Oh why did I ever agree to review these things? It finally looks like my lust for free cycling gear has been my downfall.
You may know from my previous posts that I’m a big fan of turbo training, but for me, sessions usually involve negotiating with myself what heart rate I’m going to aim for, switching on the TV and zoning out for an hour whilst I go through the motions. That all changed yesterday when I got introduced to the Sufferfest.
I started with their video “There is no try”, a one hour…sufferfest, which centres around interval training, structured as a pyramid. Each interval is divided into four sections and you are expected to accelerate each time you hear the dreaded “vroomvroooomm”. The intervals starts out at a manageable one minute (with four 15 second sections) and go all the way up to eight minutes (with four 2 minute sections) before going back down towards one minute again. Each interval is set to a backdrop of footage from the 2012 Tour de France, and you are actively encouraged to emulate your heroes.
Starting out in the early stages of the Tour, you play the role of a rouleur trying to make it into the day’s breakaway, before trying to stay on Peter Sagan’s wheel during a sprint, and then moving to a time trial section where you are told to keep up with Wiggins’ yellow jersey! As the intervals wind down, you are expected to play the role of an escapee, telling yourself “Shut up legs!” (no prizes for guessing who you’re following) before concluding on the Champs Elysees where you must play the role of Mark Cavendish, staying on Wiggins’ wheel before launching your sprint.
It’s absolute agony the whole way through. I’ve done this kind of pyramid session before, but never have I put so much on the line. The encouragement on the screen really does work, you see the faces of your heroes, contorted in pain and feel a failure if you aren’t hurting as much as them. What is expected of you is quite clear, with a simple effort level out of 10 and a target cadence. The videos don’t take themselves too seriously and are pretty tongue in cheek, but that doesn’t make them any easier.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at turbo training the same way again. The Sufferfest videos do an excellent job of simulating race conditions and everyone in the room was an absolute wreck by the end of it. They’re reasonably well priced, with each video costing between £5.44 and £9.53 (a little more if you want to use them in a group). It’s very clear that a lot of effort has gone into making them. The footage is from UCI professional races and is all picked perfectly, the music is a little odd, but spot on for the effort you should be putting in at that point. So if you’ve spent a couple of grand on a bike and another a few hundred on a turbo trainer then maybe this additional expense is what you need to give yourself the edge!
Well put together, highly motivational training videos for those who want to suffer.