Sufferfest for Kids

Hi All and especially the @coaches
I have seen the bit on Data Protection on Sufferfest not being for kids, but is it suitable for kids on a training level?

My son is coming up to 14 and has trained on the road with me and a bit of Zwift over winter which he didn’t really engage with (there are free accounts for kids).

He has started training more and recently did some group sessions with me on Circuit Zolder in Belgium, doing some laps at 40+kph. He did his first race for 14 year olds (born 2007) this weekend and came 25th, without really training for racing, just having fun with dad. The race was at a blistering (for 14 year olds) 38.3 kph average.

He said he’d never done anything that hard despite running cross country running competitions and track and field. Rather than being disheartened, he would like to race more and is signed up next week for another race here in Belgium.

He would like to get more organised about his training and is more than prepared to “Suffer”, so is there any reason why over winter, I shouldn’t put him on a 12 week road plan in “Novice” mode?

I’ve always trained and used to race but stopped racing several years ago, but got back into it more seriously lately (inspired by my son and wanting to keep up with him for a little longer) and my FTP has gone up 21% with 2x12 week plans, one on Intermediate, one on Advanced, so I know it works.

So, any reason he should not do Sufferfest apart from Data Protection/GDPR and the odd swear word, which he has heard worse from dad when we’ve been cut up on the road by a car driver?? And I’m sure he’s heard worse with his friends!!

Your advice greatly appreciated.

I guess it’s indeed not about the odd swear word but about the underlying irony of the over-martial win at all cost sufferlandrian mentality. I‘m not sure how well a 14 year old (no matter how far developed) can handle the irony in sufferfest. I mean even I as a grown man get sucked in an want to „destroy“ the rider in front of me.
Really not sure if a kid can keep this to the trainer sessions and understand that cycling is even in competition about mutual respect and camaraderie.
as you said … he has already seen everything anyway… however a training Plan at sufferlandria exposes him to this level of humor on a regular basis. Will he be able to laugh at gva or will he become overly competitive and result oriented and afraid to fail his father?
Only you can know :wink:

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@Mowag My son is incredible in his maturity and can handle all of that with a pinch of salt. It was more to do with the training maturity required. My son is mature in his outlook more than his years. I remember a conversion with him about discussion and argument and a comment he made that I realised he was more mature than his physical years. “in an argument or discussion daddy, as soon as you make it personal. you have lost the argument”. In the face of Halo and Skyrim, I thought this was so mature. His first race her “suffered”. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done daddy”. (call me sad, but he still calls me daddy). But he is up for another race next weekend. He will be able to laugh at GVH. He got dropped out of the lead group with a couple of laps to go and finished with one of the local Belgian kids brought up on this sort of thing. He sprinted with the kids to get 25th (and beat him for it) and after he finished, he went up to him and fist bumped, which was returned. That for me, was the most awesome moment. We under estimate our kids at our peril. I think Sufferfest has missed a market with our kids and the last thing I am worried about is the “mental” aspect of Suffefest. It is more the physical effect. My son has defended galaxies, slain dragons and demons and can still discuss politics and his political position in the world, so a bit of Sufferfest humour is not a concern. I don’t think he will be overly competitive with others, but maybe himself. He has found this route himself and I have not pushed him at all, rather opened the door and let him walk through. I’ve seen other fathers offer love and affirmation for achievement in cycling and I have backed away from that. He does it of his own volition. He’s flirted with track and field and even American football (he would make a good quarter back), all of which I would support. But it is up to him. I think he would see totally the humor in Sufferfest (though not all kids would) and would react positively with it. I just don’t want to put him down a road that would be physically unhealthy to him.

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As it is, The Sufferfest or SUF, as it will be known as, is not designed for ‘children’. However, you as the parent, have to make the choice whether or not your prodigy is able to handle the stresses of the programs full on. It looks like you are willing to make him suffer. If he says it’s too much, then listen. If he wants more, well you have a true athlete on your hands. In other words, it’s your choice if you want him to use the Sufferfest.
BTW, this applies to any child. I’ve seen six year olds get sucked into our world. Just hope you don’t have to explain the more adult things that exist here.

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I won’t make the choice of him “suffering” that is up to him. He could have climbed off in his first race, but carried on to finish. I have put off so long and tried avoiding him coming to the world of Suffering. I have not encouraged, but shown him a door. I don’t have to explain to him the more adult things that exist in the world. He is at a school where taking drugs recreationally is accepted as the norm as well as seniors having “relations” in the toilets is tolerated!! Such is the world we are in. I hope to help guide him through all of this. I have seen young children sucked into this and tried avoiding it myself, but it is what daddy does and my son has seen some pleasure and achievement in this. It is interesting being British in Belgium and seeing the level the Belgian kids are at. That almost seems unreal and I have never pushed my son into it, but it is so much part of the culture, more so than soccer. The easiest thing for me is to explain the more adult things that exist here. He knows only too well. I hope he can see his way through the world and Sufferfest is tame to what the world can offer.

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Hey @FatSprinter ,
I know this is not the answer you want to hear but I would not recommend SUF as a training tool for your son. Finding programs that emphasizes skill and training development focusing on youth for any sport is the route I would advise. If cycling is his passion, then getting coaching , training with others and having fun is far more valuable than what SUF training can offer a 14 year old. And don’t underestimate riding with you for fun.



Thanks Sir Spencer. I was looking for something similiar as Sir David also has recommended against using only The Sufferfest (SUF) as THE tool for youth.

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@Coach.Spencer.R Thank you for your answer and I am open to hear any answers. Funnily enough in the meantime I have contacted another club that is solely road orientated and are meeting with them with my son on Wednesday afternoon.
The club we are currently in is great, but are solely MTB orientated and my son loves the road but still enjoys MTB.
The new club has a good coaching set up, but alas is a 50 minute ride away!! They will give him the skills training of riding in a large group and cornering in a group at speed which is what need needs some more of.
I will take their advice on winter training too. Winter in Belgium is not fun and hard to train during the week without resorting to the indoor trainer, hence why I got into Sufferfest. I like the structure.

My son tried Zwift but couldn’t get into it, which is why I thought of Sufferfest to add some mid week training in for him that is fun but has a purpose and to continue riding with him at the weekends. (although he is as fast as me now, it won’t be long before he is much faster!)

What I cannot do however, is know how training fits in around his running for cross country which he wants to keep on doing, so I will take the club coaches advice on this.

After having seen the race my son was in last week, the level of kids racing here is high, so I am sure they must put on some quality training sessions and not all “fun session”. The race he did averaged 38.3 kph.

I hope it works out with the new club, they seem really geared up to support kids.

Thank you for answering what I didn’t want to hear. I like reasoning and justification why and will always question things, including my own views and opinions.



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