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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.
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.
Fitness questions and answers for April 1, 2003
Returning to racing at 53
Slight knee pain
Comfort and position
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
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...
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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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