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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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Fitness questions and answers for October 9, 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 Athleteô. 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.
Adjustments needed with cleat wedges
Neck pain and head aches
Adjustments needed with cleat wedges
I'm a 35 yr old cat3 racer, with a majority of my races being crits, with a
few longer road races throughout the year. My training sessions are usually
1-1.5 hours at high intensity (training crits), 45 minute very intense interval
sessions, or 2-3 hour long sessions to keep the endurance up.
I've long known that my feet were not 'level' (it's obvious by the way that
I walk, stand and that my shoes wear out) and after having some serious knee
pain toward the end of this year, I got some cleat shims/wedges to try and correct
the problem. I started with one on each shoe, and after several rides, moved
to two shims. The knee feels pretty solid, and I've not had any real pain issues
(I've also been doing IT band stretches to assist). I have noticed, however,
that now my foot feels like it is further forward over the axle of the pedal.
I know the cleat position fore/aft did not move, since I use speedplay pedals
and the base plate is not removed when installing the shim. Is it normal that
when adding shims or wedges that the cleat should be moved back just a tad,
or do I need to give this time to adjust? It's not uncomfortable, just feels
Steve Hogg replies:
When you fit cleat wedges, generally speaking the angle of the foot on the
pedal changes. With some, this will increase external rotation of the hip;
i.e heels move in. With some it will increase internal rotation of the hip;
i.e heels move out. If your heel(s) have moved in, that will give you the
feeling of more foot over the pedal as the 1st MTP has moved forward as the
heel has moved inward.
If the feeling you have is objectionable, move your cleat forward a mm or
2 or 3. If it isn't, persevere and make a judgement based on how your performance
changes for better or worse.
I am a 49 year old male who rides about 150-200 km a week - commuting and as
a weekend warrior, mainly road but some off-road cross country.
I have trouble finding shoes that are wide enough to accommodate my big feet
and usually have to settle for buying a larger size instead (46 European). I'm
presently using a pair of specialized shoes which are fine but I've ended up
with a lot of "toe" area. The length of the shoe also seems to make it harder
to fit cleats correctly. Have you any advice on brands that have extra wide
fittings, or at least those that make some attempt to look after those of use
who aren't circling weenies.
Steve Hogg replies:
both Sidi and Shimano make road shoes in extra width sizing. If they aren't
wide enough, consider a custom pair of shoes.
High heart rate
I'm a 157 lb, 39 year old category 2 (male) cyclist with an unusually high
heart rate. When I was 30, my max heart rate was 211. Now it's down to 200.
My resting rate and anaerobic threshold are correspondingly high. While team-mates
have resting rates in the 40's and even 30's, mine is seldom below 60. I have
had team-mates and associates warn me to "take it easy" upon learning that I'm
hitting 195+ during some intervals.
My family has a history of high blood pressure and cardiac related problems.
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure during an 8 year layoff during which
I "let myself go" somewhat. Now that I am racing again, the blood pressure has
returned to the high end of normal (~120/80).
While, I have heard that heart rates are individual and do not indicate any
problems, I have wondered about mine because it's higher than anyone I've met
my age, although I'm sure someone out there is probably higher. Do I have reason
to be concerned? Does my high heart rate indicate that I may have problems down
the road? Is it more "dangerous" for me to get near my max heart rate compared
to someone with a more normal maximum? Is there any correlation with an obstruction,
enlarged heart wall or ventricle?
Scott Safier replies:
Just as a note of comfort, I've had a client with a maximum heart rate of
216 who routinely went over 200 for extended periods in races with no problems.
You are in no particular danger when you ride hard any more than a person
with a lower maximum heart rate and lower heart rates at intermediate levels
This doesn't mean you are in the clear though. Because you have a family
history of high blood pressure and cardiac problems, you should be getting
your check ups and consulting with a doctor about your heart, no matter what
your maximum heart rate is. Good luck with your racing.
I have been riding now for two years and my fitness has grown tremendously.
The last couple of months, though, my legs have always been tired and sore.
I have taken time off and done many recovery rides to try and recover from this.
I have been reading and wanted to ask your expert advice about L-Glutamine.
I do have a low immune system also, and I have read that glutamine helps out
with your immune system as well as muscle fatigue and soreness. I was wondering
what your take on this supplement is and if this would help my situation out.
Pamela Hinton replies:
Glutamine has been a popular supplement for several years now. It also has
been studied recently for its possible role in over-training syndrome.
Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that under normal
circumstances the body can make what it needs. Skeletal muscle is the most
significant source of glutamine in the body. When muscle is broken down in
response to the stress hormone cortisol, glutamine is released from the muscle
into the blood. During times of extraordinary stress, such as severe trauma,
burns, or sepsis, the bodyís demand for glutamine exceeds its ability to make
the amino acid and it becomes essential. In clinical studies of critically
ill patients, providing supplemental glutamine has been shown to improve patient
outcome and survival. This is in large part because cells of the immune system
use glutamine for energy and during times of stress the immune system is activated,
requiring more energy. Although not nearly as stressful as a burn injury or
sepsis, exhaustive exercise (e.g., running a marathon) causes a short-term
(<12 hours) decrease in blood glutamine levels.
Overtraining syndrome also produces a decrease in blood glutamine concentrations.
Because athletes competing in endurance events often experience a mild decrease
in immune function and an increase in upper respiratory tract infections (URIs)
post-event, the effect of glutamine supplementation on immune response has
been studied in endurance athletes. One study found that runners who consumed
glutamine immediately and 2 hours after a marathon had fewer self-reported
URIs in the week following the race. Consuming glutamine for 3-4 weeks prior
to competition also reduced self-reported infections in marathon runners and
triathletes. However, numerous other studies investigating the mechanism behind
the beneficial effect of glutamine found no effect of glutamine supplementation
on immune cell functions. Iíll offer a few words of caution about glutamine
supplementation, should you decide to do a self-experiment despite the lack
of strong supporting evidence. Glutamine is not stable in solution and exposure
to UV light degrades it as well.
So once youíve mixed your concoction, drink up right away. The effective
dose (0.1g of glutamine per kg of body weight) should not be exceeded. Amino
acids compete with each other for absorption in the intestine and consuming
an excess of one amino acid can create a deficiency of another. High intakes
of protein or amino acids puts undue stress on the kidneys. And, remember,
amino acids that are not used for energy or to synthesize new proteins will
be stored as body fat.
Hello, I'm a 45 yo male 6' 190lbs and I've just completed my second full season
of cycling with racing goals. This is my first with a power meter. My year end
power profile test (15s 9.7 w/kg, 1m 6.1 w/kg, 5m 4.5 w/kg and FT 3w/kg) pretty
much reflects my training with an emphasis on TT's and endurance and very little
on sprinting. I'm satisfied overall. However, my sprint numbers are very low
IMO and this leads to a couple of questions.
Do these low numbers explain my weekend rides where I stay with the group at
first but get dropped after an hour or so and a few 30 mph surges?
Do I train these sprint efforts during next years base phase or do I wait until
the build phase?
When I do start adding these in how would you incorporate them with my usual
3 weekday and one weekend endurance rides?
Michael Smartt replies:
A quick note for those who are not familiar with Power Profiling, it was
developed by Dr. Coggan as explained here: http://tinyurl.com/2vaaxc
Using a power meter in this way to learn something about yourself can be
a lot of fun and very informative, but there are a couple of things to keep
in mind with PP before I get to your questions about scheduling.
First, there is a learning curve when it comes to field testing on your own,
especially with the shorter efforts. With the 5sec test, technique and gear
choice can make a difference while the 1 and 5min tests can be somewhat effected
by pacing. All tests will be effected by your training status/how well recovered
you are over the previous few days to weeks.
Second, motivation to push yourself to the limit in order to produce a true
representation of your abilities can be very challenging for some people.
If you are the type that needs to be in a competitive situation with others
to 'bury yourself properly', then field tests are likely to underestimate
your abilities w/o at least simulating a race scenario with the help of a
few friends. In this case, many have found that they can more successfully
'cherry pick' their best numbers from races over the course of a season to
produce a comprehensive power profile.
Given all of that, your power profile will reflect two primary issues: your
natural genetic gifts and the kind of training you typically do. Considering
the latter, it's no surprise that your PP turned out the way it did (although
I would suggest that you have a lot of potential to raise your FTP given your
5min power and doing so would improve your time trialing).
Your genetic talents will bear themselves out in the results even more over
the long haul as you will find that you can only effect your profile via training
to a certain degree. For example, if you naturally have low anaerobic capacity
and power, you will not be able to raise your 5sec and 1min numbers all that
high even if they were all you focused on. Improve those numbers, of course,
but your genes will limit how far you can go.
As for your weekend rides, it's hard to say, but if you are suggesting that
short, very hard efforts (eg: <2min) are where you lose the group, then the
answer to your question is certainly 'yes'. As you found in your profile,
short-term power is the weakness you need to work on IF you want to make yourself
more of an all-round cyclist. Having some amount of short-term power in your
legs is indeed critical for group racing, just keep in mind that even if it's
you weakness, it's secondary to FTP. The more you can raise your FTP, the
less you will experience fatigue from any effort, short or long-term. And
If time trialing is your ultimate goal, then raising your FTP is even more
As for scheduling, you have a lot of options there. Many coaches advocate
sprints all year round to maintain leg speed and top end power, while others
choose to incorporate it into the build and race phases. What will work for
you depends on how well you recover from certain types of training, your overall
training load, what motivates you, your primary racing goals, etc. Over the
long-term though, I think that you will find that you can increase both your
FTP and your short-term power if, at certain times of the year, you dedicate
just one of your weekday workouts to shorter intervals. The rest of the time
focus on raising FTP and recovery.
I really enjoy your fitness section and have always found it useful. I am hoping
some of your medical professionals will be able to offer some advice regarding
my current situation. I have attempted to include only pertinent information.
thank you for your time.
I am a 32 year old male (5í11, 32 yrs old) and with the exception of 3 years
off for school, have been racing road and mountain bikes for 10 years.
I have lived in the Phoenix metro area for the past two years moving from a
less urban environment.
In early April of last year I contracted what seemed to be a run of the mill
cold which lodged itself in my lungs producing a hacking cough, lots of post
nasal drippage and generally feeling under the weather for about a week. I usually
get sick about once or twice a year and each time it is with these symptoms.
In the past few years Iíve just followed the three ĎRísĒ and within a week or
so it clears up. Iíve also used small dosages of prednisone which has always
cleared me up within 2-4 days. In this case, after about 10 days nearly all
my symptoms went away except the limited lung functioning and near constant
post nasal drippage. Even after doubling the dosage of prednisone, these symptoms
didnít go away. Most acute is the feeling that I simply couldnít take a deep
I was diagnosed with asthma as a child but have always controlled it by taking
a puff of my Albutrol inhaler before every ride and until now this has always
served me well. I continued to race throughout the spring with pretty miserable
results. Despite similar training as years past, my results were significantly
worst they had ever been.
With the exception of asthma, Iíve never had other noticeable allergies. However,
I was referred to an allergist and got a complete allergy test. I didnít test
positive for anything that alerted the allergist as to my condition. He did
however put me on a number of steroid and non-steroid inhalers as well as various
allergy medicines. Iíve had a CT scan of my lungs and head which returned no
abnormal results. Iíve also had blood tests for valley fever and a host of other
possible viruses all coming back normal. I have also been seen by a Pulmonologist
who is unable to offer any suggestions.
Over the summer I raced in Belgium and the symptoms seemed to lessen however,
this was highly variable. Some days it was largely unnoticeable and some days
Iíd get dropped very quickly. Since returning to the USA in mid August I have
been doing only easy 1 to 2 hr rides, 2 to 3 times a week. However, when I do
attempt a few efforts at or above LT the problem remains the same; I am simply
unable to take deep breaths.
I am able to ride all day and can ride tempo and even just below LT pretty
easily but anything at or over LT is very difficult. I just canít seem to take
a deep breath. And when I inevitably get dropped, I really get dropped. I cannot
seem to recover after these efforts. It feels in essence like Iím having an
asthma attack despite using my inhaler. Off the bike I often notice shortness
of breath simply walking around. I find myself trying to take deep breaths (much
like a reflexive yawn) throughout the day. I use my Albutrol inhaler 5-10 times
a day yet it seems to provide only temporary relief.
I am truly at wits end with this issue. I hope to continue racing next season
but it seems not worth it if I canít get my lung functioning back to normal.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Kelby Bethards replies:
Well, you have explained a truly frustrating situation. Based on what you
have told us, it seems that you are close at times to being ok, but it is
Which allergy and asthma medications were you given? Search through the cyclingnews
database or archives for asthma and allergies. We have written a few things
Asthma, seasonal (or environmental) allergies and eczema can hang out together
in the same circles. They can all be present or just a few of them. FROM what
you have described it seems to me that you have EIA (exercise induced asthma).
That being said, you have environmental triggers. Meaning, you moved somewhere
else, and your symptoms disappeared occasionally. There is a whole host of
things that come into play with environmental allergies and asthma triggers.
Humidity, wind, pollens, season and temperature to name a few.
It seems to me that your asthma is controlled well enough to get by. BUT,
at the extreme efforts your airways are clamping down a little. AND at all
out and even less than all out efforts, if you can't get all the oxygen you
need, you will in essence lower your LT and "pop" at a lower HR and so forth.
That would be why, in my humble opinion, you did fine on certain days in
Belgium and worse on others. EIA is not necessarily like a light switch, ON/OFF.
It can come in varying intensities.
Not that throwing medicine at people is always the answer, but it may be
that your current medication regimen needs modifying.
All that being said, I am assuming you are not over-trained or otherwise
Neck pain and head aches
I'm 23 years old, 182 cm and 72 kg. I got hit by a car at a roundabout last
Christmas (2006) at a low speed; she was doing about 35-40 km/h (It was her
fault. who knew give way to the right also included cyclists..?), I didn't suffer
many injuries considering, just a haematoma in the left hip, bumps and bruises
and a tennis ball sized elbow from the resulting kiss with the Tarmac, all of
which has healed.
Since then I started to get back pain both lower and upper, as well as neck
pain right up to the base of the skull. This pain is at it worst during a ride
at the base of my skull especially when in drops but not always. Now I get a
headache or sometimes a migraine after every ride. This has caused me to almost
stop riding since the onset of these headaches. I have also been seeing a chiro
for 6 months which has almost stopped the day to day pain, but has not stopped
the headaches post rides. I'm wondering weather this impact has affected my
position on the bike, or if the headaches are caused by something else?? maybe
worth a trip down to see Steve?
Any help to get me back on the bike headache free would be much appreciated!
Steve Hogg replies:
A big hit can move you around skeletally. Your chiro should be on top of
that side of things but if you are not the same person functionally that you
were, then head aches can arise. From time to time I see someone with a history
like yours. At the moment, you are okay day to day but not post ride. That
means that some combination of what you do and the bike position you have
is causing you problems.
A couple of tips:
1. Make sure that your upper body is more or less unweighted when riding
reasonably hard. If you have to heavily use your arms or shoulder complex
to support weight or resist pedaling forces, then that may play a part in
your ongoing problems.
2. Have a good look at your cleat position. This probably sounds strange,
but the more stable your feet are on the pedal, the less requirement to use
upper body effort to maintain a position on a bike under load. Have a look
at these posts for guidance, regarding cleats
and regarding the ball of your
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