I HATE the 4DP

I feel compelled to chime in as a non-racer who loves Suff and doesn’t hate the 4DP.

I love Suff because the workouts keep me laughing right up until I start crying tears of blood. I love Suff because the workouts keep me sufficiently entertained and challenged to get on the trainer over the winter, which otherwise would become “get fat” season. I love Suff because it has made me a measurably stronger rider, which in turn makes me a better member of my cycling group because my friends no longer have to wait for me.

I don’t hate the 4DP because it helps me measure where I am, right now, and gives me goals to keep me motivated (“Gotta get that MAP outta the ‘Needs Improvement’ range!”). I don’t hate the 4DP because it totally wrings me out and I enjoy getting totally wrung out (Don’t judge me: I’m ethnically German.). I don’t hate the 4DP because even if my numbers decline, it still gives me a great workout.

This speaks to my larger priorities, such as keeping up with my kids, staying attractive for my wife, and maintaining a physical plant capable of fighting off the various threat vectors of life right up until the steep decline at the very end.

In short, there’s a lot to love about this platform even if you aren’t a racer. Suffer on!

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There is a great, off-beat, wry sense of humor to SUF that I hope they never, ever lose. I’ve read most of the jokes during the workouts by now, so they don’t catch me off-guard anymore, but there was at least one time when I was doing a new workout when I couldn’t keep from laughing at one point when I really needed to be digging instead, and nearly went down the black hole of death as a result–which only made the whole scene even funnier!

And when it comes to that off-beat gestalt to SUF, the music is a key contributor, as well. I actually bought Softwhere’s “Nuthin’ to Say” MP3. “Coke Machine” in Nine Hammers is from that album. It’s a total classic song for putting in a hard interval, but the rest of the album is also very much worth listening to. When I’m riding on quiet, low-traffic back roads, I’ll sometimes have Softwhere playing over my Sennheisers.

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By the time I get to the 1 min AC test I’m euphoric having survived the previous onslaught and I know it will be all over after this one final short burst. Also don’t need to think about pacing it either.

I find the MAP test much, much more painful, both physically and mentally. The last 10 mins of the FTP test is the second hardest part and probably the biggest mental challenge (it’s where I risk cracking and have done on one occasion)

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I have a very similar opinion By the time I’m at the 1 minute I feel like I’m nearly home and dry. That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt, (a lot!) but it’s one minute to glory. Also, because the pace is higher than for the 20mins it feels to me like you’re really racing through it. Sprint to get it done and hurray! It’s also nice to know that there’s nothing left to do after that. Even though the 5min is meant to be all out it is hard to not think about the next stage.

I often break slightly longer big efforts down to 60 second periods to count through. It’s just counting to 15 4 times, or whatever, and it gives you a focus other than extreme pain.
What it also does is prevent the demoralising glance at the clock when only 20 seconds has gone but you think it has been more like 50. That’s enough to make you jack it in right there, with only 40 seconds left of the whole FF!

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When I get down to the 30 sec mark I just know I can hang on that long at whatever pain cost! I don’t think I’ve ever cracked in a 1 min effort, but I certainly have over 5 min MAP intervals. 9H is still my nemesis workout with those repeated longish MAP intervals.

AC intervals rarely trouble me, even though they are not a stand out strength in my 4DP. I just find that I can tolerate pretty much any pain level for a single minute.

I find 20 min FTP intervals are very tough too, but I find that more of a mental battle than physical pain. It’s so easy to throw in the towel after 10 mins if you are not feeling it. I did that recently on an aborted FF attempt as I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind. Came back 3 days later and got through it successfully - mainly because I adjusted my expectations ever so slightly after the first aborted attempt. It’s not a big deal, at the end of the day FF is a self-paced effort and as long as you give it your best shot then the results are what they are and should accurately reflect your ability to suffer in subsequent SUF workouts. It doesn’t matter what “FTP” number other tests spit out, they don’t make you any more or less strong than you actually are. For me at least the FTP and MAP numbers I get from FF seem pretty realistic and not over-inflated like some ramp tests and shorter FTP intervals may suggest. HM is also very accurate for me, which is useful for checking FTP/MAP midway through plans.

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I guess I knew I couldn’t be the only one who does that counting to survive-- it definitely helps! Sometimes when I feel like I’m cracking on a long interval like 12 minutes, I’ll count to 60 12 times.

In any case, I’m with you. The AC test is a (relative) joy!

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Similarly, I break things down into fractions so there are constant “congratulations”, little things to celebrate.

“You’ve done a tenth”, “That’s a quarter”, “Done a third”, “Half way, well done, only the same again”, “Only a third left now…” etc

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Yes, and one of my favourites: you’ve got 15 minutes left, but of that 7 minutes is interval rests and cool down, so that’s just 8 minutes of work

And sometimes by the time I’ve done the math another minute has passed’

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Sometimes mental math is the only way to complete a workout. I sometimes find myself purposely making mistakes just so I can spend more time going over it again because the interval wasn’t done.

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I actually enjoy the FF while I’m doing it. I’ve learned how to pace it and start my efforts slightly below what I know I can hold. I do think it’s the best single day fitness test.

That said, I don’t find myself doing it as often as it seems I’m supposed to. My biggest problem with it seems to be the amount of time needed to complete it - a rest week, followed by a taper week, followed by 2-3 more recovery days. Just seems like a lot of time to do a fitness test.

Lately I’ve just been doing “level mode” or workouts outside where I know the goal of the workout and just pace it both by RPE, heart rate, and with an idea of where I think my FTP is. For example, for a MAP workout with a 4 minute interval, I know my MAP is probably somewhere in a 25 watt band and try to hold that power, and check my RPE and heart rate along the way. I suppose I could get a bit more accurate if I tested, but I feel like I’m getting pretty close to accomplishing the goals of the workout.

I’m sure I’ll do another 4DP test eventually, but I’m enjoying this style of training for now.

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I feel the same way. FF is basically an “event” in its own right. So I only do it to set a major benchmark. Most of the time I have a pretty good idea where my numbers lie within a 10W band and I’m not suddenly going to find big chunks of power at this stage. For me it’s more about consistency and chipping away at weaknesses.

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FWIW, i’ve found i can shortcut some elements of the prep. E.g., provided i’m not coming off of some crazy overload period like a stage race or trip to Moab, i find i can somewhat play the rest week by ear and it turns into a few rest/recovery days rather than a whole week, and i usually only need a day or two of openers vs. a full taper week. Like for example, last time around i did a hard workout wednesday, endurance Thursday and Friday, full rest on Saturday, longer recovery ride sunday, two very short recovery rides Monday, one of which had cadence pyramids, and i was ready to go for FF on Tuesday.

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