From The Coaches: Transition-The right medicine

Why a transition plan might be just what the doctor ordered right now.

It’s no secret that we are in crazy times. The impact of COVID 19 is far greater than most people ever expected and there is really no clarity about what is coming.The impact that this has had on athletes, YOU, at all levels from recreational to elite is palpable. This is compounded in families who have school aged children and are scrambling to manage their emotional health on top of our own. Here in the US we are going through a bizarre transition ourselves. No matter where you stand it is unprecedented and very stressful.

According to Stanford University biologist and author, Dr. Robert Supolsky chronic stress can lead to many disorders, including ulcers, hypertension, decreased neurogenesis and other ailments. Most of us know this and find our outlet somewhere out on the road. Many of us get the release through training and/or racing; whether it be a weekend group ride, GF or local criterium. This year most of those have gone away which has left us holding on, or hanging out on the hamster wheel for what is next. Some have backed off our normal training and some have dived in harder trying to find solace in miles. In either case, it is likely that stress levels are higher than normal. Leaving us in more uncertainty, which is in itself, stressful.

So, what does this have to do with our Transition plans? Well, here’s the deal. Whether you are coming off a period of hammering out your frustrations on the pedals or have been diving into the donut box, a short period of clarity and organized restorative training can do you good. The Transition Down plan will take you out of the cyclone and help you recover so that you can have the energy and mental stamina to knock out your next target. Whereas the Transition UP plan will gently guide you back to the path of righteousness if you have gone astray. These plans are designed to give you just the right amount of stimulus to help you move forward while freeing up time and energy to help you restore balance.

These plans have purpose built mobility, recovery, yoga and strength to get you back in touch with your body, as well as short focused sessions on the bike (as well as running & swimming for multi-sport). It is very important to take time to address connective tissue health and get non-linear movement. If this has been missing from your life, now is the perfect time to get back on track and ease your way back into a healthy routine. If you have been doing yoga and/or strength on a regular basis, well done. I invite you to check out the 10 new yoga routines that are part of the plan. And for those of you who have been doing SUF Strength and are at a higher level, it is perfectly okay to back take a short break, or back down your level and work back up. You will not lose those hard fought gains with a short rest or by backing your level down temporarily, especially if you add other/different movement patterns.

Many will think that there is not enough work in the plans. I admire your Sufferlandrian dedication but the truth is you must also be disciplined to do what is right not just what is easy or what you know. Rest and recovery are necessary progression to the next step. So, that when you take that step you do not falter. So, I say to you Sufferlandrians, make the right choice. For many of you it will be taking a short walk through the Sufferlandriand daisy fields. You didn’t even know they existed did you? But make no mistake… This path will lead you right back to Agonia, well armed to conquer the menacing trolls of despair.

-Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Dr. Robert Supolsky



Hi I have been on the transition down plan for 3 weeks now and my energies level is up again, motivation is up again. I knew that I needed a break at the beginning of the plan but not that much. The extra yoga (I added yoga flexibility plan) really helped to relaxe the body and get my focus back.


Thanks for this post, coaches! I’ve started the transition ramp up plan and was second guessing my decision b/c it felt too easy at first. but reading this post and listening to the Breakfast w/Boz podcast this week with some of the SUF coaches helped to put my mind at ease. I’ve added a couple easy jobs w/my pup and some extra yoga but am otherwise trying to embrace the relative ease during a stressful time.


Great stuff @Yanick! Glad you are back.

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Excellent @Jason_Blakeburn,
Yes, the Breakfast with Boz has some great nuggets in there. Especially some fantastic insight from Sir Mac. Thanks for the post.

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I saw sapolsky speak in college and have read a few of his books, which are phenomenal. Huge huge huge recommendation from me to read them if you’re able.

Also a note on the plans, sometimes it’s also not what you do but the fact that you do it. Having a plan, even if it’s one to help you recover means that you’ll have something scheduled during a time with a lot of uncertainty. It’s really really hard to overstate the importance of this.

I hope these words find you all well.

Hi @ridethecliche.
Thanks for the message. I too, got to hear Dr. Sapolsky present and was very fortunate to get to speak with him in person and pick his brain a bit. The dude is brilliant! And yep, I’ve read the books.
You are right on target with your statement about having a plan. Just eliminating one simple thing from your day or week can help reduce decision fatigue.
I appreciate your feedback. Kind regards.


Hi @Coach.Jeff.H I’m having a bit of mental straggle on what plan to tackle. I concluded the all purpose road with the 4DP on November 1st and have been “free lancing” with some of the cycling and yoga videos (and strength) for the past couple of weeks to refresh myself. One point to make is that I’ve been consistent with plans since January 2020 that include yoga, mental and strength on top of cycling. I’m looking at the Ramp Down since I had a “heavy load” during the summer while riding hard on group rides and recording personal best. Would it be OK if I choose the Ramp Down and integrate one day of mtb ride during the week and a bit of rowing during (i.e. 15 -30 minutes twice a week)? What about some additional yoga? I know it sounds counter intuitive but I’m open to your suggestions? Thank you so much!!!

I am not a coach but if i were you, I would 100% do the mountain biking and not let anything stand in my way.

First off it’s fun as hell, which is exactly in the spirit of transition–i.e. riding for fun and enjoyment without excessive structure. Second if you are a MTBer, this is a perfect time to focus on skills, now that you’re not spending all your mental and physical matches slamming intervals and building endurance. You can devote all that time and energy to your skills, which let’s be honest are also super important for helping you go fast.

I would either add the MTB on top or sub-out the programmed rides. If you start feeling overly tired or low energy, or you don’t have enough left over gas to do well in your yoga routines, then back it off, you’re doing too much. But if you still are feeling fresh and energized, then i think again you’re well in the spirit of “transition.”

I’m visiting family for two months (November and December) so decided to use this period for time off from structure. I am mountain biking and running two days on, one day off, and meanwhile doing a SUF strength program and a SUF yoga program, with extra yoga and strength on demand whenever i feel up for it. It’s not one of the transition plans but it ended up looking a lot like them.

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Definitely agree about mountain biking. It’s really refreshing mentally while keeping you active. Thanks for the great feedback.

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@jorrego, YES! absolutely get the mountain biking in. Take it easy but get out and get some fresh air. Its amazing how much of a detox the trails can be


I’m currently on the transition UP plan.

After having a couple months of structured indoor training in the March-July lockdown, I abandoned it in the summer for unstructured just go Gravel riding.
I aimed to get back to an all-purpose road plan, but blew up during 4DP :laughing:
I had some low training weeks after that as well, so when I saw the new plans, though it would be the perfect idea to test.

Currently it feels like a transition down plan, as the first weeks of the transition UP plan are lower than what I was doing.
Still I think it is a good idea to do as it says, and stick with it, as the yoga, mobility and strength play a big hand.
Looking forward to completing the plan, performing the 4DP (this time hopefully I get an accurate picture of fitness and not completely fail pacing ) and getting good numbers to work through winter to be back next year stronger than ever !

Thank you Sufferfest for all the dedication and helpful thinking to sort us out through this difficult times, giving us something to focus on and relieving stress through training.

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I’ll be honest though, i have trouble taking it easy on MTB rides. It’s just too much fun to go fast. I’ll plan to go for just an easy ride and then look at data later and find sections where i was railing singletrack with heart rate at like 90% of max.

It could be partly due to the terrain where i ride. Best trails where I’m located are at the top of a mountain, so even a quick hour and half ride involves 2000+ feet of elevation gain.

I have just downloaded the transition down plan, and I notice it includes a double workout, goat at 100% followed by 4dp test .Is the idea to produce lower test numbers, to aid overall recovery during the plan, or does transition down really mean thrash you to within an inch of your life?