When Less Is More.

It seems like the trend on The Sufferfest community these days, and as reflected on the SUF Facebook page, is the mental difficulty people have with doing easier workouts*.
As with any plan, sometimes you have days with less strain and stress.
There is only one correct response to such a workout on your training plan calendar:
"Thank You."

I won't go into the physiology of recovery here, and if it isn't obvious that recovery is crucial for improvement, then I suggest adopting other hobbies, Macramé perhaps.

Some people use the convenience of a private torture chamber to punish themselves for their sins. Fine by me. Your workout says "45% FTP," and you still push 100%? Go for it. You deserve to suffer for your mistakes in life, your wrongdoings, and anything else you blame yourself for.
Heck, why stop at 100%?! Do Blender at 200% - now that's the spirit!

But seriously - it underlines an issue with The Sufferfest.
New users seem to think they are in for a beating, and in fact, this is what they seek.
They enjoy the brutality of the super-tough workouts and feel violated when an exercise is suggested at a reduced intensity. That's insulting - they can do more than that!

I think that The Sufferfest has a problem in communicating these reduced intensity workouts.
Yes, I know that it's better to do The Hunted at 70% as an endurance ride and not a mind-numbing NoVid Endurance drill. Oddly, though, people don't understand this.
They seem to think that the reduced intensity is to compensate for their own lack of ability and therefore choose to prove the system wrong.
"You said 70%, but I managed to do it at 100%. Ha. There."

The Coach.

The core problem, as I see it, is comprised of two factors:

  1. Not enough / suitable workouts on The Sufferfest to cater for lower/easier days
  2. Inability to easily switch between workouts with the same goal

There is a 3rd, and that is people's inability to do as they're told when following a PLAN, but as the saying goes:

"People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do."

Let's talk about (1): No enough workouts.
This is nonsense, of course. There are plenty and sufficient workouts on The Sufferfest app. It's just that not all of them have videos, or are fun to do. Try "Endurance+" for 2 hours. Try "Open 120". Both solid mental training for focus and determination, but rather dull.
Two solutions:

  • Do something else meanwhile (watch a movie, listen to an audiobook, music, etc, or as I do run Zwift in parallel)
  • Do a Vid workout at reduced intensity (as the App recommends)

And this leads us to (2): Switching/substituting workouts on The Sufferfest app.
Assuming you're on a plan, your day will require a specific load and volume combination. This can be achieved with several of The Sufferfest workouts.
The App (i.e. Coach) will suggest one of The Sufferfest videos for you, but at a reduced intensity on one or more Power Dimensions to achieve the desired load/volume combo while entertaining you with one of the magnificent Sufferfest videos. So you won't go full gas on that attack, bear that shame of that.
And this "shame" is the underlying problem with people's non-compliance.
Anyway, here's how to solve it:
Let users choose between a couple of options for the day, AKA interchangeable workouts.

Plan says: 90min Endurance, please choose:
a. NoVid Endurance+
b. To Get To The Other Side @65%
Problem solved.

To accomplish this, the coaching team at The Sufferfest needs to sit down and create a big table of all the workouts and their possible intensity reductions so the App can make suggestions. (Alternatives were suggested in the blog when the new GCN workouts were introduced, and that was great, but needs to be in the App too).

  • Phase 1: Expand the NoVid library just enough to accommodate for those few Sub-threshold and Endurance workouts.
  • Phase 2: Suggest one alternative based on existing NoVid drills (e.g. as above). So looking at all the reduced intensity workouts on an existing plan and matching those to NoVids.
  • Phase 3: Expand the interchangeability table so that each desired intensity (endurance, sub, etc) has a reference to a factoring table so it can be applied to any workout (assuming length/volume match).

Ultimately, the SUF App calendar will show: Today: "Endurance 90 min"; the user will explicitly choose not to do a NoVid drill and select a reduced intensity Vid from a shortlist, thereby eliminating the impression that they're not strong enough to complete the workout at 100%. Emphasizing that the main objective of the day is Endurance and not to bleed from the eyes again by making a choice.

Move the decision to do a reduced intensity workout instead of a drill to the user's hands.

The dedicated and obedient athlete will do as they're told and Just Do It, but even I, having "The Hunted" at 70% twice in the same week, would enjoy some variety.

Boredom is the ultimate nemesis of any routine and habit, which is what athletic training is mostly about. I think that this is a big part of Zwift's success - same roads, but never the same ride, even if doing the same old workout.
It's imperative to keep things interesting or to fall in love with the boredom.