"We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training."
- Archilochus

Training Guidelines


How do you know if you are ready for sufferfest?

The general rule of thumb is that what you can cover in a week of training you can cover on the day of the actual event.  For example: if the event is 42miles with 10,000ft of verts then in a week of training, to know you can do the actual event, you need to cover that much distance/verts.

Join Strava, if you aren’t already a member. You’ll want to checkout the Sufferfest Training club there and get access to see the workouts your fellow Sufferfesters are doing. See the link in the Sufferfesters section of the site.

The newbie training standard:

The first rule of Sufferfest is everyone finishes Sufferfest.  There are a lot of components that go into finishing a Sufferfest but all of them rest on the foundation of proper training.  If you don’t have the legs you are either not going to make it or you are going to go so slowly that it is not fair for the rest of the guys.  Respect the other guys that put their time in and want to move as fast as they can to test themselves.  If you don’t do the training and as a result go super slowly, some of the guys will have to slow down to stay with you.  You may say "I am fine to hike by myself if I am slow.”  But allowing someone to fall off the back is just not the Sufferfest way.  We do not leave anyone behind by themselves.  

At Sufferfest HQ we have been thinking a lot about how we can continue to keep planning really challenging adventures AND have all Sufferfesters finish.  As we add more people in regions that do not have any Sufferfest veterans, we need some way to make sure the newbies are trained up properly.  To that end we have come up with the following mandatory training standard. 


Standard #1: 12miles in 3hrs relatively flat

  • Why this standard: to show that you can move at a quick hiking pace for a sustained period of time. 

  • Context: This (4mph) is faster than we complete typical Sufferfests, but we WILL move at this pace at times during a real Sufferfest. And this speed is very attainable for anyone who has trained. Team Baltimore has a standard workout (“3 Croms”) that is 12 miles and that even our slowest guys finish is just over 2 hours


Standard #2: 3,000ft of verts in 2hrs

  • Why this standard: to prove that you can climb over an extended period

  • Context: Sufferfest ALWAYS have verts. And you gotta be able to climb them while not slowing down too much. Team Baltimore weekly does 5 miles / 2,000 verts (“10 Slopes” in about 60-70 mins and about every other week does at least 7.5 miles / 3,000 verts (“15 Slopes”) in 90-100 mins and at least once every 6 weeks does 10 miles / 4,000 verts (“20 Slopes”) in under 2.5 hours.


Standard #3: In one week (7 consecutive days) of training you are able to do 25 miles and 8000 verts.  

  • Why this standard: to prove that you are tough, disciplined, and have a good base that allows you to perform and recover

  • Context: this is the one that veterans don’t necessarily do regularly, but they certainly could and often come close to doing during particularly big training weeks, especially when such a week contains a long run (or Sufferfest “simulation”) on a weekend). Such a simulation can easily be 20+ miles and 5,000+ verts. But we realize that schedules and life don’t always allow for that much in one outing, so this full week is the best proxy. To pull it off you will need to be fit, organized, and disciplined. (As an example, Team Baltimore newbies last year did 4-5 days of “10 Slopes” and then 1-2 more long hikes in a week for this standard.) You might qualify for a waiver on this standard if you are able to do a full simulation length outing with a qualified veteran.