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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

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.

A big welcome this week to two new members of our panel of coaches and fitness experts. Georg Ladig and Benoit Nave are the Numeric Mastermind and Coach/Nutritionist respectively at, a new training website that provides a daily updated, dynamic, personal training plan to help you train systematically like a pro and get in peak shape for the key events of your season. The objective is simple: to allocate your time budget ideally to calculate your individual path to peak performance.

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 September 17, 2003

Cadence and speed
Foot pain
Loss of fitness with vacations
Training with power
Heart rate

Cadence and speed

I would be interested in the panel's comments comparing Ullrich's monster gearing to Armstrong's high cadence approach to TTing. They both travel at the same (light) speed but seem to attack TTing from opposite corners.

Mike Bowles

Georg Ladig replies:

From my point of view the TT approaches of Ullrich and Armstrong are not that different although their styles are totally different: both try to make best use of their abilities. Armstrong produces less force (since his recovery from cancer) and compensates for his lack of brute force with a high cadence. Ullrich makes use of his natural resources - sheer force at a relatively low cadence. The result: they produce more or less the same power, which is the product of cadence and force. Power is the key: cadence and force are engine-specific. It's like a V8, 4 litre engine competing with a V6, 3 litre running at higher RPMs and producing the same power. And if you look at the legs of the two Tour de France heroes you'll find, that their 'cylinders' look quite different.

From the trainer's view it's amazing that Armstrong could adapt to his situation. Under normal circumstances the efficiency of aerobic work drops when you spin faster. Oxygen uptake is most efficient at fairly low cadences, around 60 RPMs. Most cyclists spin a lot faster in order to support the supply of the muscles with nutrients (average cadence for the hour record: 107,8 RPM). Armstrong has obviously found a way to increase the RPM range a bit and to solve the optimization problem oxygen uptake vs. muscle supply at the upper end of the RPM range.

Armstrong's style is intellectually driven, a result of proper analysis and planned training. A side effect of his higher RPM is, that he can accelerate a lot faster than Ullrich which helps him to attack in the mountains. He might also recover better from riding above the threshold due to the higher RPM - better recovery also helps to attack. Ullrich's 'engine' lacks elasticity. That's his weak point and one reason why he rarely wins 'normal' races although he is so strong.

What can we learn from Armstrong? Training works. Just do it.

Foot pain

I am a 31 year old male, 1.73m tall and 89kg (overweight, I know). This year I have started road riding again after 10 years off the bike. I used to race as a junior. My goals are to reduce my weight to 75kg and start racing sometime in the near future. I ride (or do a spin class when it's raining) 5 times a week.

I am currently experiencing pain in my feet when I ride. It starts on the side of my foot at the base of the little toe and extends the whole way down the outside of the foot to the heel, on both feet. It starts almost as soon as I get on the bike, sometimes feels better if I tough it out for a while and always feels much better when climbing. I have been to the local bike shop and they checked my cleat position, which they said is fine and suggested I get insoles for my cycling shoes. I did this and also bought thicker socks but it hasn't helped at all.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Alan Parfitt
Cape Town, South Africa

Georg Ladig replies:

Congratulations for picking up this superb sport again!

It is very possible that your relative high weight and bike riding is not yet compatible with the strength of your feet.

There are two ways you can tackle this:

1: Continue to reduce your weight as I understand you are doing.

2. Strengthening exercises for your feet. jogging (and ideally jogging barefoot on the beach), but also squash, ping-pong, badminton or similar sports would ideally be integrated into your winter training (I know, it is about to end...). Even brushing your teeth standing on one leg would be a good start and the most "time effective" way...

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Loss of fitness with vacations

I'm 45 and have been racing masters events for 5 years. I cycle year round but start a more structured program in January. I race starting in April and peak in early June. At that time I usually end up being off the bike for about 2 weeks when we take a family vacation. When I return my fitness level feels about like I do in February. What is the best way to regain racing form so I can get back to racing in early August? Do I concentrate on endurance rides till my fitness recovers or head right back into intervals?

Curt Evenson
Springfield MO

Eddie Monnier replies:

I think it's great to take a break mid-season. It's always a shame to see people tired of their bikes in early August when often there's a lot of good racing left. You will detrain some with two weeks off the bike, but not all that much. It takes about 4 weeks of inactivity to become fully detrained (Costill). The first 5-7 days can actually be beneficial to performance; thereafter, however, performance generally declines. One thing you might consider is some light cross-training during your vacation. But don't forget, it's a vacation away from cycling and serious training for both you and, equally importantly, you're family. So don't be militant about it. The fitness you will lose in just two weeks will be pretty quickly recovered and the benefit is you're allowing your mind and body to recover so you can pursue the second part of the season with full zeal.

Since you didn't specify, I'll assume you race a variety of road events. My recommendation would be to do some Base type training following your vacation (rides of medium to long duration at low to moderate intensity). How much? I would say at least two weeks and possibly as many as four. The duration will depend in part on your "limiters" (eg, if endurance is a limiter, more is probably more appropriate) and when you want to achieve your second peak. If your "A" race is late August or early September, you'll have the luxury to do more Base. If it's earlier, you may have to do just enough so it's not a handicap so you can focus on higher intensity training during your Build phases.

If you're unfamiliar with race prioritization, you might want to check out this article: The Six P's of Race Prioritization.

Training with power

I'm a 42-year-old 3rd cat road rider, in my second year of racing after a 22-year layoff. I've had to bring my racing season to a premature close, apparently because I'm over-trained. I appear to be only too willing to train too hard, too frequently.

Can the Q&A Panel suggest any strategies I could follow to aid my recovery from overtraining? Could I use a power training device such as a PowerTap both to assist my recovery and restrain me from overtraining in 2004? If so, how?

Chris Gregory

Eddie Monnier replies:

I'm a big proponent of power-based training. However, it alone will not keep you from overtraining. It's actually rather difficult to over-train and people often frequently mean significantly over-reached when they say, "I'm over-trained." It can take months to recover from over-training, so I certainly hope that you're just very over-reached and not truly over-trained.

In any event, it's important to try to identify how you ended in this state. First, we usually have a lot of other life responsibilities in our 40's compared to our young 20's which often means we have to adjust our training accordingly, not to mention our physiology requires more recovery time. Did you have a structured plan? Perhaps you ramped up your hours too quickly during the course of your recent comeback. Or, you had a plan but didn't adhere to it if you were training too hard, too frequently (or it was a poorly structured plan). It is entirely appropriate to have back-to-back hard days at times, but all too often people get on their bike day after day and go to the local group ride or training race and hammer their brains out with no objective whatsoever. For some, this actually works. For the vast majority, it doesn't. You should have a specific goal every time you get on your bike (eg, "ride x hours with HR in the range y-z", "do w-x intervals of y duration at z power" or "recovery ride, spin easy and keep HR below x"). Groups rides have their place, but they are frequently misused.

I suggest you use your recovery time to read a good book on structured training (I'm naturally biased toward Joe Friel's "The Cyclist's Training Bible") and put together a careful plan for next year. And if you can afford one, a power meter is a great asset in training, but only you can keep yourself from overtraining.

Heart rate

In a recent hilly race that lasted 67 minutes my heart rate was as follows:

21 minutes at 160-170
29 minutes at 170-180
7:38 at 180-190
And 17 seconds in the 190's with a max HR Of 197

This was the most I have worked in a race all year. Given these numbers what would you estimate as my threshold HR. And what levels should I train at?

Brian Polhemus
Spencertown, N.Y

Georg Ladig replies:

Studying your heartrate during training and racing is one of the best ways to learn about your body and its flow of energy.

Since you're able to ride for more then half an hour at 170 - 180, we can safely assume that your lactate threshold is between these limits. If you want even more accuracy, you would have to train/race measuring power output or do a lab test.

In any case you will always get just a "photograph" of your temporary fitness which could/should change as you improve.

An alternative would be to establish your HR max - which is hard, especially mentally- then your training zones could be set by this value.

You find an easy tool for this calculation at

In any case it would be good to re-evaluate your HR max every 4 - 6 weeks to keep track of your improvements and to then recalculate your training zones.

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