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Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject?
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Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your
age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive,
we regret that we are unable to answer them all.
Fitness questions and answers for August 15, 2007
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Insulin pump therapy
Bike fit and cleat placement
I live in East London. Is it possible to send you the appropriate measurements
for you to assess what size bike I require? Recently I bought a Cannondale Synapse,
frame size 47 compact and it is too small for me. I just cannot get comfortable
on it. I have consulted several people who are respected in the cycling fraternity
who have confirmed the wrong size, but would like your opinion as well before
embarking on buying another frame. Which measurements would you require?
East London, UK
Scott Safier replies:
The short answer is "no", it is not possible to prescribe a frame size strictly
based on any body measurements with total confidence that the result will
be a bike that is comfortable to ride. I could give you a bunch of questions
to answer that might get you close, but I have another suggestion that is
almost guaranteed to get you the right size bike. Go to a shop and try bikes.
Have the shop employee adjust the bike for you and really test it by riding
hard, taking some corners, riding it up a hill and down. Keep trying different
bikes until you find one you love. This method guarantees you'll end up with
a bike you love.
Insulin pump therapy
I am a 60-year-old cyclist, having been so for 46 years. I raced up to the
age of 40, with a little success – a handful of wins and completion of an 8-day
stage race as the highlights. At 40 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and
by 50 was suffering from atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia. This curtailed
my cycling to 20-mile rides, generally about 90 minutes exercise. In 2002 I
started to use an insulin pump to improve my blood sugar control, and removed
the pump whilst cycling. In 2006, I had an ablation procedure which cured my
fibrillation, and since then with the absence of beta blockers and warfarin,
I have improved my ability on the bike, moving up to 3-hour + rides – approx
The downside of my increased endurance is that I finish these rides with high
blood sugars, in excess of 15mml/l. I am currently combating this by keeping
the pump running on a reduced basal dose (50% of normal, though I can adjust
it to any fraction of the standard dose) and stopping every 30 minutes to take
a sugar-level reading. I react to each reading by applying more insulin, more
carbohydrate, or nothing, as the case may be. Although each stop is brief, I
don’t really like stopping at all, and would like some advice from people who
have already solved this problem, either for themselves or for others, to help
me establish the most effective pump regime for my longer rides.
Carrie Cheadle replies:
You need to come to camp! Check out the Stroke-Spin-Stride camp. It was designed
just for you! The director has pulled together some of the top coaches, nutritionists,
and med staff in the country to come together and produce an integrated camp
to address how to manage diabetes and exercise for optimal performance.
The camp was also featured in Newsweek this
If you contact them through the website
they may be able to answer your questions more in depth regarding how to regulate
blood sugars during a ride.
My left leg has been measured by an experienced bike fitter at 3mm shorter
than my right leg. My saddle is set up for full extension of my left leg (short
leg). However, my saddle feels low. If I raise my saddle 2mm more that puts
too much of a strain on my left hamstring. What would be your recommendation
for a shim thickness if any and corresponding saddle height change.
David Fleckenstein replies:
Before recommending any shim changes, I have two issues of concern. I would
very seriously question the ability of anyone to consistently measure a 3
mm difference in leg length - research shows us that these measurements have
poor validity and the only true way to measure leg length is with long leg
x-rays. Secondly, I would question whether you have a true leg length difference
or a functional difference due to pelvic rotation/shear and would recommend
having this evaluated by a PT or chiro. The concern with shimming to make
up the functional difference is that rather than addressing the root cause,
you are potentially making the original problem worse. I have found frequently
that by normalizing length of the hamstrings, hip flexors and hip external
rotation musculature rather pronounced leg length differences suddenly are
minimal or eliminated.
Bike fit & cleat placement
Thank you for the detailed response
last week. I just bought a set of Specialized Body Geometry shims and plan to
start experimenting, given your suggestions. However, before I do I wanted to
provide some additional information that occurred to me that might help you
in your diagnosis.
First off, I mentioned previously that I currently wear a Specialized BG Pro
Carbon shoe, which has built in to the sole 1.5mm of varus angulation. Might
I need more?
Secondly, in years past when I used to run (before an ACL tear and reconstruction
ended that—on my good side by the way) I noticed that on my left foot, the one
in question, I was an inside “heel striker,” whereas on my right foot I was
a more typical outside heel striker. Is this an indication of valgus angulation
on the left and varus on the right—or is the running motion unrelated to cycling?
Before getting my Specialized shoes last year, I wore Shimano. I still wrestled
with the same issue back then, but as mentioned earlier it seems more pronounced
now. Maybe it is just mental, but then I thought, “what if the varus angulation
of the shoe is exacerbating the condition because my foot is really valgus”?
One last thing:
I am very flexible now. I stretch aggressively almost daily. Further, I have
been a serious weight trainer for 25 years. I have very good core strength;
however, I do know that my dominant right side stabilizers are notably stronger.
Before I start experimenting, can you offer any more insight in light of the
additional information above?
Steve Hogg replies:
I can give you a general picture but I can't diagnose what I can't see. I
can make educated guesses as I do all the time but that isn't the same thing.Regarding
whether you need further varus compensation - I don't know. Perhaps, perhaps
not. That's why I suggested you visit a podiatrist or someone knowledgeable
regarding feet and gait and find out what the situation is with regard to
forefoot varus or valgus. Once you have done that you will have information,
fact rather than guess work, that will allow me to advise you further based
on hard information.
Interesting what you say about the difference in heel strike for each side.
Typically, this means that there is either a leg length discrepancy (another
box to tick) or a functional leg length difference caused by a lateral pelvic
tilt. It can mean other things too, but they are the most likely. What it
means too is that your gait isn't symmetrical. Gait plays a part in determining
how we function neurally. If you gait is noticeably asymmetric, this will
lead to functional asymmetries and in the end the motor control functions
of your brain will be asymmetric as well.
Re the Specialized shoes seeming to make the condition worse. Yes, it may
be that you have a valgus right forefoot. If that is the case, any shoe with
varus compensation would make it worse. I can't stress enough that in an effort
to solve your problem quickly, you need to be armed with information. It would
be better to see a podiatrist or physiotherapist interested in feet so that
you can find out what the story is with regard to your feet. This is infinitely
better than trial and error until you eventually eliminate possibilities and
stumble over the correct solution.
If you don't want to do that, try building up the outside edge of your shoe
insole on your right side. If that improves things on left side, then it is
likely that you have a right side valgus forefoot. If it makes the situation
worse, or you get pain in the right hip or right knee after doing this, it
is likely that you don't have a valgus right forefoot. The only thing that
I can be nearly 100% certain of is that you function asymetrically with a
tendency to favour the right side. This is the underlying general picture
of the problem you have. What you need is more detailed information so that
you know your own state of play and can make decisions based on what you find.
It is good that you are flexible and have good core strength. Both qualities
will help minimise the effects of the asymmetric way you function in terms
of pain or discomfort.
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles