Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review; The Sufferfest The Machine

One of the benefits of being a Knight of Sufferlandria is that you get to see what is coming out of the cruel and demented mind or Grunter von Agony, Grunter is the Directeur Sportif of Sufferlandria.

While The Sufferfest is predominately known for creating unique cycling videos that use footage from the biggest bike races in the world; Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and so on. More recently they have unclipped from their bike and laced up their running shoes, Chrysalis was the first incarnation which was a nice transition (no pun intended) from cycling to running as it was a triathlon training video. Steamroller was the first 100% running video, this has now been followed up with The Machine and Revolver Running.

Recently I was fortunate (I use that in the loosest sense of the word) to be able to preview a copy of The Machine. In the same way the cycling videos utilize a bike trainer, the running ones require a Treadmill. The Machine is a hill based program and uses video from Marathons from Prague, Rome, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Beijing. As with a ‘fests there is a storyline, here the story of how those five races have created a machine that makes it more difficult for you than for other runners by making things get steeper for you as you go on <insert evil laugh> mmmwaahaaa haa haa!

With a clear focus on hills, this video warms you up and then takes you through high speed efforts through climbs that vary between 2 and 8%. This is how the workout breaks down;

  • 4:00 – Warm-up
  • 6:00 – Hill 1 – Prague
  • 1:00 – Recovery
  • 3:00 – Hill 2 – Rome
  • 1:00 – Recovery
  • 3:00 – Hill 3 – Frankfurt
  • 1:00 – Recovery
  • 3:00 – Hill 4 – Stockholm
  • 1:00 – Recovery
  • 3:00 – Hill 5 – Beijing
  • 3:00 – Cool Down

As you can see it’s short, only 34 minutes, don’t let that fool you! While the incline is going up so is the RPE the final effort is all out! This is how it looked based on my Garmin data. The HR is a prefect representation of the hills! I count myself lucky that there are only 5, 6 and I may have run out of graphing space!

image The Machine BPM…

…and by HR zone!

If you want to put this into some perspective here it is compared to some hills I ran up this week! The dips are where I stopped to take a photograph!

image Los Robles Trail out and back

The hills have eyes…and 800’ of gain over 2 miles!

As we have come to expect the production quality is great and there is a pumping sound-track to keep you motivated and moving! There are clear instructions about effort and intervals along with countdowns etc. You would think that watching other folks running is, well to be honest a bit dull but the storyline and on-screen prompts keep you engaged and do make the time go by. The videos are available on July 31, 2014 from The Sufferfest along with a third running video called Revolver. I have yet to put Revolver to my head but it’s coming!

The Sufferfest The Machine Sample from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

For a limited time the videos will be offered as a bundle for $25.99, this is great value as individually they are 9.99.

I am a firm believer in training for the terrain but sometimes a treadmill is all you have. Avoid those bullshit doldrums miles and treat yourself to a kickass kick in the ass workout like this and make those miles count!

Checkout my other Sufferfest Reviews;

Steamroller – high intensity intervals on a treadmill

Chrysalis – Triathlon transitions with four bike/run interval…a real “quadrathon” if you like!

And my cycling Reviews; A Very Dark Place, Angels, Downward Spiral, Hell Hath No Fury  and ISLAGIATT

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ultra…it’s not always about running!

After crossing the French Alps non-stop last summer, Mavic ambassador Mike Cotty prepares to take on his longest and toughest journey to date, a 1000km traverse of the Dolomites, Eastern Alps and Swiss Alps featuring 21 mountains and 23,000 meters of elevation.


Following his progress here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review; Saucony Peregrine 4

So it seems somewhat fortuitous that my decision on my future race calendar more or less coincided with the good folks at Saucony sending me a pair of Peregrine 4s for review. I wrote a review on the original Peregrines back in April 2011 and I raved about the shoes then so I was keen to try out the newest iteration. Given that I am 3 versions behind it’s probably pointless in making comparisons so this review addresses the shoes from a standalone point of view.

photo 3

I have worn these 3-4 times now the shortest run was only 4 miles and the longest 13 miles so these have somewhere around 30-35 miles on them in total.

The uppers are thin, thin but strong, this means that they breath very easily and I would imagine dry very quickly when wet, however Southern California is mid drought so I can’t vouch for that. Conversely the thinness means they let a lot of dust in, that’s nothing I am not used to but some folks may have an issue with that. The tongue is sewn in to maximize comfort and try and keep trail debris out. There is nice and solid toe bumper just in case you can’t get your foot high enough in time. The toe box is wide enough for me, by comparison I would say that this is more of a fit to the Virrata2 than the Kinvara4 The heel collar is nicely padded and I had no hotspots which can be an issue especially when dust gets added into the mix. The heel counter is pretty robust and kept my heel nice and snug. One nice feature is the D hook at the front which is for use with Gaiters. Saucony uses a Strobel Board (I thought this would be something that Austrian’s would display a cake on…it’s not!), it is a length of rubber piece inside the shoes that increases cushioning and “step-in comfort.


There is a 4mm heel/forefoot drop with 21mm at the heel and 17mm for the forefoot. I am very used to and happy with this level of minimalism as I run mostly in Kinvaras but newer trail runners of runners used to a more substantial drop may want to use some caution. As it is a neutral shoe so there are no medial post.

Underneath the sole pattern is pretty aggressive, there is a “cutaway” sole which exposes the weave of the nylon fiber rock protector and I am sure reduces the weight. Additionally Saucony has used ProGrid Lite for the sole rather than ProGrid which helps to the lightness of this shoe. The outsole itself is manufactured with XT-900 rubber which is 33 % lighter and has 3 times more absorption than standard blown rubber.

I like Saucony shoes, having migrated from what I consider to be heavy trails shoes (shoes like Salomon XT Wings etc) through to lighter and form improving Newton’s I find that Saucony’s provide the right weight to strength relationship, they fit out of the box, and their expected mileage is good and compared to a lot of trail shoes these represent good value for money on a miles per dollar basis

Overall I liked the lightness of this shoe, the out of the box comfort and fit and willingness to grip, All of these combined makes for a great all day kind of shoe.

Available in three color schemes for men; green, blue and red and three more for women; pink, teal and orange, they are competitively priced at $110 online and if you shop around you can find them a bit less.

If your looking for a ladies review check out Becca’s blog for a forthcoming review, she picked up a pair too!


These shoes were provided free of charge by the good folks at Saucony. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at