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

How to remain a Sufferlandrian during the holidays

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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Official Sufferlandrian Travel Advisory

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!

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

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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

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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

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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.

 

October 06, 2016

11 comments


The Sufferfest App for Windows

 

The Minions have been Chamois Dancing all night to celebrate the FULL release of our Sufferfest Training Centre Windows App.  Want to sign up?

    • Stream or Download our entire library: You'll have fully integrated, streaming or download access to every one of our 37 (!) videos, including our newest ones and app-only exclusives like our Mash-Ups, Open rides and updated versions of older videos as we release them! Having downloadable videos means that you can still use the app and ride to the videos even if you don't have a wifi connection in your  bike torture chamber.
    • Connect your devices by ANT+: Hook up power meters, power pedals, cadence and speed sensor and heart rate monitors. You will need an ANT+ stick for your computer. Here is more about that.
    • Smart trainer control: With the correct ANT+ USB stick, the app will pick up your smart trainer data and display it on screen and control your smart trainer.
    • Take a fitness test: Run Rubber Glove and the app will set your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and LTHR (Lactate Threshold Heart Rate) targets for all your other workouts going forward.
    • Virtual power: Don't have a smart trainer or power meter but still want to train like the pros? Connect your speed sensor train with our Virtual power. Here are our compatible trainers.
    • Store and analyse all your workouts: See all your workout data in your Passport.
    • Sharing to other platforms: Share to Strava and TrainingPeaks. You can also share the .tcx file by email and upload that to other platforms. After Nov 4th, you'll be able to share workouts in your passport.

      Ready to Suffer? Here is what you need to do to start your 7 day free trial:

      1. Create an App account here. If you choose to continue after your 7 day free trial, the subscription is just $10 USD/month (you can easily cancel at anytime if you want to head back to Couchlandria). One account will work across all of your devices, including Windows, Mac, iPad and iPhone.
      2. Download and install the Windows App here.
      3. If you have any problems, have a look at our Help Centre FAQ resource first. Then, if you still have trouble, drop a line to TheMinions@TheSufferfest.com and they'll sort you out.
       
      September 14, 2016

      0 comments

      iwbmattkyt ›   motivation ›  


      What's Next For Phetetso & the ACE-The Sufferfest- MTB Team?

      The Rio Olympic Games and Future Plans

      I could easily write an article on how disappointed we were on the outcome of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  We could include accounts of the negative responses in the Lesotho press and social media reactions to the DNF.  It has been difficult to pick ourselves up, but the Sufferlandrian community is full of examples of people who have gone through much worse situations and come through triumphantly.

      For both Phetetso and I, our most lasting memories of Rio will always be the support and encouragement that we received from our #DreamMakers all over the world.  We really got a sense that we were not just representing the tiny Kingdom of Lesotho, but a much larger community.

      Phetetso & Suffer Prize winner Jolanda Neff of Switzerland

      That support manifested itself so evidently through the fundraising project towards Phetetso’s dream bike – but it was so much more than that as we continued to receive inspirational messages from well-wishers both before, during and after the Games.  The fundraising project raised almost double the amount we were hoping for, totalling $7,683. 

      In addition to the funds raised, we received great support from the cycling industry with a sponsored frame from Giant Bicycles South Africa, wheels from Token, suspension from SR Suntour and other sponsored items from Pactimo, Limar Helmets, DMT Shoes, Maxxis Tyres, C-Bear Ceramic Bearings, E-Thirteen, Absolute Black, Ritchey and Stages Cycling.  If you haven’t already done so, take a look at what Singletrack mag had to say about the bike

      It was very emotional for me to see Phetetso riding that bike around the Deodoro Olympic MTB Park.  In his very capable hands, the bike coped with all the obstacles and technical sections with ease.  One of our objectives as a team is to provide our riders with equipment that they can race with – equipment that they could not normally afford, but there is always a trade-off between price and functionality.  For the first time, I was in a position to give one of my riders top-of-the-range parts and components.  It was a very proud moment!

      what's next?

      The whole experience of qualifying and being part of the Olympics has taught us so much. It was one the goals we set when we first formed the team less than three years ago. Now we are even more motivated to set even higher goals.

      One goal is Durban 2022 -The Commonwealth Games hosted on African soil for the first time.  Our long-term goal is to win a medal at these Games.  We have almost six years to achieve it!  We have also set ourselves the goal of not just one, but two qualified riders for Tokyo 2020.

      how are we going to achieve this?

      We know we must step up our game another couple of notches.  We have already acquired some Stages Cycling power meters to improve our training and performance testing techniques.  We need to increase the financial support to our current pool of riders and be more aggressive in recruiting future talent.  We need to look ‘outside the box’ to see if there are emerging riders from other developing African countries that could also benefit from our support.

      We have already started.  With the funds remaining from Phetetso’s bike, we have acquired another carbon bike to be used by one of our younger team members, Tumelo.  We have also put aside some funding as monthly subsistence allowances for the whole team to be able to get proper nutrition and support their families.  We have guaranteed that each rider will get a minimum of $70 each month right up to December this year.  It may not sound like much but we have found this to be a very profitable use of funding. The allowance frees up time to follow effective training programmes, which radically improves performance.

      short term goals

      Next up for the team is the awesome Lesotho Sky 6 Day MTB stage race.  This year is going to be doubly exciting as we have the prospect of watching Sir Stephen Gallagher (Dig Deep Coaching and designer of “Rubber Glove”) suffering.  We look forward to the prospect of Phetetso with a realistic chance of winning this UCI Class 1 race for the first time.  He has teamed up with South African, Stuart Marais, in a partnership which we believe will bring out the best in both riders. Look out for our young team of Tumelo and Malefetsane and our first women’s team of Likeleli teamed up with young Botswana rider, Bakang.

      We are also about to embark on a talent identification programme together with the Lesotho National Olympic Committee and hopefully this will help us to discover new talent.  Our programme is about helping young African riders rise above the poverty, enabling them reach their dreams and a hope of a better future.  If we can find and develop more world-class riders, it also raises the profile so that many more can benefit.

      We would like to thank everyone at The Sufferfest for your support.  You are a very important part of our team as well.  There is an old adage that speaks about the links in a chain … but let’s not go there! 

      The Sufferfest is the principal sponsor of the ACE-The Sufferfest MTB Team, based in Lesotho. Team Manager Mark West will be updating us with an inside look at this underdog team and Phetetso Monese's quest for glory. Words and photos by Mark West. 

       

      August 25, 2016

      10 comments


      The Sufferfest is going APP-ONLY and here's why...

      Sufferlandrians - if you haven't yet subscribed to our app, you're going to want to soon. Aside from dramatically changing your visits to Sufferlandria by allowing you to train to power (or 'virtual power'), cadence and heart rate targets based on your current fitness, here are a few reasons why you'll want to sign up:

      1. Our WINDOWS (!) app launching on October 7th.
      2. A single subscription gives you access across your iPhone, iPad, Mac and Windows machines.
      3. Fitness Equipment Control (FE-C) is in beta testing and will be implemented shortly.
      4. FIVE new videos launching in the app ONLY on October 7th. They are The Omnium (50 minutes simulating the track races in the Omnium), Thin Air (60 minutes - with a 40 min climb), Igniter (20 minute warm-up based on British Cycling's warm-up routine), Open: 30 and Open: 60 (two 'free' rides of 30 and 60 minutes so you can just ride tempo while watching the un-cut on-board camera footage from Col Collective or from within the Tour of Switzerland). You won't be able to buy these for download. I'll explain why further down.
      5. Fitness Equipment Control (FE-C) launching in a matter of weeks if not days so you can control your smart trainer. It already works great with the Wahoo KICKR and KICKR Snap!
      6. It will still be only $10/USD a month. That's about three cups of coffee or a few spare inner tubes. Not a bad deal for a service that supports and nurtures your inner BADASS.

      And starting in November, we'll be:

      1. Providing free access to 10 and 3 week training plans.
      2. Adding entirely new content that will complement your cycling training. Can't tell you what it is yet, but it's going to give you a whole new arsenal of tools to blow non-Sufferlandrians away.

      All of this on top of a beautiful, easy-to-use design, sharing to Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc. and a full record of all your workouts. It's absolutely the most easy, hassle-free to use The Sufferfest videos to train effectively (no more trying to synch workouts and videos!). I'm really, really excited about what we're working to provide to you guys and hope you give it a try (it is free for seven days).

      You can get the app here: https://thesufferfest.com/pages/app

      Now, before you go any further, here's a quick FAQ:

      • Subscribers without internet in their bike torture chambers (or the hurt locker where they do all their Suffering) will be able to download and store the video workouts to their device or PC - as many as can fit and as long as you have a valid subscription. This means you can suffer ANYWHERE - there are even Sufferlandrians on submarines!
      • You can export and share your workout file directly to Strava, TrainingPeaks, Facebook, Twitter and as an activity file (in .TCX form) sent to your email.
      • You can train with the app using ANY indoor cycling set up - from the basic trainer all the way up to 'smart' trainers. If you do not want to connect your devices you can disable the target fields and SUFFER old skool using RPE. If you have a fancy trainer or power meter you can connect those too! So many ways to SUFFER!
      • ANDROID... *sigh*... Android devices and their near-infinite variety of screen sizes are very complex to design for. Furthermore, though Android devices are a large part of the market, they represent a small overall portion of our app subscribers. We've had to make a tough call to prioritse the Windows release, but we are looking at an Android app in Q1 2017.
      • We've been building a full knowledge base to help Sufferlandrians troubleshoot common problems. Check out our Help Centre.
      • We have an extensive feature roadmap for the app, with many already in the pipeline and more under consideration.
      • We're keen to be responsive to implementing more features, adding your trainers virtual power curve and we want to hear your constructive feedback (even the angry-constructive kind!). Myself, Sir Jared, Sir Reid, Sir Aaron and the rest of the team are standing by to help with your needs. EMAIL US: TheMinions@TheSufferfest.com 

      Here's how the app works on a Mac (with very similar functionality on iOS devices and the Windows version):

       

      The Sufferfest App Demo for Mac computers from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

      So, why are we going 'app only' with our new videos? There are a few reasons, but three in particular stand out.

      Firstly, we strongly believe that this app is the best way to deliver enterPAINing and uniquely Sufferlandrian experiences. Quicker video downloads, seamless integration of video and data, an excellent platform for creating and delivering more content - the app is elegant, it's dynamic and it allows us to help you SUFFER better. You know we're all about that!

      Secondly, we are the only player in the market that doesn't have a subscription model. For the long-term viability of The Sufferfest, we need to move to that model in order to survive. Although some of you who have Suffered at the hands of a particularly brutal Revolver session would surely like to see the 'fest six feet under, I imagine most of you would like to see us survive.

      Finally - piracy. This has become an ever greater problem and we estimate that 25% of our business is being lost to pirated/shared videos. We're constantly chasing torrent sites that are giving our videos away for free, forums where people (clearly not real Sufferlandrians!) are sharing the vids, etc. We can't keep going on that way. I know that going app only isn't going to please everyone, but we're working incredibly hard to create enough value in our app that even if you have all the videos, you'll find it compelling enough to come over and Suffer there (and you'll be amazed at how it changes your training.)

      Yours in Suffering, David McQuillen

      PS - Here's what we have in store for you in October...

      THIN AIR: A brutal 40 minute climb with surges, steep ramps and the shark!

      The Sufferfest: Thin Air: Sample Footage from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

      THE OMNIUM: Two days and six track cycling events condensed into a chaotic 50 minutes!

      The Sufferfest: The Omnium: Sample from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

      IGNITER: A 20-minute warm up to fire up for an event and unleash your inner Sufferlandrian.

      The Sufferfest: Igniter: Playing at Sufferlandrian Embassies & The Sufferfest App (from 7 October) from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

       

       

      August 19, 2016

      5 comments

      hiit ›   motivation ›   revolver ›   suffer365 ›  


      Revolver - It's simple, it's brutal and it lies to you!

      Revolver... hello, old friend! Do you remember that time we first met? I certainly do. It was a sunny miserable day outside and I was yet unacquainted with the joys of Suffering. This was a sad and dark time in my life. But there you were, Revolver, and there I was. Standing uncertain at the threshold of my bike torture chamber, Legs naively unaware of the pummelling about to befall them. I had purchased my first turbo trainer with the best intentions, but I hadn't used it in the three months since. ENTER SUFFERLANDRIA, you beckoned. And I, like a lemming, obliged. 

      I was never so enterPAINed (to, what felt like, within an inch of my life) and I never felt more motivated to get back on the bike and try again. But don't take my word for it... 

      here's what your fellow sufferlandrians are saying about revolver

      This statement is both so right and yet so wrong at the same time:

      Counting has never been Grunter von Agony's forte either:

       It's simple, it's brutal, and it was my first too!

      Sufferlandrians, like elephants, never forget. Sir James Tyson is referring to Stage 2 of the 2016 Tour of Sufferlandria. Grunter said do Revolver twice and we did. It was beautiful!

      Few chamois will ever be the same after that day.

      the workout

      Simple. Brutal. Effective. You're on. You're off/sobbing. You go hard and then do your absolute best to bring down your heart rate before it's time to obliterate yourself again. This workout stresses your VO2 and anaerobic system, so it's ideal for building your top end speed. Mercifully, all this happens in about 45 minutes, so you can easily crush it before work, at lunch or after the kids go to sleep.

      

      the footage

      Revolver combines footage from the track, downhill MTB, men's and women's road World Championships and Cyclocross World Championships. It was hard, but we packed in more Badass Visuals Per Cubic Second than ever before. Not that you'll get to see much of it, because you'll be blind from all the agony. 

       

      Just remember, you're being chased by Fluffy the -T-Rex at all times (so whatever you do don't look back).

      the music

      The soundtrack to Revolver is a fan favourite, with classics like "Stand and Deliver",  "Romeo Returns" and "Whiskey" that keep Sufferlandrians coming back for more Revolver. Here are all the songs the Minions could find on Spotify - almost the entire soundtrack!

      Who should do revolver?

      Revolver is a fantastic first Sufferfest workout. It will blow you up into a million little pieces and help you understand what we're all about here - we know you'll be hooked! Revolver is PERFECT for criterium, track and cyclocross racers and non-serious cyclists who just want to get an enterPAINing workout in under an hour.

      We also recommend that Revolver be used when one of your friends casually says "Pffft... Sufferfest?! How hard could it really be?" Keep the gleeful laughter to a minimum - until they've tried it, that is.

      tips for getting the most out of revolver

      Revolver is a perfect analogy for the theory of relativity. One minute* alternately feels so brief (during the recoveries) and yet SO F@C4!%G LONG (during the interval). My strategy has always been to break down the high intensity segment into two chunks of 30 seconds or four blocks of 15 seconds. Survive each mini-portion and then survive the next (and so on).

      You'll also want to...

      • Make sure your energy stores and hydration are quite high prior to starting Revolver.
      • Have a bucket and 2-3 towels at the ready - much holy water will be spilt!
      • Pace yourself by not killing yourself in the first 30 seconds but finishing STRONG. We want you to be strong throughout the entire high intensity interval. 

      *The recovery intervals are generally a bit shorter than one minute... Grunter's gift to you!

        other ways to ride revolver

        Just because the intervals are all the same doesn't mean you can't get a little creative...

        • BEGINNER: Just finish it - nail EVERY interval.
        • INTERMEDIATE: Build your cadence from 100 RPM to 110 RPM in the final 15 seconds, all while maintaining the highest possible output.
        • ADVANCED: Ride the intervals at 110-130 RPM - but keep your hips stable and do not rock in the saddle.

        Have you ridden Revolver differently? Make sure to leave instructions in the comments.

        now what?

        Unleash your inner Speed Demon with Revolver! You can purchase Revolver here, and app subscribers can stream or download the video for the ultimate experience.

         

         


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        The Sufferfest App - Free 7 Day Trial

        The Sufferfest App for Mac, iPad and iPhone is the most affordable, and powerful, way to turbo-charge your fitness. Get unlimited access to our entire video library. Connect to your power meter, heart rate strap or smart trainer, and train to specific fitness targets exactly the way our coaches intended. You can even train with virtual power. Try it free today.