Fitness questions and answers for November 21, 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.

Mystery knee pain Neck discomfort Compact versus standard frame Respiratory muscle use Training HR and power Pronating foot Sore knees Quad pain

Mystery knee pain

I am a 34 year old male, at 6'4" and 168lb. I have been a recreational MTB rider for 15 years. In August I purchased my first road bike (61cm Specalized Roubaix with 175mm 52/42 cranks). Due to finances I have been using my Speedplay frog MTB pedals and Shimano MTB shoes. With MTB riding I have never experienced any appreciable knee pain no matter how intense or long the ride, butt within weeks of starting road riding roughly 1 hour four times per week at 15-20mph I developed knee pain that only occurred while riding.

About 10-15 min into a ride the antero-lateral joint line will begin to hurt, seemingly more on the tibial plateau. If I don't reduce intensity to a minimum it can become excruciating. The odd thing is that the moment I get off the bike the pain is totally gone. I can squat, jump do stairs etc. with no pain. The only way to even slightly reproduce it is to push hard in the above noted location. I have had a doctor examine the knee and have also had an MRI, but nothing abnormal was found.

I have been careful to only push gears that allow me to spin 90+- rpms. I have adjusted my seat height as commonly instructed. I have moved the seat forward so that my patella is directly over the end of the cranks at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I believe that I sit squarely on my seat, and have not found that moving in any particular way alleviates the pain. Initially I thought moving the seat forward helped the pain, but the initial relief didn't last more than one ride. As near as I can tell, my riding position on my road bike is similar to that of my MTB in terms of the distance the seat is above the handle bars, and although I'm not the most flexible person, I do fairly regularly stretch my quads, hamstrings and IT bands. I would appreciate any advice you can provide as this pain is severely limiting my ability to ride at anything more than a snail's pace. Thank you.

David Dick

Eddie Monnier replies


Steve Hogg replies


Neck discomfort


I was wondering if you can give me any advice - I have a road bike, and when doing longer kilometres I get pain in my neck and shoulders. Any advice would be appreciated

Dwayne Barry

Scott Saifer replies


Compact versus standard frame

Hi Guys ,

Is there a set of 'general' rules applying to position set-up when you have a standard frame positioning versus applying that to a compact frame? I say general as I realise positioning involves intricate details when getting to the 'nitty gritty'!

David Padula

Moorabbin, Victoria

Scott Saifer replies


Respiratory muscle use

I understand that cardiac output is the great limiter in human fitness and not respiratory exchange. However, I've read that the blood flow to the inspiratory/expiratory muscles can take much needed blood from the leg muscles at strenuous exercise levels. Is there a method of breathing that is the most efficient and will therefore allow a rider's legs more blood? I've heard it recommended that a rider should use forced exhalation and passive inhalation, does that sound correct? Also, in what training zones should a rider worry about efficiency of breathing?

Secondly, is there an email address for Doctor Bethards that he would be willing to give out? I'm a medical student/racer and would like to ask him some questions regarding practicing medicine with a focus on cyclists.

Trevor Eide

Scott Saifer replies


Training HR and power

Hi, I'm a 21yr old cat.1 road cyclist who's been riding for 6yrs now. I have an important question regarding training HR versus training power. After my last race, I took it easy for the last two weeks of September before I started weights in October. During October, I was lifting while doing low HR training at no more than 70% of max with my watts from 180-200w(longest ride was 2.5hrs, and I also took 2days off/wk). Just to note, that on top of my training stress was a great deal of mental stress, and I also went rollerblading with my dog.

Everything was going well until the last week and a half of October where I was under extreme external stress as well as coming down with a bad toothache(turned out to be abssessed) So, the past week or so I have noticed that my resting HR was elevated along with my training HR. I then took this past week very easy, only riding twice, and my resting HR is now pretty much normal. Now, here's my real concern; I'm noticing that my HR rises easier than before and doesn't correlate to the same wattage as it did throughout the year. Is there anyway this increase in HR could be due to my external stress, dehydration and three cups of espresso a day? Or, could this possibly mean that I have went into the state of overtraining? I'm very concerned about possible overtraining, due to the possibility of getting my first pro contract. I don't want to ruin my first pro season in November.

Just to help you more, here are some numbers I got from my max testing back in March of this year:
PWC170: 364w
PWC130: 235w
lactate 2mmol: 339w/ 163HR
lactate 4mmol: 408w/ 179HR

So, as you can see, I'm stumped with this one. I'm not sure if this indicates overtraining or just loss of "race fitness". Obviously the latter is much better than overtraining. If there's anyone who could answer this for me I would appreciate it.


Scott Saifer replies


Pronating foot


I have read all your articles and think you are the ultimate 'fit Guru'. I recently switched to Speedplay pedals because I felt that no matter how much I tried I could not get comfortable with the new Time RXS pedals that I was using. I have always suffered from lower back pains and a troublesome left knee which I believe are somehow related. After countless cleat adjustments I went against my fitter's advice and positioned each separate cleat differently, I immediately got some relief. I pointed the left foot neutral and the right foot 'toe out' as much as it would go but I became frustrated when I would get tightness in my right quad.

I notice that while pedalling for some time my left foot would pronate 'toe in' considerably so I decided to try the Speedplay pedals as the unrestricted float might help. As of writing this article I have not ridden enough on the Speedplays enough to give accurate feedback only that it felt very 'free' and comfortable immediately. The Time pedals spring system was obviously acting against my natural position. My question is what can be said or done for a single foot that over-pronates, or feet that each want to do something differently. Should I leave them be or is there some greater problem that I should look into.

Not sure if it is related but I also suffer left hip flexor tightness.

Gerald Reyes

Steve Hogg replies


Sore knees

I'm 35 and I've been riding and racing for about 20 years. Two years ago, I packed in a lot of miles in the early season - probably too many - and for the first time I began experiencing soreness and swelling in both of my knees, primarily behind the knee cap. The early diagnosis was patella femoral syndrome - kneecaps not tracking properly - so I have done plenty of exercises to strengthen my inner quad muscles to help the tracking process, as well as stretching, icing, taking ibuprofen, and getting custom orthotics etc. An MRI indicated that there is no really big scarring that would indicate a need for surgical "scraping" behind the knee cap, and no arthritis, which is good, and according the some doctors the pfs is no longer pronounced - however, a year-and-a-half later, my knees are often still inflamed and they hurt if I ride at anything more than an easy spin. Any ideas? Thanks very much.

Tod Mohamed

Steve Hogg replies


Quad pain

I was hoping you could give me some guidance. I'm a 42 yr old cat-4, been racing for 4 years. At the end of a real hard ride or race it's always my quads that are fried and/or give out 1st. Based on your articles I'm guessing my seat is too forward and I should perhaps move my cleats backward relative to the shoes. I probably also rely too heavily on my quads in each pedal stroke. I mostly played soccer prior to cycling. I have been lifting in winter, somewhat following Friel's book. This fall/winter I was planning on incorporating longish low cadence hilly rides to try and extend the duration that my legs can work before they fatigue. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Rod Mitchell

Steve Hogg replies


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