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

Your subscription to The Sufferfest comes with world-class free training plans for cycling and triathlon available directly within The Sufferfest app. We also offer customised plans for those of you who may have specific goals, needs, or scheduling constraints. If you don't have experience training with a plan, you may well be asking yourself:

Why Follow a Structured Training Plan?

When the subject of the value of structured training plans arises, some Sufferlandrians are skeptical. You might even be one of them.

Sufferlandrians are known for their self-sufficiency and strong sense of motivation. Sure, you may lock yourself in your pain cave every day with almost religious devotion, regardless of what other commitments you may have. And sure, you may be seeing big fitness gains (our cutting-edge sports science and 4DP-optimised workouts will do that).

So why follow a structured training plan? Can’t you just pick a workout, 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.


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.


  • 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.

The Right 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 Sports Science Division, led by legendary Coach Neal Henderson, 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 now have free, exclusive access to the full array of over training plans for cycling and triathlon. 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 allows you to integrate Yoga, Strength Training, and Mental Toughness. 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.

Do you want to get faster? Be more disciplined? Beat your best? 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.  



About Coach Mac Cassin


Mac Cassin has been coached by Sir Neal Henderson since 2009 and is Head Cycling Physiologist at The Sufferfest Sports Science Division. 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. 

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