Tour of Sufferlandria: Essential Advice from Dig Deep Coaching.

Dec 30, 2013

sufferlandria.jpgWith the 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria (TOS) fast approaching and the epic battles fiercely fought between competitors worldwide it is time to take preparation seriously as the first stage approaches on the 25th January.  This will more than likely be your first real test of 2014…so let’s start the year off better than ever!

Below are essential steps to consider when thinking about preparation for TOS 2014.  The main focus will be on adapting the body to handle such intensive efforts back to back, coupled with developing a solid base that will help maintain fitness over the 9 days.


The final phases of training will be approaching and it is at this point maximising fitness levels will be pivotal to being fully prepared to kick things off in the best possible condition.

With any stage race a solid ‘base’ of fitness is required to enable the ability to maintain the required intensity over the 11 stages and keep the body from breaking down after 3 or 4 hard days.  You don’t want this to happen.  Therefore the 4th and 3rd weeks prior are big ‘volume’ weeks as the total volume of the TOS is 12hr 3min over 9 days so you have to prepare for this duration as well as possible.  It isn’t necessary to be hitting 12hr weeks between now and the start but aim to mix some volume video’s (Blender and ISLAGIATT) with one endurance ride, 2 1/2hrs around 4-5rpe…this would be perfect.  Along with a high intense video to maintain ‘race pace’,  an ideal week to build volume along with maintaining intensity.  Anything between 7-9hrs in these weeks will be a good starter for a ‘volume’ week for those crunched for time.

Once the volume is out of the way it is critical to get the body adapted to flogging itself on consecutive days.  This will be your diet for 9 days of course at the TOS.  So how do you adapt to this?  Aim at developing the ability to recover between 2 intensive videos which can be completed on 2 consecutive days with a recovery day on the 3rd day (yes recovery is essential in your adaption!).  So an example of three day block is:

Day 1 - ‘Fight Club

Day 2 – ‘Violator

Day 3 – Rest or active recovery ride (active recovery 45min to 1hr easy rpe2-3)

The adaptions that can be gained by two days intense, one day easy, can really complement the higher volume training completed in the week prior.  What we are trying to achieve is not just reaching new peak powers over short periods but developing the ability to keep a consistent effort on back to back days.  If you really want to push your limits prior to the first stage (recommend to be undertaken no later than 10 days before the first stage) is a 4 day block with two intensive video’s, one endurance video and a rest day.  An example is as follows:

Day 1 - HHNF

Day 2 – Blender

Day 3 – Fight Club

Day 4 – Rest

This 4 day block must be met with two ‘easy’ days prior and some active recovery coupled with complete days off post training block.  After this it’s time to starting tapering towards the event.


Failing to ‘taper’ properly will lead to an over fatigued state.  This may not have such a bad affect during the first few stages but will impact performance by the time you complete 2-3 videos.  So here’s the recommendations:

Maintain regular habits – sleep, nutrition and external stresses should be kept to your normal routine.  Avoid activities that may bring injury or extra unnecessary stress.

Avoid colds/flu’s – This may mean dodging your friend who has a bad cold or being extra careful who you sit beside in work but essential none the less. Don’t let 3 months worth of work be jeopardised because of picking up a badly timed cold virus.  Wash your hands, avoid sick people when practical and use first defence nasal sprays along with balanced nutrition.

Pre-race training – Any exercise now is aimed at maintaining the immune system, increasing freshness and avoiding heavy training loads. This is a balancing act and each individual will be different depending on physical ability but some principles apply:

  •     Reduce total volume by around 40-50% compared to the previous 6 weeks
  •     Take at least 1 total rest day in the final 3 days leading up to event.
  •     Have an easy training day before the first stage, normally 45min to 1hr 30min is enough to avoid that ‘heavy leg’ feeling on first day and get you focused for the coming 9 days.
  •     Make all your training intensity to a medium to low level during each ride in the final 5 days, if you wish to keep your muscle memory maintained and not have the heavy legged feeling in this first day.
  •     Include some short 10-30sec sprints at high revs (100rpm ), this will help keep the aerobic system open without causing too much muscle damage or stress allowing you to be ready to rock on stage 1.

Focus on the challenge at hand – Make your plans, organise your family and work routines to minimise.  Plan when you will race each day this will help you organise your nutrition, sleep, recovery techniques (massage, stretching etc).


Now you have got to FOCUS on the stages.  This is not a single stage, this is not a sprint event or one that will be over quickly so keeping cool and calm under physical and mental stress is going to be the difference between finishing the last 2 days on tune or fighting every pedal stroke. This is an ENDURANCE event so treat each stage as this and remember there will be good and bad patches. This is normal.  Keep this in mind when you feel like pulling the plug.  Maintain focus and calm in the bad period and don’t panic, this is the key.

With a taper towards the event this can sometimes leave you a bit fresh and full of energy in the initial stages but don’t let this new found freshness push your limits more than normal as you will pay for it come the half-way point.  An over enthusiastic stage using up too much energy will leave you below par and potentially unable to complete the event if you are unable to recovery adequately. Self-discipline in the initial stages must be applied to avoid decreased performance in the last half.

  • If you feel ‘fresh’ or a little jelly legged, as we like to describe it, in the first stage which is Dig Deep Coaching FTP test ‘Rubber Glove’  please don’t panic, this can be a normal consequence of a gradual taper towards event. The first stage will help open up the muscles and lungs and have you ready to rock the next 10 stages.
  • The last half of the event will put you to your limits so save your bullets for this. You have 5 stages in the last 4 days with 1 split day on day 7 followed by a endurance video, Blender, on stage 8. With this in mind keep it cool in the first half of the event.
  • If you need to reduce the effort in a bad patch then do so, don’t be a hero early on and remember you want to hit the last day with legs and motivation to hit every effort perfectly.
  • If you feel overly stressed keep your intensity below your threshold effort (normally around 6.5 to 7 in scale). This will reduce lactate build up and help your body which causes that burning feeling and keep you ready to hit the next stage fresher and stronger.


Routine with proper hydration and nutrition is the key to keep you primed and ready to make the next day count.  A good stretching routine can help a lot; these intense efforts can put a lot of strain on your glutes, hamstrings and lower back.  During one off stages that you have part of your normal training routine a weak muscle may not prove problematic but over a course of 9 days this may flare up. Do not do any exercises or stretches that are not part of your normal routine. Always avoid trying new techniques when under times of heavy stress, i.e. when doing an 10 stage, 9 day Tour of Sufferflandria!

Using a fan and proper air flow during the stages will help your body cooling system and reduce stress put on your body. This will reduce your body’s sweat rate thus reducing the likelihood of overheating and dehydrating, this can lead to a decrease in blood volume which in turn leads to an increase in core temperature. Coupling this with thicker blood as a result of overheating and dehydration it will cause your body to work harder (higher heart rates) when performing the stages. Proper hydration and adequate air flow available when performing stages will help prevent this.

Training is complete.  Ensure a proper rest period.  Positive attitude all the way and you are ready to quite literally rock the house down with your first big event of 2014.

Dig Deep Coaching is built on an innate passion to provide cyclists and triathletes worldwide, of all abilities, the complete coaching solution.  How?  Our team, experience on and off the bike and knowledge built up over the years riding as professional cyclists.  It’s about taking that knowledge and translating it to experienced coaching which gets results.  Every time.

Coaching is one part of the equation.  We provide a range of additional services such as powermeter rental, bike fit, nutrition and performance testing…this combined with free webinars and website articles ensure followers of Dig Deep Coaching gain new information not always readily available. 

Category: News Races

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