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Fitness questions and answers for September 5, 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.

Vastus lateralus burning
Tendonitis problems
Positioning for ladies
Energy gel question
Cleat wear and power
ITB problem
Foot injury
Adductor seizing
Pain in the neck
Pedal swapping
Breathing problems
Sweat smells like ammonia

Vastus lateralus burning

Hi Steve,

I'm hoping that you can give me some answers or suggestions for the following: I am 42 years old been riding a very long time; I've competed at the provincial level, won a few races, lost a few etc. Anyway, I'm experiencing a burning in my left quad under moderately high to high loads on the bike .The left quad fails before there is any fatigue in the right. What are some possible reasons and or solutions? My saddle height feels good (inseam of 87.5 cm) set at 77cm center to top, with Keo pedals set back of about 8cm, reach is good and I appear to be well positioned on the bike. I'm 6'2" and I know that I have a leg length discrepancy of about 1cm (right side short); I do stretching most days but not enough as you have written about. I wear size 46 Sidi shoes with cleats pretty much all of the way back. Thanks.

Mark Dwyre

Steve Hogg replies

Mark,

Mark then responded:

Well I seem to be really solid in the saddle. If anything, there may be slight movement on the left downward. It is tiny. The leg length thing was addressed a while back with orthotics which may have been lifting the wrong leg! A recent visit to my chiropractor showed a slight right leg shortness - maybe 5mm or less. My cleats are set up using your method which helped a lot. My second toe on each foot is longer than the big toe, more so on the left. I currently use Superfeet insoles in both shoes. Thanks.

Mark

Steve Hogg replies

Mark,

Tendonitis problems

Mr. Hogg,

Recently I began to experience a discomfort while cycling that resembles tendonitis (about 2-years ago, I had fairly severe tendonitis - Vastus Medialis at the insertion point at the knee). This time, the discomfort is on the lateral side of my knee - perhaps the lateral side of the tendon that connects the rectus femoris to the knee or the insertion point at the knee of the vastus lateralis?

My question to you is: Can you make any suggestions as to what might be causing my new pain - i.e. toes pointing out/in, wide stance on pedal, saddle to low/far foward, etc?

I really haven't made any changes (on purpose) to my position...although I replaced my left cleat somewhat recently and it is my left leg experiencing the problem. I do not think it is strictly over-use because my volume of training right now is relatively low. My battle with tendonitis in the past was cured by some positional changes and very aggressive stretching...but ironically I am now having problems on the opposite side!

Any help/suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated with the off-season almost here.

Ben

Steve Hogg replies

Ben,

Ben then responded:

Just to complicate things - here are a couple of things I should have stated earlier:

-I use a speed play zero on the left side. The inward float is 'locked out', but I have them set up to allow my heel to rotate outward (toe in). I had a past injury - tendonitis at the VMO insertion to the knee on this leg and these changes were recomended to me. They 'seem' to have helped eliminate my old injury so I am hesitant to reverse or change them.

For a right pedal, I use a dura ace pedal (look style - spd sl?). I have Le Wedges stacked up evenly about 1/8 of an inch - to account for the leg length discrepancy. My right leg is shorter than the left off the bike, but a couple local 'bike fit experts' tell me that on the bike the left leg is functionally shorter...my guess is that my body has 'twisted' as you suggest to 'make up' for my natural descrepancy...in the process my body has over-compensated and now the left leg appears shorter - functionally - when I'm on the bike.

Does all this make sense?

I'm not sure I understand your description of how to test the cleat position. Can I do this test with my current pedal set up? Thanks again and sorry to be a pain in the butt.

Ben

Steve Hogg replies

Ben,

Positioning for ladies

Hi,

My name is Helen, and I am learning to cycle - I am really enjoying it and looking to race in the near future. I have just purchased a Pinarello, and would appreciate some advice on positioning for ladies. I find my saddle very uncomfortable with tremendous pressure on my special bits - is there some general advice you can give for ladies positioning on a road bike, ie; saddle tilt, saddle set-back etc as I assume it will be different from men's positioning. I can't find any reference on your site. I am 5'6, weigh 7 st 10 llbs, inside leg 79cm. Many thanks in anticipation.

Helen

Steve Hogg replies

Helen,

Energy gel question

I had a question regarding the content of a certain energy gel on the market that I have been using. I noticed its main ingredient is brown rice syrup. Upon researching this I found out that brown rice syrup is composed roughly of 50% soluble complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. The website in which I found this information says that the maltose may take up to 1 and 1/2 hours to digest and anywhere from 2 to 3 hours for the complex carbs.

If this information is correct, I was wondering if this combination of carbohydrates is ideal for use during medium to intense riding in the 2 to 4 hour range, or should I be using an energy gel that contains a higher percentage of simple sugars and save the one I'm using currently for pre/post riding?

Matt Monton

Pam Hinton replies

Matt,

Cleat wear and power

I have a question about cleats that wear unevenly and what that might indicate about power output. My Look Delta cleats (the floating style) always wear much faster on the outside rear corner, the left cleat faster than the right, to the point that the inner corner is barely worn when I have to replace the cleats. I have tried to use the LeWedges to correct this problem, but that seemed only to increase the wear. I'm on my 3rd pair of cleats this season, which seems a bit excessive since I only train and race 6-8 hours a week. I have very flat feet and wear orthotics in both my cycling shoes and my street shoes.

My question: would it be better to reverse the LeWedges so that my foot tilts towards the crank, rather than away as their literature suggests? It seems that putting all of the force onto the outer part of the pedal would make for a less powerful stroke, but I'm not sure I grasp the physics involved. Thanks for all the great advice!

Christian Sheridan

Chicago, USA

Steve Hogg replies

Christian,

ITB problem

I am a 58 year old avid, recreational road cyclist. Last year my mileage almost tripled (1200 to 3400 miles) I began having ITB pain, but not at the knee. My pain came from the hip area. My ortho doctor said that the band was snapping around some area near my hip. His x-ray showed no arthritis or other problem. A cortisone shot cleared up the problem. That was at the end of last season. Now that I've exceeded 2000 miles this year, the problem has returned.

Obviously there's a fit problem with my bike. I have a leg length difference. The longer right leg has the pain issue. My leg difference is almost 1/2 inch. What about the fact that my position on the bike could be causing such a problem? Should the seat be raised, lowered? I have also noticed that, as I pedal, my right knee (the problem side) tends to travel left and right instead of straight up and down, especially during strenuous, seated climbing.

Rik Gagnon

Massachusetts

Steve Hogg replies

Rik,

Foot injury

I'm fairly new to the sport of triathlon, and about a month ago began suffering from what I believe is Metatarsalgia - pain on the ball of my left foot just beneath the toes. Now I'm beginning to suffer from the same thing in my right foot. I've done some research on running sites to see how to treat this condition. The first time I felt this pain (and it was very painful the first time) was immediately after getting off a ride when I began to run (doing a "brick" training session). I couldn't run more than 100 feet the first time.

I've done one Olympic distance race since I started having these pains (about a week ago) and was hoping to stay off my feet for a while to see if it would go away. Pain isn't as bad now, but still there. And it seems to be made worse by cycling - not running. Can this condition be caused by cycling and if so, what can I do so I can heal but still continue riding?

I'm 38 years old, approximately 180 lbs, 6 feet tall. High arches. I'm a mild overpronator when I run. Good health. Never had a sports-related or caused injury that I can remember even though played many sports growing up as a kid.

Craig Menden

Steve Hogg replies

Craig,

Adductor seizing

Hello,

Hopefully you can shed some light on this. I am a Masters 55, criterium-type racer, cat 2, racing on and off for 18 years. Last year in a crit I experienced a seizure in my right adductor muscle, stopping me completely from the race. It eased off somewhat and I had massage to alleviate it also. I went to see Dr. Testa in Sacramento. He moved my saddle back, suggested a shorter stem and I also got a Fizik Arione longer saddle. All to help me not come too far forward to the nose of the saddle which we think was pressing too hard and causing the trouble. During a recent hard riding century with friends I could feel it coming back into both legs, not just the right. After the century ride and a nap, both legs seized up for at least ten minutes...then finally loosened up enough to be able to massage. I was taking electrolytes and fluids during this ride - is there something else I am not seeing? Cleat placement? In/Out? Strength training?

Alan Atha

Steve Hogg replies

Alan,

Pain in the neck

I ride a Giant TCR2 Composite (L size). I find it quite comfortable and 2 or 3 ours rides are not a problem. However in the last two weeks I have noticed I have pain in each elbow and a pain high on my back (close to where my neck stops and back starts). It seems to have started after I took a week off cycling to go snow skiing (no injuries or strains were encountered during skiing).

I'm not sure if the elbow pain and the neck pain are related, and my thought was that there is something not quite right about my position that causes me to put too much weight on my shoulders through my elbows, and that is causing the pain I suffer. The pain is not bad enough to warrant medication or to make me stop riding, but it is uncomfortable at times. Any comments/thoughts?

Brian Glendenning

Newcastle Australia

Steve Hogg replies

Brian,

Pedal swapping

Hi,

I have used all kinds of different pedal systems; Look, Speedplay, Keywin, etc. and I can usually swap between different pedal systems with no problem. I just measure the height stack of the pedal and adjust the seat height as necessary. Then I make sure the cleat is in the same place as the old one as far as positioning using the axle as a reference point. There is an exception to my experience with pedal systems and that is with Time pedals. The first time I tried Time pedals in the late 90's I developed a real bad case of ITBS and had to stop riding for over a year. I have alway liked the simplicity of the Time system but I gave up on it. Now, I have bought the new Time RXS pedal and after adusting my seat height and cleat position, I get a tightness on the ouside of my leg, basically a tightness on my IT band.

Is there a reason that you know of that would cause this to happen? Why when I switch to the Time pedal system do I get that tightness on the outside of the knee? I can feel the tightness in the first 5 minutes of the pedal swap. It's almost intantaneous. I tried adding a shim between the pedal and the crank and moved the cleat as far forward as possible and it seemed to help some. But moving the cleat forward makes me feel like I'm pedalling with the tip of my foot.

Is there a mistake I'm making or is there something with this pedal system? The only thing I can think of that could make a difference is that with all other pedal systems, the pivot point is at the toe or under the axle (Speedplay) and with the Time pedal the pivot point is behind the axle.

I really like the Time pedal system and would like to use it but I also don't want another flare up in the IT band. If you can help me with this problem I would greatly appreciate it.

Manuel Rodriguez

Steve Hogg replies

Manuel,

Manuel then responded:

Hi Steve,

I am using the same shoes. They are regular Sidis with the plastic sole. When I had the ITB problem in the late 90's, I was using the same Sidi shoes; they are quite durable! When it happened in the late 90's, I was going from the Time Mid 57 to the Time Equipe. Right now I am using Speedplays, and before the Speedplays I had LOOK pedals.

The shoe size is 45. I am 5'7 and weigh 155lbs. My inseam is 32 inches and right now I have my seat height at 72.5cm (with the Speedplays). I have always used 172.5 cranks. Something peculiar about my anatomy is that I have knock knees and I walk and pedal pigeon toed. Another thing is that I have scoliosis and when I look in the mirror, I can see that my right hip is higher than the left. And the ITB flare up was on the right leg. The only thing is that it happened only with the Time pedals. After the very first ride, I could feel tightness on the outside of the right knee. Thinking that it would go away, I kept riding until I was forced to stop.

Right now I have tried the Time RXS and even after five minutes of riding, I can feel tightness on my right leg. As soon as I go back to my regular pedals, the tightness vanishes. One sad constant with all pedals systems is front knee pain on my left knee, but that is a different story. Sometimes I wonder if the tilted hips cause my right knee to be prone to ITBS and the left knee to pain in the front of the knee.

Another part of the story is that in the mid 80's (I'm 37) I had to stop riding because of ITBS (right knee). At that time I was using regular caged pedals with Diadora cycling shoes. No float. I wonder if the spring loaded float could have something to do with it. Or maybe the side float that Time pedals allow. Or, like I had mentioned, having the pivot point behind the pedal axle. I simply do not understand the root of the problem. Thanks for your help. I read your articles in Cyclingnews and find them very informative.

Manuel

Steve Hogg replies

Manuel,

Breathing problems

I'm a 30 year old road racer in Northern California. For the last few years I've been experiencing breathing problems when riding. This year has been especially bad. I seem to have asthma like symptoms- shortness of breath, coughing, some wheezing- if I'm riding in areas with car traffic. A single car passing on a mountain road can be enough to create these symptoms.

On long mountain bike rides away from cars my breathing seems to get better but is still not as free and easy as in the past. I rode for a few years before this with little or no symptoms. I've been to the doctor and have had various tests with the verdict - no asthma, but allergies and "sensitive lungs." Inhalers and allergy medication seem to diminish the symptoms, but I never feel symptom free. Obviously riding away from pollution would be ideal, but would limit my available riding. Is this common for cyclists since we are constantly outside in less than perfect air? Would a specialist tell me anything different than my doctor? Am I expecting too much of my medications?

Dave Allbut

Kelby Bethards replies

Dave,

Sweat smells like ammonia

I seem especially troubled by the heat this year, and my sweat volume is far greater and it smells overwhelmingly of ammonia. On the way home from a ride the car reeks like I've spilled an entire bottle of ammonia. This is all new this summer. No changes in diet or training. Would you have any ideas on the cause of this? By the way, my power seems way down. Thanks.

James Bailey

Pam Hinton replies

James,

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