Form & Fitness Q & A
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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 29, 2003
Need for speed
Making the best of training time
Getting started in racing
Sleep problems after hard training
I'd like to peel the onion one more layer on the subject of lactate threshhold
HR (LTHR). Doing a 30 minute time trial on a trainer seemed like the best approach
for me. My plan was to warm up, then go pretty hard for 10 minutes, and then
see if I could keep that pace for the last 20. Several sources suggested taking
the average of your last 20 minutes as your LTHR.
I have a Cardgirus trainer so I set up three, ten-minute intervals with
no rest between them so I could use the built in features to see (afterward)
my average cadence, heart rate and power for each 10 minute segment. My watts
and heart rate for the each 10-min segment:
Watts Heart rate
Cadence averaged 92, a little lower than my typical 95-105 I use in my interval
workouts. Since my power dropped slightly, it looks like I was trying pretty
hard (it seemed like it at the time). My heart rate hit a plateau and was still
creeping up at the end so I'm wondering if I couldn't have gone harder (which
I think might be possible).
How would you interpret this data in terms of LTHR? How could I do the test
differently to get results more clearly indicative of LTHR? It sounds simple
to do a "30 min time trial" but the devil's in the details.
I'm 45 years old.
San Mateo, CA
Dave Palese replies:
It sounds like your testing protocol is pretty sound:
1 the conditions are controlled
2 the conditions are repeatable
3 and you can use the data gathered to help fine tune your training
If you would rate the effort for the final 20 minutes as an 9 or so out of
ten, I'd say you gave it your all, and would average the average HRs from
the last 2 segments, for an ESTIMATED LTHR of 162.
It is important to realize that any field test, like the one you used, will
only yield an estimated LTHR. You aren't dealing with exact numbers. But for
the purposes of training, the numbers you get from such a field test will
work just fine when defining the heart rate ranges for your intensity zones.
It is important that you repeat this test periodically. Most test results
are useless if the test is only dome once. I suggest repeating this test every
8-12 weeks to chart your progress.
Need for speed
I am 44 years of age this August, male, and raced last year and the year
before with the vets. I raced as a 1st Cat many years ago and returned to the
sport two years ago.
My question/problem is I cannot seem to get any speed into my legs, and
really suffer, and get dropped after only a few miles, My weight is 11st 6lbs,
and I have difficultly in trying to lose this. I used to be a very good climber,
but now that is very hard. Can you please give me some advice as to which way
to go, so that I can improve.
Dave Palese replies:
Welcome back to the sport! I think that you situation is very normal. I have
worked with several clients who have taken time away from the sport. After
getting back into racing they all say the same thing, "Man! This is much harder
then I remember it!" And, they are right. Racing gets harder and harder every
year. Speeds get faster. More people are getting smarter about their training.
And so on.
Here are some of my suggestions:
I'm not totally clear as to how long you were away from the sport, but the
idea would still be the same.
1) Don't dive whole hog back into hard, specific training. Spend at least
eight weeks of training focusing on the aerobic system. Long steady miles
is the idea here. You'll increase your aerobic output and muscular endurance.
The riding should be done at an easy pace, at or below 70 pecent of your max
working heart rate. Maintain a moderate cadence, 90-110 during your easy riding
to promote suppleness in your legs.
2) As the weeks pass, add controlled intensity to your long rides. This intensity
can be termed Tempo training and consists of riding at a moderately hard pace,
a bit harder then your easy riding described above, but not an intensity you
might associate with a time trial. Also, do your Tempo with a low cadence,
70-80 rpm, in a bigger gear to make the effort more muscular and training
cycling specific strength.
After putting in eight or so weeks of this type of training, you'll have
established a more solid aerobic base and should be ready add some harder,
more specific training to your plan.
What form these more specific workouts take will be dependent on the type
of racing you plan to do and what target events you might be looking at.
Take a look back over some of the more recent issues of this section for
specific workouts you can do to improve some particular abilities (i.e., climbing,
sprinting...). But in general, I would suggest starting by building a solid
foundation of aerobic fitness in the coming weeks.
I am almost 40 years old and have been training using Joe Friel's book for
about two years with some success. The question I have is in regards using different
rides as substitutes for his prescribed workouts. Specifically, I've been using
a midweek hilly group ride (with guys that seem to be faster than I am) in lieu
of intervals and a single speed MTB instead of strength and power workouts.
Both of these types of training make me dig more than I think I would solo.
I still do my threshold workouts alone and get plenty of endurance riding, but
am I missing out on something by not doing the "structured" workouts such as
Brett Aitken replies:
It sounds like you're getting a good mixture of training sessions if you're
maintaining your threshold sessions along with your group rides and MTB training
each week. Usually what you train for is what you get and the group rides
won't do you any harm as long as you've got a decent base behind you.
However specific sessions such as intervals do have their place in targeting
a specific energy system to boost its development. It's important to have
this kind of structured training in your programme because of its specificity,
but also because it's usually measurable. By improving times, distance, power
etc. in intervals over time you can be sure you are improving and progressing.
One common problem with group rides is that you are limited by what the group
does and it can be hard to measure how you're improving. Just because you
might be keeping up more easily doesn't mean you're getting fitter. It could
be that the other riders are losing fitness or simply not riding as hard.
Therefore adding in an interval session once a week can be both beneficial
and motivating to your long term cycling progress.
Making the best of training time
I am 29 and weigh in at 170lb I have been riding both road and MTB for 10
years but just the last two racing at a competitive "sport" mountain bike level.
I have been married for 10 years and have two small children along with standard
40hr/week job. Having said that, I don't have the time to totally devote to
heavy training although I really wish I could. I ride on an average four times
a week, putting in about seven hours and between 20-50 miles each ride depending
on whether it's a road or MTB ride.
I feel as though I am in pretty good shape but I have not been able to push
a top ten finish as I know I probably should. And when racing I really haven't
been able to get my mind set at a competitive level. Am I weak? I also seem
to blow up the last few miles. With my busy family life, what would you suggest
I do to get in the best possible shape and get my focus set when I am racing.
Kim Morrow replies:
It is good to see that you have joined the competitive ranks of cycling by
entering mountain bike races.
However, as you have found, this can bring up a whole different set of challenges
that will not normally be encountered when simply riding recreationally. For
example, you have to prepare yourself to ride near your lactate threshold
throughout the event; race starts need to be practiced; technical skills need
to be developed, especially at race pace, and then there is the mental ability
to push yourself in a race, beyond what may be comfortable and beyond when
you may feel like quitting. All of these abilities will take time to develop.
But, the good news is that they can be developed and/or improved.
If you want to improve, I'd suggest a periodized approach to training, which
focuses on developing the abilities described above. Have specific objectives
for different times of the year, and for the three or four different workouts
you are able to complete each week. If you need specific guidance, you might
ask one of the coaches on this panel to help you further.
Since you mentioned being a "family man", you may want to sit down with your
spouse and discuss how to best fit this training time in around your family
life. I encourage the athletes I coach to do this. If we can keep our spouse
on our team throughout the race season then it becomes a much more enjoyable
season for us all! In addition, it is easier to focus on the task at hand-whether
it is completing a lactate threshold workout or entering an actual race-when
we know that our family members are supporting us.
I hope you enjoy your season.
Getting started in racing
I am a 40 year old cyclist from Western Australia and I'm just starting
out in the sport of cycling.
I am 6ft 5in and currently weigh 91 kg after dropping from 112 kg prior
to commencing my riding schedule last October. I have just ticked over 7000km
(all on a mountain bike) and am extremely motivated to continue riding, just
out of a sheer love for the sport. My goal is to ride some competition on the
road this year (my wife thinks I'm crazy!)
I am faced with a few drawbacks however. One is that I live in a fairly
isolated country town and so find it difficult to ride in company with other
cyclists. Consequently I have no idea of how I am progressing in terms of an
ability to be competitive at the veteran level. I am at the level of fitness
where I can ride hard by myself for two to three hours at 95-100rpm (at the
speed I travel, I can cover 60-80km in this time on my mountain bike. I do not
own a road bike yet but will get one shortly). My resting pulse is 36-38 bpm
and I was wondering whether you think that I have built up enough of an aerobic
base to consider hard training for competition at veteran level? I am hoping
that when I do take delivery of my new bike (custom made job!) I will make a
fairly smooth transition and hopefully the thinner tyres will afford me much
greater speed as well.
My current training is really restricted to rides as described above as
I find it hard to sit on my current machine for much longer. I am currently
riding 300km per week and do all my riding on sealed and gravel roads
My other question is this. I wish to compete in a 105km road race this August.
It is a handicap event held over very undulating country and even though I imagine
that I would be competing as a front marker, I would like to ride a competitive
race and at least finish the course. Can you suggest some training techniques
that will give me the strength/endurance I need to ride this race at the pace
I would have to in order to be competitive (38 to 42 kph up hill and down dale).
I will be in excellent company and would like at the very least not to look
like a total mug!
Brett Aitken replies:
I think it would be safe to say that you are probably more than ready to
give some competition a go. There really is no right or wrong time to start.
Quite simply if you don't have a go you'll never know what you're missing
Considering you have already put in 7000 kilometres since October you should
have developed a reasonable aerobic base to start including some specific
intensity that will help you adapt to racing. Start by including, one or two
days a week, some intervals of between 5 and 15 minutes at a pace that you
think you wouldn't be able to maintain much longer than the duration of the
Due to your isolation there is probably a real need for you to get the guidance
of a coach for the benefit of longer term motivation, developing a good training
plan and training analysis so you are not wasting any time when you have it
to ride your bike. A heart rate monitor is also going to be extremely beneficial
Finally it's great to see you wanting to have a go but don't think about
it any longer. There is no better time to start than right now. Too often
I've seen cyclists not progress to racing because they are too scared they
are going to get blown away because they're not good enough. This is hardly
ever the case and more often than not they underestimate their own ability.
Sleep problems after hard training
I have a recurring problem with sleep that appears to be directly linked
to my training. Through many years of training I have learned that if I have
a long, hard workout that I may have trouble sleeping that night. The general
problem will be falling straight to sleep when my head hits the pillow, then
awake about 2-3 hours later feeling restless. If I continue my training without
allowing myself to receive adequate rest, I slip into a mode of being over-trained.
I have the belief that if I could sleep through the night following intense
workouts then I would not slip into a mode of being over-trained so easily.
Any advice? Is this normal?
Brett Aitken replies:
This is a common problem with many athletes trying to balance intense/training
racing with adequate rest and recovery. Basically your body goes into damage
control and is working overtime to repair the muscle breakdown and reduce
fatigue. You will probably find that your metabolism is going through the
roof after a hard ride and you feel a sense of having a higher body temperature.
You may even find that you wake up sweating sometimes when you feel restless.
This is totally normal but if it's troubling you then I would suggest keeping
these hard workouts to the morning sessions which will give you longer to
recover before hitting the pillow at night. Also look at good nutrition for
supplementing the body with fuel that is going to promote muscle repair and
glycogen replenishment. Make sure you adequately rehydrate as this will help
deal with that feeling of restlessness and help prevent your body feeling
like it is overcooked. Finally try some relaxation techniques or meditation
just before going to bed to smooth the transition before going to sleep.
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