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Fitness questions and answers for October 10, 2005

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. 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 (www.carriecheadle.com) 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 (www.davepalese.com) 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 (www.trainright.com) 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 (www.velo-fit.com) 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 (www.physiopt.com) 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 (www.cyclefitcentre.com) 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 (www.wholeathlete.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) 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 (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) 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 (www.cycle2max.com) 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 www.cycle2max.com website.

Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.elitefitcoach.com) 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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, 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.

HR and VO2 stop responding
Cycling and impotence
Riding with Epilepsy
Getting back into it
Numbness on rollers
Strength, power and speed
Avascular Necrosis
Leg length discrepancy
Indoor trainer setup
In-turned foot
Strange looking knees
Cleat position
Toe numbness and pain
Mountain bike fit
Aspirin

HR and VO2 stop responding

Hi,

Three months ago I went to a lab to have myself tested for things like HRmax, VO2max and AT, etc. I maxed out at 200bpm and gave up, resulting in VO2max of 45.5ml/min/kg at 284watts on a bicycle ergometer.

After three months of structured and consistent training, I returned to the same lab to have me tested for the second time. What happened this time around is that, after I reached about 300watts, my HR and VO2 sort of stopped responding to the steadily increasing load, although my cadence didn't drop or anything and I felt I could still go on.

The doctor terminated the test before I gave them a sign that I could no longer go on, since there was no increase in VO2 at the point. My HR at the point was 191 and the load at 336watts. My VO2max increased to 53.7ml/min/kg (at HR of 191 bpm) which I hadn't really expected to at my age (38).

While the results, especially the increased VO2max and maximal power, gave me confidence in my training and I guess more power at lower HR means my cardiovascular system has become more efficient, I'm still puzzled by the fact that my VO2 and HR stopped responding to increasing load above about 300watts. Would you give me a plausible explanation why? Thanks.

Ken Sugawara

Scott Saifer replies

Ken,

Ken Sugawara then responded:

Hi Scott,

Thank you for the explanation.

Now I understand what you mean by the "you already know the answer" part but I still have a question; what are the limiting factors of VO2 - max? My heart could go a little bit faster than 191 for sure as it had in the past. Maybe it's the gas exchange rate in my lungs? Heart could pump blood faster but then each individual red blood cell would pass the lung faster, having less and less time to exchange gas, maybe? (yeah, you can call me a science weenie).

I can promise you that had the doctors allowed you to continue the test, you would not have gone much farther, perhaps just a few seconds, perhaps as much as a minute or two. The loss of power would have been sudden, dramatic and beyond your ability to push through.

I believe you, but this paragraph makes me curious. If there's a next time, I might ask them beforehand to allow me to continue even after I reach my VO2-max, just to see the sudden loss of power you describe.

Ken

Scott Saifer replies

Ken,

Cycling and impotence

I was reading the Globe and Mail (Canada) yesterday, and came across an article (see attachment) claiming there is new research supporting the notion that cycling causes impotence. Is this fact, or is it more of the same old sensational news that has cropped up in previous years?

The article states that 5% of cyclists will experience impotence problems. What's the statistic for non-cyclists?

I'm in my mid forties and have been cycling regularly for the past 15 years. I have never had any problems having fun on or off the bike, nor do I know of any problems any of my cycling buddies have experienced. The only comment I hear from my wife and other spouses is that endurance increases after years of cycling. Maybe all that interval training is worth it? Thanks.

Ira Birt

PEI, Canada

Kelby Bethards replies

Ira,

Riding with Epilepsy

I'm 24 years old, male, and I have been training for triathlons for five years, and cycling for three years. I ride from 80 to 100km a day, flat and hilly courses, road cycling. I have been recently diagnosed with epilepsy and my question is whether I can still cycle - I like it very much and my girlfriend does too; it's an important part of my life. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Milicevic

Belgrade, Serbia

Steve Hogg replies

Vlada,

Kelby Bethards replies

Vlada,

Getting back into it

Hi,

I've been off the bike for about two years now and want to get back in a big way. Could you help me out with some of the basics I need to know to set up some decent base mileage, approx. 35h a week. I have all the necessary tools like HRM and Power output. I use the Polar S725 so I have all the information at my fingertips. What I'd basically like to know is how to set up Power training Zones, how to gauge recovery so I know when to take it easy. I would really appreciate your input on this.

Kevin Kalis

Scott Saifer replies

Kevin,

Numbness on rollers

Hi,

Let me start off by saying how great it is to have a fantastic discussion board like this one! My question relates to using rollers as an indoor trainer when the weather is not cooperating, or when trying to do focused and controlled interval sessions. The issue that I run into is that after around 10-15 minutes of non-stop riding on the rollers, I start to get a bit of numbness in the crotch area. I never have this problem on road, but I think the issue lies in the fact that on rollers you're not nearly as stable as on the road, and are limited to a very steady pedal rhythm, whereas on the road you're allowed to 'squirm' around, not to mention traffic lights, etc that vary the pace. I also find it quite difficult to stand and pedal when riding on rollers. Is this normal, or am I doing something wrong? I have had limited success standing and pedalling, but I have rolled forwards off and over the rollers - not catastrophically, but very unnerving. Any suggestions?

Chris Hui

Melbourne, Australia

Scott Saifer replies

Chris,

Strength, power and speed

So, if as cyclists we all want to be more powerful (or at least maintain that power), then is there any use in training pushing a big slow gear up a hill if I could train that same hill at a higher cadence and speed in a lower gear? I've decided there is not and am keen to tell my mate that I am right. Can you adjudicate?

Vecic

Scott Saifer replies

Vecic,

Avascular Necrosis

Hi,

Just thought I would drop you a line to see if any of your fitness panel can give me any advice.

I am a 42 year old male cyclist, I live in France.

In May last year I was involved in a race accident. The guy that brought me down got away with road rash, I unfortunatly had no road rash but broke the neck of my left femur. I was operated on within 20 hours. I went through the 6 months of rehab and started riding my bike again in November 2004. Everything seemed to be going reasonably well, but in February 2005 when my cycling club started the seasonal training I began to notice a problem. When I was on the drops I could not stay in this position for more than 20 km without getting pain at the top of my left thigh and in my groin area.

This continued to get worse and gradually my training broke down altogether. I tried to continue riding my bike once a week during summer but this became impossible. 60km of riding would leave me unable to walk properly and take about four days to recover from the pain.

I have been to see a specialist this month who operated on me this week and removed the metal plate and screw that was in my femur. He also sent me for a MRI scan to try and find the cause of the pain. The conclusion of the MRI scan is stage 1 of Avascular Necrosis. The surgeon and myself are hoping that the removal of the big screw that went into my femur head will have released internal pressure and allow a better blood supply to the femur head. I have an appointment with my surgeon in three weeks where I may be scheduled to have another type of scan, the name of I cannot remember.

I am really scared, I do not want to have a false hip at 42. I assume it would be the end of competition cycling?. Although I am just an amateur I love my cycling. I am looking into ALL possible means to enable me to recover from this. These include diet, chinese medicine, homeopathic medicine, electrical stimulation of the femur head to encourage revascularization, etc.

Can your panel offer me any advice from what must be a vast array of experience in cycling and injuries?

Andrew McDonald

Kelby Bethards replies

Andrew,

Leg length discrepancy

Hi, I read with great interest your advice provided on the Cyclingnews website for the fellow who had one arm shorter than the other by seven inches. It was a very good solution and thought that you may have some advice for someone who has one leg shorter than the other.

Problem: My left leg is shorter by 1/2 an inch.

Current solution: I use in my Nike cycling shoe a heel lift inserted within the shoe. Problem is that there's not much room in those shoes for the lift of my foot, and as a result, my heel easily comes out of the shoe.

Bike stores have recommend that I use a lift underneath the cleat of the shoe. I've tried that before and could never get used to the odd angle of the foot required to pedal evenly. Other stores have recommended that the best solution is an orthopedic cycling shoe. Yet, who manufacturers such cycling shoes at reasonable prices. What do you recommend?

Christian P. Brun

Ottawa, Canada

Steve Hogg replies

Christian,

Indoor trainer setup

I ride a Giant OCR3 on the road and I have a Raleigh Technium that I have up on a fluid trainer. When I am on the road I have little to no discomfort except for some minor foot numbness after about 30-45 minutes in the saddle, I attribute it to being up on my toes for most of my power stroke.

My current issue is with the indoor training setup. After about 30 minutes on the trainer I develop some pretty strong tightness in the outside of my right knee and it turns into a manageable pain after about 45 minutes. I am 1.79m and 87 kg...maybe built more for football but I do enjoy cycling.

Recently, with the help of a cycling book, I sized the trainer to the suggested setting for my height. The road bike was fitted in the bike shop and I have not made any adjustments to it.

I also had an interesting pain in the arch of my right foot that went away with a day off. It felt like I stepped on something and bruised my arch. Are these related? Thanks for your help

Terry Daley

Steve Hogg replies

Terry,

In-turned foot

I'm a 25 year-old male whose left foot turns in. When I originally started riding three years ago, I thought I would compensate by rotating my cleat out on the bottom of my left shoe. For three years, this seemed to work fine but I wasn't riding a lot (about once a week). Now I'm riding three times a week for about 250km a week (155 miles) and I'm experiencing pain in the muscles around the left knee.

I've tried playing around with various cleat positions to no avail. I don't think my pedal has any float adjustment (it's an older model Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-R), just a vertical cleat play adjustment. Before I dump a bunch of money on a pedal upgrade that would give me float, I wanted an opinion on any other options to fix this problem. I want to increase my training during the off-season with the hopes of doing some Cat 3 races on the Ontario O Cup road series, but this knee problem is causing some concerns.

Charlie Philbrook

London, ON

Steve Hogg replies

Charlie,

Charlie Philbrrok then responded:

I got checked out by a physiotherapist and they found some interesting things. My left hip doesn't rotate like it should, which is likely causing increased stress on the nerve that runs down the back of my left leg. This is causing pain behind the left knee with that same nerve. They suggested some stretching exercises to increase the flexibility of the left hip joint, but didn't have much advice beyond that.

So here's where I stand right now. Prior to seeing the physio, I had taken four weeks off the bike to rest the injury. I did the suggested stretches for a couple days before cycling and again just before getting on the bike. My first ride was for one hour at 60-70% max HR with some hills en route. I could feel the nerve behind my left knee, but it didn't hurt. The next day, I did some light resistance speed spins on my indoor trainer for 30 minutes and the nerve began to hurt again.

I've checked my bike setup (saddle height and saddle set-back) and everything appears in order. What do you suggest I do next? Is it simply that the nerve hasn't healed enough yet? Perhaps I should setup regular appointments with the physio.

Charlie

Steve Hogg replies

Charlie,

Strange looking knees

Have you seen people with knees pointing outwards or inwards while riding? These same people will apparently have their seat heights adjusted properly but in the case of one rider I know his right knee can be seen to almost take a separate path to the right midway through the pedal stroke. Quite a sight, and somewhat painful to watch. This person rides often and says he experiences no problems. Is this a biomechanical problem or is it a result of unusually tight tendons or ligaments in the hips or upper legs that turns the knees out?

And is it simply an appearance problem or does it need to be corrected to prevent problems down the road?

Howard Gilbert

Napa, CA

Steve Hogg replies

Howard,

Cleat position

I have a question about cleat position

I am a junior cyclist and this year I have noticed a marked decrease in climbing performance. I'm wondering whether this can be because of cleat position. Currently I ride with my cleats as far back as they can go because this gives me a good drive with my quads - but I tend to have sore quads and not really sore calfs/hamstrings after a hard race/ride.

I ride:

- 172.5mm cranks
- 43 size shoes
- I am 1.77cm tall
- I have an inseam measurement of 845mm. From crotch to floor when standing straight with no shoes on.
- I also measured the outside of the centre of my knee to the hip bone that sticks out (edge of pelvis) to be 560mm in length, but I'm not sure if that will be of any help to indicate femur length.

Any advice that you could give me would be much appreciated.

Eliot Crowther

Steve Hogg replies

Elliot,

Toe numbness and pain

I have bicycled 10 - 20 miles a day for at least 20 years on a conventional upright bike with no physical problems. About five years ago, my husband and I bought Bike E's (recumbant bikes). Not too long after we had them, I began having numbness with severe shooting pains in the three middle toes on both feet about 20 minutes into my ride. Last year I invested in biking shoes for the first time. I have Shimano shoes without cleats - I also started using toe clips, but this has not aleviated the problem at all.

I am wondering if this is a common problem for recumbent bike users and if you know what might be the cause of this problem. Thanks.

Corinne Lauridson

Steve Hogg replies

Corinne,

Mountain bike fit

Hello, I recently bought a hardtail mountain bike and was wondering how a mountain bike fit [should?] differ from my road set up. Except for the obvious handle bar height difference, I'm a little confused. Should you keep the seat heights/fore-aft positions the same? Thanks in advance!

Giancarlo Bianchi

Steve Hogg replies

Giancarlo,

Aspirin

This may be totally unfounded but I have a question regarding aspirin, and racing. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and when you train/race in the heat your blood get thicker, so would you get any performance benefits from taking aspirin before a race?

Giancarlo Bianchi

Kelby Bethards replies

Giancarlo,

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