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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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Fitness questions and answers for December 3, 2003
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.
More on motorpacing
Fuel for weights and cycling
Effect of the Pill
Returning from running
More on motorpacing
In last week's fitness letters we responded to a
letter from Colm Ahern in Ireland about motorpacing riders. Fitness panelist
Richard Stern has pointed out that motorpacing a bicycle
rider is illegal in many jurisdictions, and at the very least will invalidate
your motorbike insurance in the event of an accident.
Cyclingnews encourages all riders, on bikes or motorcycles, to obey their local
traffic laws, and in the case of an activity such as motorpacing, to seek legal
advice before taking to the road.
If you are able to motorpace legally, panelist Eddie
Monnier suggests you should fashion a roller bar to the rear of your motorbike
so that the rider's front wheel can bump against it if s/he gets too close.
This will help mitigate the likelihood of a crash.
On the practical side, Georg Ladig adds:
What makes motorpacing difficult is that the moto accelerates faster then the
bike rider and also loses speed faster (under braking). This makes drafting
the motorcycle restless, rough and ultimately dangerous.
To mitigate this, choose a scooter or a weaker engine with less HP; always
try to keep the moto in the biggest gear, at the cost of getting to a coughing
exhaust pipe; try to load the moto with as much extra weight as possible.
I am new to racing and this is my first winter of training specifically for
cycling. 6ft. 145 pounds 27 years old. I plan on racing road race, crits and
time trials all summer. I have been riding about 10 months.
Most winter plans stress base and aerobic low wattage riding over the higher
intensity race specific training. Where I am lost is that I have an aerobic
base and low body mass from years of running but lack considerably in the arena
of generating force to the pedals. My 5 minute power wattage is a low 275 how
can I possibly hold 260 and above for 20 minutes in May if I spend so much time
training at a low wattage. The wattages are a close guess, but if I can only
hold 28mph in the flat for a minute how the heck am I ever going to hold 28mph
for a 40km time trial. I can climb like most riders several Categories above
me with my low body weight, but give me a head wind or a flat section of road
and I am in trouble! If burnout is the only reason then I am going to hit the
pedals hard. Are there any test results that compare high wattage quality programs
to training plans with more emphasis on base?
Knoxville TN USA
Richard Stern replies:
It is necessary to do some long rides, as this will allow you to become more
comfortable at riding over longer distances, assuming that you want to do
some long races.
I also see no reason why you should not include some harder intensity work
during your off-season training. This can include some zone 3 and 4 work,
with zone 4 being around TT power. This may include longer sessions at low
zone 3 (e.g. building to 90-mins), or shorter sessions at zone 4 (e.g. 15
- 30 mins). These two sessions are particularly good to do inside on trainer,
if the weather is inclement. By gradually increasing the power you can maintain
at e.g. zone 4, will allow you to TT at higher powers/faster speeds.
Out on the road, you'll invariably come across some hills, and these will
almost certainly be ridden at a higher power (e.g. zone 5). If, like many
people, you have to ride indoors during the week in the off-season on the
trainer, then almost certainly you'll end up doing higher intensity sessions,
as long, low intensity sessions on the trainer are excessively boring!
Fuel for weights and cycling
I am a 31 y/o male weighing 77kg, 180cm height and have been road cycling for
some time now. I weight train three days a week, since I enjoy the benefits
of it and I am also in remission from Hodgkinson's Disease. My fitness levels
are probably the best they've ever been (no, they don't put anything into your
chemo!). I find I am stronger on long rides with climbs and often head out to
Falls Creek in Victoria for great climbing. I find that it takes my body a couple
of hours to really get warm before I am performing at my best.
My question is diet related. I have done so much reading on food since my health
scare and now incorporate a strict eating regime. Since I weight train, I mostly
consume protein, veggies & fruit, virtually no milk, no bread etc. My dilemma
occurs when I go out on the weekends for long rides. I find that for the remaining
part of the day after the ride, I am constantly stuffing my face with carbs
and am depleted of energy. It's an unusual feeling since weight training does
not have this effect on me. I ride between 200-250kms on the weekend. The weight
training has also helped me regain muscle which I lost during chemo, so I am
keen to keep this up, yet I am experienced enough to not build excessive muscle
that might hinder my cycling. How do I strike a balance by means of fueling
my body for the two, different disciplines?
Dave Palese replies:
I don't have enough info to give you an absolute answer, but here is my opinion.
The one thing athletes need to keep in mind when considering diet issues,
is the type of athlete they are. You end you message by asking, "How do I
strike a balance by means of fueling my body for the two, different disciplines?".
What you need to consider is whether you are a bodybuilder or an endurance
athlete. If your main focus is cycling and weight training is just one component
of your training plan, then I suggest sticking to the usual high carb diet
of the endurance athlete. This will ensure that you are properly fueled for
your training rides and will also make available to fuel for your weight training.
Depending on the type of weight training plan you are following, the amount
of protein that you get from the endurance diet should be sufficient to rebuild
any muscle tissue damage from your gym sessions.
Eddie Monnier replies:
I imagine that focusing your diet on protein, veggies and fruit is part of
your anti-cancer strategy. It's also an approach I advocate for my athletes.
For readers' general interest, I recommend The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain.
In short, the theory is that our bodies' ability to process food hasn't really
changed since our hunter/gatherer ancestors and, as such, we are ill equipped
to handle the starches, sugars and dairy products so prevalent in the diets
of modern societies. See Cordain's book for a the complete explanation and
the scientific support.
As you've experienced based on your long weekend rides, the challenge for
the endurance athlete is maintaining energy levels during long rides and restoring
glycogen levels following long and/or hard training and racing sessions. Some
of the problems associated with high glycemic foods are mitigated during exercise,
so it's appropriate to use energy drinks, gels and/or bars during your rides.
Some people can also use natural foods like raisins, figs, watered down fruit
juices, etc. You will need to experiment a bit to see what works for you.
Following a ride longer than 2.5 hours or a very hard workout/race, it's
important to begin restoring glycogen levels as soon as possible following
your training session, so try to get something within the first 30 minutes
or so. You might start with an energy drink for ease. Foods that work for
me include baked potatoes (also great because it's a net base food whereas
most starches and processed foods are net acidic), oatmeal (try the steel
cut!), pastas, rice, couscous, etc. Many of these can be cooked in bulk, enabling
you to reheat some for a quick meal. I usually try to take in some protein
at this time as well.
Joe Friel and Dr. Cordain are working on a book about adjusting the Paleo
diet for the athlete, but for more information in the mean time, see this
e-tip (with reference to other e-tips on the topic) written by Joe.
Here's to your health!
Effect of the Pill
I am wondering if the birth control pill affects performance negatively or
positively. I have been an avid rider for a few years and have never worried
about it, but I want to try racing next spring. Do elite athletes use the pill
or do they stay away from it since it gives them more female hormones? Aren't
the male hormones the ones that help athletic performance?
Eddie Monnier replies:
The only study I know of that examined the impact of oral contraception on
the performance of highly-trained women showed an average decrease in aerobic
capacity (VO2max) of 4.7%, though there was a lot of variation among the individuals
(vs. an increase of 1.5% for the placebo group; the study was conducted blind).
Quite a few questions remain unanswered, so I hope we'll see more studies
done in this area.
While an elite level rider may want to evaluate her individual response,
given the variability of response among the 14 participants, the relatively
small decrease in VO2max and your entry-level racing status, I wouldn't let
any potential impact on aerobic capacity affect your own decision (i.e., make
your decision with your healthcare professional's input based on non-athletic
Good luck with your first season of racing!
Returning from running
I'm a 33 year old whose last race was 12 years ago. Since then I've run competitively
(15:50 5km, 2:41 Marathon). Next year I want to race bikes again. I'm 6ft 1in
and 140 pounds and naturally have lousy acceleration but decent endurance and
climbing. I've ridden one or twice a week over the last few years. I probably
have time to train about 10 hours a week. How should I adjust a normal training
schedule to fit my background?
Ric Stern replies:
Welcome back! If you have 10-hrs/week training time then that should be plenty
for many races. You'll need to up your frequency of training from twice a
week, building up to four to six times a week over a period of time. This
will help enable you to get used to riding for periods and to become more
comfortable on the bike.
As you get more used to riding the bike, you'll also need to include some
intensity work. This can be done with zone 3 and 4 work. There's no need to
start these intervals as short efforts, as long as the intensity is correct
for you, i.e., the zone 4 work can start at ~ 15-mins.
If you ride outdoors (e.g. at the weekends), then ensure that you encounter
a variety of terrains, e.g., flat roads, rolling roads, and hills. The intensity
of the work that you do will vary on these differing roads, as will cadence
and this will allow you to become adept at different terrains.
You should also include some group sessions, as this will help with motivation
and teach you some of the skills you'll for racing (e.g. riding closely together
in a bunch).
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles