After three years of training for and competing in triathlons, there has been one constant: I hate the bike. I’ve conquered my fear of open water swimming. I’ve picked up speed on my run. But I have yet to derive any sort of pleasure from the bike. I’ve tried many things to improve this cycling situation: I upgraded to a kick ass Cervelo P2 last spring; I hired a coach and joined a tri team; and I spent more time in the saddle in 2011 than any other previous training year. Yet I’m still not crazy about the bike. I’m always looking for new and creative ways of logging in saddle time, so when I saw this tweet from The Sufferfest I jumped on it:
The Sufferfest is a downloadable video that incorporates real racing footage and interviews with a specific cycling workout and soundtrack. You can load your bike on a trainer (like I did) or hop on a stationary bike at your gym and run through the video on your laptop, i-pod or i-pad. It’s a creative way to knockout an indoor cycling workout because we all know how boring it can be to ride on a trainer or stationary bike for an extended period of time.
Hell Hath No Fury – The Details
This particular video contains footage from the UCI Pro Women’s World Cup, and it runs just over an hour in length. Here’s how the workout breaks down:
- 3:30 Warm-up
- 5:30 Stage 1: Easy, flat terrain at effort level of 6/10 with a few accelerations
- 20:00 Stage 2: Rolling terrain with a series of attacks
- 6:00 Recovery
- 20:00 Stage 3: More rolling, attacking racing in which you try to break away to get the lead back
- 4:00 Recovery
- 3:30 Stage 4: Team Time Trial in which you have to crush yourself in order to take the lead
- 6:00 Recovery, featuring Mental Training Reflection from Athlete’s Audio
Oh, the Suffering!
This workout is not for the faint of heart. It was definitely a ball-buster. My heart rate was up, and I was dripping sweat by the end of Stage 1 – yes, just a mere 9:00 minutes into the workout. For most of the workout (excluding the recovery periods) you’re expected to keep your cadence up around 90 – give or take – with a perceived exertion rate of at least 7 out of 10 (AKA: “on the verge of selling soul”). Cues on the screen will tell you when to speed up and slow down and when to increase or decrease your resistance. I found the standing climbs to be a little awkward, but that is likely just a factor of me not being totally comfortable on the trainer. The workout was a good mix of speed intervals, climbs and tempo rides. The team time trial at the end of the video was challenging and enjoyable. The soundtrack was motivating and engaging - definitely had a euro club feel to it. As a female athlete, it was really cool to see women cyclists in this workout because they are notably absent from the most popular cycling events (i.e. Tour de France). However, I wouldn’t categorize this video “for women only.” It’s a challenging workout for both female and male cyclists.
Hell Hath No Fury was a fun and challenging workout that I could definitely see myself doing again in the future. During the off-season – especially in the colder months – it’s easy to forget that we need to keep up our cycling fitness. Utilizing your trainer and cycling videos is a nice substitute for riding outdoors when the weather just won’t allow it. My goal for this off-season is to maintain a baseline of fitness on the bike so I can attack my 70.3 training when it begins in March. Potentially I’m looking at three half-iron distance races in 2012, and I‘m looking for some serious improvement over this past season. Bring on the Suffering!
How do you keep up your cycling fitness during the off-season? Do you use a trainer or spin classes? Drop me a comment and let me know!