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Fitness questions and answers for March 14, 2005

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.

Chronic upper lateral soleus pain solutions
Hematocrit and VO2
On the bike meals
Warming up
Training specifics question
Gaining lower body muscle mass



I am a 56 year old and have been cycling now for just a year and am doing my first tour in a few weeks - I'm looking forward to it. Although I haven't been active for 15 years I have an endurance athlete's background and am aware of the nutritional requirements of heavy endurance training - particularly the need to replenish muscle glycogen in the "golden two hours".

While I am aware of the many studies carried out in this regard, and more recent work such as the use of highly bio-available protein/carbohydrate's or so-called "recovery formulas" I have never seen a study which looks at the long term performance impact of both loading or rapid replenishment - current studies all look at training performance which while not irrelevant, is definitely secondary to how effectively one races.

What I am getting at it this; part of the value of long endurance training is that it provides the body with the demand/stress required to engage the body's fat burning metabolism, and the longer one trains the more this effect is noticeable - in short this is the required adaptation. However, my understanding is that carbo-loading prior to an event actually switches off or at least reduces the fat burning metabolism by as much as 40% - as does rapid replenishment of glycogen stores with high glycaemic index Carbohydrates. This implies that the use of these techniques is of value short term rather than long-term interest.

So while the athlete may perform in training far better day in day out, long term there may be a compromise in terms of tuning the body's fat-burning capability off. It also seems that the reason coffee/caffeine is so widely used by cyclists is that it tends to actually reverse this process. It may be far better not to load but teach the body to burn more fat instead.

So, while rapid replenishment is valuable in a short cycling tour to ensure recovery (and certainly it is better for the athlete's state of mind during heavy training!) I suspect that it's only actually necessary to load Carbohydrates immediately after training in the few days prior to a long distance race so that the fat burning mechanism is still able to function effectively. I have always adopted a minimalist strategy of nutrition when training - i.e. taking in the minimum necessary to function effectively so that I maximise my fat burning potential - I then rapidly take on a recovery drink but don't go silly and try to replace every gram of Carbohydrates burned - has it worked? Well I lost 16Kg in 9 months and now weigh 74KG at 1.88m in height and it wasn't that painful! The real emphasis I seek in your reply is - what the effect is of such a regime on race performance, and what research has been carried out?

Robin Ducker

North Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Robin,

Chronic upper lateral soleus pain solutions

I have chronic right soleus muscle pain and possibly even fibular/peroneal musculotendenous pain (lots of pain in the leg). The muscle gets tender just inferior and postero-lateral to the fibular head. After careful consideration I feel this is upper-lateral soleus and not simply the peroneals. Initially I also had pain at my lateral distal hamstrings-biceps femuris- and was told that my seat was raised too high and that every pedal stroke was elongating (eccentrically) this tendon.

Magically when I lowered my seat the outside distal hamstring pain disappeared but the upper posterior-LATERAL calf pain has persisted! I am 6'2" with only a 34 inch inseam. I ride a 58cm Merlin Cyrene with a 115 stem and a CormiaC layed back reversible seat post with my seat pushed as far back as I can so that I have most of my weight comfortably on my ischial tuberosities. While I have found this positioning comfortable, I have began to wonder if I actually need to ALSO bring my seat forward and possibly also invest in a longer stem?

As a side note, pushing a harder gear is usually more comfortable, presumably because of the reducing number of rotations and irritation or transferring forces to larger muscles? (I would love to be able to mash gears or spin gears at my choice)

Other areas I have considered are:
1) My right foot tends to flare out more than my left foot so I would think that my cleats should match this external rotation but I have sensed during long rides that it actually feels better to have my cleat in neutral or rotated slightly in!

2) I have been using a simple over-the-counter orthotic "SuperfeetC" in both my running shoes and cycling shoes, but have also begun to wonder if these should be removed, as perhaps the medial posting has caused lateral stretching? In the past I have tried Speedplay pedals, Dura Ace 7800 pedals and even BMX style platform pedals (ultimate in float and inability to pull up with muscle!!), to no avail. Should I move my seat forward or a combo of seat forward and longer stem, or possibly other considerations, such as inward or outward foot movement, etc.

Star Stevenson

Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Star

Hematocrit and VO2

I have read a lot about hematocrit and I still have some questions regarding this area. I know that the hematorcrit level is not necessarily an indication of fitness (i.e. high hematocrit = high performance), but suppose a non-athletic person who has a high natural hematocrit, but actually a low VO2 max…does this person possess greater potential to reach a high VO2 max with proper training, more than a person who has a lower natural hematocrit? And if yes, how strong is this tendency?
I mean, a person who has a high hematocrit (i.e. 42%) will reach a high VO2Max properly training (i.e. 5 litres/min), for sure. Exists a strong tendency like that?

Christian Curitiba


Scott Saifer Replies

Hi Christian,

On the bike meals

I have what is probably a simple question, but being new to competitive cycling and training I still have much to learn.

My question is - what do you recommend as food during long training rides. I've done four hour rides where I normally eat two or three PowerBars and stay plenty hydrated with four bidons of Gatorade. My pre-ride meals normally consist of a large bowl of whole grain cereal and one or two bananas. I'm just wondering if there is a more effective alternative to my simple PowerBar meal. I'm normally pretty well spent at the end of these long rides of low to moderate intensity averaging 17-18 mph. I read about professionals training for six to eight hours a day and can't help but wonder what they do to keep their energy levels up. I've read some pretty insane training days of Eddy Merckx - 270km, and this in a day where the sports nutrition industry was in its infancy at best. This leads me to wonder if there is some simple energy food out there that has been around for some time that I just don't know about. Any guidance you can recommend is greatly appreciated.

Mike Duschak

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Mike,

Warming up

I am going to be doing a twelve kilometer time trial soon and would like to know the best way to warm up for the start. For my training rides I generally do fifteen to thirty minutes of easy riding before elevating my heart rate. I never do any stretching. For previous races I have kept the same routine-about thirty to forty minutes of easy riding before the start. However, if I go from the gun the way other riders can, I blow quickly. But if I sit in the group for a while I get stronger as the race progresses. By the way, the time trial course is quite rolling, with a couple of steep sections. Thank you for any advice you can offer.

Greg D


Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Greg

Training specifics question

Can you help me, and maybe others? I'm confused about setting training goals based on anaerobic vs. lactate threshold zones. For the sake of the discussion, let's imagine a road racer with max heart rate of 170; what will his lactate threshold training zone be and his anaerobic threshold training goals? My head is spinning, and I'd rather it be my legs on the pedals. Thanks,

James Thacker


Dario Frederick Replies

Hi James,

Gaining lower body muscle mass

First off, I'd like to thank you for your prompt and helpful advice in the past. I have a question on a subject that is a little difficult for me.

At 6'1'' and 135 lbs, (currently age 18, male) I feel I could benefit from gaining leg strength. Last year I received help for an eating disorder and successfully gained approximately 10 lbs. Now that I've conquered my fear of gaining weight, I'd like a build some lean muscle mass, especially on my lower body. There is not much I can do to build upper body strength as my left arm was severely broken in a crash last summer and I will be unable to put it under extreme stress for at least a year to ensure the surgery has corrected all the damage.

I also tend to shy away from resistance training, not only because cyclocross extends so long into the winter, and racing starts up in late February, but mainly because every winter I've spent in the gym has left me with tendonitis in the spring; this year I seem to have avoided any such injuries. I have a pending cat 2 upgrade in the near future, and train about 2.5+ hours a day with five days a week on the trainer - longer if the weather is nice - and dedicate two days to recovery and core strength.

I have been doing low cadence drills all winter, and recently began more intense intervals to prep for racing. I figure I generally consume about 3300 calories per day, split fairly evenly between breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. There is a surplus of info out there on how to lose weight, but unless you're looking to be a bulky body builder, it's hard to find credible info on how to build strength for endurance events (in case you couldn't guess, I'm not a trackie. I do mainly XC mtb races and a mix of crits and RR). What are your suggestions for gaining strength (as related to diet, and intervals)? Thank you.

Pam Hinton Replies


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