Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
I was interested in the recent article "UCI Rules vs bike fit". Unfortunately, I seem to fit into the "short legs/ small bike" catagory. My saddle is usually set back about 2cm from the BB.
I primarily race on the track in Trexlertown, PA. We have a couple UCI events in which I am able to compete. However, I have to move my seat back for these races. Ideally I would like a setup that is comfotable and "legal". I think the best way is to use a shorter saddle, does this sound logical?
Can you recommend any of the shorter saddles? When I search for short saddles, I am only able to find womens models.
Steve Hogg replies:
Mens racing seats can vary from around 265mm long to around 300mm long. The majority are the high 260mm to low 280 mm range. You don't say what you are using now. Fizik used to make a seat called the Chrono which was a 'normal' seat (width 138mm at widest point) other than it was 246mm long. Maybe they still make them, I'm not sure. If you hunt around on the net, you can probably find one.
The other option that occurs to me is the Selle San Marco Atola at 245mm long. It is nominally a 'womens' seat but there is a male version called the Arami. Both are 140mm wide at the widest point and when compared side by side there seems to be no difference other than length.
I know more than one person in your situation who has carefully peeled back the covering on the nose of the seat, ground back the nose of the plastic shell as much as was practicable, carefully cut down the padding and cover to suit and reglued them. To my knowledge none has ever been challenged by a commissaire.
I hope this helps.
[I like the tale Cyclingnews diarist Chris Davidson tells here of how technical commissaires seem to prefer to circumvent this rule. - Ed]
I have recently been diagnosed with having Mono after feeling awful on the bike for about 6 weeks. It also seems that a couple of pros a year seem to get it and it takes them out for a couple of months. My question is how much training should you do if you have Mono? My internet searches on the subject of exercising with Mono turn up everything from do nothing but rest in bed to train as much as you feel like.
Is there any general advice you can offer on this.
Scott Saifer replies:
For many riders with mono those two bits of advice (stay in bed versus train as much as you feel like) come to the same thing. The deal with mono is that unlike with milder illnesses such as colds, the time during which you are not able to train well is going to be so long that you are going to lose most of your fitness no matter how you train while sick. When you regain your health, you're going to have to lay in a new foundation of base miles.
While you have mono you should follow the same rule with regard to when and how much to train as any healthy person: don't train while you are tired. Depending on the severity of your case, that might mean not training at all, or only training recovery pace for short sessions.
I am a 43 year old 1st Cat. rider in the UK riding mainly in local road races. I currently ride Shimano R214 shoes and Speedplay Zeros. Shoes are size 41 and I have 2 Lemond purple wedges under each cleat to stop my foot tipping in towards the cranks and orthotic insoles to address the same problem under the instep/heel.
I am looking to change shoes ( I will be keeping my pedal system ) and have basically come down to 3 different brands due to problems with narrow/shallow fit required for the size of my foot. I like to feel the shoe have a tight/snug fit in the upper and the only shoes which do not run out of buckle adjustment or do not crease or pucker in the upper when feeling nice and tight are the Shimano R215, the Specialized Pro Carbon Road and the Sidi Ergo 1.
1. Do you have any info. on the stack height of the soles on these shoes compared to my current R214s? I should imagine the R215s will be the same although the raised cleat platform on the sole has been extended to the edge of the sole making the stack height look greater. Can you confirm my assumption and how do the other two shoes mentioned compare?
2. Do you have any info. on the new R300 which is due? Apparently it is designed to be heated and then moulded to fit and retains this fitted shape when it cools. Will this be a substitute for my orthotics and do you have any info. on the sole stack height on this shoe? I presume the front of the sole is not able to be moulded so I will need to retain my Lemond wedges.
3. Do you know how the inbuilt correction in the soles of the Specialized shoes compare with the 2 Lemond wedges I use?
4. Finally, I have my cleats set up as per your recommendation with the ball of the foot 7 to 8 mm in front of the pedal axle. This seems to be a the limit of adjustment on the R214. How do the shoes I am considering compare to this?
Any info. and advice would be most appreciated.
Steve Hogg replies:
Regarding 1: No I don't. I don't set seat height by measuring relative sole thickness. Other factors come into play as well. Recent carbon soled Shimano shoes have a lot of toe lift in the last for but not much heel lift for instance. By comparison Sidi have moderate heel lift and a less toe lift than the Shimanos. These differences can have an effect on pedalling and by extension, seat height determination. You can't just compare shoe sole thicknesses and change seat height based on that, although the idea is attractive.
Regarding 2: I went to a Shimano product launch a while back and saw the R300. My understanding ( and I am happy to be corrected) is that the upper and insole is heat moldable, not the sole. As to whether that would negate the need for orthoses in your case; I don't know but suspect not. I assume that the heat moldable insole changes shape in response to the pressure while it is hot. If you apply pressure with an uncorrected footplant, then I assume the insole will reflect that and you would still need some other sort of intervention.
Regarding 3. It should be somewhere in the vicinity but I would advise some trial and error checking if you buy the Specialized (or any other shoe for that matter).
Regarding 4: I say cautiously that the Sidi's are about the same as your Shimanos and the Specialized have slightly more rearward holes. A lot determines how your foot fits the shoe. Additionally, Speedplay baseplates don't have as much rearward adjustment as some other pedals, though there are ways around that.
Considering the thought you are putting into this, why not get another pair of Shimano's. They have worked for you to date and are a known quantity to you.
I am a 35 year old racer, and compete in road races from March to July each year here in the UK. Training is usual mix of steady miles and intervals (about 7hrs a week) due to work/ family constraints. Anyway early last year I changed to Speedplays (quality medical advice and rehab) after shocking knee pain, and the knee seems cured. However this year I have been suffering from what appear to be shin splints after any interval session or hard ride, no problems with the easy rides though. I don't do any running due to the knee issues and therefore am not impacting the leg in anyway. My only thoughts are that it has something to do with the amount of pedal float and my legs trying to compensate for the float by stressing themselves to remain in line whilst trying hard. Do you have any thoughts?
Steve Hogg replies:
Shin splints are almost always associated with tight calves so it is a good idea to get into the habit of stretching them and the rest of you as well. Other than that, cleat position can play a part. Commonly, cleats that are too far forward on the shoe load up the lower limb. Less commonly, cleats that are too far back on the shoe limit ankle movement to too great a degree and can cause a ballistic stretch of the calves.
If your choice of shoe and /or pedal has made that advice impossible to implement, get back to me also for ways to resolve that.
The other possibility that occurs to me is that Speedplays were probably recommended to you, probably because of their amount of freeplay. That and your description of previous "shocking knee pain" implies that all is not good with your hip /lower back function and / or foot /ankle function. It is quite possible that a pedal with good freeplay has helped with you but under greater intensity, your structural shortcomings reassert themselves. If that's the case, you need to ascertain what the root cause(s) for your knee pain were ( and it is rarely the knees themselves) and work to resolve them.
I'm 41 years old, male, race in the masters 4/5 on the road and sport off road. I use Friels book as my main source for workouts. My diet is good, steak, hamburgers, salmon, chicken, fresh fruits and veggies. Lots of broccoli, it's very akaline. If anything I'm low on carbs, almost no pasta not a lot of starches and no fast food. I'm 6 feet and 184 pounds at 11 % body fat.
At the end of July, after coming off a rest week but very stressfull because of some family matters I went for a ride. The workout was nothing out of the ordinary, including warm up, cool down and some intervals about 32 miles total. Looking back at my notes I had written down "good workout". Well about 30 minutes after the ride, I started getting flu like symptons. Achey neck and back very light fever and a funny feeling under my jaw line. There didn't seem to be much swelling under my jaw. Also a little trouble breathing, it felt like the air was thick.
After dinner sometime all the symptoms went away and I felt fine. I didn't think much of it at the time. It happened again in the first week of August, again because I had a good workout and it went away pretty fast I did not think about taking some time off. Besides I just had a rest week and my workouts were going well. Now it's the second week of August on Tuesday so I go out to do some intervals. After a 25 minute warmup I start my first interval, I cant get my heart rate much past 155. I know there is something wrong but I finish that interval anyway. I try to do a second one but quit after about 20 seconds. That’s when I turned around and headed back. I had very little power to climb a small hill on the slow ride home. No more rides the rest of the week as I had a MTB race on Saturday.
48 miles was my longest MTB race ever and I felt great for 45 of it, the last 3 miles the power was going out of my legs but I managed to outsprint a young guy at the line. About an hour after the finish the flu symptoms show up and last untill bedtime (6-7 hours). In the morning I feel pretty good. The following week a near carbon copy, I prerode the course the day before with a couple of good efforts on the climbs which I felt good but I couldn't seem to catch my breath once I reached the top. During the race my climbing was ok but I had little power on the flats and rollers. I found myself standing a lot to keep my speed up and breathing was difficult. Again the flu like symptoms showed up shortly after but were gone the next day.
This last Monday I went on a 25 mile tandem ride with my wife, nothing too hard but now the flu like symptoms have stayed with me to today, Friday. I haven't ridden since Monday and I will skip this weekend's roadrace. Hopefully I can recover for the cyclecross season.
It seems pretty obvious now, I should have skipped the races but I had already prepaid and I was looking forward to racing them both. I have read the posts regarding how the body reacts after a hard effort so I understand what happens to the immune system. I started taking vitamin c and will stay away from any hard rides for at least a week. How will I know when I can go hard again? The first time these symptoms occurred I had a great workout and felt fine the next day. The lack of power and not being able to raise my HR happened last year also (I took a week off and was fine) so I recognized that. With this new problem it was happening after the ride so it was hard to tell if it was gone. I have not seen a doctor yet, but from what I have read, if it is a upper respitory infection there are no medications for it anyway.
If I do see a doctor what should I have checked? My blood for low iron, vitamin D, urine for? Can you give me a list of what is important to know and why. What other questions should I ask the doctor? I do have some test results from a insurance test about 6 months ago but otherwise I wont have a base line for the numbers. Unless I can get in to see a specialist, the doctor I see wont have a clue about overtraining and what the test results mean. I have not seen this problem addressed before (where the flu like symptoms only last a few hours) of course now it's been 4 days, so any more help would be appreciated. Thank you
Ham Lake MN USA
Scott Saifer replies:
You need to see the doctor soon. Difficulty raising the heart rate and a run down feeling can be signs of over-training. Getting sick can be a sign of over-training. Flu like symptoms that turn into flu are flu. Flu-like symptoms that come and go for three weeks or maybe a year and include difficulty breathing and some swelling under the jaw-line may be something more serious. I hate to scare people unnecessarily, but an early visit to the doctor with a complete description of your experience may save your life, or just let you feel relieved after reading this.
I have just discovered this year that I like time trialing. I stuck some aero bars on my road bike and off I went to several races. However, I find myself scooting up on the seat to where I am just riding on the tip. My problem is that when I do this, I start getting numbness in the groin region (Especially on my "third leg"). Looking at the pictures of the pro's TT positions, they appear to scoot forward on the seat too.
I know the numbness is not normal and not a good thing. I have been told that a tri/TT frame would put me more forward over the bottom bracket, and I may prevent me from scooting forward. Do you have any suggestions?
Steve Hogg replies:
Assuming that you have a good position on your road bike (and that may not be a safe assumption), then there is a problem with your aero bar placement. If you can't reach them with your current seat position, you are going to have to go to them, they are not coming to you and the problems you have described result. Have a look at this letter and reply for a fuller explanation.
(A) Two different test methods test positive for Landis' A & B samples: chance of false positives is very low. Got that.
(B) Two identical test methods test positive for Landis' A & B samples: chance of false positives is near 100%. Got that too.
But what are the chances of (B) happening to Landis, but nobody else?
And what are the chances of (B) happening to Landis on only one of several tests over 3 weeks?
Patrick Simpson, Oxford, UK.
PS. I'm a career scientist, and I have a LOT of experience of scientists thinking they're confirming their results, when actually they're repeating their mistakes.
Kelby Bethards replies:
HA, I've opened a can of worms here. I need to quit drinking so much before responding to cyclingnews fans (that IS a joke peoples). Or maybe more beer would help (yet another joke).
So, as you have pointed out, something needs be explained. To all of us waiting for all this to settle out, all the info is not there. In the (A) scenario, obviously Floyd has something to explain.
In the (B) scenario, I believe I caveat the circumstance by saying there is "something" about Floyd's sample (due to his physiology) that triggers a false positive (who knows what) so therefore his test would be positive almost always.
Answers: Hell if I know.
Here is what I think is missing from the UCI, WADA, the lab and so on.
1) What test was used to test the samples? (Along with its sensitivity, specificity, and so on). Dammit I wish I would have paid more attention to biostatistics class.
2) What test was used to confirm his positive? (Again with statistical accuracy information)
3) Do they test all riders for testosterone on all samples? Or was this just a "random" test of Floyd one time?
So, in a most verbose way, what I am saying is that there is too little info to tell these things. I am just trying to get people to think about this. We take tests as being the answer: He doped, he didn't. The situation, as you have aptly pointed out, is more complicated (to my little monkey brain) than what the media and the lab make it out to be.
So could the scenario happen to only Floyd? Yes, if his physiology is such to trigger a false positive. What are the odds? No idea with out more info.
Could it happen only one time all the way through the tour? Sure, if they only tested him once.
Again, there is a relative paucity of information being let out. The lab, UCI, WADA and so on, have some explaining to do also, especially if they want to lower themselves to tabloid caliber, with the leaks and so on.
PS: Given the lack of info, I can't tell what I think. There is, in my opinion, not enough info to judge.
I am an avid reader of your forum and have ascertained some great information in the past. I now have a question about something that I can not seem to get figured out.
About Me: I am a 40 year old Category 2 road racer. I am 5'11" and 162 pounds. I ride between 12-20hrs per week depending on the time of the season. My bike is a 54cm Orbea Opal with a 120cm stem. I am fairly flexible and can easily place my palms on the floor with straight legs. I have had a bike fitting and feel really good on the bike.
My Problem: When I lay down a huge effort while remaining seated, like leading somebody out for a sprint, my front end starts to wobble as if it was speed wobbles. For example yesterday I was leading out for a sprint seated(I use a power meter) and I was putting out 990watts and we were going 38mph I got those wobbles in the front end. It happens everytime I put out an effort such as that but only at the very end of the effort as I am trying to hold the power with all I have. It is very strange and can not figure this out.
Any thoughts/advice on the cause and/or remedy?
San Luis Obispo, CA
Steve Hogg replies:
It is either you or the bike. Most likely you. The telling phrase is " It happens ... at the very end of the effort as I am trying to hold the power with all I have". Pushing the pedals is like having two counterweights going up and down. If there is light or moderate pressure on the bars, then the bike is free to self correct for any deviations in direction caused by two large pieces of meat going up and down either side of the centre line of the bike. However, if you are really stomping and it sounds like it, and have a death grip on the bars to both resist pedalling forces and to stabilise your body while you stomp, then the bike is not free to find its own way and is moving in response to the inputs by your body.
In other words, you are out of sync under the circumstances you describe and may be trying too hard. This is the best advice I can give you having suffered similar things a long time ago: When an effort is killing you, maintain technique at all costs. The more you fight the bike, the more the bike will fight back. Enlisting more muscles doesn't necessarily make you go faster or longer. By all means monster your bike ... but with finesse.
I am a 38 year old recreational cyclist that ride about 8 000 - 10 000 km/year. I do a couple of races each year both on the road and on a mountainbike (marathon). I have also tried long distance cycling (Paris-Brest-Paris).
In the cycling season when I am in shape I have problems with pain in my legs after a 3-4 days break from cycling. The pain remains of cramps. I have had this problem a couple of times each year, always after a break of a couple of days after a longer period of regular training. I have learned to never take two successive days off the bike when I'm in race form. Light riding doesn't help, I must do some work. I also note an association with travel - air or auto - where I'm seated for eight or more hours. If I fall into the syndrome it takes up to ten days before I can ride again. Cramps are pretty completely debilitating, in all riding muscles, and sometimes initiated by simply walking down a few steps. In wintertime, when the amount of riding is less, I have never experienced this problem. This is a real hassle, since breaks of 3-4 days are sometimes difficult to avoid due to work and family.
What is the reason behind the cramps? How can I avoid them?
Steve Hogg replies:
I used to suffer something similar 20+ years ago and have seen some instances since in riders who ride long or hard or both. The common denominators seem to be seat slightly too high and often not enough foot over the pedal. Here are some links that may help:
What are your thoughts on chiropractics for cycling? In Europe it is common to go to a chiropractor (also called physiotherapist or in some places osteopath) regularly to improve bad posture and alignment caused by exercise and poor habits. Do you recommend them?
Scott Saifer replies:
I don't recommend that my clients routinely visit a chiropractor just as I would not have them routinely visit the emergency room or take antibiotics. Chiropractors can most definitely help riders who have particular issues of flexibility or posture that are amenable to chiropractic treatment. If a rider has a pain that is not fixed by a proper positioning on the bike or other changes that I as coach am comfortable recommending, I will send them to visit an appropriate medical professional. Chiropractors are on my list of possibly appropriate medical professionals.
I am a 19 yr old female who does a lot of road cycling. I have been diagnosed with tennis elbow, but now the specialist is changing his mind and is sending me for nerve tests for my right arm and hand as he thinks I may have damaged them cycling. How have I managed to do this and how can I help the pain in my fingers when cycling from my nerves?
Steve Hogg replies:
Assuming that cycling is the cause, and that it is only occuring on one side, the most likely occurence is that you are twisting forward on the seat on the right side while riding and have to brace against this action. This is far from uncommon and probably against a background of poor bike position - seat too far forward and / or bars that are too low or too far away.There are plenty of potential reasons for your pain, all to do with postural asymmetries. Have a look at this and get back to me with more info if you wish.