Your best advice for an Absolute Beginner

My FTP is about 100 and I’ve just enrolled on the 6 week Fitness Kickstarter plan. I’m in awe of all your Sufferlandrian stats and achievements and am looking forward to very slowly creeping my way into the ranks.

My first workout was Igniter and I laughed when I realised it was a warm-up! Kicked my butt. Due to do the Half Monty tomorrow and am nervous.

Would love to hear your thoughts, advice, tips and tricks, things you wish you knew (if) you were ever as unfit as I am now :sweat_smile:

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Hi Lanwan,

A very warm welcome to Sufferlandria! Glad to see you here. You know you can never leave now.

It all sounds, feels and can be very intimidating, but don’t worry, you’ll be fine. The beauty of us Sufferlandrians is that we all suffer, but all on our own personal level. It really doesn’t matter how many watts you can push for how long or what speed you can hold on a ride. We don’t care! All we care about is that your suffering is glorious, and you feel proud of yourself.

I can still remember my first rides with The Sufferfest and I was very intimidated as well. But you’ll get used to it all, just like me. It’s a great community and this forum is full of people with great advice so don’t hesitate to ask your questions.

A good place to start: Half Monty Fitness Test FAQ – The Sufferfest

I’m not a coach, so I don’t have any real coaching advice. Don’t worry to much about the test itself, just pay close attention to the text during the workout, it will guide you in what to do.

Good luck on your test!

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Hi Lanwan
Welcome to Sufferlandria (as mentioned above, you can never leave. but no need to worry…)
most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing! enjoy being here, enjoy the banter (yeah, it’s part of our culture and our heritage), enjoy your improvements… try not to compare yourself with anyone else as everyone here is different when you look at age, base fitness, underlying health issues, long term goals, … whatever. so good to have you, suffer well! :biking_man::biking_man::biking_man:

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Hi! I am what you might call a second year beginner… My advice is to keep in mind that suffering is personal and that the app is only ever recording your Sufferfest suffering!
So I recommend doing MTP with your entire life situation in mind, not just fitness.
Then hopefully you will not be too hard on yourself and when you are having days where you miss the scheduled workouts, or can’t hit the targets in the workouts, you can just keep pedaling at lower intensity, or ignore the missed days on your schedule, without beating yourself up over it.
Keeping a bigger picture of your overall health and goals I feel will help you keep with this longterm.
That said, do Full Frontal! Get used to how to take the test. Sufferfest is much better when it’s using the right numbers for your ability.

Push yourself but try not to over do and dig yourself into a hole. Otherwise exercising can seem a burden instead of a benefit. I think that’s what I’m saying. Everything in life has its place. Good luck!

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@Lanwan Welcome! The good news is that when you start training you will often see gains come a little faster. Be patient and stick to the plan. You may want to make some notes after each workout in the app or in a separate notebook to capture your feelings and allow you the ability to reflect.

Also don’t overdo it - recovery is very important and is the phase where you will get much of your adaptations. Generally the plans will have a recovery week ever 3rd or 4th week - depending on the plan - and there are also recovery days built in as well. Be sure that you are using those times properly as they are there for a reason.

Pay attention to your sleep, hydration and diet as those areas definitely make a big difference in readiness for training and also recovery.

I would also encourage you to check out the yoga right away as it may help with some of the early effects of training and longer term it will assist with counteracting the effects of being on the bike and life in general.

Finally, look at the mental toughness plan (which has a lesson on setting goals that is very helpful). It can be hard to just spin on the bike without a goal. MTP helps you create your “Mt. Sufferlandria” and the steps you need to make to get there.

Best of luck to you on your journey!

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The beauty of Sufferlandria is that it doesn’t mater that your FTP is 100w, 200w or 400w, we all suffer the same. The numbers are personal, but the suffering is shared. So you’re not creeping into the ranks, you’re already there.

The best advice I’d give is to enjoy the journey. Don’t worry about your numbers at the expense of enjoying your cycling. It’s something I often need to remind myself.

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Welcome!
Most important thing: have fun with the varity of workouts and watch the videos (while suffering… try to watch at the videos… . after some years here I still see new sequences in them)

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@reintj Thank you for the warm welcome and for sharing your advice - seems like such an inclusive community on here which is awesome. As a woman with not much power in the pedals it often gets a bit intimidating especially when entering a world with so many avid and accomplished participants. I will take a look at the link you shared too, and thanks again!

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@IsiSchneider_KoS Thank you so much for your reply! Having read some of the threads on here I can totally see what you mean on the banter, and how wonderful and welcoming everyone is. Thanks for welcoming me into your community! :hugs:

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@Isa i relate to this mentality so much! Always grew up with this misguided feeling and I’m trying to change my mindset so your reminder that even though we are suffering it’s not meant to be a burden is really poignant for me. Thanks so much for sharing and for the warm welcome :hugs:

@JSampson Hello and thank you so much for your holistic advice! It helps a lot to remember that it’s not just the minutes on the bike that make a difference, but everything else you do around them. I tried my first yoga routine today as part of the plan and it feels awesome to combine it with cycling already - those few moments of calm and centering following a high adrenaline workout are quite special - really helps me be aware of my body, which as an exercise novice is really rewarding. Is the MTP something you do at the same time as a training plan, overlapping, or is it it’s own training plan?

@Alistair_Brown so true, thank you for saying that and for the awesome welcome into The Sufferfest community! Great advice to keep a balanced view and not focus on the numbers too much - particularly at the beginning! As a woman with quite a low ftp compared to everyone else around me it can be quite discouraging to see how much less power I can put out compared to others, and that much more important to recognize that (I think?) everyone suffers the same during the workouts even though our numbers are all vastly different. Thank you!

@Danilo_Kress hi there! You’re totally right and this is exactly why I wanted to join The Sufferfest as the variety of workouts really appeals to me. I previously tried Zwift and was a bit intimidated by the length of the workouts, as well as finding the time commitment and focus on cycling exclusively a bit daunting. The sprinkling of yoga and strength workouts seems much more holistic and engaging in these training plans. Thank you for the warm welcome!

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@Lanwan You can add MTP at any time. It is structured as a program and can be included within a plan but most of the videos can be used on their own. Here is a link to the workbook that is used for the program. Many of the videos will reference the workbook and ask you to pause the video and make notes.

MTP Workbook Link

If the link doesn’t work you can also access the workbook via the Identifying Your Mt. Sufferlandria MTP video. Note that you can sort the videos by focus in the app so chose MTP and you should see it as the 2nd video.

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^ Exactly this!

It can be interesting to compare your numbers to others, but the most important thing is to look at your own progression over time. You’ll have period of improvement, and also times when you go backwards due to life getting in the way of training, which is OK.

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Oh wow this workbook looks amazing! I can’t wait to get started, thank you for sharing. It really seems like SUF is hitting so many key areas within one platform.

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I’m right there with you. You are not the only woman with a low FTP, but you cannot compare yourself to others. That’s a path to discouragement. Rather, compare yourself to where you were yesterday. If today’s you is just a bit better in some way than yesterday’s you, that’s what matters. It’s easy to get hung up on the numbers, so my advice is don’t let the numbers be your only yardstick. If you see yourself getting more flexible, or you can do something on the bike more easily, that’s progress. As an example, I rode outside today and, for the first time, felt comfortable coming out of the saddle to generate some extra power to pass some folks on the trail. I wasn’t doing that last summer. So look for non-numerical things as well–they may actually be far more rewarding.

If you’re on FB, there’s a wonderful and active Women of Sufferlandria group that is full of awesome and helpful women. There’s a group here on the forum as well, but a lot of us have been slow to migrate so it’s not as active yet.

And definitely, welcome to Sufferlandria! You’re in great company, which is good since you can never leave.

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Hi @Lanwan, and a very warm welcome to you.

The fact that you are here and are asking questions means you are already through the hard part(*) and are part of a great community.

You asked what people would like to have known when they were in your position. I would say to remember that this place is one which is undoubtedly good for the body, but good for the mind and good for the soul. If you have a crappy day and you only manage 10 minutes at a very low pace, who cares? You still did it. Take strength from that.

And if you have a crappy day and you don’t manage anything at all, that’s still ok! Call it a rest day. Recover, get outside, breath the air, get your mind and body ready and try again tomorrow. SUF is here and ready for you, and it’s not going anywhere.

We all talk about suffering and beasting ourselves and pushing ourselves, because we’re a bit mad and we love it. But I guarantee you that there isn’t a single person here who hasn’t had a day when they felt like they couldn’t face a session, questioned what they were doing or simply did something else instead. Ease your way in, find the sweet spot for your approach where you get to suffer and enjoy it, not suffer to simply suffer. And have fun.

L

Footnote (*) ALMOST the only hard part. The SUF coaches have given us a handful of bonus hard bits. If you haven’t found them yet, you will :sunglasses:

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Actually, I will put forth a heretical thought…

we are not really suffering because we can stop anytime we want.

We do not stop because we understand there is always discomfort on the way to acheive any worthwhile goal.

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  • Things I wish I knew when I started…

    1. . Refrigerate chamois creme on the long days of training
      1. Keep a few granola bars and salty goods when I felt hungry before a session
      1. Water is a must
      1. A fan should be as big as you can get in the space near you
      1. 4dp are just numbers of where I was, I can choose to change
      1. There are more jokes in Suf than suffering
      1. Good things come out of the difficult sessions, yet not always obvious.
        How to make a number list in the suf forum.
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Here’s another very basic thing that I’m not sure anyone has mentioned yet: don’t overthink it. As a beginner, you don’t have to worry about, should I work on MAP or FTP, should I do this or that workout, how can I optimize etc because everything you do will make you improve.

Basically if you are:

  1. Going hard enough to get your heart rate up
  2. Resting long enough to do it again
  3. Doing it again, and
  4. Repeating that with consistency

Then you’ll be improving, and you can worry about the complex parts later.

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Lanwan,

Everyone starts from somewhere. Most all of us started from 0. Where you go from here is up to you. Don’t focus on what other’s numbers are. They’re irrelevant to you, to your goals, your journey. Focus on your numbers - but remember they’re only numbers. They don’t define you, they just describe your power abilities at that moment in time. Focus on becoming a better you, a better rider. The numbers will all follow suit. My FTP used to hover in the low 100s like yours currently are. It has grown.

How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.

Best of luck on your journey!

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A very warm welcome @Lanwan !

I think most of the useful things have been said already. When I try to answer your initial questions, all that’s left for me is to emphasise two points.
Firstly, in my humble opinion, sports should not be a hobby. It should become a lifestyle. Perhaps I’m going too far here, and of course you can live 23:30 every day without even thinking of sports and exercise, and then throw a 30 minute session on the bike in. Doing so can be great, and it will make you a better rider, but it will only get you so far, and you will chop off most of the benefit. My advice to anyone new to sports is, make it a part of your life!
That does not mean to exercise more than those 30 minutes. Nor does it mean to neglect your job, your family, friends, social life or anything. I have a little daughter, just 16 months old. I spend most of the day with her and there is nothing more important in my life than this little girl. But when I offer her some water, I remind myself to drink as well, to stay hydrated for the workout in the evening. When I think about using the elevator, I decide to carry her up the stairs, to build some shoulder, core and leg muscles. When I think about playing some dumb game on my phone at midnight, I decide to sleep instead to be fresh the next morning.
It will take time to develop this mindset, and I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect (you don’t want to know how often I DO play this silly game until 1 am…). But I can feel so much positive impact on my life, my confidence, the way I approach challenges and how I treat my body.
It doesn’t matter whether you push 50 W or 500 W. The confidence comes from the fact that you DO push Watts and that you show respect for your body and its natural needs.

My second point is closely related. Don’t underestimate the sessions and hints on your riding style! Riding with style is something that will not come easily (at least not for me). The easiest thing for me was to hammer on that downstroke until my quads exploded. I just recently asked in this forum what it is I’m doing wrong because my quads suffered so much. Just 2 weeks later, I feel so much better on my bike. In those 2 weeks I got a very useful hint from someone here to adjust my saddle just slightly. And I started to pay close attention to all the little tips and instructions in the videos for how to engage which group of muscles and when, how to position your upper body, use shoulders, core… I rode Elements of Style twice. Stuff pays off big time. And again, it’s a twofold thing. Your riding will get more efficient, but also your confidence on the bike will grow.

All these things won’t come easily, and more often than not you will feel like things are harder when you try to do them the “right way”. But almost always that is just the initial inertia you must overcome. Don’t let that discourage you. Push through it, and be ready to enjoy this glorious feeling when the first benefits manifest.

As the others said, now you’re here, you can never leave. And the life of a Sufferlandrian means suffering. But suffering is not a burden. You will soon enjoy it and then wont be able to live without it.

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