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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 August 12, 2003

Individual time trials
Starting again
Cycling & asthma
Too heavy?
Too much or not enough?
Weight loss
Best ergo
Heart rate
What can I expect?

Individual time trials

I am competing on road for the first time (newbie roadie) and I have some questions about time trials after watching all those guys blaze in the Tour. For Cat. 4, 5, Juniors etc., what is the most crucial for riding ITTs? I have a somewhat tight budget. I know I need clip-on bars but are things such as aero wheels, a TT helmet, booties and long sleeved skinsuits really needed to be successful? I am a kid and pay for all my own stuff, but winning is the most important thing and kicking out a few extra dollars to improve my cycling performance is not an issue, just not too much! I am doing a few stage races that include TTs and prologues.

Anything that a beginner TT rider should know would be of great benefit.

Brandon Baker

Eddie Monnier replies:

Since you're a newer and younger cyclist, my first advice would to expose yourself to all aspects of the sport. It's too early to narrow your focus to TTs. So I personally don't think buying all sorts of aero equipment would be in your long-term best interest. For starters, a skinsuit, bootie covers and an aero helmet will not compensate for inappropriate training and/or poor bike positioning. Having said that, I believe the best of use of your money would be to:

1) Have your road bike position set by a reputable expert in your local area
2) Get a coach. Some clubs have special programs for juniors. But if there aren't any, you might find a certified coach to help you set up a general training plan which might be a good start.
3) Get aero bars and have your TT bike position set by a reputable expert in your local area as well.

I've seen many people tricked out in aero equipment get absolutely schooled by a fitter, better positioned rider with limited aero equipment.

Starting again

At the end of June I was on a training ride (I am a 44 year old woman) with my husband, when a motorbike, approaching a corner too fast, lost control and smashed into us. I was hospitalised for a week with concussion, and had quite severe soft-tissue damage to both knees as well as being badly bruised. Luckily, my husband escaped with very minor damage.

My legs don't feel too bad easy spinning on the turbo trainer for 30 minutes, but my neck and arm ache quite uncomfortably during that time (I landed flat out on my front), and my heart rate is about 10 beats higher than it was doing a comparable spin. However, I seem to have lost virtually all the fitness I had before the accident, and feel like I'm running on "empty" with little stamina left if I try to make a harder effort. Therefore, any advice you may be able to offer on how to get back to fitness would be highly appreciated.

Kim Parker
Kent, England

Kim Morrow replies:

I'm sorry to hear about your accident and it is good to know that you and your husband are ok. Here are a few suggestions:

1)If you have not already done so, get with your physician and make sure that he/she has given you the go ahead to resume training. Since you had both a head trauma and soft-tissue damage to both knees, this is especially important.

2)Once your physician has given you the green light to train, you will need to start back at a level below what you were training before your injury. This would include, for example, shorter rides and reduced intensity.

3)Be patient. Set short-term goals and allow yourself some flexibility in adjusting these goals as needed. Each person recovers at a different rate from an injury.

4) Allow yourself additional recovery in between workouts. You will probably need it as your body continues to heal, and as you get back into the "training" mode again. Focus on good nutrition and get plenty of sleep.

Cycling & asthma

I've just gotten into cycling and hope to do some charity rides this fall (40 - 80 km) and then get more serious by the spring. I've been biking 17km a day, 5 days a week for the past two weeks. I want to start increasing my distance. My body reacts very quickly to exercise and I have a fast metabolism. While already I have noticed some physical changes - abdominal development and stronger legs - I have not noticed any changes in my lung capacity or breathing. I have sports induced asthma (not great for an aspiring cyclist) and it has been incredibly hot and muggy lately. I am able to go longer on the bike in the air-conditioned gym. What can I do to improve my breathing / oxygen intake? When can I expect to see results? Should I stop using my inhaler in hopes to increase my lung capacity naturally?

Other info - I'm 26 years old, female, about 170cm, and I weight about 55 kilos. I have done mostly city riding on uneven terrain - cobblestones, pavement, bricks (I live in Boston, USA) but also smooth bike paths. I've been riding a mountain bike but want to switch to road biking once I notice some improvement in my physical form (before I go and spend $600- $1000 US on a bike).

Jane Creamer

Brett Aitken replies:

I can highly recommend cycling as a cure for asthmatics. I have been a severe sports induced asthmatic for as long as I can remember and it reached it's worse stage in my late teens.

Gradually over the years though, the severity and frequency of my attacks have dwindled to the point where I no longer get any at all. It would be easy for me to think I'm cured but I soon realize the importance of my cycling whenever I stop training for any lengthy period of time and the attacks reoccur once I start exercise again.

So in answer to your questions the best thing you can do to improve your lung capacity is to keep persevering with your cycling. You may not feel like your getting any improvements but it will take time. Secondly, don't stop using your inhaler just yet. This is not going to increase your lung capacity naturally and is probably an important preventative that enables you to cycle in the first place.

Instead try adding some more demanding training sessions that will stress the oxygen system a little more. Regular interval sessions with efforts between 3 and 8 minutes where you are pushing your heart rate beyond 85% of max will help stimulate your VO2 max. Do about 4 to 5 efforts with a 1:1 active recovery. You should start seeing results with this in 4 to 6 weeks.

Good luck and breathe easy!

Too heavy?

I am a 37 year old male, 180 lbs, 9 percent body fat, Cat 3 racer in the US. I can hold my own during the flat Criteriums, but always get dropped on the hills during the hilly road races. What frustrates me is that I am usually one of the first 10 riders in a 70-man peloton to drop off the back when the road tilts upward. Catching up to the peloton on the flats is not a problem, as I can motor pretty well on my own, but the consistent dropping off the back saps my strength.

I made a commitment to myself during the off-season to lose at least 5lb and to acquire a lighter road bike (my current bike is SLX steel) for a total of 10lb savings (5 body weight, 5 bike). Will this total weight loss help me with the hills? Is it enough? or should I stick to the flat races.

Brett Aitken replies:

Any weight loss will help you go faster up hills as long as you're not sacrificing power through muscle loss to do it. At 180lb and 9 percent body fat you are probably a fairly solid guy that is carrying unwanted fat and muscle in the upper body which is not very useful when climbing.

I would suggest looking at this area as a first option when trying to reduce weight. Losing 5lb by paying for a better bike can be a very expensive exercise if you could still lose this through a bit of extra hard work on the bike instead. A better investment would be in hiring a nutritionist or coach who can better advise you on how to eat and train for fat loss while keeping your energy levels and power output high. This knowledge will last you a lifetime whereas a new bike only gives you the edge until the next model arrives!

Dave Palese replies:

You aren't the only rider out there that can say climbing is not where they shine.

I won't address weight loss as a cure for your difficulty on hills, but I will say that you should be sure that you monitor your weight loss and be sure that you are maintaining a healthy weight. You didn't mention your height, but 9 percent body fat is generally a nice percentage for an amateur racer. Just be careful.

The biggest gains will not be seen from shedding weight from yourself or the bike, although doing so never hurts.

Instead, I would look at your training and decide how you can address your weakness on hills.

Improving one's climbing takes practice and patience. The prerequisites for improved climbing are: strength (trained with a combination of on-the-bike and off-the-bike (gym) strength training); endurance; and muscular endurance. It is important, to make long-term improvements in your climbing, that you spend a good chunk of time training these abilities and the systems that support them, the aerobic and lactic acid systems. Long easy miles on flat to rolling courses, that include Tempo training, and later Threshold training, will help to make your climbing specific workouts much more effective and of a higher quality.

"Climbing" is a pretty broad term, but there generally are two types of hills:

1) The short "sprinter", or "power" hill, usually taking less than three minutes to climb. The keys to success on these hills are explosive strength and submaximal endurance.

2) long climbs, lasting five or more minutes.

For the "sprinter's" hill, try adding some Hill Repeats to your training week.

These efforts should be done on a hill that takes about 90 seconds to three minutes to climb. Keep your cadence high, 85-100 rpm, to keep the intensity high. Reduce gearing to manage the intensity. Do not reduce cadence. Climb at an aggressive pace for the first two-thirds of the climb after coming into the hill at a good speed. Then shift up a cog or two harder, stand up, and sprint for the last third to the climb. You may want to do these efforts on the same hill, doing the effort, turning around and recovering rolling back down. Recovery between repeats is easy spinning, for five minutes.

You may start by doing 90 second repeats on a hill that is longer, using only a portion of the climb. I suggest starting with a conservative length repeat, like 90 seconds. If you can complete three to five repeats in a session that are of consistent quality, then increase the length of the repeats to 105-120 seconds, and so on.

To train for longer climbs, find a climb that will take 10 minutes or more to climb. Start by doing intervals of seven to ten minutes at your climbing pace. For your first session, start with 21-30 minutes of total climbing done as 3x7-10 minute climbing intervals, with 10 minutes of easy spinning between intervals. Work up to 45-60 minutes of total climbing, maybe done as 3x15-20, or 4x12-15 minutes as examples.

For an added twist, include some short accelerations in the longer intervals. Climb for at least five minutes at your climbing pace. Then shift one or two cogs harder, stand up and accelerate for 30 seconds to a minute. Shift back down and return to your normal climbing pace. Repeat the accelerations every two to three minutes. These accelerations are not sprints, just a lifting of the pace to simulate surges and race situations. Include these only after you have completed four or five regular climbing sessions as described above.

Tactics are also an important part of improving your climbing. Here are a few tips:

1) Position yourself towards the front. As you approach the climbs, move towards the front of the group. When you come into the bottom of the climb, you should be in the top five or six riders if you can manage it. This saves you having to dodge and maneuver around slower riders and possible crashes. Being first in the bunch at the start of a hard hill or climb is always a good thing. It gives you an opportunity to control the pace and stay safe. This is especially good on the shorter, sprinter's hills, where the action at the start of the climb tends to be a bit chaotic and sketchy.

2) Always be on, or around, a good wheel. Most of us know who the good climbers are in the groups we ride with. When you are getting close to a climb, find the wheel of a consistently good climber. When you do, you have a better chance of being in the right place at the right time, and if you pay attention, you might learn something.

Richard Stern replies:

At 180 lbs and 9 percent body fat, you already approaching the lightest you can be, without significant loss of muscle mass. At your current weight, dropping 5 lb, would reduce your body fat to 6.5 percent, which can be difficult to sustain and is generally the preserve of elite pros.

Very approximately, each drop of 5lb, will result in about a 4 to 5 second reduction on a 1 km long fairly steep climb (about 10 percent gradient). Whether that will enable you to stay with the bunch is difficult to say (as I don't know how far behind you are).

However, by training better, you'll be able to increase your power output, which will enable you to climb and ride on the flat better. With good quality training far bigger improvements are likely to be made than with dropping a few pounds. To improve your climbing you primarily need to target increasing your LT, TT power and power at VO2 max. These are all trained best on the bike. As a consequence of training better, you might also loose some weight, which really shouldn't be a primary goal.

It's also imperative to stay away from weight training, as this will increase muscle mass, which in turn will require more power to climb hills.

Too much or not enough?

I have a question about performance vs. training. Some info on me first. I am 35 years old and 5ft 7in at 147lb. My LT is 185, based on the Conconi test program on my Tacx Excel trainer. I have been a recreational cyclist for years but this is my first year to compete and the first year to train with some structure. My performance on club group rides and races is below where I need to be to be competitive. My goals are to increase hill climbing ability (power or endurance?) and generally lengthen the time I can ride at or near my threshold. Currently riding as follows:

Saturday/Sunday: Club ride of 3-4 hours on one of these days (when not racing)
Saturday/Sunday: 2 hours solo riding on the other day (depends on above)
Monday: Active rest day
Tuesday: Hill intervals
Wednesday: 2 hours of solo endurance
Thursday: LT intervals
Friday: Aggressive commute (note I commute to and from work every weekday, 7 miles one way)

I don't know if I am over-training or under-training. Am I pushing too hard or being wimpy and not pushing hard enough. I have been monitoring my weight, which is fairly consistent, so I think I am eating appropriately.

Galen Burk

Richard Stern replies:

Galen, Congratulations on to moving into a structured programme and thinking about taking up racing. This is a great sport!

Whilst I don't know how a Conconi programme ascertains a specific HR, it is known that the Conconi test is not accurate or reliable work. Thus, it's difficult to know whether you are working too hard or not.

However, if I'm not mistaken, your Tacx Excel estimates power output. If you train on the unit (which it appears that you do), then you should train with zones defined by power output. These zones can be found Completing a TT on the unit of 10 miles/16km will give an estimate of your TT power. You can compare this ratio to your MAP to decide whether you fit in the range mentioned (e.g., 75 - 81%). If you are quite below this then this is a first aspect to target.

Either way, doing one to three x15 to 30-min intervals at ~ 95% of your TT power will help you tremendously. Shorter intervals of around 4-mins will also help increase your VO2 max, which is the rate limiting mechanism, see

However, it would be beneficial to contact a coach who will help you and move you in the correct direction.

Weight loss

I'm looking to lose about 10 to 15 pounds in the smallest amount of time possible. I'm 5ft 6in, 150 pound female and I'm looking towards cycling to get into good shape. What kinds of training should I be doing? What should be my heart rate while doing these workouts? How many workouts should I be doing a week?

Shawna Bedard

Richard Stern replies:

Cycling is definitely a great way to lose a few extra pounds, however, you should never attempt to loose weight rapidly, as this type of weight loss is generally bad for you. Rapid weight loss, generally involves loosing muscle and liver glycogen stores (the body's carbohydrate stores, which fuel exercise) and water loss. Rapid weight loss can also involve loosing muscle mass, which again you wouldn't want.

Whilst specific recommendations are difficult, and you should definitely consult a coach and/or a nutritionist, general recommendations are to aim for 1 lb (0.5 kg) of fat loss per week. As 1lb of fat is ~ 3500 kcal, this equates to a requiring a negative energy balance of 500 kcal per day.

The 500 kcal deficit, can obtained via an increase in energy expenditure, a decrease in energy intake or a combination of the two.

An increase in energy expenditure can be met by either increasing your current training volume (in hours), keeping your volume steady but increasing the intensity that you ride at or a combination of the two. *Approximately*, 500 kcal will be expended by about ~1-hr to ~1:30 hr of steady riding on flat roads at about 18 miles/hour to 15 miles/hour.

Decreasing your energy intake, can be obtained by cutting out some of the less desirable foods, such as candy, chocolate, crisps, chips, cakes, sugary colas, pies, pastries, and fatty foods. You should generally aim to increase your intake of starchy, low fat foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, cereals, and pasta, rice etc. When you eat, say, pasta dishes avoid dishes laden with fat such as the creamy sauces (e.g., carbonara) and stick to ones based on tomatoes, veggies, lean meats.

By combining the energy expenditure and energy intake, smaller changes can be made, which can be easier to adjust to. For example, an increased energy expenditure of 250 kcal (~ 30 to 45 mins) and decreased food intake is often the easiest way to get going.

The number of workouts that you do per week, etc., will be highly dependent upon your current fitness level, current volume of training, training time available etc.

Best ergo

What is the best power meter?

I ask this as I'm now using the PowerTap. I would not use it in a race cause the wheel is so heavy, but that means I can't get the race data. I could get an SRM but they're very expensive, so that leads me to this 'Ergomo' gadget, a power meter from Germany that's built into the bottom bracket.

It seems to have it all. Has anyone used this? Heard of it?

I understand the need to get data both from training and Racing, so would it not best suit a rider who can have data all the time with minimal expense and minimal weight.

I'm looking at getting one and wanted an experts advice. My coach told me Its better to have a big data bank which includes both training and racing. but the PowerTap is just too dam heavy for the climbing races and the SRM is very expensive.

Michael Iavarone

Eddie Monnier replies:

Actually an SRM Pro and a PowerTap hub add about the same incremental weight (roughly 250g) to a bike while an SRM Amateur adds an extra 80g beyond this. Now, if you have your PT hub built into a heavy, non-aero rim, that's obviously going to add additional incremental weight vs. a lighter set of racing wheels. But even if you assume 500g of incremental weight, the difference is immaterial to the power you have to put out to overcome it even on a climb.

As a simple illustration, go to and go to "Speed for Given Power." Leave the default values except change the slope to 0.10 (10%). The speed for the default parameters on a 10% grade is 3.20 meters/second. Now increase the weight from the default value of 75 to 75.5 kilograms (double the incremental weight). The speed drops to 3.18 meters/second. Now increase the default value of 250W to 251.5W. So, put out an additional 1.5W and you're back at 3.20 meters/second. And this is on a steep grade. This is a simplified example to make the point that at times we can put far too much emphasis on weight.

I am a strong proponent of training with power and I do race with a power meter, but it's hard to draw conclusions from mass start race data because there are so many variables due to the dynamic nature of the sport. Still, use your PowerTap in a lower priority race and see if you feel it degrades your performance. I've raced mine in NRC events and did not notice a difference. My fellow coach and pro rider Dirk Friel used one at the US Pro Championships and didn't note a difference. As a counter point, the biggest reason to not race with it is for fear the wheel will be damaged in a crash and you'll be without it in training for a week while the wheel is being rebuilt!

Finally, I own both SRMs and PowerTaps and both are outstanding devices. I personally will not put any faith in a new device until it demonstrates similar accuracy and reliability to these devices (eg, many people eagerly awaited the Polar power option but were disappointed by its relative inaccuracy). Of course, I will be eager to see how the Ergomo device compares because competition is good for us as consumers.

Richard Stern replies:

I agree with Eddie. The extra mass associated with the PowerTap is negligible and won't affect your performance and is about the same excess as an SRM. Lots of elites and pro riders race with SRM and PT, it doesn't hamper their performance and can help fine tune your training just as your coach suggested.

Both the Power Tap and SRM are excellent devices and are worth having. I've never seen or used an Ergomo so can't comment on its accuracy or reliability.


I am 17 years old and I have been cycling for about a year now. I am doing pretty well for my age, I think, because I am able to keep up with the older boys in the cycling group. I want to improve my performance to be able to compete in the high levels of racing. I don't do any weights, but I ride about 5 or 6 days a week. What type of weights should I be looking at doing if I want to improve my strength in road racing?

Ben Maher

Richard Stern replies:

Ben, Glad to hear you're doing so well. There's no specific need to do any weight training, as endurance cycling (that is, road racing, time trialing, mountain bike racing and soon) isn't limited by strength. The forces involved in cycling are very low, and can easily be met by untrained, healthy people. It's the ability to keep going for long periods of time and the amount of power that you can produce that are important. These are trained on the bike. see:

One of the coaches here can help you develop a programme to get the best out of your cycling.

Good luck!

Heart rate

Is it okay for me at the age of 36 years (male) to have a MHR of 202.I have tested my MHR a number of times and I score about 200-202. I find it strange to have such a high MHR. I am a road/track racer who races on and off in the season. I train about 12hrs a week at a steady rate of 165-185. I do very few intervals and more steady road training.

Ken Gokool
Trinidad, West Indies

Richard Stern replies:

If you're at all concerned about your health especially with your heart I would advise seeing your family doctor. Your doctor will refer you if they feel it necessary to e.g., a cardiologist. It is wise to put your mind at rest.

However, that being said, I have seen people with similar HR max. In fact my HR max is 203 b/min (at age 34). I have also seen a very low HR max for a person much younger (e.g., a 20 yr old with a ~ 165 b/min max). Your HR max has no bearing on your performance.

What can I expect?

I'm 34 yr old male that's been riding road and mountain on and off for about 10 years. I've recently decided to get (back) into racing. I will be cat 5, as I have never done more than a few races a season. Right now, I just ride. Hammer when I feel good, putt when I don't. I'm 5'6", 154lbs. My max HR is 197, resting HR is 47, and I believe my lactate threshold is between 177 - 180. Right now, all things flat and calm, I can hold about 23 mph over a 8.5 mile course I like to test myself on, and that hasn't changed all summer. I ride about 175 miles/week.

I want to really focus on training for next year and be more involved in racing, time permitting. My goal is to eventually upgrade to Cat 3. And I would like to be able to hold about 25 mph at threshold. No reason for these goals other than I feel like this would be a challenge. I have about 10hrs/week I can commit to training. Given what I can do now, are these unrealistic goals? I'm thinking about some of these professional coaching tools to take the guessing out of training (CTS, etc). Is this overkill for a recreational racer?

Sergio. E. Jimenez.

Richard Stern replies:

Good to hear that you're setting some goals and that you're getting back into racing. At present it sounds like you've stagnated in your training as you are no longer improving. Some focused, periodised training and coaching will help improve this situation. Many racers who are short of time and have other commitments (e.g., family, work, etc.) use a coach to ensure that there time is used most efficiently.

A coach will help with your time management and draw up a programme to use the time most efficiently, to help meet you goals. With the time that you have available, that goals sounds fine. A coach will help you draw up some other goals, both short, medium and long term to help you achieve your goals.

Contact one of the coaches on the list!

Editor's note: our experts send their responses direct to our readers, so now and then we get very heartening responses such as this one from Sergio:

Ric, Thanks for your response. I did a club ride this weekend, first one in years, and I've definitely got the motivation back. Talked with my wife this weekend about coaching and got the go-ahead. I look forward to seeing how I can improve with a structured program.

Again, thanks for your input,

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