Fitness questions and answers for January 3, 2006

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.

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.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 ( 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 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 ( 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 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.

Weight loss and nutrition Saddles for pelvic support Leg-assisted blood flow Overtraining Permanent weight loss Training question Trainer vs. rollers Training planning Recovery time Weight-lifting and cycling Blood tests and anaemia Small leg length discrepancy Load off the quads

Weight loss and nutrition


I am a 40 year old male 3rd category racer. I weigh 76-79 kilos and am 5'10 tall.

I took up cycling relatively recently in 1997 as a weight loss aid (I used to weigh 100 kilos!). When I was 21 years old I weighed 66-69 kilos and did a fair amount of weight training at the time.

My goal is to do well in local road races and time trials and I would really like to get back to something approaching 70 kilos. My current (winter) training consists of riding to work (25 miles round trip) two or three times per week and a longer steady ride on a Sunday of 40 to 60 miles.

I have two nutritional problems:

1. After a long, hard ride on a Sunday I have absolutely no energy on the Monday and only recover properly by about Wednesday. I drink a carb drink while riding, stop for a cup of tea and cake on route, and make sure I eat a meal as soon as I possibly can when I get in. I have a desk job, but I am so tired that I can barely work on the Monday.

2. I am trying to reduce food intake at the moment to lose weight, but every time I cut back on food I gradually get more and more tired and gradually get a general feeling of depression. This gradual thing usually takes about 4-6 weeks to occur. During this time I normally lose about a pound per week. If I eat to my appetite I put on weight, but don't seem to be able to just reduce this a little to achieve the desired effect. I suspect the answer is that I may be eating the wrong things, but I am generally sensible about food and think about carbs etc.

Am I going to have to become some sort of non-caffeine, macrobiotic nut to conquer this? - I already only drink alcohol about once a year!

Pam Hinton replies


Saddles for pelvic support

This letter refers to a December 19 posting

Steve - thank you very much for your reply!

A couple of days ago I had a look at my favourite jeans, and they are completely worn out just below the right pocket and on the inside of the right thigh (and this is just from riding to campus). I've also noticed before that my right thigh is somewhat larger than my left (roughly 1cm diameter), something that I can feel when wearing the previously mentioned jeans.

On the saddle I can clearly feel that my pelvic is twisted, with my right sit bone further forward on the saddle. I have had no problem what so ever with my right knee (protected) and my right leg is always pedalling smoothly. My left leg on the other hand always feels sloppy (like being too long) and my left knee have been painful. (The varus on the left foot is 15 degrees compared to 5 on the right.)

The strange thing is that it's only this season, after starting to use LeWedge, that I actually had the feeling of a leg length discrepancy...I've been riding rather successfully for nine years before noticing it!

At the beginning of this season I actually raised my handlebars on both my road bike and MTB and now I ride them as high as they will go with the original Ritchey WCS stem, and it feels good. When riding slowly I sit at the very back of my saddle, but every time I go hard I creep forward.

My conclusion from your great advice:

1. I have a large difference in forefoot varus (left beeing greater) I have a lateral pelvic tilt (to the right? sitbones like this / )and very possibly a measureable leg lenth discrepancy ( right leg being shorter)

2. I'm going to find myself a (better) physio to help me determine a possible LLD (possilby X-ray) - my guess is that it's in the order of 5mm. If this is confirmed, should I then place a 2.5mm shim under my right shoe? Or perhaps move my left cleat further back? AND rebuild the strength (size) of my left thigh.

I'm considering going back to Fizik's ARIONE saddle, which I consider a "Flat width" saddle, for better pelvic support.

Steve Hogg replies


Leg-assisted blood flow

Dear cycling news,

Physiology courses teach that muscle contractions of limbs can assist circulation and I wondered if there was any synergy with matching of blood flows if you were able to cycle such that leg cadence was in sync with heart rate. Say 90rpm, two legs, and with 180bpm heart rate. Has there been any work done on this?

Brian McKeon

Scott Saifer replies

Hi Brian,



I am an 18 year old road cyclist struggling to recover from overtraining. Last season I was on a heavy training and racing programme - from 13-15hrs per week - when I started to experience all the symptoms of overtraining and just generally feeling awful, lots of infections, exhaustion, elevated heart rate, extreme mood swings etc. I don't think it is another illness as I had a full blood test to affirm that it wasn't anything else like glandular fever, so I put it down to overtraining.

Basically, I have taken nearly three months off the bike with only a few rides in there of about 30 mins long. However I am still feeling pretty rubbish, and although better than I was a couple of months ago, I still get tired, have a fair few infections, and my heart rate is still very elevated both during exercise and resting, as it is usually in the 60's now, whereas last season it was around 43 bpm. I was wondering whether it is normal for recovery to take more than 3 months and when it is suitable to return to training. A sports doctor said it is hard to tell due to feelings related to loss of fitness, less endorphins in the body etc. and said it might be best to start riding again slowly. However, I am still unsure as like I said, I am still feeling quite ill fairly regularly and need some advice as to how to get over it


Dave Palese replies


Permanent weight loss

Thank you for such an informative resource.

A question about weight loss - I'm targeting a specific weight for some events next spring. My goal is to lose 1/2 pound per week in order to hit a target weight of 165. I'm exactly 6' tall and started at 176/177. It seems that whenever I hit the range of 168 that I rebound back to 170/171. Hypothetically, if I continue to run the calorie deficit and hit 165, and then return to my "normal" caloric levels that I should be able to maintain this new weight. Am I "genetically coded" for a certain weight? Thanks for the feedback.

Jeff Ishmael

Southern California

Dave Palese replies


Training question


I've recently started training for next summer's racing and I did a set of tests on a turbo trainer with my coach to benchmark my fitness levels. One of the tests had me warm-up, then move on to ride at 80% of my maximum heart-rate for 10 minutes to see what kind of power I could maintain. It showed that I could get to 80% and put out 275 watts and maintain it for about four minutes, and then my power level gradually reduced to 220 watts by the end of the 10 minute session.

My coach and I thought I should do many more kilometres at around 65% to 75% of MHR before I move onto training at higher HR levels [above 75%]. In general, we found that if I cannot maintain power at a certain HR level, I need to do more training at the intensity level below the level I cannot hold before moving onto training at the higher levels [i.e. build up more base before moving up the pyramid]. Do you think that is generally applicable for most athletes? Or should one train more at the level that one cannot hold? Thanks and Happy Holidays.

Sai Yeung

London, UK

Dave Palese replies


Ric Stern replies


Trainer vs. rollers

I am a 51 year old male, average health, about 20 pounds overweight. I recently started riding again after about a 20 year layoff. I rode about 2000 miles this year outdoors and am looking to continue my trainers over the winter. Living in Minnesota, I need to train indoors for about 5 months out of the year. I was hoping you would address the differences between and benefits of each for using rollers and trainers to ride indoors. Thanks.

Mike Kivley

Dave Palese replies


Training planning


I'm thinking about planning my training for '06 and wondering what your preferences are for planning and record keeping. I've tried the Joe Friel diary which is good, but hard to keep up to date beyond about July. How do you rate software diaries? After a 'cross season best not talked about (I sucked!) I'm doing mainly base miles, cross country skiing and single speed MTB with a couple of gym sessions a week. No real intensity - will probably start intervals in a few weeks.

All the best and thanks again for a great web-site.

Rich Brown

New Hampshire, USA

Dave Palese replies


Recovery time


I am a 26-year-old cat 3 rider. I train almost everyday, but mostly six days per week, between 40-70 miles per day. In the evening about 5-6 hours after the ride I also do some stretching and abdominal muscles workout; actually, I have just recently started doing the stretching. I usually ride with a heart monitor and one thing started to worry me. I have noticed that if I ride hard for about one hour and than I stop, my heart rate stays pretty high, about 100 bpm for about 30-60 minutes after the ride. Is this normal?

My resting heart rate is about 50 bpm. I have heard that some riders can go from maximum heart rate to resting heart rate in one minute or so. Is that true? If it takes me so long to recover, what does this mean? I do not feel tired when my heart rate is at 100, actually even when I ride 160 bpm it is ok. This is at a speed of about 42km/h. I know that I am riding with a little beat of extra weight so this would bring my heart rate up a little. Should I consult a physician or is this normal to have an elevated heart rate for such a long time after the ride. Maybe it means that I had a hard workout or maybe that I am riding too much? Hope to hear your opinion.

Lukasz Piskozub

Chicago, IL

Dave Palese replies


Michael Smartt replies

In addition to Dave's comments, I would like to add that your heart rate, and it's variability, is driven by many factors, including: exercise intensity; environmental temperatures; altitude; illness; recent sleep patterns; mental anxiety; state of hydration; and the body's thermal (heat) stress. When you exercise at an intense level for extended periods of time, such as the hour you mentioned, it is very likely that your body temperature is elevated. If so, your heart rate is going to stay elevated for some time after training due to your body's attempt to move heat from the muscles to the skin via blood circulation.

Weight-lifting and cycling

I have an elaboration for Ric Stern on the question asked about weight-lifting on December 19 by Perry Fields. For the most part, I understand, and find compelling, the arguments against weight lifting for the endurance cyclist. However, you said the following, which makes me curious:

"There maybe some reasons to do weight training (e.g., inclement weather and you can't stand the indoor trainer), a change in physique/body shape, or you have a manual labour job that requires a high strength requirement..."

Could you elaborate on the "sudden change in physique/body shape" exception? What sorts of sudden changes are we talking about, and why do these changes affect the recommendation against weight-lifting?

Some context: I'm a 28-year-old cat 5, new to road racing. Over the last six months, I've gone from being a somewhat stocky body type to a rather skinny body type. I'm 5'8" (173cm); my old weight range was 152lbs-156lbs (69-71kg), and my new range is 134lbs-138lbs (61kg-63kg). I wouldn't venture body fat estimates, but it seems like it's pretty darned low now: for instance, I have visible subcutaneous veins on my abdomen and upper thighs, which I've never seen before.

As one would expect, my cycling has improved immensely. It feels like I've got three legs, especially uphill.

However, my upper body strength has suffered to the point where I feel less functionally capable doing lightly strenuous stuff (e.g., carrying around heavy items, working around the house, etc.). My wife also finds my somewhat skeletal upper body less than appealing, and I feel my ability to recover from intense training sessions has suffered over the last couple months. What's going on? Am I pushing the body composition/diet angle too far? Might I be one of those unusual cyclists who could benefit from adding some muscle bulk?

Keith Adams

Ric Stern replies

Hi Keith,

Blood tests and anaemia

About five months ago you helped me with a problem with suspected anaemia, since then I've been on ferrous sulphate for 3 months at a very high dose of 3 tablets a day of the maximum you can take. I've now been off the tablets for about a month (or more) and have since had another blood test. Currently I'm experiencing some fatigue, especially in the mornings and evenings, and poor concentration again. I'm also not training much due to heavy work commitments at the moment but plan to start building up again ready for the new season to start in March.

My blood tests came back as below:

- (SCL) - Normal
- WBCs - 5.8 10*9/L Range (3.8 -11.0)
- HB - 13.5 g/dL Range (13.0 -18.0)
- Platelet count 276 10*9 / L
- RBCs - 4.49 10*12 / L Range (4.5 - 6.5) (Low)
- Haematocrit 0.40 Range (0.4 - 0.54) (This was at 46% when tested by Andy Bloomer whilst on tablets)
- MCV 89.3 fL
- MCH 30.1pg
- MCHC 33.7 g/L

- Differential White Cell count
- Neutrophil count - 3.43 10*9 / L
- Lymphocyte count 1.99 10*9 / L
- Monocyte count 0.28 10*9 / L
- Eosinophil count 0.06 10*9 / L
- Basophil count 0.01 10*9 / L (Low)

- Percentage neutrophils 59.4 %
- Percentage lymphocytes 34.5%
- Percentage monocytes 4.9%
- Percentage eosinophils 1.0%
- Percentage basophils 0.2%

Please can you tell me what this indicates? I think what concerns me here is that whether or not this indicates anemia, my RBCs have certainly dropped since being on iron supplement for 3 months, which I would have expected to have improved matters. I have noticed that I find it hard to concentrate in meetings since coming off the tablets although this didn't occur immediately but definitely more rapidly than I would have expected.

You were a great help to me last time so I thank you in advance.

Andrew Hill

Pam Hinton replies


Small leg length discrepancy

Hello Cyclingnews - happy and safe 2006 to all. Thanks for your help!

I have been battling slight right leg pain (muscles/tendons behind the knee) for about four months now and more recently some mild/medium intensity lower back pain so I went to the chiropractor who said everything was largely normal, just a slight lower back inflammation but he also discovered a small but measured ~5-7mm leg length discrepancy, as revealed by X-rays. My right leg (the injured one) is the shorter one by about 5-7mm. I am a male, a left hander, if it makes any difference, about 66kg, 174cm, 46-year-old a fitness road rider. I tend to pedal heels-down-style a little bit (I think!). The pain in my right leg was eased by lowering the saddle by about 7mm from the initial height that caused the pain in the first place but it still sometimes hurts a little bit under load i.e. climbing or going flat out. The pain was only in my shorter right leg.

My chiropractor said that 5-7mm leg length discrepancy is quite normal and requires no special intervention (for walking) but he does not know anything about road cycling.

Should I be concerned and if so what is recommended for small 5-7mm leg length discrepancies for road cyclists? Should I simply put a second shoe in-sole into my right cycling shoe, for example, to lift the foot while cycling? Should the second/top in-sole be 1-size smaller than the bottom one? I.e. I have size-45 Shimano shoe so should I place a size-44 insole on top of the existing size 45 insole, for a better fit?

My Shimano Ultegra pedals/cleats are configured as per Steve Hogg's advice with my centre of ball-of-foot about 10mm in front of the pedal axle (this helped, thanks Steve!) Thank you in advance!

Yuri Budilov


Steve Hogg replies


Load off the quads

This letter refers to a December 12 posting


Thank you so much for responding to my question about my quad muscles being far more tired and sore compared to my hamstrings after a hard ride. And as you guessed, I meant to say in my original email that the tip of my seat was 8 cm behind the BB (not 8 mm), which is as far as it will go in my Oval seatpost.

Although I was delayed by illness and bad weather, I was finally able to test out the new cleat position you recommended. In adjusting my cleats, I ended up moving them as far back as possible in my Sidi shoes to get the head of my first metatarsal over the spindle. I found that when I climb, I drop my heel quite a bit. My pedaling at the bottom of the stroke is still smooth and not jerky (as you recently questioned someone else in Cyclingnews).

Anyway, after a good ride yesterday, my quads were not sore like they used to be. The minimal soreness seemed to be about equal to that of my hamstrings. I would never have guessed that moving the cleats back would make such a difference in the upper leg.

My only remaining concern is that my speed was not as fast as normal. I am usually within a few minutes + or - over a route that takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, yesterday I was about 10 minutes slower. Although it might have been the result of inactivity from the flu and then rainy weather, could it also be that I need to build up my hamstrings after many years of a forward seat and cleat position? Thank you again for your great advice.

Don Whitehead

Sunnyvale, California

Steve Hogg replies


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