No muscle pain only cardio-vascular strain

Hey all, I’ve been using Sufferfest for almost a year (and I absolutely love it). When comparing myself to my partner, I’ve never experienced any leg pain like he does, however the workouts are absolutely brutal on my cardio-respiratory system, so I don’t think I can go any harder.

I do get a brief tinge of muscle pain during the standing efforts, but it pales in comparison to how hard I’m breathing. I’ve never experienced burning legs, even throughout the 2.5 hour “It Seemed Like Thin Air (Mash Up).”

Anyone else like this? Should I be worried? I don’t have asthma or a heart condition (to my knowledge).

Hi @averydarkplace, Everyone is a bit different in where they “feel” the workout most. Since you have been in the game for almost a year you have no doubt tested by doing either Full Frontal or Half Monty by now, probably both and most likely more than once. (If not, start there)

However, assuming you have done Full Frontal recently and you are using the values that you got back from the test you should be right on the mark and be just fine. I recommend that you pay particular attention to your RPE and HR during your next few workouts and make sure that your effort is in line with what is recommended. If you feel that your effort is higher than what it should be it is best to back off as you may need to take some recovery time.

With this said, if you have any concerns that you are not breathing properly or have a breathing restriction you should consult your doctor right away.


Thanks Coach Jeff for the quick reply!

I just completed Full Frontal yesterday, after doing an FTP-focused plan to improve my endurance, since I’m very much a sprinter. I gauged my max effort during the test using my heart rate and saw really good improvement in my FTP (20 min) and MAP (5 min). (Hurray! The plans really work!)

I never seriously looked into RPE before. I found this table from TrainingPeaks which correlates RPE, HR Zones, and TSS that I hope others may also find useful:

The Full Frontal test has a TSS of only 115, but I definitely felt it was a 10/10 RPE. TrainingPeaks says I spent 14 minutes in Zone 5B and 2 minutes in Zone 5C. It was gnarly, but manageable. I’ve felt more ruined by my first “serious” ride after returning from a winter holiday in Couchlandria–that was ugly. My heart rate has definitely settled since then.

Thankfully, I haven’t had any chest tightness or pains yet, and today’s workout with my new 4DP settings felt challenging and agreed with the table above.

Something else I should mention, the air quality where I live isn’t perfect. It hovers around an AQI (air quality index) of 50-100. (Higher values = more particles in the air/worse.) I make sure to postpone my rides if the AQI ever exceeds 100.


I will definitely second consulting your medical team if you are having problems breathing or you feel out of breath at anytime during a workout. I found out that I have a possibly serious heart condition and with appropriate medical assistance, I’m getting that under control. Also, this is indication that you may suffer Suffering of the improper kind. And being fully fit is no prevention for suffering sudden medical issues.

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That is some wisdom right there.^^^

I’m in my 30’s now and I had a full evaluation with a cardiologist about 5 years ago to see if I inherited a heart defect that is known in my family. Everything appeared mechanically sound and healthy, so I thought I had dodged that bullet.

I’ll book a doctors appointment just to be on the safe side. Thanks!


Anyone else like this? Yep. I’ve been here for years and don’t experience leg pain like some of the cycling mythstory says that you should. Or at all really, even during that final minute in FF. Cardio-respiratory is my limiting factor, feeling wise, and nothing medical about it. As Coach Jeff says, with the rest of his useful advice, everyone is a bit different.


No leg pain here either. Nor do I get any chest tightness or breathing issues. My legs will get fatigued but they don’t burn. They will cramp though especially on long endurance rides over varied terrain.

Reading this thread I can’t help but think different people mean different things when the say leg pain or being out of breath. This is Sufferlandria, after all, and as you go longer and harder, the level of discomfort (suffering) increase until it becomes the limit of what you can do. So, how do you describe the discomfort that limits you?

I’ll mention the recent research has shown that it is the discomfort that limits you. This happens significantly before you hit actually physiological limits. The researchers theorized that the function of this is to save a reserve and prevent physical harm.

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It’s exhaustion for me, more than discomfort. My legs just give out, or cramp.

I’m glad I made this post. These individual experiences are really helpful. The discomfort that limits me is how heavy I’m breathing–it is exhausting to maintain it, even though I don’t feel any burning in my legs.

Thankfully, I’ve never felt any chest pain or tightness during a ride. Overall, I feel that my breathing is steady while my lungs are moving large volumes of air. If it was a particularly intense ride, my throat will feel a little raspy afterwards.

When I reach true exhaustion, I’m just unable to move my legs up to speed and my heart rate won’t be able to approach Zone 5. There may or may not be a twinge of leg pain. At that point, I know it’s time to take a breather, drink up, and fuel up.

same for me. heart/breath is my limit, legs never are.

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Have to say I WAS in the same boat, I’ve been cycling for a long time, doing turbo session at least twice a week for the last 10 - 12 years, when I was TT’ing

About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with Asthma (didn’t believe them until I started using an inhaler) but that didn’t really make much difference to me cycling

For a long time, for me it was just exhaustion, most of the time I could do the turbo sessions (I was on TR) but other times I just couldn’t make it to the end of a session, I’d get really frustred with my training , but at no point did I feel tired in my legs, it was just tired and my HR was high, and I thought there was no way I could do any more

About a year ago, I got a Whoop, not going to say that Whoop is perfect, but it helped me enormously, first put it on and just carried on a I was, but it was very quick to point out that my training was a mess, I was training way to hard on days that I was tired, and not enough on days when I was rested, I’ve managed to sort that out, I’ve gone to 4 days a week rather than 5, but I am pulling a LOT more TSS, gone from about 420 to 600, but my main problem is that my cardiovascular seems to be way ahead of my legs, which ache a lot of the time now, doing a fair bit of Zone 2 at the weekends (done 100m twice this year, last year my max was 70) and tend to double up workouts at the moment, so I would expect to a bit of Zone 2 after Shovel, and after years of stagnent (but ok) FTP (and none aching legs) , getting some massive jumps in FTP and fitness

For me, I would almost say it’s been life changing (and my legs are tired)


I’m back using HRV. What a difference. VO2 up at least three in the last few weeks! I was going to do a five hour endurance ride today. Nope to that. Still need more recovery time. Maybe this weekend since the riding group I normally ride leader had a knee replacement this week and will be out for at least four to six weeks (he was WAY overdue for this surgery and had two major incidents between when the doctor told him to ‘get-r-done’ and the surgery date). Whoop is a great tool if you know how to use it as well.

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I did Cirque de Gavarnie last night off a fresh set of numbers from FF last weekend. For the low cadence intervals my HR was below the target and overall was ok throughout.

However, at the third over of the over-unders section when @michael.cotty asks “Are you feeling the burn yet?” I certainly was, and continued to do so until the end

Maybe give it a go. It’s a great workout