Fitness questions and answers for November 21, 2007

Jérôme Coppel (Saur - Sojasun) celebrates

Jérôme Coppel (Saur - Sojasun) celebrates (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

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.

Foot alignment while pedalling
Knee tracking problem
Knee discomfort
Burning thighs
Lost power
Intensity during rest period

Foot alignment while pedalling

Hi. I have a question about foot alignment while pedalling. I'm a cat 4 racer, and have been riding for the last 3 years. I'm 22 years old and I ride about 3000-4000 miles each year. For the last 2 years I've been riding on Look A5.1 pedals. I really liked them, but after knee surgery last November, I needed to get a pedal system that allowed a little bit more "natural" movement in knee and foot on my right side. So I switched to Speedplay X-2's and I've been very happy. I find that my foot pivots slightly from side to side during the pedal stroke to match the natural tendencies of my formerly bad but now much better right knee.

The strange thing that I have noticed now that I have more float available is that when I start pedalling harder, my right heel starts to pivot outwards from the bike, giving me a pigeon toed stance on my right foot only. This doesn't cause me any discomfort, and I find that I do it subconsciously. When I notice I'm doing it, I try to correct myself and concentrate on keeping my foot more inline with the bike, but as the ride drones on, I tend to revert back to the original heal out stance. I'm curious what could have caused this and if it will have any lasting effects on my knee health or my riding ability. I don't walk pigeon toed, as a matter of fact, I walk slightly duck footed (I know lots of bird references). When I was younger my hips were checked to see if there was something out of alignment causing me to walk that way, but nothing was found at the time. I don't have any impairments walking, running or anything else either. If it helps, the knee surgery was a laparoscopic procedure to remove a piece of tissue that was stuck in my joint and abrading the contact surfaces of my knee joint quite badly. It was a piece of tissue that should have been broken down by my body when I was an infant, but for some reason decided to hang around and cause me problems later. So I had it removed, and nearly all of the pain I experienced from its presence disappeared.

Any insight into my mysterious heal out stance on the right foot only would be greatly appreciated.


Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Eric,

Knee tracking problem


I just read your article on moving knees. I have a similar problem which is complicated with left anterior knee pain, probable chondromalacia. I recently had a bike fit and was noted that my left knee goes lateral and right medial on the downstroke. Here is some important information. I am a radiologist and my scanogram showed no appreciable leg discrepancy. I am flat footed on the left and have a high arch on the right. The bike fitter suggested a longer axle on my left pedal (speedplay X1) and a increased Q factor to correct the left leg.

I am only 5'6", 130 lbs with narrow pelvis and small feet. So this to me was not the correct fix. What do you think? Would customize orthotics or wedges help? The right knee is fine so I'm not that concerned on that side.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Maui, Hawaii, USA

Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Bruce,

Knee discomfort

I've been reading the fitness Q&A column for a couple years now and have always found the advice to be very informative and helpful, and so now that I'm running into a problem I'm writing for advice.

I'm relatively new to competitive road cycling, but have made it my goal to reach Cat 1/2 status next season. I'm up to Cat 3 so far, and won a race this season. I'm training about 14-16 hours a week and will maintain that through the winter and then try to step it up to 18-20 in my build phase. I'm 183cm tall and 82kg. That's far above my race weight. I'm doing my best Jan Ullrich impression this off-season…

Anyhow, I've had a niggling problem with my knee for a little over a year now. It's only discomfort, not pain, and has not hindered anything from riding to walking up and down stairs. It's concentrated on the top of my tibia, just to the inside of the knee cap on my left leg. Occasionally it radiates to where the knee cap tendon joins the tibia and up into the knee cap. Sometimes after periods of sitting with my knees bent I "have to" straighten my leg and "crack" my knee, just as some people "have to" crack their knuckles. Although I occasionally have to do that with my right knee as well, and I have no discomfort there. I notice it the most when I'm really concentrating on "pushing" over the top of the pedal stroke, from the top to forward horizontal positions. I also noticed the other day on the trainer that my left leg is noticeably weaker during one-leg pedalling drills.

I have seen my doctor, a sports physio and even talked to a former European professional regarding this problem. I've been told its Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS) or bursitis or my knee ligaments "getting used to" the repetitive motions of cycling. My doctor prescribed some knee strengthening exercises and the physio basically told me not to do anything and see if it goes away. I've been doing the knee strengthening exercises (reverse step-ups and shallow one leg squats), and I've eased off the intensity of my training. I even took a month off at one point. My knee discomfort isn't getting any worse, but it isn't getting better. Both my doctor and physio have felt/manipulated my knee and have assured me that there is no physical damage being done.

Any insight into this would be very helpful.

Kevin Rutherford

Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Kevin,

Burning thighs

I am not sure how to describe something I go through almost every year about this time, but after last nights nearly sleepless battle, I am going to try. I go through periods where my thighs burn like they have a lactic acid overload when I am just idle. Last night it was so bad I couldn't lay still for more than a few seconds, though that was the worst it had ever been. Mostly it's just been a discomfort. For some background, I am usually active on the bike throughout most of the year, and starting September I wind down quite a bit. I have periods where I get out a few times a week (I did squeeze in 4 rides in the last week of Daylight Savings Time), so I have always felt like my leg muscles were going through some period of adjustment to the relative idleness. They are burning as I write this.

So, have you ever heard of this before? Is there something wrong with my diet? Am I missing some key mineral? Or is this just a quiet little secret that athletes keep to themselves? I am not sure what other information to give. Male, 48, cyclist for 30+ years, mostly veggy diet for past 5 years, but I have been eating meat again this year.

Oh yeah, and I stopped drinking coffee 3 days ago, cold turkey. Probably a 3-4 large cup a day drinker. I broke down this morning and had 2 nice big cups of caffeinated tea, and I feel better.

Thanks for any information,

Eric Hallander,
Little Silver, NJ, USA

Scott Safier replies:

Hi Eric,

Lost power

I am a 5'11", 190lb, CAT 3, male, cyclo-cross racer in Colorado. I race mainly criteriums during the road season and cyclo-cross races this time of year. I can usually get a prime or two at the criteriums, but rarely have enough power at the end of the race to position myself and sprint for the final. My main issue this time of year is that I can get a great start at every 'cross race (top 5-10 consistently) and can maintain position for a lap or two, but after about 10-15 minutes, I fade and may end up losing 30 to 40 places throughout the rest of the race resulting in a mid-pack finish. What should I work on to improve this? I feel fine during the first couple laps, but it seems like either the guys get faster, or I gradually slow down.


Ryan Hughes,
Louisville, CO

Scott Safier replies:

Hi Ryan,

Intensity during rest period

I am a 44 year old road cyclist. My question is about the period of time at the end of your season. Obviously this is a time of rest and recovery. I try to cross train and change my riding i.e. MTB during this time for a mental break as well. Friel's bible puts a calculated HR to stay below to ensure recovery during this period.

I have heard discussion by other riders/coaches of limited volume of intensity in this period to sustain some level of fitness. e.g. 4x2.5min intervals at 5min TT intensity or similar. What are your opinions?

Also when training starts building again obviously volume of training gradually increases. Have you found the volume of intensity or the level of intensity the critical factor in creating too much fatigue too early. Once again the Friel approach advocates a HR/Power level below a certain calculated point. I have heard that limited high intensity work i.e. as above or 20x30 sec intervals could be used at this point and slowly increased. Limiting volume of intensity rather than intensity.

I realise that individual athletes have different needs and listening to your body is a good guide to make sure you keep fresh, but I'm wondering if there are training absolutes on the above issues of intensity training during transition or base periods.


Andrew Gannon

Dario Fredrick replies:

Hi Andrew,

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