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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. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 October 3, 2007

Hip flexors and wisdom teeth
Plantar fasciitis
Endurance training
Runny nose
Female athletes and menopause
Cleat position for fractured sesamoid
Can frame size be too small?

Hip flexors and wisdom teeth

I am a 38 year old Ironman distance triathlete. I also do the odd road race and criterium. I have written before about cleat position and after following the advice am now fully comfortable on the bike. Thank you. For the last four seasons I have suffered from a very tight right hip flexor. Physio, osteopathy and ultimately cortisone offered temporary relief but did not solve it. Last week I had an impacted wisdom tooth removed. I have returned to training and my hip seems to be much freer. Has anyone else experienced this?

Jason Gatenby

Steve Hogg replies:

I am not a health professional but a keen observer of people, how they function on a bike and what the implications are. I have never seen the exact set of circumstances you describe, but have seen chronic issues subside many, many times after the rider had their teeth attended to or lower jaw alignment improved by using a bite splint at night.

I can speculate about the reasons and have a few ideas but I'll leave it to the health professionals to give you good info rather than my speculations.

Plantar fasciitis

I seem to have developed plantar fasciitis which I attribute to cycling since that is the only sport that I have been doing consistently for the past year (I have been racing and I am reasonably fit overall). I haven't found any info about this problem in cyclists.

In general, it seems like impact is one of the major culprits, but that is not an issue with cycling. Therefore, I assume it is due to tightness of the achilles and hamstrings (other contributing factors are being overweight and standing around a lot, neither of which applies to me).

For the past year, I've been riding with a slightly lowered seat (1-2 cm) to deal with some mild medial knee pain, which went away. But could the change in seat height have contributed to increased tightness in my achilles and hamstrings? I've never been especially flexible, despite stretching regularly. For what it's worth, I use adistar shoes with minimal insoles. Also, I've also noticed some cramping in my calves during longer races. My MTP joint is essentially over the pedal spindle, which is as far back as the cleat will go on this shoe.

Even just some general info regarding plantar fasciitis in cyclists would be helpful if any of you have experience with that.


Steve Hogg replies:

The simple answer is to change your shoes. Adidas have cleat mounting holes for 3 bolt road pedal systems that are much further forward than any other brand of shoe and they have been that way for years. Having your cleats too far forward loads the plantar fascia. Susceptible people (there are plenty) get bitten. Your self described tightness will only add to this.

Currently DMT and Nike have the most rearward cleat mounting holes size for size, but Shimano, Specialized, Sidi, Diadora, Time (rebadged DMT's) and Gaerne are also fine for the great majority.

Have a look at these articles on cleat position and the ball of the foot and position your cleats accordingly. Once done you are likely to have to drop your seat further because the more rearward cleat position will cause greater extension of the legs in most cases.

Endurance training

I am a road racer, what is the best training program to perform for Endurance and power? What do I eat during my training and before a race. I am 40years, (male). My weight is 162lbs, down from 174lbs. the course I am riding has hills and plenty of wind average speed 10 or 12 miles. I also have a Trek pilot bike.

Albert Beharry

Scott Safier replies:

The best program for you will depend on far too many factors for anyone to answer your question as you have posed it. The best program depends on on your experience, your injury history, your racing category, your available time, your load of stresses other than cycling and even your muscle type. If you want someone to tell you the best program, you'll need to work directly with a coach who can question you on these topics and then work with you to craft a program. If that is too much commitment up front, there are several good books available that will help you make a training plan.

Runny nose

I have a annoying problem which I was wondering if you knew of a simple solution.

I contantly have a runny nose when riding regardless of the weather conditions. I would have to blow/clear me nose every few minutes. It is always clear and flowing if I could describe it that way. When I'm not riding I have no problems. I do wear contacts, however I don't have watery eyes whilst riding and wear "wrap-around" type sunglasses whenever I ride.

Do you know of anything that would help. I'm not going to look at any sort or operation or anything that severe. I was wondering if there was some sort of plug etc that would stop my nose running whilst still been able to breathe.

It's bad enough trying to keep hydrated let alone fluid just running out of my nose!!!

Melbourne Australia

Kelby Bethards replies:

You do have a very common problem. Its called vasomotor rhinitis. I have written a few times before about this and it might be found in the archives. I'll keep this short.

There actually are a few things to try. Unfortunately, most of them require a prescription medicine.

There are a few that I have heard of working. I currently have the same problem. Some riders have benefitted from nasal steroids while others have used nasal antihistamines with good success. Both of these did not work for me. What I have found that works for me is Atrovent nasal spray. I have gone from blowing my nose 20-30 times a ride to 2-5 times a ride.

So, there may be help for you, but you may need to see a doctor.

Female athletes and menopause

I am a 44yr old female roadie and mountainbiker. I am 5'2" and weigh about 115lbs. I've been riding for about 8 years, and have been training with power for 5 years. I have recently begun the dreaded female "change".

Is the huge drop in energy levels, strength (power output) and endurance normal for one going through this?

Is there any information out there anywhere regarding female athletes and menopause? Specifically, how it affects athletic performance, and what could help a female athlete going through this stage maintain energy levels, stamina and strength? How does one combat the weight gain when one is already riding 150-300miles per week, and/or how do you fuel for those long rides when you're trying not to let the weight gain take over?

Have any studies been done with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) on athletes? And is it legal for competitive females in that age range?


Pamela Hinton replies:

Let me preface my response by saying, that the physical changes associated with menopause are highly variable among women. Some women experience more "symptoms" than others and the severity of the symptoms varies among individuals as well. Unfortunately, aging, not just for women, but for men as well, is increasingly viewed as a disease rather than a normal progression of the lifecycle.

Menopause is defined as the absence of regular menstrual cycles for 12 consecutive months. Typically, women experience menstrual cycle irregularity before cycles stop completely; changes in cycle length and frequency are common. During this perimenopausal period, estrogen concentrations also may be highly variable and after 3 months of missed periods, estrogen declines significantly. Menopause, like puberty, is a time of hormonally-driven changes in body shape and composition. During middle age, women gain an average of 0.5kg (~1 lb.) per year; menopause does not seem to increase this rate of weight gain. Women lose muscle mass and increase fat mass during menopause, but these changes seem to be due to a decrease in physical activity as women get older, rather than an inevitable consequence of menopause. Even if total body fat does not increase after menopause, there is a shift in body fat distribution from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. In other words, the “pears” start to look more and more like “apples.” It is the accumulation of fat around the internal organs located in the abdomen that probably causes changes in fat and glucose metabolism. Postmenopausal women have higher total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides (fat) and lower HDL (good) concentrations in blood than premenopausal women. These changes explain why the risk of cardiovascular disease increases in women after menopause. Women, especially those who gain abdominal fat, after menopause may become insulin-resistant. These changes in body composition and metabolism are not only because of the direct effects of lower estrogen, but due to estrogen-mediated changes in other hormones, too. Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I exert anabolic effects on bone and muscle and GH increases fat use as an energy source, by stimulating release of fatty acids from body fat stores. Hypestrogenemia reduces pulsatile release of GH, consequently lowering IGF-I secretion.

Exercise counteracts many of the unfavorable metabolic changes that occur after menopause by: reducing weight gain, increasing fat utilization, maintaining skeletal muscle mass, improving cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing the body’s response to insulin. Strength training will help prevent the decline in muscle mass and offsets the decline in metabolic rate. Adequate calcium intake is especially important for postmenopausal women. In addition to dairy products, some vegetables, fish with bones, and fortified foods (e.g., orange juice, cereal) are good sources of calcium. During the first 5-7 years of menopause women lose up to 20% of their skeletal mass (DHHS. Washington DC: Office of the Surgeon General). Consuming 1200 mg of calcium per day may minimize that loss.

As you probably suspect, there isn't alot known about how menopause affects athletic performance. There is limited evidence from a cross-sectional study that menopause negatively affects VO2max and anaerobic threshold (Am Heart J. 2006 Apr;151(4):923-7.) Of course, these data were collected in untrained women and these consequences may be preventable with continued high-intensity training.

Cleat position for fractured sesamoid

I have recently fractured my sesamoid and am wondering if there is any way I could reposition my cleats so as not to put too much pressure on the ball of my foot until it reknits. Is this feasable or am I looking at not riding until it heals?


Steve Hogg replies:

Trial and error is the only way to find out. Position your cleats as far back on the shoe as they will go for the time being. This will mean that you will have to drop your seat height slightly though. Some people find this works fine for sesamoid fractures, others still struggle.

David Fleckenstein replies:

I agree with Steve's recommendation to move the cleat back as far a possible. I have additionally had success with buying an over the counter orthotic such as Superfeet and cutting out a small hole directly under the sesamoid. This "doughnut" relieves some of the pressure directly on the sesamoid.

Can frame size be too small?

Hi, I am a 24 year-old, 5'9" Cat. II racer currently riding a Scott CR1 54cm wiith a Ritchey WCS 120mm stem and 172.5 crank. I have my bars slammed down as low as they can go and my Ritchey WCS seat set back in a comfortable but rearward position so as to get my back as flat as possible while racing. It is aggressive, but I think I can create an even more aggressive position since I am extremely flexible. My question is, can a person interested in getting a serious racing position go to a smaller frame (say a 52cm) with even more stretched out components (130mm stem) like the Pro's I see on TV ride? Weight savings and a lower profile are a bonus but what would be the drawbacks if any?


Scott Safier replies:

You are right that a smaller frame can be stiffer and lighter, and yes, it is possible for a frame to be too small, but that doesn't mean you should not try a smaller frame. As the top tube gets shorter and the stem gets longer, a larger fraction of your weight will be on the front wheel. That affects how the bike handles. Setting the saddle farther back rather than simply getting a longer stem and keeping the relationship of the saddle to the bottom-bracket the same decreases weight on the front wheel and affects handling again. Go out and try a 52 cm bike that has been set up for you with an appropriate stem and see how it corners and sprints. If you like the ride, by all means buy the bike. Remember that frame geometry also affects handling though, so the fact that one brand's 52 rides great for you doesn't mean that all 52s will feel as good.

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