Glory Box

*CAUTION: This post may contain images of a grown man in tights practicing masochism with the aid of a bicycle.

The Sufferfest Training Plan, 12 weeks, MAP (VO2max) focus helped me raise my MAP by 4.3% (w/kg) and my FTP by 2.5% (w/kg). 
Pre-Event Checklist? Done.
Event Strategy? Done.
All boxes ticked; battle awaits.

Today I rode my second 4DP Test: Full Frontal.
The first was a little more than 12 weeks ago, and since then, my focus is Maximal Aerobic Capacity (MAP, or VO2max) with The Sufferfest Training Plan.
As a reminder, this is the 12-week General Cycling Plan, Advanced Level, Indoor Only, MAP focus, with all the toppings: Strength, Yoga, and Mental Toughness.

NM: 987 => 994 (+7W / 0.71%)
AC: 470 => 456 (-14W / -2.98%)
MAP: 314 => 328 (+14W / 4.46% )
FTP: 268 => 274 (+7W / 2.24%)
LTHR: 182 => 180 (-2 BPM / -1.10%)

And in W/Kg terms (as I gained 1kg over these 12 weeks):
NM: 14.51 => 14.62 w/kg (+0.11 w/kg / 0.76%)
AC: 6.91 => 6.71 w/kg (-0.2 w/kg / -2.89%)
MAP: 4.62 => 4.82 w/kg (+0.2 w/kg / 4.33%)
FTP: 3.93 => 4.03 w/kg (+0.1 w/kg / 2.55%)

*[Neuromuscular Power (NM): 5-second power
Anaerobic Capacity (AC): 1-minute power
Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP): 5-minute power
Functional Threshold Power (FTP): 20-minute power]

So certainly MAP is the biggest winner here, both in real terms and percentage-wise. As MAP is a limiting factor to FTP, we see a rise in FTP too.

Nice. Super nice.

4DP Test Results

4DP Test Results with change history
With this, I've achieved two of my short-term goals:

  1. MAP to ~330
  2. FTP to -280

And one medium-term goal:

  1. Reach CAT A in Zwift (+4.0 w/kg) - although I'm certainly a tail to the lions with this figure.

Also, The Sufferfest now assigns rider type "Climber" to my 4DP profile. Was "Attacker" after the first test. I assume this is a w/kg thing being over 4 w/kg.
While MAP remains a weakness, strength is now "Sustained Efforts" - and was "Repeated Efforts" prior.
As I interpret this, I've added a strength and need to maintain focus on raising MAP even higher.
I suspect that this path will come at the cost of slightly reduced AC/NM, but we'll see. In a way, although very early to tell, it's like the Sufferfest is bringing out the best in me, which was always the case when the road points up.

Look Mom! I'm now a Climber!

I've also ceased buying peanut butter in 1kg buckets. This will help the w/kg soar even higher fingers crossed.

As for the test itself:
After the usual fiddling with the Slope Mode at the start and trying to find the right gears, I was on my way, ready for GLORY.
Glory is a beautiful thing but also a hard currency in Sufferlandria, so I can use it to buy upgrades for my flogging station, for instance.

Systems check during the warmup, relaxing, and focusing on form and making sure everything is in place.

warming up

Then the sprints: I find that "all-out" is always easy, as there's only one thing to do, right?
It's about getting the right combo of slope and gear to hit these as hard as possible (it's only 7 seconds!), and cadence is critical. I hit 1094W on the second sprint with a ~120 rpm average.

NM: all out sprint

Next was my big goal - MAP. Five minutes of darkness.
I revved up to ~100 RPM and maintained throughout. Looking at the power - I kept it around my 330 target. I was maxed out at the end and happy with the effort.
The joy was quick to pass though with the 20 minutes about to drop like a ton of bricks.

MAP: 5 minutes of hell

FTP, yet again proved to be the more challenging aspect of this test, and required supreme focus to complete. I had some doubt creep in during the middle of it, starting to think about easing the gears or slope, but I kept my focus on the 90 RPM figure and tried to keep the watts at ~280. It was hard, and I used positive self talk to get through it.
I wanted the RPM to be a bit higher, around 95, but couldn't hold it there at the 3 slope level and this wattage. Maybe it was the MAP effort taking its toll, perhaps something else, but it felt harder than my recollection of the last time. In any case, my LTHR was lower, so this can be a good sign of improved fitness - higher output at lower HR, although the lower cadence might also explain this since there is less demand for oxygen.
The big struggle was from 16 minutes to go, to about 5 minutes to go. The last 5 minutes were comparatively easy(er); smelling the barn, so to speak. Pacing is critical indeed: I had nothing to add at the end, no possibility of a last-minute surge - just hanging on for dear life at this point with legs numb and lungs burning.

FTP: same hell, but much longer

The AC 1-minute effort was a bit messy. I could have done better. Standing up, sitting down, up, down, gears all over the place. The result, although not bad, is slightly less than what I aimed for. Next time I'll be more focused on form here, as much as it is possible with so much accumulated fatigue.
I'm also not sure about the recommended "peak and fade" approach for this effort. I'd probably get a better result by "surge-surge-peak-sprint-fade" but need to test this theory as it's one thing in training and a monstrously different one at the end of the 4DP test.

AC: squeeze that dry
And so I'm done!

Bury me like this.

Right, so let's summarize.
The Sufferfest Training Plan, 12 weeks, MAP (VO2max) focus helped me raise my MAP by 4.3% (w/kg) and my FTP by 2.5% (w/kg). LTHR also dropped by 1.10%
This came at the cost of a 2.9% reduction in AC, which I attribute mostly to technique and poor form.
NM (sprinting) improved marginally as well, even though there was little focus on sprints during the 12-week program.

Here again, are the total durations per zone for the span of the 12-week plan (excluding one outdoor Z2 ride and maybe the first week where I forgot to set this up on Final Surge)

I can proudly say that I performed this plan with 100% compliance, not missing any workouts, Yoga sessions, Strength sessions, or moving things around.

As such, I crown The Sufferfest as King and hopefully get my own Knighthood later this winter.

For now, though, tomorrow is another day and nothing on the calendar! So time to start all over again - I'm contemplating:

  1. Another round (same 12-week plan, with updated 4DP)
  2. V-Racing Plan (12 weeks, but with a chance to let loose on Zwift every now and again, which I miss)
  3. Go for a Knight Of Sufferlandria (5 weeks)

You may vote in the comments, and I will let you know my choice in the next post (now that's democracy!)

Lastly, I attempted to produce a document of my personal progress and experience with The Sufferfest as a means of measuring the efficacy of the training plan. This might not be a double-blind placebo-controlled experiment but hopefully serves to answer some questions and showcase what a visit to Sufferlandria can do for you too.

Please let me know in the comments if you want more information or more details about any specific aspect of these past 12 weeks as I plunge ahead into the next Holy Quest.

What are you so happy about?