Fitness questions and answers for October 9, 2007

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.

Adjustments needed with cleat wedges
Wide feet
High heartrate
Power profile
Health questions
Neck pain and head aches

Adjustments needed with cleat wedges

I'm a 35 yr old cat3 racer, with a majority of my races being crits, with a few longer road races throughout the year. My training sessions are usually 1-1.5 hours at high intensity (training crits), 45 minute very intense interval sessions, or 2-3 hour long sessions to keep the endurance up.

I've long known that my feet were not 'level' (it's obvious by the way that I walk, stand and that my shoes wear out) and after having some serious knee pain toward the end of this year, I got some cleat shims/wedges to try and correct the problem. I started with one on each shoe, and after several rides, moved to two shims. The knee feels pretty solid, and I've not had any real pain issues (I've also been doing IT band stretches to assist). I have noticed, however, that now my foot feels like it is further forward over the axle of the pedal. I know the cleat position fore/aft did not move, since I use speedplay pedals and the base plate is not removed when installing the shim. Is it normal that when adding shims or wedges that the cleat should be moved back just a tad, or do I need to give this time to adjust? It's not uncomfortable, just feels odd.

Greg Gilbert

Steve Hogg replies:

When you fit cleat wedges, generally speaking the angle of the foot on the pedal changes. With some, this will increase external rotation of the hip; i.e heels move in. With some it will increase internal rotation of the hip; i.e heels move out. If your heel(s) have moved in, that will give you the feeling of more foot over the pedal as the 1st MTP has moved forward as the heel has moved inward.

Wide feet

I am a 49 year old male who rides about 150-200 km a week - commuting and as a weekend warrior, mainly road but some off-road cross country.

I have trouble finding shoes that are wide enough to accommodate my big feet and usually have to settle for buying a larger size instead (46 European). I'm presently using a pair of specialized shoes which are fine but I've ended up with a lot of "toe" area. The length of the shoe also seems to make it harder to fit cleats correctly. Have you any advice on brands that have extra wide fittings, or at least those that make some attempt to look after those of use who aren't circling weenies.


Steve Hogg replies:

both Sidi and Shimano make road shoes in extra width sizing. If they aren't wide enough, consider a custom pair of shoes.

High heart rate

I'm a 157 lb, 39 year old category 2 (male) cyclist with an unusually high heart rate. When I was 30, my max heart rate was 211. Now it's down to 200. My resting rate and anaerobic threshold are correspondingly high. While team-mates have resting rates in the 40's and even 30's, mine is seldom below 60. I have had team-mates and associates warn me to "take it easy" upon learning that I'm hitting 195+ during some intervals.

My family has a history of high blood pressure and cardiac related problems. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure during an 8 year layoff during which I "let myself go" somewhat. Now that I am racing again, the blood pressure has returned to the high end of normal (~120/80).

While, I have heard that heart rates are individual and do not indicate any problems, I have wondered about mine because it's higher than anyone I've met my age, although I'm sure someone out there is probably higher. Do I have reason to be concerned? Does my high heart rate indicate that I may have problems down the road? Is it more "dangerous" for me to get near my max heart rate compared to someone with a more normal maximum? Is there any correlation with an obstruction, enlarged heart wall or ventricle?


Scott Safier replies:

Just as a note of comfort, I've had a client with a maximum heart rate of 216 who routinely went over 200 for extended periods in races with no problems. You are in no particular danger when you ride hard any more than a person with a lower maximum heart rate and lower heart rates at intermediate levels of effort.


I have been riding now for two years and my fitness has grown tremendously. The last couple of months, though, my legs have always been tired and sore. I have taken time off and done many recovery rides to try and recover from this. I have been reading and wanted to ask your expert advice about L-Glutamine. I do have a low immune system also, and I have read that glutamine helps out with your immune system as well as muscle fatigue and soreness. I was wondering what your take on this supplement is and if this would help my situation out.


Pamela Hinton replies:

Glutamine has been a popular supplement for several years now. It also has been studied recently for its possible role in over-training syndrome.

Power profile

Hello, I'm a 45 yo male 6' 190lbs and I've just completed my second full season of cycling with racing goals. This is my first with a power meter. My year end power profile test (15s 9.7 w/kg, 1m 6.1 w/kg, 5m 4.5 w/kg and FT 3w/kg) pretty much reflects my training with an emphasis on TT's and endurance and very little on sprinting. I'm satisfied overall. However, my sprint numbers are very low IMO and this leads to a couple of questions.

Do these low numbers explain my weekend rides where I stay with the group at first but get dropped after an hour or so and a few 30 mph surges?

Do I train these sprint efforts during next years base phase or do I wait until the build phase?

When I do start adding these in how would you incorporate them with my usual 3 weekday and one weekend endurance rides?


Michael Smartt replies:

A quick note for those who are not familiar with Power Profiling, it was developed by Dr. Coggan as explained here:

Health questions

I really enjoy your fitness section and have always found it useful. I am hoping some of your medical professionals will be able to offer some advice regarding my current situation. I have attempted to include only pertinent information. thank you for your time.

I am a 32 year old male (5’11, 32 yrs old) and with the exception of 3 years off for school, have been racing road and mountain bikes for 10 years.

I have lived in the Phoenix metro area for the past two years moving from a less urban environment.

In early April of last year I contracted what seemed to be a run of the mill cold which lodged itself in my lungs producing a hacking cough, lots of post nasal drippage and generally feeling under the weather for about a week. I usually get sick about once or twice a year and each time it is with these symptoms. In the past few years I’ve just followed the three ‘R’s” and within a week or so it clears up. I’ve also used small dosages of prednisone which has always cleared me up within 2-4 days. In this case, after about 10 days nearly all my symptoms went away except the limited lung functioning and near constant post nasal drippage. Even after doubling the dosage of prednisone, these symptoms didn’t go away. Most acute is the feeling that I simply couldn’t take a deep breath.

I was diagnosed with asthma as a child but have always controlled it by taking a puff of my Albutrol inhaler before every ride and until now this has always served me well. I continued to race throughout the spring with pretty miserable results. Despite similar training as years past, my results were significantly worst they had ever been.

With the exception of asthma, I’ve never had other noticeable allergies. However, I was referred to an allergist and got a complete allergy test. I didn’t test positive for anything that alerted the allergist as to my condition. He did however put me on a number of steroid and non-steroid inhalers as well as various allergy medicines. I’ve had a CT scan of my lungs and head which returned no abnormal results. I’ve also had blood tests for valley fever and a host of other possible viruses all coming back normal. I have also been seen by a Pulmonologist who is unable to offer any suggestions.

Over the summer I raced in Belgium and the symptoms seemed to lessen however, this was highly variable. Some days it was largely unnoticeable and some days I’d get dropped very quickly. Since returning to the USA in mid August I have been doing only easy 1 to 2 hr rides, 2 to 3 times a week. However, when I do attempt a few efforts at or above LT the problem remains the same; I am simply unable to take deep breaths.

I am able to ride all day and can ride tempo and even just below LT pretty easily but anything at or over LT is very difficult. I just can’t seem to take a deep breath. And when I inevitably get dropped, I really get dropped. I cannot seem to recover after these efforts. It feels in essence like I’m having an asthma attack despite using my inhaler. Off the bike I often notice shortness of breath simply walking around. I find myself trying to take deep breaths (much like a reflexive yawn) throughout the day. I use my Albutrol inhaler 5-10 times a day yet it seems to provide only temporary relief.

I am truly at wits end with this issue. I hope to continue racing next season but it seems not worth it if I can’t get my lung functioning back to normal. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Ophir Sefiha
Tempe, AZ

Kelby Bethards replies:

Well, you have explained a truly frustrating situation. Based on what you have told us, it seems that you are close at times to being ok, but it is inconsistent.

Neck pain and head aches

I'm 23 years old, 182 cm and 72 kg. I got hit by a car at a roundabout last Christmas (2006) at a low speed; she was doing about 35-40 km/h (It was her fault. who knew give way to the right also included cyclists..?), I didn't suffer many injuries considering, just a haematoma in the left hip, bumps and bruises and a tennis ball sized elbow from the resulting kiss with the Tarmac, all of which has healed.

Since then I started to get back pain both lower and upper, as well as neck pain right up to the base of the skull. This pain is at it worst during a ride at the base of my skull especially when in drops but not always. Now I get a headache or sometimes a migraine after every ride. This has caused me to almost stop riding since the onset of these headaches. I have also been seeing a chiro for 6 months which has almost stopped the day to day pain, but has not stopped the headaches post rides. I'm wondering weather this impact has affected my position on the bike, or if the headaches are caused by something else?? maybe worth a trip down to see Steve?

Any help to get me back on the bike headache free would be much appreciated!

Matt Lovell

Steve Hogg replies:

A big hit can move you around skeletally. Your chiro should be on top of that side of things but if you are not the same person functionally that you were, then head aches can arise. From time to time I see someone with a history like yours. At the moment, you are okay day to day but not post ride. That means that some combination of what you do and the bike position you have is causing you problems.

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