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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 April 1, 2003

Returning to racing at 53
Slight knee pain
Knee injury
Comfort and position
Shoulder injuries

Returning to racing at 53

I have been getting back into cycling for the past two years now after not having cycled for 35 years. Now at the age of 53, can you advise me on how best to train to get my speed up for 10 and 25 mile time trials. I have done two years of building a base: 150 to 200 miles per week, 300 on my 10 days off. (I work on a shift rota: seven mornings, seven nights, seven afternoons with two days off between each block, so I get 10 days off in a block per month). As you can probably see, it is difficult to train for anything more than 10s and 25s.

I get out on afternoons when doing morning shifts and out on mornings when doing afternoon shifts. While doing nights, I tend to rest or just do very low intensity rides every other day. What would you recommend I do, based on the shifts I work, to train for such events.

I have also started intervals using a heart rate monitor building up speed, but can only manage 23 miles per hour per interval at the moment, again could you advise me how many intervals per week on the road and on my turbo machine would be sufficient?

The last time I got under the hour for a 25 was when I was younger...

Fred Birkett
S. W. Scotland

Dave Palese replies:

It's so nice to hear that after so many years riding you are still setting goals and have good motivation to train. Bravo!

It would be unrealistic for me to get into any specifics with regards to your schedule here. I suggest hiring a coach to provide that service. I will say that I work with riders with all kinds of schedules and have yet to come across a situation for which there is no, or no good, solution. You have a consistent although variable schedule. I believe that with a little thought and creative thinking, you and an experienced coach will be able to design a training plan that will help you move towards your goals.

As far as training for the time trials you have targeted, training for these event is all about increasing your power at threshold.

First you want to start by establishing a solid foundation with several weeks of training focused on aerobic output.

In your question you mention that you have built a base with some high volume weeks. I am a firm believer that "base training" is not all about volume, although it is a major component. The type of training you do during all that riding is the most important thing.

Unless you are less than eight weeks out from a priority event, I would suggest that you start with eight weeks of training focused on riding in the Endurance and Tempo intensity zones (commonly referred to as Zones 2 and 3). Start with rides lasting 90-120 minutes in Endurance. Keep your cadence brisk, 95-110 rpm, during Endurance training. During the first three weeks include some intensity in the Tempo zone. Start with a total of 30-40 minutes. When riding in Tempo, maintain a low cadence, 70-80 rpm. This makes the effort much more muscular, helping you to develop cycling specific strength. Dedicating time to this type of training now will pay dividends later when the higher intensity, more specific training starts.

As your priority event or events approach (six to eight weeks prior), you'll want to transition into training that is specific to your target events. As I mentioned above, these success in these events is all about how much power you can produce while riding at or near your lactate threshold.

First determine the target time you are shooting for. Pick a time that is realistic considering your recent history and conditioning. Twice a week, with a decent amount of separation between session ( about two days), do workouts that include the total time of your time trial riding at your time trial pace. At first split the total time into shorter intervals. For instance if the total time is 65 minutes, start with several intervals, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes that total 65 minutes. After a warm-up of 20 to 30 minutes, you might start by doing seven intervals, the first being 5 minutes, the second 10, then 10, 10, 10, 10 and 10. I like starting an interval session like this with a shorter interval since it works to open the system a bit. But that is just my experience. The rest between intervals is 5 minutes. The following week, keep the total Threshold training the same but play with the length of the intervals, making them fewer and longer. The second week might be six intervals: 5, 15, 15, 15, 10, 5. The goal is to work up to riding your total time as one continuous block.

I'll make one comment about interval training. I try to get my riders to focus on being consistent in their interval training. When training in the steady states (Endurance, Tempo, and Threshold), interval #5 should be just as fast or of the same quality as interval #1. And the quality of each interval should be consistent from start to finish. You should be going just as fast at the end of an interval as you are at the start. Too many times riders go too hard at the start of an interval and die by the end. This isn't a good way to train. My point, with regards to your time trial training, is not to rush increasing the length of the intervals until your intervals are consistent at the shorter durations. Doing so will increase the quality of the intervals you do later and in turn, the quality of your performance.

I know you may have been looking for more specifics, but I hope that some of these concepts and thoughts will get you going in the right direction.

Have fun and good luck!

Slight knee pain

I'm a 41 year road rider, reasonably fit, riding 150-200km per week and have been riding regularly for over 20 years. My position on the bike is very comfortable and I have never experienced any previous knee pains as I have always pedalled at a reasonable high rpm (95 - 105). I have just changed pedals from Look with red cleat to Campag. Record, which also have float. I am now experiencing a slight pain in my right knee just below the knee cap, but I believe I have replicated my previous cleat and foot position. Any suggestions as to what this pain may be caused by?

Bob Wade

Erik Moen PT, CSCS of Carmichael Training Systems replies:

I would suggest that you critically look at where the cleats are placed on the shoe. You may utilize a RAD from Fit Kit to help ensure neutral position of cleat on shoe. Also look at the fore/aft position of the cleat as this may have changed with new cleat.

The difference may also come from relative height of the pedal cleat. I am unsure of the specs between the Campy and the Look pedals, but since you have them both, analyze the difference in foot position relative to distance to the pedal spindle. Differences in this measurement may require an adjustment in saddle height.

And lastly, any change of equipment should have an accompanying decrease in volume and intensity to allow for successful anatomical adaptation.

Dave Palese replies:

Positioning is a tough issue to address without seeing a rider in person, as many factors can affect position and bio-mechanics.

I'll second all of Erik's points and add that a visit to a coach in your area would be a good idea. Doing so can take out some of the guess work and trial and error. A coach with fitting experience can also make suggestions as to event/style of riding specific fit issues.

In the meantime, it would be good to treat any symptoms you may have in your knee until the pain subsides.

Eddie Monnier replies:

In addition to the advice given by my fellow panelists, I suggest you switch back to the old pedals and shoes right away for a week or two to see if the problem disappears to confirm that the cleat positioning is the source of the problem. It may be coincidental.

You certainly don't want to push it until you resolve the problem. Left unattended, it could become more worse and force you off the bike.

Brett Aitken replies:

This is a common problem and one which I have experienced many, many times throughout my career as a cyclist resulting in numerous injuries. No matter how close you think you may have replicated the same cleat position it will never be the same because the cleats gradually wear out (mainly through walking on them) and this will alter the depth and float of the cleat position the older that they get. You don't normally notice this though because it is gradual and you have time to adapt.

For future deterrence I am of the same view as Erik that you should decrease training a little in the initial stages of any position change. If this is not an option then you could try having two pairs of shoes where you use the ones with old cleats on heavy training days and the ones with the new cleats on the easy training days until you are comfortable with the new setup and position.

Knee injury

I have been suffering from knee pain in my right knee for two months now. A physio diagnosed it as chondromalacia patellae, a cartilage problem. After all this time off all sports I don't feel the pain during my daily routine but I can feel it if put in effort on the bike or climb stairs quickly. Both my knees click a lot, particularly the right one. Could you please give me advice on how to get back into exercise? what type of sport and at what intensity should I do to help it heal and stop me going mad from inactivity! Are there any exercises I can be doing to prevent it recurring?

I am 19, male, I ride road and mountain bike on the road I race small club events. I pedal at a reasonably high cadence about 90-100. I also do running, climbing and badminton.

Ben Constable

Erik Moen replies:

Recovery from a cartilaginous injury of the patello-femoral joint can take several months and require great patience.

Now that you have the diagnosis of chondromalacia, you, with the help of your physio, should try and figure out why you had the problem in the first place. This will allow for greater insight on how to prevent this problem from re-occurring in the future.

General aerobic exercise may be performed at levels sub-pain threshold. You must ice immediately following exercise. Things I suggest for the recovering athlete may include the restriction of HR, cadence, gear, and/or power levels, so as to minimize irregular joint shear. I also take a critical look at bicycle fit as this may contribute to patello-femoral dysfunction. I would stay away from stairs at this point. Certainly walk/jog, bicycling, low-amplitude elliptical trainer, upper-body ergometer and swimming could be potential forms of aerobic stimuli. All must be performed at sub-pain threshold.

As far as general exercises go, I separate them into categories of flexibility, strength and coordination. Make sure you have good flexibility of all lower extremity muscles. Strength and coordination exercises should be adjusted as a function of load, complexity and range of motion so as to strengthen and re-coordinate without creating symptoms. Utilize a sports physio for help with this gradual progression. People with patello-femoral dysfunction will frequently have a muscle imbalance between quadriceps and hamstring, or poor development of hip musculature.

Lastly, make sure any transition to a new activity or level of activity is performed cautiously. Your knees will be easily re-aggravated for at least a year's period of time.

Comfort and position

I was recently reading your Feb 19, 2003 article regarding stem and seat height, and have a question regarding my own bike positioning.

I am a male 32 year old, 165 lbs, 5ft 8 tall road rider and triathlete, with several years of training and racing under my belt. I have been experiencing some base of the neck pains while riding for quite some time now, that I have tried to eliminate by getting myself checked by qualified people in the know, i.e. Nytro Bikes in Encinitas Calif. The stem and seat heights given to me were fundamentally correct in terms of where my knees should be, and how my back should look, but I am still experiencing this discomfort. Could it just be that I have a physical structural problem or could it really be my position? I am currently riding a compact Bianchi frame (2001) for my road training, and a Softride Powerwing for triathlons. Any thoughts on the subject would be most appreciated.

Michael Palma

Jim Lehman replies:

One of the first things you may want to check is if the position on both bikes is the same. Sometimes it can be difficult to make both bikes with the exact same position, particularly if they are different frame designs. Also, do you experience the pain on both bikes? This will give you an indication of the root of the problem. If the problem persists, then you may want to pay a visit to your local sports medicine professional, PT or Orthopedic doctor to see if he/she can diagnose any physical abnormalities.

Shoulder injuries

I work as a general fitness trainer in a corporate gym and my query is based on questions from some of my clients over the past few months. If a regular cyclist has a fall and injures their shoulder, and subsequently either reinjures it or suffers long-term niggly problems, what kind of injury management do you generally suggest? The main fear seems to be of future dislocation. These male clients routinely lift weights in addition to putting in the time on their bikes, and tend to look to standard rotator cuff exercises to secure the shoulder joint. What do you think?


Erik Moen replies:

Cyclists sustaining shoulder injuries from falls generally fracture their clavicle (collar bone) and/or strain their rotator cuff. There are occasions where an athlete may dislocate their shoulder.

Regardless of original diagnosis, there are underlying potential problems of persistent deconditioning of the shoulder's stabilizing muscles and limits in joint flexibility/mobility. It should also be mentioned that consideration of the shoulder includes at a minimum the glenohumeral joint as well as the scapulothoracic joint.

Stabilization of the shoulder is a function of having good range of motion, good strength and good coordination. In addition to the standard rotator cuff exercise, attention should be made to the low- and mid-trapezius, and rhomboid musculature.

If your client has not visited a physio, you may consider referring them out for analysis of flexibility and strength imbalance.

Coordination exercises should be prescribed as a function of what they do, such as cycling, basketball, etc. Thus creativity in exercise design is a must! Don't forget the scapulothoracic joint when working on these exercises.

Lastly, if a person is a chronic dislocator secondary to ligamentous instability of the glenohumeral joint it may not matter what exercises you perform, they may still dislocate. Gross instability of the shoulder may require orthopedic consultation for surgical stabilization.

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