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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

Carrie Cheadle, MA ( is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Dave Palese ( is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart ( is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier ( is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT ( is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg ( has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick ( is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer ( has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel ( is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Richard Stern ( is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer ( is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Kim Morrow ( has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.

Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Fitness questions and answers for May 29, 2003

Training twice per day
Mononucleosis and the Etape Du Tour
Eating vs. Power
Give up?

Training twice per day

I am a 21 yr old college student, and hope to qualify for collegiate mountain bike nationals this fall, and for road nationals in the spring. I'm approximately 5ft 9in (1.75m), 162lb (73.5kg), and am a Cat. 4 road racer, and sport level mountain biker, with one and two seasons' experience respectively. I am currently training eight to ten hours a week.

This summer I am hoping to make some focused progress in my cycling fitness, and think that doing two workouts per day would help with my goals, but I have found little information on this approach. My work schedule this summer will be consistent, 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday, and makes scheduling easy. This program would last approximately 10-12 weeks, beginning in June and lasting until mid-August. I would do a ratio of three 'build weeks' to one 'rest week'. In August, I would take a two-week break of just easy riding before school and the collegiate mountain bike season start in September. Here is what I am thinking:

Monday: One ride. LSD in morning or evening 1.5 hrs
Tuesday: Two Rides. Hills in morning 1.5 hrs, Sprints or Training race in evening 2-2.5 hrs
Wednesday: Two Rides. LSD in morning 1 hr, speed endurance (ITT)or A-group ride evening 2 hrs
Thursday: Two Rides. LSD Morning 1 hr, Sprints 1hr or Training Crit evening 2 hrs.
Friday: One Ride. LSD Morning or Evening 1 hr
Saturday: Race
Sunday: Race

One or two weekends per month I would do only one race, and would substitute a three to four hour endurance ride.

I have shown this program to some folks and they feel it would lead to burnout and/or overtraining. Would this be the case? I know my race results would be poor this summer, but I am willing to sacrifice something now if it will help me later. Is there a better way that I could maximized my schedule with the 14-20 hours per week I want to dedicate to my bike? I guess it all comes down to whether this will help me fly or make me flat?

Joseph Dickerson
Swarthmore, PA, USA

Dave Palese replies:

I can't tell you for sure whether this is the best schedule for you or not, but here are some thoughts.

My first impression is that the schedule you've sketched out is pretty dense and I think that your friends might be on to something. I can't say for sure if this is the case since I don't really know you or the events you are preparing for.

When doing two-a-days, you might consider putting the harder session in the morning and then having a second session in the PM more directed at recovery.

I think the schedule you have proposed might be out of balance with regards to the volume of high intensity work in the week. With racing on the weekends, you are doing five high intensity days. The general rule is two high intensity days per week, including races, so you may want to look at that balance, working in more low and middle intensity work (i.e., Tempo and Threshold).

Remember, more is not always more, and does not always yield maximum results.

Brett Aitken replies:

I agree with Dave Palese that you should do your harder intensity sessions in the morning. You will find that this is mentally easier for you to put in 100 percent on these more important efforts when you are physically a little bit fresher. This way you don't have the worry of having to do the hard stuff for the rest of the day either.

Also I would advise that you substitute the training races during the week for some more specific sessions such as intervals for the development of VO2, Lactate Tolerance etc. This way you are in control of the intensity of the sessions rather than the training races dictating the quality of your training.

Mononucleosis and the Etape Du Tour

I live in Japan, and I have been training recently for the Etape du Tour this summer, on July 16. I'm 34, male, 184 centimeters and normally 80 kilos, which has gone down to 76 in the past week.

I didn't have a good Spring, with a few colds interrupting training (my job is teaching those little human petri dishes known as "children"). Up until last week I had about 2,000 kilometers in my legs. My plan was to get three 200 kilometer rides in before the Etape, which is 198km, with weekly 120km hilly/mountainous rides on the weekends in between the 200km rides. I usually do 3-4 50-60km rides on weekdays.

Last week I came down with mononucleosis, which effectively wipes out three to five weeks of training, giving a scant three or four weeks to prepare for the Etape. Provided my basic health holds up, How should I train during those last weeks for the Etape? Or should I call it a day and wait for next year? The only positive point is that I'll probably be down to 74 kilos by the time this is over, which may help balance the loss of training somewhat.

I was planning on a 38x27 as my granny gear, but I'm supposing now that if I go I'd better take a triple just in case.

Rob Smith

Dave Palese replies:

I wouldn't give up so easy. Mono and illnesses like it do hit the body hard. But I don't think that all the hard work you have done will be a wash. You may initially feel below par when you get back on the bike, but if you are realistic and smart when you get back on, I think you will find that you haven't lost that much.

My initial guess is that the first week back on the bike will feel very off. You will more than likely see higher heart rates and higher perceived effort ratings for normally low intensities. This is pretty normal. Just grin and bare it and don't over-react by pushing too hard. You may even want leave the heart rate monitor in the bag for a few days and just ride how you feel.

The systems that you worked on so well before you got sick are pretty substantial and don't usually just crumble completely from short-term illness. Even though it may feel like it when you get going again.

Give it a couple weeks and I think that you find you aren't as badly off as you might think.

Eating vs. Power

I currently use a Power Tap to measure my power gains and fitness level. I would like to know how eating too much and gaining some extra weight would affect my performance, in particular on mostly flat criterium style courses, as long as my power output remains constant or even improves over time. I know cyclists generally try to lose as much weight as possible, but unless I'm going to grind up the Zoncolan, does it really matter if I'm 185lb or 172lb?

Carlondo Brown

Dave Palese replies:

It's great that you are maintaining a consistent power output.

The short answer to your question is, "yes, it does matter". If you keep your power output the same and reduce the workload you (i.e., lower your weight so you have less weight to move), your power to weight ratio will increase.

This is a good thing for cyclists, even in short, flat criteriums. If you have less weight to reaccelerate out of each corner, you'll save more energy for when it counts.

Give up?

I'm 41 years old and have been riding for about 11 years. I typically ride 3,000-4,000 miles a year and am limited due to family, work, homeowner responsibilities etc. I typically race infrequently on the road but have raced consistently on the local velodrome for the past three years. This spring I decided to do more road racing in an attempt to help me on the track. I'm struggling and getting dropped all the time. I've never been terribly successful as I am genetically challenged, and my training time is limited to four times a week at best. On the track my personal bests are only a 13 second flying 200m and a 1:18 kilo. My 4km pursuit time is even worse at 5:45. I can place in points races but rarely win. I'm basically pack fodder. During the season my schedule is as follows:

Monday: off, lift weights
Tuesday: Train at the track or ride in local crits
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Race at the track
Friday: Off, occasionally commute to work (15 miles one way)
Saturday: Intervals or road race
Sunday: 50-75 mile ride

I can ride all day at 22 mph and can go hard for short periods, but I blow up easily, have to recover then I can go again. Last August when I was in shape I tested in a lab and had a VO2 max of 57 and peaked at 400 watts. On the Wingate test I hit 1300 watts. I doubt that I'm at that level right now. I'm 5ft 10in and 170lb with a body fat percentage of around 14. I have knee problems from old sports injuries (basketball and softball). I've had an ACL replaced in my left knee and have a torn meniscus and arthritis in that knee. My right knee has patellar tendonitis which has bothered me the past two seasons. Because of the tendonitis I have taken it easy training over the winter as far as heavy weights or pushing big gears in training. I rode the rollers a lot this past winter, so I seem to have a good aerobic base and spin but I'm still getting dropped after I put in a big effort to hang on an attack or going up hills. I seem to have lost some speed at the track also.

What has been keeping me going is the fact that I love cycling to the point of obsession. However I'm frustrated and am thinking that I should just accept the fact that I'm lousy at this sport and quit putting time and money into it. What do you guys think? Should I quit racing and just ride recreationally, or swallow my ego and continue to race and struggle?

Kevin Schaeffer
Minneapolis MN USA

Dave Palese replies:

You have many issues that need to be addressed, but my advice is never give up.

If you love the sport stick with it.

I suggest finding a coach in your area and working with him or her to maximize you time and energies.

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