The Downward Spiral…
I was short on time yesterday, and it was raining cats and dogs. I was still not feeling 100% recovered from Monday’s 100 KM ride, but it was close enough that not riding would have fallen under the category of “Wussing out” and not “Intelligent rest”.
Considering the weather and my time constraints, some quality time in my Bike Torture Chamber was the logical choice. I’m between training programs right now (I’m going to start the Intermediate Build I program after I complete the 8 Days in California challenge), and so I decided to do a Sufferfest workout…
Knowing full well that my friend Craig would pick the hardest workout in the Sufferfest series, I posted the following query on Facebook:
So, “The Downward Spiral” it was. I’d not done this one before, but Sufferfest rates it a “9/10” on their intensity scale. The workout is basically two sets of descending intervals at maximum intensity.
The first seven working intervals (descending from 2:12 down to 0:34) were between ~130%-135% of my FTP (currently 270). The active recovery intervals between those efforts also grew correspondingly shorter. The eighth interval was a sprint at 160% FTP.
That was just the first half of the workout.
The second half of the workout was basically a repeat of the first half, but it finished up with four all-out sprints in rapid succession, each sprint more demanding than the last. The final sprint I rode at more than 200% of my FTP, which was not easy at the end of such a difficult workout.
The workout was tough, but I felt great. I had no problem exceeding all of my wattage targets, and actually rode the second half of the workout even stronger than the first half. Don’t misunderstand, it hurt. Bad. But I felt solid and strong, and really enjoyed the workout. Thanks for the great suggestion, Craig!
Here’s my entire workout on TrainerRoad.
Sufferfest workouts are notoriously difficult, but in their native form they rely on the athlete’s perceived exertion level. Personally I don’t like that, as perceived exertion is obviously highly subjective. TrainerRoad has full support for all the Sufferfest videos, and so you get real-time wattage-based targets that are based on your actual Functional Threshold Power. Wattage-based targets make for a much more effective workout, and they eliminate subjectivity: if you wimp out, you’ll know it–and it will be recorded on the workout graph, forever reminding you that you’re a big baby. Seriously, when you feel like backing down, knowing that if you do it will become part of your permanent training record makes for good motivation to press on!
For more information on terms like “Functional Threshold Power” (FTP) and power-based training, please check out my article Coggan’s Power-Based Training.