Ok i know I'm a nurse but this isn't anything to do with my job.... I have just completed the first video (the fitness test) from Sufferfest.com and I thought I'd share my suffering with you !
Sufferfest, for those that don't know is a website where you can download videos featuring cyclists on Grand Tours, with instructions to match your effort to.
For example... warmup of 20 mins at effort level 2-7.5 at rate of 90, then test of 20 mins at effort level 7.5 and above.
It is down to you whether you try as hard as you can and try to match the effort levels accordingly... so it is possible to go through the video with not huge amounts of effort but I guess anyone who is mad enough to download the videos isn't the kinda person to take it easy...
The Kit.. my new indoor exercise bike.. looks like a racing bike and feels much the same. the saddle is slightly different and after an hour of hard effort i think i need to move it forward a bit but other than that the bike works well.
I chose (somewhat unwisely) to wear long cycling tights and a baselayer top and although my flat is not warm...well more of that later.
So tab set up to play video, water bottle filled, i am ready to go.
It starts with a few easy minutes of effort level 2 at around 90 cadence (fairly fast but easy leg spinning)... fine, chilled out getting comfortable on the saddle, settling into the elbow pads. the video shows various scenes of cyclists touring the countryside along with instructions on measuring heart rate every minute to find out what my Functional threshold Power is (or the heart rate equivalent in my case) - basically to find the heart rate (or power effort) that i can sustain without going into lactic overload.
Still with me - anyway once that finished the 'warm up' began....
Starting off easy effort levels it ramped up over the next 20mins (accompanied by some pretty awful 'music') . I was fine for the first 10 mins, although i could feel sweat starting to accumulate already (I'm blaming the baselayer and not my recent lack of unfitness).. then 10 mins , or what felt like forever, of effort level 7...
My heart rate climbed, though not so much as to make me stop or slow down...yet.
By the end of the 'warm up', it had done just that - i was sweltering....
During the 5 min break i was treated to a video of a girl cooking an omlett, whilst on her bike rollers. not that it was a complete rest... just for fun the video threw in minute intervals of easy spinning at a high speed (cadence) of 110.
Well I'd survived this far.. but the real test was about to begin.
Accompanied by du du duh music, it began... at effort level 7.5 BTW... reasonably difficult and guaranteed to make my heart rate shoot up. Every minute a note of my heart rate was made... 5 mins in and the effort level increased... for the next 10 mins at effort 8, I followed Tommy Voekler (a french cyclist) in one of his infamous breakaways.. with the pack chasing. My HR went up and it began to hurt... By the end of 10 mins I was bright red, puffing from the exertion... my head was pounding and I missed half the video as my head was bent down staring at my knees with studied concentration
I could feel the lactic acid rising, that familiar taste in the back of my throat, my head screaming at me to stop... and then ... UP goes the effort level to 8.5.
Starting to feel dizzy from the effort I kept the legs turning, at one point following Tommy out of the saddle in the effort to keep it going. I could see the minutes counting down and like I was in a real race... the adrenaline surged to keep me going.... 2 minutes left, everything was telling me to slow down, stop... i didn't have to put myself through this..WHY GOD WHY!!
30 seconds, 29 28, still I kept my legs turning round, perhaps even pushing that little bit harder with the knowledge the pain was almost over and then i looked up - Tommy sailed over the finish line, ahead of the chasing pack... I'd made it.. well i hadn't collapsed at least.
Maximum heart rate was 180 and as I took a few deep breaths, whilst keeping the legs going round.. I grinned to myself...that was fun!! It certainly was a bit different to my usual bike outing...
I completed the warm down 2 mins at an easy effort level then climbed off the bike and downed a bottle of water. that's it, i'm hooked.
My bike computer said I'd used 520 KCal and gone 34 Km. My Functional Threshold Power (basically an average of my HR every minute is 166. the idea being that I will be able to increase this over time.
So one question remains - Which video shall I download next?