The Sufferfest Triathlon Training Diary: Week One Complete
I’m embarking on the second week of The Sufferfest Intermediate Triathlon Training Plan, and I’m still standing—literally, at my standing desk. We at SLO Cyclist have a profound fear of the sedentary office lifestyle. I’m standing proud today because I’ve just won back the Sufferlandrian jersey in the final seconds of the team time trial. What? Okay, let’s back up so I can prove I haven’t lost my mind from all the suffering.
I signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon because I thought training would fit in perfectly with my leisurely lifestyle of working full time, planning a wedding, supporting my indentured student fiancée and our dog, and folding 1000 paper cranes in the Japanese tradition to prepare for said wedding. I thought I was doing okay. I was finishing up a series of 25 and 50 yard sprints in the pool when I looked up to see my old swim instructor glaring at me.
“I thought you were training for an Olympic?”
“I am” I said. “My training plan has a lot of sprints.”
She glared harder. “Get your money back” was all she said.
Fortunately around this time the good people at The Sufferfest offered to torture—er, train—me with a plan that promises serious improvement without sacrificing my day job.
I’ve never been an early adopter. Before The Sufferfest I’d heard of heart rate zone training and Rate of Perceived Exertion, but I was pretty content hammering away at whatever pace felt good and assuming more miles would mean more speed in the long run. The Sufferfest taught me that while in swimming I was in fact doing too many all-out sprints (thank the Sufferlandrian lords for introducing me to Critical Swim Speed), when it came to running and cycling I was doing far too much LSD–Long Slow Distance. Not the other thing. This is not that kind of magazine.
Plenty of us out on the road or in the pool are guilty of just doing what feels OK and then chilling when the lactic acid starts to rumble. The Sufferfest is different. It demands data. Gone are the days of me relying on LSD to make me faster on the road. And my past is littered with 50-meter pool sprints. The Sufferfest is forcing me to train with purpose, and analyze my data.
But I will admit, it took me a while to learn to use the heart rate settings on my Garmin. Data was something I used at work. In training I liked to zone out, and as my swim instructor once scolded I “count by feelings.” So naturally I grumbled about the overuse of technology. Then I started the first video.
I swear on the pride of Sufferlandria, I have never sweat so much in my entire life. Yes, it is a hot autumn in California, but I thought I was a triathlete. I HAD been working hard, hadn’t I? Maybe I’d never raced with the pros while someone yelled “You’re doing it wrong!” I’m not kidding. These training videos are not your mother’s aerobic tapes from the nineties where a smiley woman in bright legwarmers exclaims “You’re doing great!” even when you’ve stopped for a water break. (You obviously can’t see me, woman!) In Sufferlandria you ride with the sweaty, hardcore pro men and women. The pressure is real.
You might be thinking these Sufferlandrians take themselves way too seriously. I did—for a moment. Then during a recovery phase they showed me a video of a pro cyclist cooking an omelet on rollers. Then they made fun of the resulting omelet. I laughed. “Okay,” I thought, “these are my people.“ I’m grateful they showed me the omelet in the middle of that threshold test because had I seen it at the end I would have puked. If you can get me to laugh while making me work harder than ever, you can have my soul, at least for the duration of this 10 week training plan.
I’m now armed with a new set of annoying triathlete lingo. I know my FTP, my CSS, and I can maintain the correct RPE. My heart rate monitor will tell me if I don’t. I’m breaking free of excessive LSD. I’m taking my new acronyms and I’m kicking my own behind. Watch out, other people’s behinds; you’re next.
My Ongoing Review
If you want to keep watching me suffer (that sounds kinda not cool, but whatever) click here to read our other training diaries, and if you want to keep following my (and our other writer’s) progress through The Sufferfest, be sure to subscribe to SLO Cyclist.
What Exactly Am I Doing?
There are a few options to get you started. Grab the training plan (they also have plans for cyclocross and triathlon) for $29.99 and download the official app with all of the necessary videos at your fingertips for $10 per month (a great way to go if you don’t want to hassle with downloading all of the files and copying them over to your mobile devices for easy viewing). All in all, you’ll spend about $60 to complete your training this way.
If you want to own the videos outright and download them, you can also purchase each video separately for around $12.99 each–or get them all for $199. For this particular plan, you’ll need 13 videos.
Because I have chosen to suffer publicly, the kind (wait, I don’t think that’s the right word) Minions at The Sufferfest have set me, and a couple of others in our office, up with their road and triathlon training plans as well as their full complement of videos. Thanks, Minions!