beyond these training plans, I will also produce a series of articles designed to, you guessed it, maximise your Return on Suffering. We’ll be delving into a range of training topics that will help you take your riding to the next level, and give you a better understanding of the ‘why’ behind the workouts and training methodologies.

HELP SHAPE THE CONVERSATION

My hope is that this becomes a conversation between me and those of you out there in Sufferlandria. Ultimately, you’re the reason why we’re doing this—all of you Suffering in the solitude of your Torture Chambers or in one of our Embassies. It’s about your journey to be better, stronger, more confident tomorrow than you are today. We’re here to help you achieve your fitness goals, whether that means setting a personal best up your local climb or standing on the top of the podium. If there’s content you’d like to see or questions you have, let us know. As The Sufferfest Training Centre app continues to develop and the community of Sufferlandrians continues to grow (despite the efforts of Couchlandria), we’ll be with you every step of the way. The only thing you have to do is Suffer.

READ MORE FROM MAC

Interested in learning more about Suffering? Make sure to leave your helpful tips or questions in the comments below and we'll do our best to write more about them in future articles.

 

November 24, 2016

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A Survival Guide for Sufferlandrians on Holiday

How to safely navigate the holidays in Couchlandria

For many of us the last few months of the year are marked by multiple social gatherings, often in the company of non-Sufferlandrians, and with a mouth-watering buffet of Couchlandrian enticements on offer. Many of these Couchlandrians will be friends and family, most of whom will likely (and unintentionally) try to push you towards denouncing your Sufferlandrian Citizenship.

Fear not!

Occasional incursions into Couchlandrian Territory is by no means an act of treason. In fact, true Sufferlandrians pride themselves on the ability to safely and intelligently navigate their way through Couchlandria while remaining true to the Motherland. Visits to Couchlandria can be riddled with pitfalls, and we hope to offer these guidelines to minimize the stress involved so you can return happy, healthy, and ready to resume Suffering.

Travel

While some Sufferlandrians live in close proximity to the Couchlandrian border, others will have to travel, sometimes for multiple hours via plane, train or automobile. On these travel days you should make sure you are prepared to be self sufficient for the duration of the trip. What that means is:

  • Travel with enough healthy food to last the whole trip. This will ensure when hour 10 of your travel day rolls around you won’t be tempted with the “food” that Couchlandria has to offer.
  • Water is your friend. To quote the old Sufferlandrian saying “Hydrated-ness is next to Grunterliness”. If you are traveling by plane, bring an empty water bottle to fill up at a drinking fountain once you make it through security. If you will be in the car for a full day then make sure you have a large bottle or jug of water with you, and don’t be afraid to stop every few hours to go pee. Breaking up the amount of time spent sitting is actually a good thing.
  • Things will go wrong - so be prepared. No matter how perfectly you plan a trip, Couchlandrian schemes can still ruin your day. Getting worked up and stressed about problems that you cannot control (flight delays, road construction, lost baggage) will only make your trip less enjoyable. Focus on the things you can control, and be prepared to “go with the flow”.
  • Keep it moving. As a Sufferlandrian you are prone to bouts of extreme physical activity, and sitting for hours on end can just seem wrong to you. No matter what type of travel you are doing, try and stand at least every 90 minutes when possible. This will keep your muscles from tightening up and keep too much blood from pooling in your legs, making them feel as if they are filled with sand. Pro tip: set a timer on your watch or phone and move around every time it goes off.
  • Find new ways to Suffer. When you do finally arrive at your destination, this will be the perfect time to have a go at “Yoga in Couchlandria: On The Road” which you’ll find as one of the 20 yoga videos in The Sufferfest Training Centre app. This should take many of the aches and pains of a full day of traveling out of your body. Pro tip: Download a few yoga videos and store them in the app prior to your departure, so you have a few options and you won’t have to worry about roaming charges or finding WiFi.

Yeah, we have 20 yoga sessions in The Sufferfest Training Centre now! Here's what it looks like:

A Day Without Suffering

Some traveling Sufferlandrians will have the good fortune of a portable torture chamber that will travel along with them into Couchlandria. This is not an option for all Sufferlandrian travelers though, so be prepared to get creative.

  • Seek out some Suffering. If your bike doesn’t make the trip with you, often times a friend or family member will have a membership to a local gym (or know someone who does). There is no shame in asking to use a guest pass to their gym where you will likely be able to find a spin bike, or even a spin class you can join. Who knows, you may even get lucky and find yourself close to one of Sufferlandria’s Licensed Embassies, where you can meet fellow expats and get a taste of home (and puke if you go hard enough).
  • Don’t panic. You might only be without your trusty steed for a day or two, in which case there is no reason to fret about getting in a bike workout during this already stressful time. One option is to simply load up a session of “Core Strengtheners” to keep you sharp for your next visit to Sufferlandria. Yoga can be done practically anywhere without any equipment so there’s really no excuse!
  • Go for a run (if you’re into that kind of thing). Some of you will have been incorporating running into your training for the past few months, in which case all you need is a pair of running shoes and you can get in a run. We must warn those of you who have not been running regularly to be cautious if you plan on running just for this trip. As a Sufferlandrian you have the leg and cardiovascular strength to run with the best of them, but your tendons and ligaments will not quite be up to par. Going straight into a long hard run is a great way to end up injured, and turn one or two days off the bike into a few weeks off, so be smart about it! 
"Willpower"  is not just the most common surname in Sufferlandria

 

 

The final, and often biggest, hurdle to cross when visiting Couchlandria is the seemingly endless offering of food and drinks. Even the strongest of Sufferlandrians can give into temptation - just be smart about it.

  • Eat your fruits and veg. Chances are there will still be some greens on offer during Couchlandrian feasts. You should aim to make your first plate 60% fruits and vegetables before piling on other goodies. Or better yet, have your first plate be only fruits and vegetables. Then on your second plate you can load up whatever delicacies catch your eye.
  • Moderation. There’s a good chance that alcoholic (or sweetened) beverages will make an appearance. Alternate between one drink, and a glass of water that is a bit larger than the drink. Not only will this keep your liquid calorie consumption down, and the extra water will help negate the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Remember that “Hydrated-ness is next to Gruntliness!”

The most important thing to remember during your time in Couchlandria is that you are there to see and visit people you care about, so enjoy the time you spend with them. Focusing too much on losing your Sufferlandrian Citizenship can turn what should be a fun trip into a stress-filled nightmare. Remember that the borders of Sufferlandria will always be open to those willing to undergo pain, misery and agony in the pursuit of honour, glory and victory!

Read more from Mac Cassin

Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is a coach at APEX Coaching, with a focus on masters and junior racers. As an elite cyclist who also has to balance the demands of ‘life’ with his goals as an athlete, Mac has a deep understanding of how to get the most out of those who have limited time to train. Mac has raced at the World and PanAmerican championships and holds several US national and state titles. His studies were in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado and has worked as a research assistant in the CU Neurophysiology lab.

Did we miss anything? Make sure to leave your helpful tips or questions in the comments below!

 

     

    November 18, 2016

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    When It Trains, It Roars: Comprehensive Training Plans Now Included with App Subscription

    Contrary to what you might think after, say, slogging through the pukefest that is "The Omnium", the Minions pulling the levers here at the Fortress of Suffertude aren't just unrepentant sadists. Ok, they are unrepentant, but they're not *just* sadists.

    Every agonizing interval, every foray into the outer limits of human endurance is focused on a singular purpose: making you stronger. It's not just about the Suffering (forgive me, Grunter), it's about getting the most benefit out of a limited amount of training.

    Maximum 'Return on Suffering' for the limited amount of time you have to train. And our videos are designed to do just that. That's why we work with some of the brightest minds in coaching and sports science. But in order to be the most effective, the workouts need some structure. You can't clip in and punish yourself with 117 minutes of ISLAGIATT day in and day out at 110% intensity for two weeks straight and expect to 1) have any semblance of sanity left, or 2) not be completely shattered and useless. The point is not just to Suffer, but to Suffer with a purpose.

    WE LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER

    In our ongoing quest to give you all of the tools you need to crush the competition and leave a trail of shredded chamois in your wake,  subscribers to The Sufferfest Training Centre App now have free, exclusive access to a full suite of 10 structured training plans for a range of disciplines; including Road, Olympic Distance Triathlon, Cyclocross and XC Mountain Biking, as well as plans focusing specifically on Speed and Climbing. Designed with our partners at APEX Coaching, these comprehensive, incredibly detailed plans bring you the expertise and proven results of one the greatest coaches (and evil geniuses) in endurance sport: Sir Neal Henderson.

    All of our training plans utilize:

    • A mix of Sufferfest workouts and outdoor sessions (which can be done inside if the lava snow is really coming down)
    • Essential skills/technique drills to refine your form, improve your efficiency and increase your power.
    • The 20 yoga routines included in our newly-released Yoga for Cyclists programme. Designed by Abi Carver of Yoga 15, these routines help you get the most out of your Suffering, while boosting your flexibility, balance, core strength, and ability to recover quickly.

    The Sufferfest Training Plans are available for free to all subscribers of The Sufferfest Training Centre App. Sign up for your free trial today.

    Road Plans

    Say goodbye to junk miles. Our integrated road training plans are required reading for riders of all skills levels who want to train smarter and climb the podium or simply hang with the fast group on the club rides.

    Our 10-Week Plans are tailored to fit riders of varying experience and time commitment: Novice (for new riders with 4-5.5 hours/week to train), Intermediate (for experienced riders with 6-8 hours/week to train), and Advanced (for racing or highly  experienced cyclists who can take a heavy training schedule of 8.5 hours/week)

    Our 3-Week Plans focus on specific skills: Climbing (for experienced cyclists who want to soar with the angels) and Speed.

    The Sufferfest Training Plans are available for free to all subscribers of The Sufferfest Training Centre App. Sign up for your free trial today. 

    OLYMPIC DISTANCE TRIATHLON

    If you're racing an Olympic distance triathlon, you need to swim, bike and run to the nearest computer and download this plan. With comprehensive coverage of your swim / bike / run workouts and a wide range of technique drills across all three disciplines, our Triathlon training plans will help ensure quick transition to a faster you (see what we did there?).

    Triathlon plans are available for Novice: (new triathletes with about 5 hours/week to train) and Intermediate (experienced triathletes with about 6 hours/week to train) athletes.

     

    CYCLOCROSS

    A discipline after our own dark hearts: 60 minutes of lung-busting, redlining madness. One of the few places outside of your Torture Chamber that rivals the pure, unbridled intensity of a Sufferfest workout. These plans harness that raw power of The Sufferfest into a manageable, easy-to-follow structure so you can get the hole shot and leave your competitors cleaning mud out of their teeth.

    Cyclocross plans are available for Novice barrier hoppers (with 5 hours/week to train) and Intermediate aspiring Sven Nyses who can devote 6 hours/week to train. More cowbell!

      

    XC MOUNTAIN BIKE

    The punchy climbs, intense efforts and long courses that characterize Cross Country mountain bike races require a specific kind of fitness. The first one across the line is going to be someone that's capable of delivering across a wide range of efforts. That might as well be you, and this plan will get you there. Designed for Intermediate cyclists with an average of 6 hours/week to train, the fat-tire set aren't going to know what hit them.

     

    WE'RE MORE THAN JUST AN UGLY FACE

    Like you, those of us behind The Sufferfest aren't content to rest on our laurels. Could we have just kept making the best indoor cycling videos out there? Of course we could have, but we weren't content with that. Like that extra interval at the end of "Revolver", we don't know when to quit. We're going to continue to bring you valuable training resources, tools to help you get to the next level, stuff you won't be able to get anywhere else. But don't worry, we'll continue to dish out the Suffering you know and hate us for. We wouldn't have it any other way. 

     

    The Sufferfest Training Plans are available for free to all subscribers of The Sufferfest Training Centre App. Sign up for your free trial today.

    November 18, 2016

    1 comment


    Come for the Suffering, Namaste for the Yoga: Yoga for Cyclists with Abi Carver of Yoga 15 Now Available with The Sufferfest App

    I know what some of you are thinking. You’re only comfortable when you’re above threshold. You never take the easy route. You beat your own ass twice a day just because you can, only to yell, “Thank you, Grunter, may I have another!”

    And yoga? That seems to be straying a little too close to Couchlandrian territory. Anything that uses a mat not intended to catch copious amounts of Holy Water...seems suspicious.

    Well, The Minions have news for you: yoga is one of the best kept secrets in professional sport and we're letting all subscribers to The Sufferfest app in on the action. By the end of this post you won’t be able to imagine doing “Downward Spiral” without downward dog and wouldn’t think of leaving the “OM” out of “The Omnium”. Yes, there’s a reason you can’t spell ‘Agony’ without ‘Yoga’.

    FORGET WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT YOGA FOR CYCLISTS

    Yoga isn’t just for the patchouli-scented set. It also isn’t tied to any kind of spiritual practice and doesn’t require you to grow a beard or join a drum circle. Though it is low impact, yoga helps develop real, functional strength in a way that just riding your bike can't. 

    Elite athletes, especially in endurance sports like cycling, routinely adopt yoga as part of their regular training routine. Yoga develops power, flexibility, balance and agility, as well as increasing your ability to focus. All of those skills transmit directly to being a better bike rider, whether you’re set on dominating the local TT or crushing the cyclocross course. Who doesn’t want better power on the bike, the ability to stay in an efficient, aero position without pain, or cat-like reflexes that allow you to stay upright while your competitors flounder in the sandpit.

    The strength gains and improved range of motion that yoga facilitates also help prevent injury and speed recovery. That means less time spent convalescing and more time spent making your competitors beg for mercy. Talk to any coach or sports scientists and you’ll hear the same refrain: gains are made during rest and recovery. If you don’t recover properly, cumulative fatigue will start to wear you down, preventing you from getting the most out of your workouts. Less Return on Suffering? No. Thank. You.

    THE SUFFERFEST MAKES YOGA FOR CYCLISTS EASY AND ACCESSIBLE

    We’ve talked about why you need to incorporate yoga into your training,  but the question now is, how? Few of us have the luxury to find a yoga studio, figure out which class to take and then worry about whether the routines are actually going to translate into on-the-bike performance gains. Not to mention the additional investment, both in time and money.  

    Fear not, Sufferlandrians, we have you covered. The Sufferfest app has an entire Yoga for Cyclists Programme, developed in partnership with Abi Carver, founder of Yoga 15 and one of the most recognized names in yoga for endurance and action sports athletes.

    Subscribers to The Sufferfest Training Centre App have access to 20 videos of routines developed by Abi specifically for cyclists. These routines are designed to strengthen notoriously weak areas for cyclists—core, back, and upper body— as well as improve overall flexibility, posture, balance, and focus. Additional breathing and meditation exercises will help you quash those pre-race nerves, allowing you to find the calm before the storm and deliver your best performance when it matters most. On the road or stuck in the office? The Yoga in Couchlandria sessions are just the ticket, whether you’re travelling or putting in long hours at work.

    INTEGRATING YOGA FOR CYCLISTS INTO YOUR ROUTINE

    Now, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have the time for yoga.” Think again. Just as The Sufferfest workouts are designed to give you maximum benefit in a short amount of time, so is the Yoga for Cyclists Programme. Most of The Sufferfest yoga sessions are 15 minutes or less, making them perfect for the time-crunched Sufferlandrian looking to improve full-body strength and flexibility.

    They’re also performance-oriented, getting you straight to the exercises that matter without any fuss. You’ll easily be able to fit them in at home a few times a week, without having to stare at some stranger’s Downward Dog in a crowded yoga studio.

    Even better: if you’re using one of The Sufferfest training plans that are now included free with your app subscription, you’ll find that Abi and Mac Cassin at APEX Coaching have integrated the Yoga for Cyclists Programme into each plan. We make it easy. All (all?) you have to do is Suffer, Yoga, Breathe, Dominate.

    Not an app subscriber yet? You need to fix that pronto. 

    Check out this sneak peek of one of Abi's routines developed for The Sufferfest Training Centre app. 

    About Abi Carver

    Abi Carver’s fitness career started out in personal training, before later branching out into yoga. She completed her yoga teacher training in Guatemala, and has since grown a huge online following with Yoga 15, her comprehensive yoga system designed specifically for athletes. Abi now teaches in Europe, South America and Indonesia, tailoring her classes and routines specifically to the athletes she’s teaching. With her own interests including surfing, climbing and running, she uses yoga to improve her performance through conditioning, recovery, and mental skills training. You can find more by Abi at www.yoga15.com and www.instagram/yoga15abi

     

    October 14, 2016

    0 comments

    app exclusive ›   minion blog ›   thin air ›  


    The forty minute climb you begged us NOT to make...

    it was a dark and stormy night

    It all started off as a bit of a laugh really. One cold, dark and miserable evening, while bouncing ideas for new workouts around SUF HQ, I turned to David "Chief Suffering Officer" McQuillen and said "You know what's really missing is a 30 minute climb." To which he replied "Why stop at 30 minutes?"

    (Incidentally, this is a prime example of why the man is continually brought before the United Nation to answer questions about Human Rights violations.)

    As soon as my legs stopped twitching in the conditioned fear response our videos inspire in me, I naturally agreed that a 40 minute climb would be an AWESOME ideas. So, we set about making this twisted idea into a reality.

    After Sir Neal Henderson got involved we settled on our first 'summit finish' video, a session truly designed by Sufferlandrians for Sufferlandrians.

    it's all well and good to dream up this stuff...

    ...but then you have to follow through with it. Once you realise that "If we make this we're going to have to do it too!" you start to understand why the average resting heart rate of a Minion is 220 BPM...

    The story for the climb began to come together as we worked with footage from the 2016 Giro d'Italia. The race was packed full of attacks, breaks and amazing scenes of epic Suffering. Once GvA knit the footage together and the Minions programmed the workout into the app. it was ready for initial testing. Dave, being the brave one, was first.

    While doing the workout, he looked like he was being beaten with a sledgehammer on fire. As soon as he got off (and that did take a little while) and stepped into the not-insignificant pool of Sufferlandrian Holy Water beneath him, he said only three words: "It's too easy.

    The Minions knew what they had to do.

    The surges became longer and harder, the attacks more frequent. More testing and more refining took place. Then, one day, it was my turn... 

    Altitude sickness

    I found myself in Hobart, Tasmania for a test run of Thin Air at one of two local Sufferlandrian Embassies.

    The instructor that night was a real hard ass, but he kept the class motivated and focused on absolutely CRUSHING the climb, dropping Fireball and destroying The Shark (you'll find out who they are in the video). With Courageous Sufferlandrians by my side I knew I had to put my best effort in. Holy water was shed, curses muttered, efforts grovelled, lakes of Sufferlandrian Holy Water filled... it was sublime!

    here's what your fellow sufferlandrians are saying about thin air

    It may take awhile before you feel the full effects of Thin Air...

    When you're compared to one of cinema's all-time best villains, you know you're doing something right! 

    Allow us to paraphrase for Kelly: "I'm not crying! Pain is just leaving my body through my tear ducts!"

    the workout 

    Thin Air was unleashed onto the world after countless emails and posts on social media BEGGING us not to make anything like it. This inspired Sir Neal Henderson to no end.

    A hallmark of Sir Neal's workouts are that you are constantly brought to the edge and walked back just a bit. Then you're shown that edge again, walked back, to the edge again, maybe over it, then back...and so on. Here's how he does it:

    • Thin Air features a generous warm up with a few brief efforts to stoke a Sufferlandrian's legs & lungs.
    • The warm up graduates to short, punctuated supra-threshold efforts as you battle for the Misery Prize in the foothills of Mt. Sufferlandria.
    • The 40 minute climb, the piece de resistance of Thin Air, features long efforts at, just below and just above threshold. GVA threw in multiple surges for good effect.
    • As you begin to fatigue from the repeated attacks, surges, cadence changes and cumulative effect of this endless effort, that's just when it starts to get HARD.
    the story

    We won't give much away, but just be on the lookout for The Shark. If he senses blood in the water he'll attack and shred every chamois in sight... and remember, Sufferlandrians don't get dropped! 

    the footage

    This year's Giro d'Italia featured some epic climbing stages and attracted some of the world's strongest climbers, including Esteban 'Chavito' Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk & Vincenzo Nibali. Here's a sample of the action:

     

     the music

    If you're not in a hypoxic state you'll love the soundtrack for Thin Air, which is dominated by one of our favourite finds of late, the artist Paris Burns. "Bombs Away" kicks it at just the right time. Enjoy!

     

    Why you should do thin air right now

    It's your duty as a Sufferlandrian to soak up as much pain, misery & agony and convert it into honour, glory & VICTORY. Thin Air is 60 minutes packed with the goods, so stop reading this and start SUFFERING!

    Seriously, Thin Air is great for...

    • ...calorie burn. Right up there with The Long Scream & The Wretched for burning kcals.
    • ...triathletes - we all know how much you slow-twitchers love to grind one out in the "big dawg". This 40 minute effort has your name written all over it.
    • ...mountain goats AKA "stupid skinny climbers" - you know, the kind that just float away when the road tilts up? Well, all Sufferlandrians are on equal footing with Thin Air. #EverybodyHurts
    • ...time triallists. Build up some serious strength and threshold tolerance with this beauty.
    • ...non-Sufferlandrians! Convert one today by introducing them to The Sufferfest #MiseryLovesCompany
    tips for getting the most out of thin air

    This is the STEEP SIDE OF MT. SUFFERLANDRIA PEOPLE !!! Prepare yourself mentally and physically for a lung popping, leg burning, teeth clenching, fist pumping rollercoaster of a ride. You'll feel so bad it'll start to feel good, we promise!

    Here's a few things the Minions have learned about 'conquering' Thin Air...

    • ...fuel up early and often. Drink up during the warm up because when those surges and attacks come fast & furious you don't want to be grasping for your bidon (though you may be praying for a sticky bottle!)
    • Know thy systems check! By staying composed and by focusing on efficiency not only will you have more energy to jump The Shark but it will give you something else to think about besides the abject terror of knowing there are still 39 minutes left of this climb! If you asking yourself, "System's Check - what's that?!" you need to check out Elements of Style.
    other ways to ride thin air

    Let's face it. The road to glory is paved in many ways and sometimes "less is more". If you need a good tempo or sweet spot effort after a hard day or during an easier phase of your training, don't hesitate to dial down the intensity.

    OR, if it's been a while since your last visit to the Doctor and you're feeling particularly fresh and frisky, you can turn it up to 11 and test your limits (and sanity). Grunterspeed! 

    now what?

    Destroy the inner Couchlandrian with Thin Air! Thin Air is exclusive to the Sufferfest Training Centre app. Learn more and start your free trial today.

     

     


    October 06, 2016

    1 comment


    Omnium: The Backstory - or - How An Evil Thing Was Brought into the World

    Just released in the Sufferfest app, The Omnium is a very special video indeed. Not only does it have a spot where you're supposed to lay down in all of that Holy Water you just spilled, but we also had to create some new graphics to deal with the MAX effort you have to make in a couple of the intervals.

    However, what's at least as interesting about the Omnium is how this evil beast was brought into the world. It started innocently enough when I (David McQuillen, Sufferfest Chief Suffering Officer here) was at the UCI Track World Championships in London, England. I was there attending some UCI meetings. One evening, I was able to get trackside and watch some of the races.

    It was there that I started to have bad thoughts.

    Amongst the races that night were a couple from the Omnium competition. I'd first followed the Omnium at the London Olympics. Here is what it's about (from Wikipedia):

    "The Omnium is a multiple race event in track cycling in which all contestants compete against each other in six different disciplines. The omnium determines the best all-round track cyclist, as the disciplines feature both sprint events and endurance events. Riders must have the ability to combine and be competitive in all disciplines to finish well in the event. Generally, the omnium suits endurance riders with higher top speed and a strong sprint. It is also carefully balanced between 3 time trials and 3 mass start events."

    The Omnium takes place over two days. As a Sufferlandrian, I was disgusted. "Two days?" I said to myself. "WTF do they need all that time for? A Sufferlandrian could do all that in an hour."

    One man could put this right. From my seat up in the velodrome stands, I sent a text message to Sir Neal Henderson who was in the middle of the track as a coach with the USA national team*.

    "Can you meet for a beer tonight?" I asked.

    "Absolutely." came the reply.

    Later that evening, Sir Neal and I met up at a local craft beer bar. Over a local bitter, he told tales of the national team's races, the hopes for BMC Racing in the World Tour and how he was working with Evelyn Stevens for her upcoming World Hour Record attempt. Although I never tire of hearing Sir Neal's stories, I felt that I needed to get serious about more pressing matters: namely, the Suffering of Sufferlandrians across Sufferlandria.

    I went to the bar and ordered two bottles of Belgium's fine Chimay Bleu. Returning, I poured the glasses and looked Sir Neal straight in the (bleeding) eyes.

    "Listen, I want to make a Sufferfest video based on the Omnium."

    "What, like all six events?"

    "Yes. All six," I said staring into the darkness of my Chimay.

    "But you know events like the Kilometer are the most destructive efforts a cyclist can make, right?"

    "Really? Even better."

    "And the pursuit is something that even the best riders in the world fear, you know? These events are absolutely maximum intensity, high cadence, high concentration, brutal, brutal, brutal efforts that lay waste to the morale and determination of even the most elite of track cyclists."

    "Oh, that's awesome. Sufferlandrians will just love that. I know them. They will. Can you design it?"

    "But you know these events take place over two days and that riders prepare all year to ride them. You want to simulate them in an hour? That's not even humane." said Sir Neal with an unnerving grin on his face.

    "Yes. Exactly."

    "So you don't care if the United Nations smacks Sufferlandria with more sanctions due to the clear human rights violations that such a video would bring about?"

    "Rights?"

    "Oooooooo....." And with that, Sir Neal broke into an evil laugh that carried through the bar and down the halls of the adjacent mall.

    * Yet again, Sufferlandria did not get invited to a World Championship event. Shameful.

    ----

    The Omnium, with workout designed by Evil Genius Sports Scientist Sir Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching, is available exclusively at Sufferlandrian Embassies and in The Sufferfest Training Centre App. You can get the app, and all the Suffering contained therein, here.

     

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