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Fitness questions and answers for December 12, 2007

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. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

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.

Jon Heidemann ( is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14 years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship events during the past 8 years.

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. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with disabilities to World and National champions.

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.

Steve Owens ( 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 ( 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 website.

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.

Michael Smartt ( is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete™. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters. Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act Capital Women's Cycling Team.

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.

Swimming for cyclists
Massage stick
Frame size advice
Outdoor VO2 max testing
Travel and illness
Cycling and motivation

Swimming for cyclists

Hi, thanks for your questions and answers page, I've used it many times now and it is a great resource. OK I have a new question. I usually do a bit of swimming in early winter as I cut back the amount of riding I do to weekends only, at least until the new year. This winter is slightly different. I've just had some pins removed from my femur and hip due to an accident three and a half years ago. As a result I'm going to be swimming for a good two or three months before I've been told it's safe to return to riding.

My question is this, what's the best use of my time in the pool? My normal winter swim sessions are basically swimming continuously for 30 minutes, sometimes at all out effort and other times catching my breath again, but still swimming. When I look at the 'proper' swimmers, they never seem to do more than a few lengths before having a rest. I'm mainly looking at an equivalent to base/endurance training and just simply not becoming too untrained, so when I get back on the bike I won't be as far behind as I would if I'd done nothing. The last twist is currently I can only swim front crawl, as the operation has left me unable to flex my knee more than 90°, so for the time being I can only manage a straight leg kick. I'm sure the full knee flexion will come back in time and with physio work.

I look forward to your reply,


Dario Fredrick replies:

Hi Matt,

Massage stick


My girlfriend received a massage stick as a gift. I have VERY tight muscles on the back of my legs (can't touch my toes). We have been using it on each others legs to aid recovery. Even when she is gentle it is a little painful on my tight muscles. The next day my legs feel like I have done a hard workout and I have weird sore spots. I'm curious to know if I'm getting any stretch benefits from this thing and if I should continue to use it or simply use regular stretching (which I hate to do...)?

P.S. It feels like a large orange is inside the back of my upper leg when the stick is rolled over it.

Thank you,
Jeff Blair

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Jeff,

Frame size advice

Hi, my name is Bryan Kroeker, and there has come up an opportunity to buy the bike of my dreams, a Cannondale Six13 with full campagnolo record carbon drivetrain, but the problem is it is in a 58cm frame instead of a 56cm frame. Now, the only appreciable difference in the frame sizes that might pose a problem for me is the top tube length. I am currently riding a 56cm Cannondale before a car hit me and destroyed my bike, and I was quite comfortable on the 56cm, but will a 58cm be too large? I'm 6 feet tall and my inseam is around 90cm so the seat tube length and standover height should not be a problem. However, my torso, as measured from a subtraction of the inseam from total height to the sternal notch, is 58cm, the length of my arms are around 65cm as measured from the articulating joint in my shoulder to the webbing between the thumb and first digit, and my shoulder width from the joints is 36cm. From this, would it be stupid to buy the 58cm bike, or should I pass up the opportunity for maybe a better fitted choice in a 56cm.

I really would appreciate a fast response because I need to keep in contact with the seller as to not miss out.

Thank you so much,

Scott Safier replies:

Hi Brian,

Outdoor VO2 max testing


Is there a determined protocol for testing Vo2max outdoors? Possibly using a 1 mile long slope? Can different variables like wind, heat influence the outcomes?

Thank you for any information.

Giampaolo Mora

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Giampaolo,

Travel and illness

A lot of highly trained athletes seem to catch illnesses from travelling. Is the problem related to overtraining fatigue depressing the immune system, the effects of jet lag, or the exposure to all the airborne viruses from the recirculated air on planes? Do you have any recommendations to reduce possibility of getting sick while travelling? It is terrible when a whole seasons training effort is lost when travelling to a major event.

Scott Safier replies:

Hi Stephen,

Do I have to choose just one of your suggested explanations? The truth is most likely a combination. Your top athletes should not be overtrained on their way to major events, but for a period of about eight hours after a tiring workout, the immune system is in a depressed mode making the athlete more susceptible to all those air born viruses. If the athlete flies or goes to a movie in those eight hours, they greatly increase their chances of getting sick. So, my suggestion is to avoid crowded spaces and sick people in the eight hours after a harder workout (high intensity or long endurance challenges). When you do fly, keep your nasal mucosa moist with a saline mist. Dry mucus membranes are more susceptible to allowing an infection to start. If you aren't afraid of the social stigma, wear a germ-filter mask when on a plane.

Cycling and motivation

After getting fed up with the sport, I decided to ride for myself. I trained hard and was able to improve a personally timed 5mi TT on a trainer.

Being that it is getting colder, more dark hours in the day, having spent much time on the trainer, and having done much running I am at a loss. I said to myself that I would just do TT's and work towards that or move over to triathlon...something to satisfy my competitive drive. My question to you is: what are some goals to establish for myself? I feel so stale, depressed, and unmotivated.

It may be my own fault that I am so let down by cycling; I admired and aspired to become one of the best riders around. Finding out that drugs are such a portion of the sport was disastrous; one of the main reasons why I became so in love with cycling was because, I thought, it was so pure and "healthy." The sport is nothing more than a WWF wrestling match. It's all about the profit...a business. OK that's my rant and I apologize about it being negative; I am just very let down.

Thanks for any help in advance,


Dave Palese replies:

I hear your frustrations. And as a racer of some 20+ years, and a lover of what I call the "romance" of the sport, a person pushing their physical and mental limits, I understand how one might decide to turn their back on the sport.

Steve Owens replies:

Hello S,

Carrie Cheadle replies:


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