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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 October 23, 2003
Recovering from over-training
Big Upper body
Intervals on a home trainer
Joe Friel & other coaches
Recovering from over-training
I am a 40 year old female cyclist who has been road racing for 1.5 seasons,
with a 3 year background in triathlon. My resting (not overtrained) HR is 42,
my max is 193bpm. My AT HR is 170 and LT power is 190.
In the middle of the season, I could complete 3 x 20 min @ or near AT/LT.
By the end of the season I could not complete even one. I train 5 days a week,
with Mon and Fri off, or active recovery by spinning on rollers.
I ended the season this year absolutely wiped. Exhausted beyond anything
I've ever experienced before (that includes 2 kids!). All medical tests come
back normal, so it's not a medical thing. I sleep close to 10 hours a day right
now and still feel tired. I took one entire week off completely from riding,
with 2 days of VERY easy swimming to keep things loose. Then, for a week and
a half, I rode one day, easy, and then rested for 2 days. Now I am riding every
other day, very easy (HR in the aerobic zone, power in the light endurance/recovery
zone for anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours), but even though I can feel some progress
towards regaining strength, I am still way more tired than I should be following
I know that stress contributed a great deal to my becoming overtrained (and
I am working to alleviate that stress), as well as not allowing enough recovery
time after/between hard races.
I follow a fairly regimented diet: lots of fresh fruit and veggies, some
supplements, lean protein, etc. Low fat, complex carbs, not a lot of refined
foods, but with an ocassional treat thrown in for fun!
I stretch every evening to relax, and practice deep breathing exercises
as well. When I wake up in the morning, my leg muscles are kind of twitching
and buzzing. Is that normal? What causes that? And am I doing it right to recover
from my overtraining bout?
Should I be spending any time at all in the other zones? One article I read
said to keep the intensity but drop the volume, another said that one should
keep the HR low, both said for 5 weeks... what's the real scoop?
And lastly, once recovered, how do I regain the fitness lost without going
back over the edge?
Kim Morrow replies:
Sorry to hear that you are feeling so fatigued. You mentioned the term "overtraining",
and this may very well be your current condition. However, you may actually
be "overreaching". While this may be a matter of semantics, these are also
different states which should be approached a bit differently. If you have
seen a decrease in your performance (ie. you used to be able to do 3 x 20:00
LT efforts, and now you can only do 1 x 20:00 effort) then this is certainly
a warning sign. If there is a consistent decrease in your training/racing
performance, then this issue needs to be addressed.
You asked a key question regarding how long your recovery time should be,
and you mentioned that you had read several articles that suggested a 5 week
recovery period. Well, this is one of the areas where the distinction between
overtraining and overreaching is highlighted. (Although, this is not so easily
definable, since trained athletes move along a continuum which includes undertraining,
ideal training, overreaching, or overtraining.) But, if the accumulation of
training stresses, and real life stresses, have you in a state of "overreaching",
then several days or several weeks of proper rest/recovery will usually get
you back to your normal performance capabilities. However, if you are in a
state of "overtraining", then this could take several weeks to several months.
Each one of us is unique. The training plan that may put you in a fatigued
state may work perfectly for another athlete. That is why it is important
to have individual training programs, and if you are able, to have your own
personal coach. A coach can add the objective eyes and ears that a motivated
endurance athlete needs. Most of us are passionate and diligent in our training.
And, I rarely have to challenge one of my coached athletes to work harder.
Usually, I end up encouraging them to REST more, and to remind them that rest
is an important part of the training process.
Since you mentioned that you have already visited your physician, I would
encourage you to continue to focus on the areas of your life that you can
control which will affect your recovery. Focus on good nutrition, rest, limiting
other life stresses as much as is possible, and reducing both the volume and
intensity in your training. How long will this take until you get the spring
back in your step and/or the "snap" back in your legs? Unfortunately, that
is not a question I can answer, as again, you are unique, and your body will
recover at a different pace than another athlete.
But here are a few suggestions:
1) Be patient. This may take a bit longer than you want it to, especially
if you are overtrained.
2) REST, REST and more REST. (Active recovery rides in zone 1 are fine.)
3) Keep a training diary of your recovery progress which includes the monitoring
of your sleep, fatigue levels, stress, resting HR, etc.
4) Consider conducting a simple field test every few weeks in order to assess
your recovery progress. The key is to note when your training is back to "normal"
5) Schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician in a month or so.
6) Remember that this is the off-season, so it is a good time to take a break.
I know this is tough, but try to ENJOY a break from serious training!
7) Consider making an assessment of this year's training program, to determine
what you might do differently next year, and to record what you have learned.
Hang in there. I hope you feel better soon.
I am a 23 year-old male Cat 3 road racer in the UK. I'm slightly worried
that I am not getting enough protein in my diet. Though I'm not actually experiencing
any symptoms that could suggest I may be protein deficient, I am conscious that
a lack of protein could affect my performance or general health. My training
load isn't huge (between 5 and 12 hours a week).
While I am by no means a vegetarian I'm not too bothered about eating meat;
I'm happy on a mostly vegetarian diet with some fish. On a typical day I would
eat the following:
Breakfast: glass of orange juice, bowl of porridge (with semi milk), cup
Lunch: Bulgur wheat salad or sometimes jacket potato with beans, yoghurt,
cereal bar, apple
Dinner: potato, rice or pasta dish with vegetables and sometimes fish (tuna,
prawns, sardines, salmon etc), fruit with yoghurt for dessert
Snacks would be fruit or toast. I avoid foods high in saturated fat but
I'm aware I should probably eat more omega-3 and unsaturated fats.
I'm conscious of eating high GI foods, though this often doesn't work out
well as I eat quite a lot of pasta or rice. I have an interest in nutrition
and would appreciate some pointers to books on the subject (general nutrition
books; I have sports nutrition information in other books).
Ric Stern replies:
It's unlikely that you're protein deficient. Protein requirements, either
for the general population or for active people are quite low. The protein
requirements even for the heaviest workloads are still comparatively small,
especially in comparison to carbohydrate requirements.
Very heavy workloads that require 'large' amounts of protein are typified
by extreme endurance events such as the Tour de France, Giro, Vuelta. The
upper limit for protein intake is ~ 2.0 g/kg body mass per day during such
events, although some recent reports do suggest that riders might consume
up to 3 g/kg body mass per day.
However, during moderate volume training such as 5 to 12 hrs/week, protein
requirements will be very modest, in the range of 0.8 to 1.5 g/kg body mass
per day. For an 'average' sized rider of say 72 kg, that would work out at
58 to 108 g of protein per day.
As a committed ovo-lacto vegetarian myself (i.e., no animal products except
dairy and eggs) i have no problem greatly exceeding the protein requirement.
In fact most people would be hard pushed to meet and exceed the requirements
for protein. Exceptions for this are likely to be people on a very restrictive
'fad' diet to loose weight, possibly vegans if they don't plan their food,
and people who eat very little.
On the other hand for most club cyclists (i.e., 5 to 12 hrs/week), carbohydrate
requirements would be ~ 5 to 8 g/kg body mass per day, i.e., 360 to 576 g
CHO per day for a 72 kg cyclist.
Big upper body
I am a cat 3 wanting to upgrade to a 2. I had a great year this year but
am still not climbing as well as I would like to upgrade. I use the Joe F. training
system. I ride about 600 hr a year.I am 33 years of age and 175 lb. My body
fat is low 4 or 5%. I'm a old gym rat and I still have a big upperbody for a
bike racer. What can I do to change this? Would a low carb diet work well this
winter? My diet now is I eat everything I see. Lots of sugar and carbs.
Des Moines, Iowa
Jim Lehman replies:
Without seeing you in person it is somewhat difficult to know what the full
situation is. It sounds like you are a very fit and lean person, which is
a good problem to have. The added upper body weight is most likely left over
from your days in the gym. Unless you are still following an upper body weight
training program, some of that upper body mass should begin to come off as
you continue to train on the bike. Depending on your body type, you may find
that you will always retain some of that upper body mass but it should begin
to diminish over time.
A low carbohydrate diet is probably not the answer to your problems, especially
considering your training load and racing aspirations. You need to focus on
a well balanced diet and one that is appropriate for your level of training.
It is most likely a question of how many calories your are eating rather than
the fact that you have too many carbohydrates in your diet. Pay a visit to
your local dietician and he/she can put together a nutrition strategy for
you. In the meantime, keep riding your bike and avoid heavy upper body lifting.
Intervals on a home trainer
I am a 19 year old road rider, 65kg, 178cm with at the moment limited training
time, my focus is to be in form for the end of the (now beginning) summer season
for crits and road races in and around Sydney. My question essentially is can
I carry out effective training by using a home trainer for building endurance
(can this be done effectively) and spend my limited outdoor sessions focusing
on speed and power?
Dave Palese replies:
I would suggest using the trainer to develop speed and power. And use your
outdoor time to work on the endurance aspect of your fitness.
Doing so will allow you to structure your power/speed sessions and also have
a great deal of control over the sessions. It can be difficult to do power/speed
sessions on the road, since terrain, traffic and weather can vary during intervals.
It also will help to keep the length of your trainer time to a minimum.
When you go outside you can work on endurance and some longer, middle intensity
intervals (7 minutes or so, to an hour).
Joe Friel & other coaches
I'm a 58-year-old who has been racing for six years, split between veterans
and Surrey League/British Cycling events for 3rd Cats. I'm also a coach. During
the winter in addition to the fortnightly on-the-road events, I'd like to do
a couple of indoor sessions where riders sit down and listen to someone.
Does Joe Friel come to the UK? If so how could I contact him and what would
he (potentially) charge? Does any other coach come to mind?
Eddie Monnier replies:
Joe regularly does speaking engagements (as do most coaches) and does occasionally
travel overseas to do them. Organizing an event like this can be a great way
to raise money for your club or team as well as bolster your knowledge. For
Joe's latest schedule and to contact him, see http://www.ultrafit.com/seminars.asp.
As for coaches who may be a bit more local to you, there are some excellent
coaches in the Association of British
Cycling Coaches. Two well known and very well respected coaches that come
to mind are fellow panelist Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com)
and Peter Keen (coached Chris Boardman, ran the British cycling program for
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles