I started using The Sufferfest in early October. I’ve nearly completed three weeks of the advanced all-purpose road training plan, and overall it’s been fantastic—I’m definitely a convert! Please view the following criticism in light of this overall enthusiasm.
I discovered what I think is a potential shortcoming of this style of structured training plan, at least when it’s completed entirely on an indoor trainer and no other riding is incorporated.
The vast majority of the workouts are done spinning in the saddle, with relatively little prescribed time standing—and, crucially, no out-of-the-saddle maximal-effort sprinting at all for the first two and a half weeks, prior to the Standing Starts workout. The upshot of this, I think, is that the muscles which are recruited for sprinting aren’t strengthened or maintained to the same level as those used for pedalling in the saddle, and could potentially atrophy or lose their resilience.
The reason I think this is because when I did the first 5-second maximal sprint in Standing Starts towards the end of week three, I slightly pulled a muscle around my hip (it feels like one that inserts onto my femur). Not a major injury—I expect it should only take a few days to heal—but a definite small, noticeable tear.
I was well warmed-up in general—I even did the GCN Ready Steady Go as an extra warmup before Standing Starts—but those sprinting muscles apparently weren’t properly prepared.
Sprinting is one of my strengths—I clocked 1099 watts for the 5-second part of the 4DP, which puts me between “very good” and “excellent” for my FTP.
When I’m not diligently following a structured training plan, I instinctively get in and out of the saddle regularly to work different muscle groups—especially when riding outdoors. I also do little sprints whenever I feel like it, which presumably keeps those muscles from atrophying. I’ve never pulled a muscle sprinting before.
I suspect that it’s risky to prescribe a maximal-effort sprint after a couple of weeks of almost exclusively sitting and spinning, and with no standing warmup efforts to get those muscles fully prepared.
I think that incorporating occasional maximal out-of-the-saddle sprints throughout this training plan would keep those specialist sprinting muscles in form and lessen the risk of this sort of injury happening.
Alternatively, or in addition, prescribing a bunch of sub-maximal warmup sprints before the maximal ones could be an effective way to prevent injury. In future I will definitely be doing warmup sprints on my own before a workout like Standing Starts.
It might also be no coincidence that this is the first workout in weeks that I’ve done in level mode, rather than ERG mode (I have a Wahoo KICKR CORE). In ERG mode the trainer lowers the resistance when you get up out of the saddle, so the potentially much higher resistance experienced when sprinting in level mode could be a shock to some of your muscles.
Anyone else experience anything like this?