Fitness questions and answers for April 4, 2005

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at...

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

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 any geography.

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 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 (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.

Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.

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.

Michael Smartt (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, 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.

Hypothyroid
Trainers
Time trial frame size
Back pain, knee pain, calf pain…the works
Ruptured Achilles

Hypothyroid

I'm a 24 year old, 6' 0'', 160lb, cat 4 rider, looking to advance in this season of road racing. During the winter I've felt pretty tired on the bike and slower than this time last year. I've been putting on a fair number of base miles, but only in 30-40 mile increments. Seems like when I try to do more it becomes a matter of survival rather than training.

A couple weeks ago I saw a doctor for a blood test. Everything was normal except my TSH levels, which were 8.48 mu/L (I believe those are the correct units). I've just had another test to confirm this result. My question is: how far out of whack are these levels, from a sports medicine perspective? Obviously it indicates hypothyroidism, but is it "hypo" enough, so to speak, to be the source of my tiredness? I want to avoid unnecessary treatment for this problem, if possible. But I also want to be treated if that will help my cycling. I'm worried my doctor will consider my levels relative to his other patients, who wake up, sit in a cubicle, eat cheetos, and watch TV. My activities extend a little beyond that, and I want to have energy for those activities.

Any information you have would be phenomenal. I would like to be somewhat educated about this when I speak with my doctor. Thanks so much.

Andy Kittelson

Denver, CO

Scott Saifer Replies


Hi Andy,

Endurance athletes who train extensively (as opposed to those who call themselves athletes but don't train) typically have thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels a little higher than the general population. Your 8.48 is a little above the range I've seen in athletes, but that by itself does not indicate that you need treatment.

The thyroid gland produces thryoxine or T4. T4 is the hormone that actually regulates metabolism. TSH is like the gas pedal for T4. If you have a normal thyroid gland, a normal level of TSH will cause the gland to release the normal amount of T4. If the gland is weak, a higher level of TSH is needed to make the normal level of T4. In the normal population, the thyroid gland is usually only weak if it is about to fail entirely. Thus doctors who see a high TSH level and are not familiar with the hormonal profile of athletes will want to prescribe thyroid (T4) supplementation as soon as the TSH goes a little out of the normal range.

Endurance athlete's T4 levels should not be very different from anyone else's levels, so my suggestion would be to have your doctor send you for a T4 test. If that comes back low, get treatment. T4 treatment is very unlikely to hurt you in any way, except that you have to remember to take a tiny pill every day. If you really are hypothyroid, the treatment will correct your fatigue very quickly.

Trainers

A lot seems to be written about power metres on road bikes, especially the top three or four top brands. But what about the RaceMate CompuTrainer? It would seem there should be many benefits in training regularly with something that gives you instant feedback, such as the SpinScan Pedal Stoke Analyzer. It must be much more productive in making adjustments to position and pedaling when feedback is immediate. Many world class triathletes and ironmen use it every week. Would road cyclists not gain also by training on it regularly?

John

Ric Stern Replies

John,

Indoor trainers that are electronic such as the Computrainer, and more regular models such as a fan, or fluid trainers are great for training on, for all types of cyclists (with the possible exception of track sprinters). They make the training much more controllable - you don't have to find the correct length of road or hill to do your intervals etc on, as well as making things much safer - no cars to up you, and no pot holes to ride around. I use a variety of trainers frequently.

However, when comparing trainers such as a Computrainer to on the bike power meters such as the PowerTap or SRM, it's generally likely that the data a trainer produces won't be as accurate as a calibrated PowerTap or SRM. In my experience using several different Computrainers as well as other electronic trainers, the power data has been off in terms off accuracy. It's important to get accurate power data if you use it to compare to others, are using it for modelling purposes, etc.

Additionally, while the SpinScan function tries to teach you about pedalling mechanics and to get you to produce a 'perfect' pedalling circle[!] it can't actually do this. For this you would need force instrumented pedals to measure the forces, the magnitude and direction of those forces to arrive at those data. Additionally, research has shown using instrumented force pedals that a 'perfect' pedalling circle is not the holy grail of bike technique. Seminal work by Coyle et al (1991), showed that when two groups of cyclist (elite and state level cyclists) were compared for pedalling mechanics, the better cyclists stamped down more and pulled up less than the not-so-good cyclists who stamped down less and pulled down more. Research suggests it's more about generating more force on the downstroke.

Furthermore, I'm not 100% certain what you mean about "making adjustments to position" but, for example, if you mean trying different positions to produce the most in, say, a TT position, then you would need to combine this with wind tunnel or indoor velodrome data, for example, to ascertain which is the most aerodynamic position. Often the best (ie - the fastest) position may not be the most powerful position. Increasing aerodynamics at the expense of power will most likely give better results.

While trainers are great for doing intervals, etc., and the electronic ones are great for reducing boredom, I would not recommend them above a proper power metre. All the best

Time trial frame size

I was wondering if you could advise me on TT frame size. I've just come across cyclingnews and seen the advice you've given to various letters. Firstly, at present I ride a 56cm trek road frame with a 10cm stem. I'm thinking of buying a smaller road frame for time trialling - how small would you recommend. Thanks

Steve

London

Steve Hogg Replies


G'day Steve,

I'm wondering why you think that you need a smaller frame to ride TTs?
Assuming that you are happy with the fit of the current frame, why not buy one of similar size again and set it up for TTs? Have a look at this post, and after reading that, let me know if you have any other queries.

Back pain, knee pain, calf pain…the works

I too have sufferred from all of the above for years and like Erik Feibert of Ontario, OR, and knew that it was in part due to bad posture and worsened by a few accidents. Last year after an operation that mde me walk and sleep funny for a month it got really bad, the worst I can remember. I ended up getting advice to visit someone who does rolfing, mezieres, or myofascial release - it comes under various brand names.

I started seeing a guy in Bilbao and as I had to travel I could not get the whole treatment but I can say that having my muscles stretch out by this guy and then having a set of exercises that teach me good posture, proper walking habits etc has really helped fix the arch in my back and minimised some of the other problems. I am also taking a magnesium supplement, called biomag, daily to assist with tight muscles etc and am finding with lots of hard work and an authoritairian exercise regime, the pain is going away, my posture is improving and strength in my lower back increasing.

I have taken time off the bike as I want to get walking properly before stressing myself with a training regime. The occasional spin is all I can manage at the moment. Partly because being away from home I don't have a bike with me but also because I just want to work on my back and not confuse it just now.

But I strongly reccomend to anyone who has any pain, pronatation of hips, knees etc, one leg shorter etc etc to look into this form of treatment. The normal course is over 10 weeks and although I only manged to have two weeks the changes in my back were dramatic. I am looking forward to some more treatment and getting back on the bike when I get home to the Basque Country in the summer. But for now learning to sit, stand and walk with lost of stretching is really helping overcome the plague of a bad back and all that comes with it.

Martin Hardie (not "qualified" except through 20 years of back pain!)

Mozambique for now

Ruptured Achilles

I am a 40-year-old healthy male who last week in a basketball game may have ruptured my achilles tendon. The emergency room doctor stated that merely looking at an x-ray wasn't enough to tell for sure if the rupture was completely split.

Today I saw an orthopaedic doctor who did no more than take another x-ray - I'm not pleased with the fact that he told me he needed to do surgery.

I have complete motion range and no pain and still didn't have either a scan or mri - should I let the surgeon who doesn't "think" it is completely split cut it in half and sew it together? It doesn't make sense to me

Scott Saifer Replies


Hi Brad,

You may want to get an opinion from a third doctor, but no coach who has not seen the xrays should try to recommend medical treatment over email.

Back to top