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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for June 26, 2007
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com)
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 (www.davepalese.com)
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 (www.trainright.com)
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 (www.velo-fit.com)
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
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com)
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 (www.cyclefitcentre.com)
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
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 (www.wholeathlete.com)
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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
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 (www.cyclecoach.com)
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 (www.cyclecoach.com)
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 (www.elitefitcoach.com)
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
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.
Rice vs pasta
Mental or physical?
Heart rate concerns
Rice vs pasta
For some time now I have been comparing my performance after eating pasta vs
rice the night before a race. For some reason I always feel like I have more
power with pasta. After looking at different rices at the market, some claim
to have more kJ or calories per 100 grams than others.
a) Are more kJ good or bad?
b) Is one variety of rice better than other i.e. basmati vs long grain vs arborio
Thanks for your help.
Scott Saifer replies:
More food energy (measured in kJ) is better, if it is available at race time.
How many kJ of each food have you been eating? If you are eating more energy
when you have pasta than rice, the total amount of energy may be your answer.
There is another possible factor though. If you are eating a refined white
rice it may well be causing more of a glycemic and insulinemic response than
the pasta. Some rices have glycemic index similar to pasta, while others are
much higher glycemic index. That means your blood sugar rises higher after rice,
causing an insulin release which causes fat tissue to take up some of the carbohydrate
that you have eaten.
Thus if you eat equal kJ of rice and pasta, more carbohydrate will end up as
glycogen for race fuel after pasta. If you eat a brown rice instead of white,
more of the carbohydrate ends up as glycogen and you race better.
Mental or physical?
Whilst ownership of some power cranks would demonstrate my problem more fully
I can hopefully explain it nonetheless. When it comes to races I seem unable
to control my heart rate in the early stages. I reckon it runs about 20 beats
higher than its corresponding power output (all other things being equal). My
max is 184 and I often find myself, even at a slowish neutralised section, at
the beginning of a race running at 176 bpm. It means I spend most races riding
the first hour way over lactate threshold (162bpm) with a subsequent rapid drop
in performance later in the race. This is usually mountain bike races as with
road races there tends to be a bedding in period at the start of the race where
it comes under control (although not always).
I am of the belief that this is a physiological response to nerves? Is there
any method to control this phenomenon as I believe that I am under performing
to an amazing degree? It also coincides with probably no change in my perceived
rate of exertion (PRE) as even at 180-bpm I don't feel as though I am going
hard, as opposed to in training where anything over 174 bites pretty hard i.e.
my PRE stays at the 20 BPM lower level.
An example would be the World Cup MTB at Fort William where on the Saturday
in the Men's XC I was way off the pace on the first climb and in a certain gear
at 180bpm whereas when I rode the next day in the support race, I raced the
same hill two sprockets down (i.e. a higher gear) and in the 160s in heart rate
with a lower PRE i.e. I am going faster and it feels easier. Have you ever come
across this before and are there any coping techniques that other riders have
adopted or indeed do you even think it is race nerves?
Carrie Cheadle replies:
Anxiety can definitely contribute to elevated heart rate. You're signaling
your stress response which is designed to get you ready to respond to a perceived
threat. One of the physiological things that occurs to help get your body ready
to respond is an increased heart rate. This response "cools off" when
you decide that there is no longer a threat.
You need to know where the anxiety is coming from in order to address it. Is
it pre-race anxiety in anticipation of the upcoming race or anxiety that occurs
once you're in motion (i.e. getting sketched out on the downhill)? If it's pre-race
anxiety, the first thing to ask yourself is 'Am I prepared for this race?' If
you have done everything you can to prepare for your event, then you will go
into the event with more confidence. Here are a few tools to combat that stress
1. Breathe - Breathe - Breathe! Shallow breathing contributes to the stress
response, so make sure that you are taking slow deep breaths as much as possible.
2. Control your thoughts - When you have those moments of anxiety, what to
you need to be thinking in that moment in order to feel confident and focused?
Make sure your thoughts are positive and focused on what is in your control.
3. Convert it - Sometimes the anxiety that we feel has to do with how we interpret
the physiological symptoms that are going on. It's normal to feel some anxiety
in anticipation of a race. If you interpret the symptoms that you are feeling
(increased heart rate, butterflies, etc.) as anxiety - then you label the feelings
as 'bad' and that exacerbates the stress response. If you turn it around and
interpret those feelings as 'My body is getting me ready to compete' you are
controlling your thoughts to work for you instead of against you.
I'm a 37 year-old male, 81kg (178lbs), 181cm tall, been cycling for about one
and a half years. I am training to race mountain bikes and love riding, road
and mountain. I am lucky enough to have some great competitive mates who love
riding too but they are all a lot quicker than me.
I feel like I can do short sprints and keep with them but it's when the hammer
goes down for a hill of about five minutes or more I drop off. I can keep with
them on the flats, but when those hills come they get me. I am getting frustrated
now after riding with them for about a year, as I feel I have been putting in
Should I be doing more hills or some interval training? I'm not sure how to
go about catching them up. I feel like I have reach a plateau and can't figure
out what to do to keep up with them, is it my engine, my TT, my weight? Do I
up my hours in the saddle? Should I be patient and it will come?
I feel am carrying a bit of weight, so should I loose some weight, and how
could I effectively do this without causing to many issues with power. My mates
are about 2-3 minutes up on me on a general 5-10 minute road climb and 2-4 minutes
up on me on a 20-minute mountain bike climb.
I generally do a 1.5 hour MTB race every two months and as it is the winter
for us here in Australia I ride 2-3 hours on the weekends on my mountain bike
and about 6- 10 hours Monday - Friday on my road bike.
Scott Saifer replies:
You keep up on the flats so your power and aerobic fitness are fine. You don't
keep up on hills and you are far overweight for a bike racer your height, so
almost certainly it is your power-to-weight ratio that is holding you back on
I've collected the heights and weights of a large number of professional cyclists,
and basically anyone your height who is having success at the highest level
is below 170 lbs (77 kg). The guys who weigh that much are winning flat races,
not hilly ones. This doesn't mean you need to weigh as little as an international
pro to keep up with your buddies, but if they are light, you have to have more
power than they do by a proportional amount to keep up on the hills. The guys
who win on the hilliest courses are 10 kg lighter.
It is possible to lose a lot of weight without losing any aerobic power, but
you have to lose it slowly, on the order of 300-400g per week. Consult a coach
or nutritionist for specific recommendations on how to change your current eating
to achieve that rate of weight loss.
Heart rate concerns
I am 49 years old, 5'11" and 170 pounds. I have engaged in steady aerobic
exercise since I was 15. I have been cycling for four years, train 100 miles
a week, including fast group rides. I periodically race. My performance now
is better than ever.
My resting heart rate is 68. During workouts I routinely see heart rates around
180, which feels like 80% effort. During intense sessions and at the end of
races 190 is not uncommon. This feels like 100% effort, but I remain clear headed.
In fact, I feel better than I felt in high school at the end of an 880.
The 220 less age chart and a maximum heart rate of 171 does not work for me.
Am I on the verge of killing myself at these heart rate levels?
Richard G. De La Mora
Scott Saifer replies:
The 220-age chart is a poor approximation to the population average. 210 -
age/2 is a better approximation with a standard deviation of about ten beats.
What that means is that roughly 96% of the population will have a maximum heart
rate within 20 beats of 210-age/2. Your maximum heart rate is above average
but not abnormal.
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