VeloNews.com » Coaches Panel http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:56:30 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Saxo Bank-SunGard re-ups with TrainingPeaks http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/03/news/road/saxo-bank-sungard-re-ups-with-trainingpeaks_163980 http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/03/news/road/saxo-bank-sungard-re-ups-with-trainingpeaks_163980#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2011 20:50:34 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=163980 The Saxo Bank-SunGard team is extending its partnership with Peaksware, LLC, the maker of TrainingPeaks software.

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The Saxo Bank-SunGard team is extending its partnership with Peaksware, LLC, the maker of TrainingPeaks software.

The team will continue to use TrainingPeaks to monitor and plan each rider’s training program, including analysis of workout data collected from their SRM power meters. This will be the third season that the team has worked with the Colorado-based company.

In the past, TrainingPeaks founder Dirk Friel has shared team power data from major races with VeloNews readers (For example, Chris Anker Sorensen’s data from the Tour de France), and he expects to do the same in 2011.

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Designing your own training plan for 2011 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/12/news/designing-your-own-training-plan-for-2009_86341 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/12/news/designing-your-own-training-plan-for-2009_86341#comments Fri, 24 Dec 2010 19:52:03 +0000 Frank Overton http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=86341

A 2010 FasCalendar

Frank Overton gives guidelines for developing your own annual training program

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A 2010 FasCalendar


Editor’s Note: Today we are re-running one of our most popular training columns, on designing your annual training plan. If you enjoy this, be sure to check out Frank Overton’s second most-popular column: What to do with your new power meter.

These days, there’s something to be said for designing your own training program. Athletes that are willing to put some thought and dedicate some time into designing a personal training strategy can be quite successful, more so than just riding around and hoping your form comes around.

It is also helpful to have your own game plan on paper even if you plan to take advantage of the help of an expert.

For those of you who like to do it yourself (DIY), here are four steps and two documents to use for designing a great 2009 training and racing season.

Step 1: Get Organized

The first step in designing your plan is to have everything written down and organized on one sheet of paper like the one pictured. To download this worksheet visit FasCatCoaching.com.

In one view, this worksheet breaks down the entire 2010 calendar into 37 weeks. Start by figuring out when you are going to start (and stop) racing. If you are lucky enough to attend a training camp write that down, too. Even knowing in advance when you’ll be taking a vacation away from the bike is helpful.

Step 2: What are you training for?

The next step is to identify precisely what you are training for. Having a tangible goal to work for will give you the motivation to get on the bike each day with a purpose. For starters, write down your three most important races. Then enter those races into the calendar. Define how many weeks you have from now until your first “A” race.

Having the big picture — the 30,000-foot aerial view, if you will — of how your races are setting up this spring and summer will give you the ability to zoom in your training week-to-week.

Step 3: Advanced Planning

Now that you are organized, and your goals are defined, begin to fill in your plan with more detail. Remember, designing your own training plan is a not a one-time exercise; it’s a work in progress. In January concentrate on the number of weeks you have before your race season begins.

January
Write down how many hours you can train each week between now and when your season begins. Weigh the possibility for a late winter or early spring warmer weather training camp to wrap up your “base.” Conversely, plan around potential business trips and other limitations (we all have to work, right?) Perhaps most importantly, plan on riding after work beginning March 8th with daylight savings.

As you know, the more training the better, but keep it realistic. By having weekly hours written down, you automatically give yourself the motivation to achieve those goals and ride those hours.

February and March
By the time February and March roll around, most local racing associations have posted their 2009 racing calendars. Begin to review and chose which you want to race before and in-between your major A races. Also use this advanced planning opportunity to look at what races aren’t going to work for whatever reason. You do not and should not race every weekend from April through September. Schedule a healthy dose of non-competitive weekends during which you ride for fun in a productive way.

I also recommend a mid-season break for all athletes (one week of no riding and racing to recharge mentally and physically). Mid-season breaks are a great time to balance your life outside of cycling for work and family.

Revisit this worksheet in February and March and adjust your weekly hours based on how easy or hard they have been to achieve so far. Once your racing is underway and you have seen how successful you are, and are going to be, revisit your race program and your goals based on your successes so far.

Now that you have your big picture training plan taken care of, you are ready to zoom down to the day-to-day design. I like to use a calendar like the one pictured and you can see that January is planned out as an example. You can download this calendar to use for your design by visiting FasCatCoaching.com.

Take the weekly hours from your big picture plan and pencil them in for the week ending each Sunday. Say, for example, that you planned out eight hours for the week, January 12th – 18th. Working off of those hours, you could do three one-hour mid-week workouts and two 2.5-hour rides over the weekend. Alternatively, you could do one three-hour ride on Saturday and a two-hour ride on Sunday. The benefit of designing your own training plan is that you know the limitations of your schedule and how each week/weekend shapes up against basketball games, business trips, carpools and if you are gonna be able to hit the Saturday morning group ride throw down.

Every two or three weeks plan a recovery week with fewer hours than you normally would ride. Give yourself more complete off days during the work week and ride once on the weekend. Try to train especially hard in the week and the days before your planned rest.

Repeat your day-to-day training plan design once-a-month using a monthly calendar. Always plan ahead based on what has happened with your previous training.

Finally, print out both of these documents. Use them to write down what you did each day. Post them on your refrigerator, desk, garage – wherever you are going to glance at daily so that you already know what you need to do for training the next day. Show your family. Share it with your cycling club and teammates. Rally for as much support as you can find. Oh and honey, can you watch the kids on Saturday morning so I can go hammer with the group ride?

Frank Overton is the head Cycling Coach at FasCatCoaching.com, a cycling coaching company in Boulder, Colorado. If you would like to receive the Training Plan Design Worksheet and the monthly FasCalendar (with an example January Training Plan) referenced above please, email info@fascatcoaching.com.

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Heat acclimation gives big cycling performance improvements in cool conditions, study finds http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/11/news/heat-acclimation-gives-big-cycling-performance-improvements-in-cool-conditions-study-finds_148767 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/11/news/heat-acclimation-gives-big-cycling-performance-improvements-in-cool-conditions-study-finds_148767#comments Thu, 04 Nov 2010 17:22:14 +0000 Ben Delaney http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=148767 Training in the heat improves performance in cool conditions, a study finds.

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A recent study by human physiology researchers at the University of Oregon found that huge physiological gains could be achieved in trained cyclists by doing 90-minute easy rides in high heat for 10 days.

Before the testing, the researchers expected to find improvements in the hot-weather performance of Cat. 1 and 2 cyclists after a heat-acclimation program. But what surprised them was that the physiological improvement translated to cool-weather performance as well.

“The biggest thing we saw was that the heat-acclimation group increased their time-trial performance by 6 percent in cool weather, and by 8 percent in hot weather,” study co-author Chris Minson, Ph.D. told VeloNews.

Researchers measured time-trial performance via power output over a 60-minute all-out effort. While researchers continuously monitored the riders’ wattage, the riders themselves couldn’t see the numbers and only had elapsed time for reference. In the control group of Cat. 1 and 2 cyclists, no improvements were detected over the course of the study.

The study consisted of six days of continuous testing, followed by 10 days of heat acclimation, followed by another 6 days of testing. The heat acclimation consisted of an easy, 45-minute trainer ride in 100 degrees, followed by a 10-minute break and then another 45-minute easy ride.

The cool weather testing was done at 55 degrees. All the temperature-controlled rides were done in a 12-by-12 chamber. The easy ride was defined as 50 percent of VO2 max. During the test period both the control and the test groups continued their regular outdoor training also.

“What was really neat was that we also saw a 5 percent increase in VO2 max in cool conditions,” said Minson, who is a cyclist himself as well as the University of Oregon’s Human Physiology department head. “The question remains for me as to the real-world application. But the lactate threshold, VO2 max and power output increases in the lab were profound.”

So what does all this mean for everyday cyclists who would like to improve their riding? Minson’s answer is less physiologist and more Eddy Merckx: “Ride more.”

“The best thing most riders can do to increase their performance is to get on their bike and ride more. Do weights in the off-season. Lose weight,” Minson said, adding that the study’s results applied primarily to highly trained cyclists. Even then, the heat acclimation is only helpful when done in addition to solid training.

“What people are taking from this unfortunately is that they should do all their training in the heat,” Minson said.

Minson said you could draw a parallel to altitude training: living high and training high will result in less neuromuscular acclimation, not more; one still needs to train with normal amounts of oxygen to see performance gains. “You have the same corollary here: you still have to train fast (in normal weather). But if you can then add heat acclimation on top of that, you will get a boost. I’ve heard rumors of pro teams already putting this to use.”

Researchers say heat acclimation improves one’s ability to control body temperature, increases blood flow through the skin, and expands blood volume allowing the heart to pump more blood. Researchers also concluded that the heat may produce changes in the exercising muscle, including enzymatic changes that could improve the amount of work done by the muscle, but Minson said more research was needed.

Minson joked that he needed to come up with a catch phrase to encapsulate the concept of heat acclimation added into a proper training program. “’Train cool, taper hot’ was one suggestion,” Minson said. “For trained cyclists, this just could mean going for an easy spin on hot days.”

The study, “Heat acclimation improves exercise performance,” was published in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Editor’s note: Delaney is a former editor in chief for VeloNews. A journalism graduate of the University of New Mexico, Delaney is responsible for all editorial content online and in the magazine. Delaney joined VeloNews in 2005 as managing editor, having worked previously for The Santa Fe New Mexican, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News and as a freelance writer for various titles. He’s a former (but never very good) Cat. 1 racer. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two children.

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Interbike Tech: LeMond Revolution Trainer http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/interbike/interbike-tech-lemond-revolution-trainer_141880 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/interbike/interbike-tech-lemond-revolution-trainer_141880#comments Tue, 21 Sep 2010 02:41:38 +0000 Caley Fretz http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=141880

The LeMond Revolution uses a large flywheel and fan-based wind resistance unit to create a road-like feel. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

LeMond’s Revolution, the same trainer used by Garmin-Transitions at this year’s Tour, is a marked step away from the status quo.

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The LeMond Revolution uses a large flywheel and fan-based wind resistance unit to create a road-like feel. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com


LeMond’s Revolution, the same trainer used by Garmin-Transitions at this year’s Tour, is a marked step away from the status quo. It alters the way resistance is transferred to a drivetrain by completely removing the middle men — the rear wheel and tire — from the equation. The trainer will be available in October, with an add-on power meter computer coming in November. LeMond representatives noted that the Garmin team will be using the trainers again next year.

Instead of clamping around a quick release and applying resistance to the rear wheel, the Revolution clamps into the rear dropouts and applies resistance directly to the drivetrain. The trainer itself holds the cog set via a Shimano/SRAM-compatible freewheel, literally replacing the rear wheel with a large, heavy flywheel. That means no more slipping and squealing from a tire/roller interface, no more excessive rear tire wear, and no more need for a front wheel block since the rear dropout height is the same as the front.

The power computer will be Ant+ and USB-download capable, will display cadence, distance, speed, heart rate, and calories burned, and will be compatible with TrainingPeaks software. Watts will be calculated using the trainer’s tested power curves combined with sensed elevation, humidity, and temperature info. Recalibration will require a simple set of spin/coast cycles.

The Revolution is mountain bike compatible, and weighs 32 pounds without a cassette.

I had a chance to hop on the Revolution, albeit briefly and with street shoes, at Monday’s Interbike Outdoor Demo and was impressed with the road-like feel. Resistance comes from a large fan, which combined with the heavy flywheel makes for a smooth resistance curve. Coast for a few seconds and a minimal amount of speed is lost, just like on the road. Getting back up to speed is a familiar effort.

However, there are a few potential drawbacks inherent in the design. The need for small rear derailleur adjustments each time a bike is mounted is a possibility. The exact position of a cassette along the length of a rear hub axle is not a strictly enforced standard, and one wheel will often position the cassette differently from another. Anyone who’s ever picked up a pit wheel mid-race has probably run into that very problem. Presumably, the Revolution could run into this same issue, though a small tweak is likely all that would be needed.

Price is high, but, given the unique benefits, not extraordinary. Plus, a dedicated indoor rider would probably save a tire or two each winter. The Revolution with no cassette will start at $449, and go up $100 when packaged with a cassette. The power system add-on will be an additional $349.

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Eating advice for the cyclocross season http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/training-center/nutrition/the-feedzone-with-monique-ryan-eat-right-for-cross_13709 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/training-center/nutrition/the-feedzone-with-monique-ryan-eat-right-for-cross_13709#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Monique Ryan http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=13709

Eating right for cyclocross requires a few dietary adjustments.

A few nutritional adjustments for cyclocross season.

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Eating right for cyclocross requires a few dietary adjustments.

As part of the FeedZonecolumn, Monique will answer selected questions online. Please sendyour questions to RyanWebQA@aol.com.

Cyclocross season is well underway, and as competitors you likely have adjusted your training for the short, but very high intensity racing. Your workouts are likely characterized by various interval sessions, while endurance and recovery ride volume may drop off relative to your road or mountain bike season.

Running workouts are also included as most of you head into cooler training conditions, with toe numbing cold weather racing marking the finish of the season in many parts of the country. By making a few nutritional adjustments for cyclocross season, you can sustain your training efforts and power your way over the race course.

Keep your balance

With a focus on shorter races and colder training weather, a drop in training volume can dictate some changes in your energy and carbohydrate intake. While it is essential that you maintain your power, fewer calories may be needed to maintain an optimal race weight. At the very least aim to prevent any weight gain.

You are essentially in the off season and with the holidays approaching there are plenty of high calorie temptations just around the corner. As always, your daily energy requirements are largely determined by training time and intensity, and your food intake should match up to that day appropriately.

Immediately after any training ride, have at least half a gram of carbohydrate for every pound of weight (1.2 g/kg wt) to start the muscle glycogen replenishment process. Steady endurance training rides burn a mix of both glycogen and fat, and rides lasting only 2 to 3 hours may not require the high carbohydrate portions you consumed earlier in the season.

Interval rides lasting over 90 minutes can result in significant calorie burning due to the high intensity, with carbohydrate being the predominant fuel burned. Push your carbohydrate intake up to slightly higher levels on these training days and keep your fat intake low. High intensity training can also be a big hunger booster, especially in colder weather- don’t let these conditions result in rapid overeating.

Navigating training nutrition on the bike

On-bike hydration and fueling are still important considerations during cyclocross training sessions. While sweat losses are likely to be lower in cooler weather when compared to the height of hot weather training, don’t be fooled into not rehydrating adequately on the bike. Wearing insulating clothing, and insensible fluid losses (your lungs warm the incoming air you breathe), you may still sweat considerably.

Just like any other time of year, the goal is to minimize your sweat losses. Aim for 4 to 8 ounces of a sports drink every fifteen to twenty minutes, but you can also check on your own sweat rate. Weigh yourself in the buff before and after training. If you are down one pound, that is 16 ounces of sweat losses that you did not replace with drinking on the bike. If you are down two pounds or more, focus on your hydration efforts.

Choose a sports drink for fuel and fluid replacement during both a steady endurance ride the burns through muscle glycogen and also for shorter, but intense interval training sessions that quickly burn through this fuel. You can also warm-up your drink for colder training days.

Pack a few more solid items for your training rides. Cold weather, shivering, and attempts to stay warm mean you need more fuel. Pack along a gel, carbohydrate block, or energy bar for food when hunger sets in on the bike or for the cool-down ride home.

Timing matters

Besides having some extra calories on hand to offset cold training hunger, starting any training ride with a good fuel tank in cooler temperatures is important. Look at your training schedule and determine if it makes sense to have a larger meal 3 to 4 hours beforehand, or a snack 1 to 2 hours prior, or perhaps even both.

A solid meal 3 to 4 hours before training can top off muscle glycogen stores and keep you comfortably full, or not hungry for a ride. Good pre-ride snacks include energy bars, a small bagel, a granola bar or fig cookies 1 to 2 hours beforehand. Just know your tolerances and leave ample digestion time for your pre-ride noshes, particularly before high intensity training. If proper meal timing just isn’t in the cards that training day, take extra care with the foods and fluids you bring on the ride.

Race ready nutrition- eat it early or bite it later

Start preparing for the race nutritionally 24 hours beforehand. With light training and adequate carbohydrates at 4 to 5 g per pound (8-9 g/kg) weight, you can significantly boost your muscle glycogen stores so that you have an ample supply for the race. While cyclocross races are short from a time perspective, lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, they are high in intensity and quickly burn through muscle glycogen stores.

Given the short race times and tricky nature of the courses, you likely will find opportunities to drink on the bike to be very limited. So make sure that you arrive at the cross race hydrated and fueled, with the proper timing locked in so that cross gut doesn’t set in and your pre-race meal doesn’t bite back.

Pre-race meal timing is essential and something that should be ironed out before hard training rides that simulate race intensities. You can also practice meal timings that mimic your race day start time. Ideally, you can consume a breakfast type meal plentiful in carbohydrates. Your favorite cereals, fruit, juice, and even some protein from egg whites or peanut butter can work well. Portions can be fairly generous if enough digestion time is allowed. You can also make smart choices and fuel up about two hours before the start.

Gels, liquid supplements, energy bars can work well. For an afternoon race start, you may even have to plan on downing two pre-race meals. Have a good solid breakfast and then a second lighter meal three hours before your start. Again, this second meal can emphasize reliable breakfast foods. Of course you should hydrate in the hours leading up to the race.

With the comfort of knowing that you are well fueled and hydrated for the race, you can then consume a sports drink during your pre-race warm-up, so that you do not arrive to start with any significantly fluid deficits. Leave enough time for fluid to empty from your stomach to prevent sloshing during the race, so keep with a volume that is comfortable for you. Many seasoned racers and pros also like to pop a carbohydrate gel of a few blocks right before the start to prevent bonking. Practice these suggested strategies during training.

Don’t forget about recovery nutrition after the race, particularly if you will race both weekend days. Have a few recovery foods on hand like a peanut butter and jam sandwich, or a thermos of hot cocoa to have within 30 minutes after racing.

With planning and practice, your race nutrition plan should go down smoothly, allowing you to focus on the challenge of racing itself.

Monique Ryan, MS, RD, LDN is a nationally-recognized nutritionist with more than 22 years of experience and is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs, a Chicago based nutrition consulting company that provides nutritionprograms for endurance athletes across North America (www.moniqueryan.com).

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Coaches Panel: Training for cyclocross — three workouts http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/training-center/on-the-bike/coach-frank-overton-shares-three-of-his-favorite-cyclocross-workouts_99624 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/training-center/on-the-bike/coach-frank-overton-shares-three-of-his-favorite-cyclocross-workouts_99624#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2010 13:58:49 +0000 Frank Overton http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=99624

The punchy demands of cyclocross differ greatly from the more consistent demands of road racing. Photo: Frank Overton

Coach Frank Overton shares some of his favorite 'cross workouts

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The punchy demands of cyclocross differ greatly from the more consistent demands of road racing. Photo: Frank Overton


Greetings cyclocross racers, I’d like to share three workouts to help take your cyclocross game to the next level. I presume nearly all of you have been racing and are participating in a local mid-week CX group ride or “hotlap” session. If you aren’t – that’s your next level before these workouts. Head on over to your local cyclocross course and hold mock four-to-five-lap races. Toe a makeshift start line, say “go” and chase each other around for bragging rights. Ride with stronger riders who will push you harder than you would on your own. Ride hard, practice your technical skills while on the rivet and keep it as simple as that. But for those of you I know that have already been tearing the “Wednesday Worlds” up, and want to take your performance up a notch or two, read on.

These three workouts encompass the cyclocross version of the specificity article I wrote for VeloNews last year. To figure out what’s beneficial cyclocross training, it’s helpful to understand what happens during a race. I don’t think it will surprise any cyclocross racer to hear that cyclocross racing is an anaerobic sport. It’s hard, it hurts and here’s why as illustrated by this cyclocross race power data, shown left.

In this race, the longest continuous stretch of power output was for 23 seconds. Most segments were in the 4-8 second range and 125-200 percent greater than the rider’s threshold power. A third of the race was anaerobic and another third less than 170 watts: throttle wide open or not at all (see power distribution graph).

That’s just how ’cross is: pedal hard for a short period of time, negotiate an obstacle or barrier and get back on the “gas,” otherwise known as stomping on the pedals. Go hard, jump, run, jump, run some more, accelerate, slow down, accelerate, and go hard again. All in little high-powered anaerobic periods of time.

Now, we can’t go around doing 5-second intervals at 150–200 percent of threshold power. That would be silly, and besides that’s what the group rides and races are for. They are the ultimate in specificity training. They are the ultimate in specificity training. But we can break down the important parts of a cyclocross race and mimic what happens with the three following workouts:

Short Anaerobic Intervals:

Forty-five second and 1-minute intervals pack a lot of anaerobic adaptations per workout. But for ’cross, I like to shorten the duration and increase the intensity (wattage) for a more specific training session. Lately, I’ve been using myself as a guinea pig and performing Tabata Intervals in this format:

2-3 sets of 7 x 20 seconds On FULL GAS, 10 seconds OFF with 4 minutes between sets.

The physiological benefits of Tabata Intervals have been widely published in the scientific literature but I find there’s an additional mental benefit specific to cyclocross as well: “going” again mentally when the body isn’t ready. The ten-second recovery period is far from adequate and that’s essentially what cyclocross feels like – having to go hard again without a proper recovery period. The first two to three Tabata repetitions aren’t bad but then the 10-second recovery period catches up very quickly for an incredibly difficult workout. At that point, in order to successfully complete this workout, athletes need to dig deep mentally to “go again.” Because this is very similar to racing cross, Tabata intervals are as good for your legs as they can be for your head.

Race Start Simulation:

The first lap of a cyclocross race is uber important. Racers go from 80 beats per minute to 180 bpm and then hold that intensity for the rest of the race. Practice your race starts beginning with one foot unclipped on the ground on your imaginary start line at your local cyclocross course. Accelerate as hard as you can, clipping into the pedal as smoothly as you can. Go hard for 1 minute. Real hard. Try 125 percent of your threshold power hard; maybe even 150 percent.

Add a barrier section to this 1-minute race simulation, a deceleration, acceleration, or a run up – combine all the technical elements of ’cross into this full-gas effort — because there’s a big difference in your technical skills going easy and going full tilt. After the initial 1 minute, keep the pressure on and perform 2-3 hot laps while working on your technical cross skills. This race simulation is the cyclocross version of the mountain bike race start article Jason Hilimire wrote for SingleTrack.com this summer.

If you have a group of eight or more crossers, half the group up into two for a 1-lap race start simulation while the other half rests. When the first group finishes, then the next group goes. Each group experiences 1 lap “On” and 1 lap “Off.” Repeat three-to-five times to reinforce and improve your race start accelerations, clipping in smoothly and going hard while fighting for position toe-to-toe. If you’ve been timid at the start of a ’cross race, this is your chance to work on being more aggressive.

Motorpacing:

If you want to get more out of your body on any given day than you could on your own, motorpacing is the ticket. There’s nothing more motivating in a workout than having a wheel to hold on to. I know the logistics for nearly all of our readers are difficult, but it’s such a quality workout for cyclocross that motorpacing deserves mention. After all, suffering like nobody’s business to maintain your position is CX in a nutshell. And staying on the wheel of a motor is just that.

Bursty power is the name of the game, much like the power graph above. Drafting behind a motor produces short high powered anaerobic outputs and mimics the power demands of ’cross, sans the technical aspects.

If you are lucky enough to have motorpacing as training option perform this workout by feel. A good once-a-week motorpacing workout should feel hard overall, and very hard multiple times during the 45-60 minute session. Have your driver keep the throttle steady and smooth for average speeds between 25-33 mph (depending on your ability level), slower uphill and faster downhill. Let the terrain take care of the intensity and remember the number one rule of motorpacing: stay on the wheel no matter what (all safety considerations, aside). Yes, it’s hard but so is cyclocross!

If you are racing consecutively each weekend, pick your poison from one of these workouts mid-week. Add in two rest days per week (before and after each race) and you practically have your weekly training set up. Be creative setting up your practice cyclocross course(s) and don’t forget your technical skills practice. Have fun, but work hard. Hup Hup!

Frank Overton is the head coach and owner of FasCat Coaching, a cycling coaching company in Boulder, Colorado. For cyclocross training, Frank regularly tastes his own medicine with the workouts above. For more information about Frank, FasCat Coaching and their coaching services please email frank@FasCatCoaching.com

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Book Excerpt: A Zen Approach to Training with Power, from Training and Racing with a Power Meter, http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/book-excerpt-a-zen-approach-to-training-with-power-from-training-and-racing-with-a-power-meter_136324 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/book-excerpt-a-zen-approach-to-training-with-power-from-training-and-racing-with-a-power-meter_136324#comments Mon, 30 Aug 2010 09:40:55 +0000 Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=136324

Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Cogganb

Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan discuss some simple ways a power meter can help riders track performance changes over time.

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Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Cogganb


Editor’s Note: The following section is adapted with the publisher’s permission from Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 2nd Ed. by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD. The book is available in bookstores, bike shops, and online at VeloPress.com.

You don’t need a trust fund to afford a power meter these days, nor does using a power meter require a PhD. In this adaptation from their book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 2nd Ed., Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan outline a simple way to benefit from riding with a power meter: by tracking changes in your fitness. Yes, your power meter can tell you how fit you are, and it’s easier than you think.

Tracking changes in your fitness

Until the invention of the power meter, it was difficult for coaches and athletes to accurately track changes in cycling fitness. With the introduction of the power meter, cyclists began to have the ability to easily track quantitative changes. You can see how much you have improved in your peak 5-minute power, for example, or your peak 60-minute power. With a few simple charts you can really see the fruits of your labor, as that little line on your graph continues to climb higher and higher. One of the benefits of this new technology is that seeing these changes is very exciting and motivating. There is no more guessing that maybe you are better. It’s a definite. There’s the number right there in your power-meter software. Unfortunately, the opposite can also apply, and when you are riding poorly, it can really be depressing. Quite simply, sometimes the truth hurts! Even in this case, however, it is worth knowing precisely how your fitness has declined, and by how much, so that you can make appropriate changes in your training program to get back on track.

Though it is possible to perform some of these analyses using other programs, we have used TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software to illustrate how to track changes in your fitness.

Changes in Mean Maximal Power

One of the most important charts for you to understand is the Mean Maximal Power (MMP) Periodic Chart. This chart (Figure 10.2) compiles the data from every ride that you have done for a particular time duration. Each data point represents your mean maximal power (that is, average best power) for a particular ride for the time period you select. Each data point represents the peak wattage for each time period over the entire week. So the peak 5 seconds will be the peak 5 seconds for that entire week, the peak 1 minute will be the peak minute for the entire week, and so on.

Now we have a picture of how this cyclist’s fitness changed throughout the year and when it peaked in each of the different time periods. We see that his peak 5 seconds for the year was in early spring, when he almost cracked 1,080 watts. His peak 1 minute for the season was in early May, when he was able to produce 560 watts for 1 minute. Note how his peak 5-minute power stayed relatively the same throughout the entire racing season, finally peaking in early September at 375 watts. Now look at his peak 20-minute power. In fact, there are two peaks for this duration, one in May and one in August. Both are roughly the same wattage, at 327 and 323 watts, respectively.

Now, let’s look at his performance in the following year (Figure 10.3). As the chart shows, in little more than one month he achieved his peak 5 seconds at 1,015 watts, his peak 1 minute at 575 watts, his peak 5 minutes at 387 watts, and his peak 20 minutes at 333 watts. Obviously, his fitness was the greatest in April and May, also evidenced by six race wins in this time period. Now, what this doesn’t show is that he also did very well at Masters Nationals in year 2; however, since the event was held at altitude (at an elevation of about 8,000 feet), his peak wattages were lower than what might have been expected at sea level. He finished fourth on the time trial and in the top 15 in the other two events.

Finally, let’s look at a third consecutive season (Figure 10.4). At the beginning of this season we changed his training so that he could really peak for Masters Nationals, aiming at an FTP of 375 watts. This year the Masters Nationals competition would be held in late June instead of early August, and we shifted his training accordingly. His fitness came up steadily at all levels throughout the season, peaking in mid-June with his peak 1 minute at 631 watts, his peak 5 minutes at 417 watts, and his peak 20 minutes at 375 watts. His peak 5 seconds was the highest in early April, as in previous years — almost exactly four weeks to the day after his winter weight training program was completed.

He did well throughout the season, coming to Masters Nationals with twelve wins under his belt. Masters Nationals was held at altitude, so his true peaks weren’t reached in that event. However, his performance there was the best out of the three years. He took the Overall Omnium Win and a criterium championship and had the fastest time in the time trial for his age group (though, as seen in his downloaded power-meter file, he missed his start by 1:30!).

Now let’s compare all three years on a single chart (Figure 10.5). By charting them together, we can see this athlete made some major improvements. His first season was very good, but in the second year he experienced even more dramatic growth. Some of this growth is obscured, because his peak occurred while at altitude. Nevertheless, having the opportunity to look at all three years of data is very powerful, not only for the athlete but also for the coach.

For this article, we’ve left out two more useful techniques that help riders track their fitness: monitoring changes in the distribution of training levels (or “time in zone”) and changes in cadence. But taking all the examples in chapter 10 as a guide, you can begin to track your own fitness changes. Looking at your mean maximal power over the past 28 days is a reliable method of seeing how you are improving in different areas. Learning the intricacies of Quadrant Analysis and Multi-File comparisons is a little more complicated, but the tools are there and available for you. In any case, it should be clear that your power-meter data can help you to achieve more.

The simple collection of data is one of the most “zen” ideas about training with power. Ride, collect data, do nothing extra. Even though this motto may sound simplistic, it also brings out a concept some cyclists may find helpful: a minimalist approach to training with a power meter. The interpretation of the charts and graphs is not complex in most cases, and we hope that this chapter has helped to illuminate the simplicity of tracking fitness changes.

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Book excerpt: The myth of ‘The Fat-Burning Zone’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/book-excerpt-the-myth-of-the-fat-burning-zone_134214 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/book-excerpt-the-myth-of-the-fat-burning-zone_134214#comments Mon, 16 Aug 2010 23:54:30 +0000 Matt Fitzgerald http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=134214

Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance

In an exclusive excerpt from his book Racing Weight, Matt Fitzgerald explains the best way for cyclists to eat and ride to reduce body fat.

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Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance

Editor’s Note: The following section is adapted with the publisher’s permission from Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald. The book is the first weight-loss book written for endurance athletes and is available in bookstores, bike shops, and online at VeloPress.com. Matt Fitzgerald is a prolific endurance sports journalist who has written more than 20 books on cycling, running, and triathlon. He is a certified sports nutritionist and featured coach for TrainingPeaks.

How to Ride Yourself Lean

Your power-to-weight ratio is one of the best predictors of your cycling performance. Understanding the negative effect of weight on performance, many cyclists are fanatical about minimizing the weight of their bodies and bikes alike.

But the wrong approach to minimizing body weight — namely, severe calorie restriction or endless moderate-intensity riding or a combination of both — will sap power even as it annihilates excess body-fat stores. So the greatest weight management challenge for cyclists is to train and nourish themselves in a way that increases sustainable power output while also minimizing body weight.

To increase your power capacity requires that you consistently perform a small amount of training at very high power-output levels. This type of training sends a message to your body that it needs to let the muscles adapt in ways that will enable them to meet the stress imposed by maximal and near-maximal efforts. A little high-power training goes a long way.

High-intensity training will only increase your power capacity if you support it with a diet that allows your muscles to fully adapt to it. If you’re currently above your racing weight, this objective is best achieved with a slight caloric deficit. Anything more than a slight deficit will deprive your muscles of adequate fat and protein to maintain themselves and adapt to training and adequate carbohydrate to fuel optimal performance. A slight deficit will reduce your body-fat percentage and perhaps also your body weight without affecting your average power output in performance tests such as a 40K time trial. A daily caloric deficit of 100 to 300 calories is most likely to yield these results. My book Racing Weight shows readers how to track calories in and calories out to achieve this deficit. You should also track your body weight, fat percentage, and performance to ensure that this deficit is in fact yielding the desired result of making you leaner without making you less powerful.

All Zones Burn Fat

For many years a debate has raged between two factions of what we might loosely call the exercise community. The debate concerns the best way to exercise to get leaner. Some argue that prolonged, moderate-intensity exercise in the “fat-burning zone” is best. Others argue that high-intensity interval training is the best way to shed excess body fat. The truth is, both types of exercise are effective for fat-burning, and a program that combines the two is likely to be more effective than one based on either type alone.

There are three changes you can make to your training to become leaner and yield better performance: increase the volume of moderate-intensity workouts, add more high-intensity training, and do more strength training.

Let’s cover moderate-intensity workouts, aka the “fat-burning zone.”

The so-called fat-burning zone of exercise intensity is a concept that has spread rapidly throughout all levels of exercise culture. Suppose you were to perform an incremental exercise test on a stationary bicycle in which you started pedaling very slowly in a low gear and then pedaled progressively faster in higher and higher gears until you were sprinting all out. At the beginning of the test your muscles would burn fat almost exclusively, and not much of it. As your intensity level increased, your rate of fat burning would steadily increase, and your muscles would also enlist more and more carbohydrate. At a still fairly moderate exercise intensity the rate of fat burning would peak and eventually begin to decrease as the rate of carbohydrate burning spiked. By the time you reached an all-out sprint your muscles would be burning carbohydrate at an extremely high rate and no fat at all. The intensity zone surrounding the point at which the rate of fat burning peaks is your fat-burning zone. Typically it falls at roughly 59 to 64 percent of VOmax in trained endurance athletes, which corresponds to a comfortable but not dawdling pace in cycling.

Exercising within the fat-burning zone is indeed an effective way to burn off excess body fat, but it is not necessarily more effective than exercising at higher intensities, where carbohydrate burning is greater and fat burning is less. The reason has to do with what happens after moderate-intensity and high-intensity workouts are performed.

Your body replaces burned calories in a specific order. In short, if you burn mostly fat during a workout, you will store mostly fat afterward. And if you burn mostly carbohydrate during a workout, you will store mostly carbohydrate afterward. If you want to get leaner, it doesn’t really matter which kind of calories your muscles use predominately during exercise.

Total calories burned is key

What matters is the total number of calories used. The more calories your muscles use during a workout, the more likely it is that you will consume fewer total calories than your body uses over 24 hours, and if this is the case, then you are likely to experience a net loss of body fat. This will happen even if you burned mostly carbohydrate during your workout, because the body always replenishes muscle glycogen preferentially and it doesn’t take a heck of a lot of calories to do it. Thus, unless your diet is carbohydrate-deficient, any exercise-induced caloric deficit will ultimately take the form of body fat loss instead of muscle glycogen loss. What matters from a fat-loss perspective is not the type but the total number of calories burned during a workout. Because high-intensity exercise burns calories faster than moderate-intensity exercise, high-intensity exercise is, in the big picture, the more efficient way to shed body fat. However, a person can do a lot more moderate-intensity exercise than high-intensity exercise, so it’s moderate-intensity exercise that ultimately has the greatest potential to reduce body fat.

Some endurance coaches promote training in the fat-burning zone to increase an athlete’s fat-burning capacity and ultimately increase fat-reliance in racing. Research has shown that training in the fat-burning zone does improve fat-burning capacity. However, it only improves fat-burning capacity within the fat-burning zone itself—that is, at lower exercise intensities. No matter how fit they are or in what manner they’ve trained, all endurance athletes rely on carbohydrate when racing at intensities that are near or above the lactate threshold.

That said, workouts that serve primarily to enhance fat-burning capacity certainly have their place in any endurance athlete’s training regimen. The workouts that have the greatest effect on fat-burning capacity are those that most deplete your muscle-glycogen stores—namely, very long workouts that you finish cross-eyed and drooling. If you do not currently drive yourself this deep into the pit of fatigue in your longest workouts, you might want to consider extending them for the sake of possibly increasing your fat-burning capacity.

But simply doing a high overall volume of moderate-intensity training will stimulate more or less the same benefits as doing very long workouts. Like a long individual workout, a daily succession of moderately long workouts or morning and afternoon workouts will challenge your muscles to perform in a glycogen-depleted state. Even with adequate carbohydrate intake, your muscles will not be able to fully replenish their glycogen supplies between workouts, and as a result your fat-burning and glycogen storage capacities will increase (provided you periodically give your muscles a chance to fully recover).

In fact, epic rides can be counterproductive. That’s because very long training sessions are extremely taxing and create a significant recovery demand. Once your long endurance workouts exceed a certain critical duration, they begin to limit your overall training volume because they require you to take it easy for a day or two afterward. In most cases you’re better off making high training volume a greater priority than single-session duration and limiting the duration of your longest endurance workouts to that which is strictly needed to ensure you can “go the distance” in races.

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Coaches Panel: A quick question (and answer) about intervals http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/coaches-panel-a-quick-question-and-answer-about-intervals_134052 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/08/news/coaches-panel-a-quick-question-and-answer-about-intervals_134052#comments Mon, 09 Aug 2010 18:59:56 +0000 Frank Overton http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=134052 A former racer returning to the fold asks the coaches for advice on adding intervals to his workouts.

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Have a training, fitness, nutrition or health question for the VeloNews Coaches Panel? Send it to coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Intervals to hit race fitness

Hey Frank,
I had a quick question about intervals. I just got back into cycling last summer after nearly 10 years away from the sport. I’m 30 now. As a teenager I was a junior expert mountain biker, did some junior road races and a lot of weekly rides with cat 2s and 3s. I was pretty quick. After easing back into things last summer, losing 50 pounds (I was not healthy in my absence from the sport!) and buying a new bike, I’ve been riding about five days a week since early April. I typically hit Central Park in the morning for an hour to an hour-and-a-half, then do 5 hour + ride every Saturday. I just wrapped up 10 days in the Italian and Swiss Alps (was here for vacation) and logged in lots of long rides. Yesterday I did a 105-mile tour that went over two big passes (one being Passo dello Stelvio) and rode hard. Now that I am returning to the States, I want to start incorporating more intensity into my rides (as well as more miles) but don’t really know where to start. I’d like to be in race shape for hilly races in northern New York state and Vermont. Got any advice for a born-again rider?

Thanks!
— Jimmy

Hi Jimmy,
Thanks for the email and congrats on getting back into the bike. It sounds to me that with all your riding and recent vacation you have a solid “base” built up. In that case I recommend VO2 Max intervals. These intervals will help raise your threshold power and are specific to the length of climbs you have in the Northeast.

An introductory VO2 Max workout would be:
Two sets of 2 x 3 min ON* (as hard as you can go), 3 min Off. Take 6 minutes between sets and then repeat. Warm up for 30 minutes, perform the intervals and then ride for 1 – 2 hours total ride time.

If possible do these intervals on a hill because you will be able to work harder and it’s specific to the climbing you want to do.

For a more advanced VO2 MAX workout try 2 sets of 3 x 4 min ON 4 min OFF (as hard as you can go) with 8 minutes off in-between sets.

Perform a VO2 Max workout once in the middle of the week always following a rest day(s). Allow ample recovery afterwards because these are very difficult workouts. The trade off is that they make you much faster!

Hope that helps, good luck and please let me know if you have any more questions.
— Frank

Frank Overton is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach, a former U.S. National Team Coach, a member of USA Cycling’s Power Based Education Committee and regularly writes training tips for VeloNews. Overton works with professional and amateur athletes of all abilities and ages across the United States. To learn more about Frank and his Boulder, Colorado-based coaching company, please visit FasCat Coaching or email Frank.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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Training for Gran Fondos, part 5: Tapering and tips http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/07/training-center/on-the-bike/training-for-gran-fondos-part-4-tapering-and-tips_128521 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/07/training-center/on-the-bike/training-for-gran-fondos-part-4-tapering-and-tips_128521#comments Tue, 20 Jul 2010 12:37:58 +0000 Curtis and Kristi Eastin, Chris Jones http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=128521

Gran Fondo Training, part 5, The Stelvio

Ready of the big ride? Proper tapering in the final week can make the difference.

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Gran Fondo Training, part 5, The Stelvio


Editor’s Note: Today we are publishing the fifth in a series of training articles for riders preparing for Gran Fondos, mountainous centuries, multi-day tours and other ambitious long rides (notice how we didn’t use the word ‘epic’?) The series’ authors are pro road and cyclocross racer Chris Jones of Team Type 1, former pro racer and coach Kristin Eastin, and amateur racer and coach Curtis Eastin. More on the authors at the bottom of the page.

Part 1: Training for endurance
Part 2: Training for speed
Part 3: Climbing
Part 4: Descending

Tapering before your Gran Fondo is important. Trying to get in a last minute 100-mile ride to boost your endurance in the week prior to the event will not help. You’d be better off tapering to make sure that you are rested before a long challenging ride.

Make sure you are well rested before a Gran Fondo

How best to taper?
•Do your last endurance workout 4-8 days before your Gran Fondo.
•Avoid “big gear” workouts for 1-2 weeks before the event.
•Avoid exhaustive aerobic workouts for the three days prior to leaving for your Gran Fondo
•Intervals (LT) are OK in the last week, but should be avoided in final 2 or 3 days before you depart for the event
•Use an active recovery ride (very, very easy) in the days before, or simply rest if riding isn’t an option
•Treat the first few kilometers of the Gran Fondo as a “warm-up” to get your legs accustomed to the effort

If you’re looking to peak for your Gran Fondo event you’ll want to reduce volume in the week before but maintain your intensity. High volume makes recovery more difficult, and lower volume allows the rest required for replacing glycogen stores, while giving you time to psych yourself up for the hard efforts ahead. As your schedule permits, you’ll want to continue to ride, but keep in mind that you’ll benefit most from decreasing the duration of your intervals while maintaining intensity.

Take the following hypothetical interval schedule, counting down to your event:

Day 6 — 5×3 minutes at or above LT;
Day 5 — 4×3 minutes at or above LT;
Day 4 — Ride easy;
Day 3 — 2×3 minutes at or above LT ;
Day 2 — Recovery Ride [Easy!];
Day 1 — travel/rest;
Day 0 Gran Fondo Event — Warm-up well before the ride or use the first few miles as a warm-up.

Climbing the Zoncolan the day before an event like a Gran Fondo is probably not a good idea.

Warning: Avoid the mistake of too many/too high intensity intervals in this taper period. Your legs should remember to work hard, but not be fatigued going in.

Recovery on the bike:

Proper gear selection helps recovery even while on the bike. If the event is long and hilly consider compact or even triple.

Don’t go “gang-busters” from the start. Consider the Grand Tour riders. Each rider has a role. No one is on the front of the peloton all the time. There’s a reason for this! Hold back a little (5 percent here, and 10 percent there) by choice, not just because your fatigue level demands it. Choose your battles, and aim to ride best on your preferred parts of the route. If you’re one of the slower climbers in your group, don’t tow everyone to the base of the climbs. If there are rollers or shorter climbs leading up to the big Cols, start each small climb in a gear you know you can ride in, and shift to a harder gear if you are feeling up to the task. Start the short climbs near the front, then drift back if necessary so that you won’t have to chase on the descents, wasting energy before the big climbs. When you hit the big climbs, ride your ride — not someone else’s.

Learn to ride in a group – riding on someone’s wheel can save a lot of energy in the long run and help you to recover especially on the flatter parts of the course.

Food is an essential part of recovery, both post-ride and during the ride itself. This means you must eat (even when you don’t really want to eat). However, it can be a mistake to stop too much – remember – your metabolism is running hot, and you’re consuming calories almost as quickly as you’re ingesting them, and standing around is just wasting precious energy, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes (four or five of these kinds of stops add an hour to your ride, and that hour can make a difference!). Consider, too, that each stop requires getting the blood and your muscles moving again. It’s OK to plan for a longer stop somewhere in the ride, otherwise stop rarely and briefly, carrying some food with you to refuel as you go. It maybe advisable to have some support on a longer Gran Fondo so that you can eat something more substantial (e.g. a sandwich).

If the weather calls for a wind/rain-jacket or vest, carry it! You can then put on and take off as you see fit and the weather dictates (e.g. on cold descents). Remember long stops take energy that you will need for the next climb.

Riding in groups can help save energy in the long run

Long climbs can trump grade

In Italy, the Mortirollo is feared for its steep gradients, but the Stelvio is over 25 km long and sufficiently steep to tax your energy. The mountains in France are long and unrelenting – the Col du Galibier from the northern approach (including the Col du Télégraphe) is 34.8 km! And the actual climb to the summit (starting in Valloire) is 18 km with an average grade of about 7 percent, with a max 10.1 percent coming towards the top.

These kinds of climbs must be respected on a Gran Fondo as they can fatigue a rider as much or more than steep ones. Also wind can be a factor in the hills which can sap valuable energy.

To conserve energy it can be very helpful to work as a group up to and even throughout the climb, and, as before, pace yourself. Settle into a climbing rhythm that is comfortable for you. Focus on relaxing your upper body (loose grip on the bars, relaxed arms and shoulders) and putting all of your energy into your legs. Remember! You only get so many “matches”, so you have to burn them wisely. On a long Gran Fondo, you want to start it with a maximum number of matches, and ride efficiently and smartly such that you still have a couple to spend on the last climb of the final day!

Climbs like the Stelvio are long – ride them wisely!

Follow these tips as your Gran Fondo approaches and ensure you enjoy the event once you are in the mountains!

About the Authors:

Chris Jones:

Kristi Eastin: Kristi was a professional mountain bike and road racer from 1995-2000. Having won nearly all of NorCal’s challenging road races over her career, Kristi knows how to train for going up hills. She has extensive coaching experience ranging from elite racers to beginners.

Curtis Eastin: Curtis raced as a Category 1 during the early/mid-1980s through the early 90s before quitting cycling because of an injury and starting college. Never too far from cycling, he now coaches riders and races with Sierra Pacific Racing Team, in Northern California.

Both Kristi and Curtis are expert ride leaders with Thomson Bike Tours, which leads performance bike tours to the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. Thomson Bike Tours assisted in the preparation of this series.

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Train like a Tour de France racer during the 2010 Tour http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/07/news/train-like-a-tour-de-france-racer-during-the-2010-tour_123848 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/07/news/train-like-a-tour-de-france-racer-during-the-2010-tour_123848#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 23:26:46 +0000 Matt Rossman http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=123848 You may not be able to race the Tour de France, but you can simulate it at home.

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You may not be able to race the Tour de France, but you can simulate it at home. FasCat Coaching’s Matt Rossman has prepared a training calendar that mimics (albeit on a smaller scale) the physiological demands of a grand tour.

Within the program you can sprint, climb, time trial, or just sit in if you are going for the GC. See what it’s like to push your limit with back-to-back mountain stages in the form of threshold intervals.

Can you ride for 21 stages with only two rest days? It will be an exciting challenge and completing your own Tour will make you a stronger rider and be a great mid-summer accomplishment.

To download your three-week, Tour De France training plan, go to the FasCat site.

Calendar explanation:

The Tour De France training calendar is set up to mimic the physiological demands of the terrain of the Tour through intervals of varying intensities and durations. For example, the early VO2 max workout will simulate the short, steep climbs in Belgium. In the Tour, the riders will be going over these climbs at a maximal aerobic effort. During the longer mountain stages, the intervals on the calendar are in the medium-to-hard range. On multiple categorized climb days, the GC favorites will ride just below their threshold (tempo and sweet spot) on the first climbs, then full-gas (on the calendar those efforts are marked as “FG!!” — as hard as you can go) threshold on the final climbs where the race is decided. For non-sprinters, the flat days between mountain stages are often used for recovery (barring crosswinds, cobbles, etc). Therefore, treat these transition stages as endurance and recovery days.

The calendar shows the finishing city of each stage next to the date. On your training rides, try to mimic the stage as much as possible. Obviously, if you live in Florida, finding alpine climbs is impossible. You can still get the physiological benefit of zone 4 training, and watching the amazing climbs of the Tour (on VeloNews.com, of course) will put you in the proper “climbing mindset.” The following table explains the letters next to the finish city:

HM High Mountain Stage
M Medium Mountain Stage
H Hilly Stage
F Flat Stage
TT Time Trial
Prologue Prologue

Overall, it’s a lot of riding. Understandably, work, family, and other commitments can make completing every workout a challenge. But improving as a cyclist is all about setting goals and working towards those goals. Following this Tour ee France training plan will give you a goal to accomplish for July and some insight into what your favorite Tour professionals are going through.

If you are interested in a more custom training plan, contact us at FasCat coaching.

Matt Rossman is a category 2 cyclist and USA Cycling-certified coach working for FasCat Coaching. He can be reached at mattr@fascatcoaching.com and particularly enjoys sleeping as much as he can on his rest days.

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Coaches Panel: Kit Vogel responds to comments about asymmetry in cyclists’ bodies http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-kit-vogel-responds-to-comments-to-asymmetrical-post_123049 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-kit-vogel-responds-to-comments-to-asymmetrical-post_123049#comments Fri, 25 Jun 2010 00:54:13 +0000 Katrina Z. Vogel, MS, DPT http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=123049 Katrina Vogel responds to the many questions about her column earlier this month on asymmetry in cyclists.

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Have a question for the panel? Send it to Coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Editor’s note: Last month Kit Vogel wrote about asymmetry in cyclists’ bodies (more accurately, among most humans’ bodies). The column produced a lot of comments and questions, so Kit checked with some experts and reviewed the literature and has more to say on the subject today.

Well, it looks like this topic hit a nerve and got people talking. Responses have come from all over the world and from several different clinicians and bike fitters. Clearly, the various responses have been fairly polarized and created a fantastic debate.

I took the advice of one of the more “prolific” responders and talked openly with several different types of medical clinicians in response to the idea of the presence of asymmetry within the pelvic region. The list included chiropractors, physical therapists and MDs. (Yes, we even discussed Gonstead methodology.) Almost everyone agreed that asymmetry within the pelvis is both “common” and “normal” within the human species. The question is, when does it become a problem? Some medical clinicians were in agreement of the natural bias to the anterior right/posterior left; there was also some strong statements that, “no such pattern exists.”

Keep in mind that most of these conversations were in relation to standing, walking and all other activities of the vertical nature. Very few medical clinicians were also professional bike fitters and most did not actually know how the mechanics of the pelvis changed once the pelvis was closed chain on a bike seat … because the mechanics do change. The end result of these conversations revealed that there is a difference of opinion between the different medical professions as well as medical professionals within those professions, depending upon their training. For this particular topic, we will focus on the pelvic mechanics that occur on the bike because this is, indeed, a bike fitting forum.

Norkin & Levangie (1992) was mentioned several times within the thread and is a great text and reference. On page 317 (Table 10-1), the text states that an anterior rotation of the innominate is accompanied with an internal of the hip joint/femur. A posterior rotation of the innominate is accompanied with an external rotation of the hip joint/femur. This is also stated on page 17 of Gonstead Chiropractic Science & Art (1980). This is the exact mechanic that is seen on the bike in relation to the position in which cyclists most commonly sit on the bike saddle: rotated posterior on the left and relatively anterior on the right, therefore creating a tendency to have a lateral tracking left knee and medial tracking right knee as driven from the pelvis that is fixed upon a symmetrical saddle. (Feet will be discussed at a later date.)

How can this be? Frankly speaking, this pelvic asymmetric position is an observation that has been made by clinicians/bike fitters for several years. This doesn’t come from an ivory tower. This information comes from working in the trenches of bike fitting for several years with greasy hands and bike tools strewn around. It comes from the application of clinical knowledge in relation to a sport that is stricken with overuse injuries from cyclists attempting to bend their bodies to the specs that were decided by bike and component manufactures in a factory. Our responsibility as bike fitters is to fit the bike to the cyclist and their individual biomechanical needs. It is wrong to make a cyclist adapt their asymmetrical body to a symmetrical bike.

Julian from Cyclefit wrote, “We can’t assume that the distance between the pedals on a bike is correct (who decided that anyway?) for everyone or that it should be the symmetrical.” Pedal spindle length (outer crank arm to center of pedal) in most brands traditionally is 53 mm. According to pedal manufacturers, this width was decided “several decades ago” as the width needed to fit a shoe upon a traditional flat pedal. Look at the people standing around you. Nobody has the same exact stance width. What would happen if we decided that everybody should walk and run with the same stance width? Frankly, there would be some major problems and (inevitably) injuries. Therefore, it better serves cyclists to adapt the stance width to their individual needs rather than lock them into a stance width that was decided by the width of a shoe several decades ago. More than likely, the stance width will be different for the right and left leg, with the left foot needing to be more lateral than the right to be underneath the knee. This is based upon basic biomechanics of keeping the foot underneath the knee.

Regarding the feet … Of course they play a significant part in asymmetry within the legs and this information can be clearly seen in any other written information we have ever posted from Bike Fit ©. However, the focus of this forum is pelvic mechanics and its effects upon the prevalence of left lateral knee tracking. We can cover foot/LE mechanics at a later date. (Just to wet some whistles … the tendency still appears to drive a left lateral knee. Curious?)

Asymmetry within species is the expected norm within evolutionary biology as a means of making locomotion more efficient (Shapiro et al, 2004). The human animal is no different and is certainly no exception to the rule. However, there is a lack of academic research in relation to pelvic mechanics and cycling. Sauer et al, 2007, has some interesting information but, as seems to be the pattern with pelvic research in regards to cycling, it references the pelvis as a whole unit and does not address the inherent asymmetries.

While cycling, the left SI tends to jam more than the right because of the forward flexion of the trunk, the inferior pressure of the saddle against the ischial tuberosities in addition to the posterior rotation of the left innominate. Is this true for everyone? No, but it tends to be an issue that is common within cycling. This can be addressed by tilting the nose of the saddle down (slightly at 2-4 degrees), which imparts a mild anterior rotation of the entire pelvis. Funny … it also allows the left SI joint to unlock and function more symmetrically to the right by creating an anterior moment for the pelvis. How could this happen if it wasn’t posteriorly rotated? The stem can also be made shorter and steeper. These changes tend to allow the left knee to move more medially, although it is unlikely to fully correct for the lateral placement of the left knee.

Clinicians that don’t do bike fits: Challenge yourselves to look at the pelvic pattern within your cyclists (WB & NWB). In fact, look at them on their bike and tell us what you see. Do a March test for SI joint motion assessment. Assess the motion of the sacrum, innominates and lumbar spine as they ride their bike. Track their knees with a laser and see what is going on from the top of the upstroke to the bottom of the down stroke. Tell us what you see.

Bike fitters and clinicians that fit bikes: Track the knees of your cyclists before any medial-lateral adjustment is made to their cleats. Use a laser and dots to accurately assess the motion of the right and left knee. Keep track of it and tell us what you see.

Joint adjustments, manual therapy and manipulations absolutely have their place in working with and treating cyclists. Neuromuscular re-education and a home exercise program are also an important aspects and treatments for cyclists. However, these treatments will be of little use if the cyclist is perpetually fighting the geometry and specs of a bike that does not fit their body.

Accurately fitting a bike to an asymmetrical body is not a compensation. A good bike fit alters the bike to fit the individual cyclist and their biomechanical needs instead of making the cyclist adapt their asymmetrical bodies to a symmetrical bike designed by designers/engineers in a factory.

— Katrina Z. Vogel, MS, DPT (“Kit”)

Katrina Z. “Kit” Vogel was described as one of the “rock stars of cycling science” in VeloNews in 2007. She earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at USC and MS in Biomechanics/Human Movement & Performance at WWU. She is the Director of Education for Bike Fit Systems, teaches clinically-based bike fitting classes and guest lectures in Biomechanics for the University of Wash PT Department. She is a Cat. 2 track cyclist.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

The post Coaches Panel: Kit Vogel responds to comments about asymmetry in cyclists’ bodies appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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Training for Gran Fondos, part 4: Descending http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/training-for-gran-fondos-part-4-descending_121256 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/training-for-gran-fondos-part-4-descending_121256#comments Mon, 21 Jun 2010 12:26:24 +0000 Curtis and Kristi Eastin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=121256

The Stelvio

Getting down a mountain you have just climbed is half the fun of climbing, and in a long Gran Fondo descending is more or less unavoidable.

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The Stelvio


Editor’s Note: Today we are publishing the fourth in a series of training articles for riders preparing for Gran Fondos, mountainous centuries, multi-day tours and other ambitious long rides (notice how we didn’t use the word ‘epic’?) The series’ authors are pro road and cyclocross racer Chris Jones of Team Type 1, former pro racer and coach Kristin Eastin, and amateur racer and coach Curtis Eastin. More on the authors at the bottom of the page.

Part 1: Training for endurance
Part 2: Training for speed
Part 3: Climbing

Getting down a mountain you have just climbed is half the fun of climbing it in the first place, and in a long Gran Fondo descending is more or less unavoidable. Are you white-knuckled after the first turn? Are you fearless, but find yourself leaving skin on the mountain a little too often? If so, then read on — carefully!

There are certain rules of descending that act in accord with the laws of physics, and are therefore best well respected. Follow these simple rules, and learn to employ them, cautiously at first, and you’ll increase your speed and fun factor considerably. Remember that in long hilly Gran Fondos you are going to spend a considerable amount of time having to descend, so it’s best to practice these skills as much as possible.

Rule 1: Look ahead

This sounds simple enough, but most people get into trouble by ignoring this obvious requirement. There are many things that can distract a cyclist on a descent: potholes, other riders, views, animals, a fast approaching concrete barrier, etc. The key is to look where you want to go. Of course, if something unanticipated arises, you may need to adjust where you want to go, but the rule holds and is worth restating: always, always look ahead and look where you want to go. In this way you will anticipate potential dangers like holes in the road and cars.

Rule 2: Hand positioning

When you begin a steep or twisty descent, it’s best to be on the hoods or the drops. You need your center of gravity lower and your back flatter than when climbing or riding the flats. In this way your steering will be more controlled. Probably the safest, most reliable position is in the drops. Some like to remain upright out of habit. It’s advisable to train to use the drops when going downhill. Some like to get super aero on the tops, nose skimming the front tire, but this is dangerous (for the practitioner and those around the cyclist). A good tuck on the drops allows for a lower center of gravity, and a wider hand purchase for greater leverage in crosswinds and through corners. It also allows better access to the brakes for speed control. Check out how most pros descend.

Rule 3: Braking

1) Where descending is concerned, brakes are meant to slow you, not stop. As such, your brakes should be adjusted to the size of your hands. If your brakes are set up to engage from the moment you pull the lever in, your hands will tire quickly, and the rest of the way down the mountain will be no fun. You should be able to “cover the brakes” keeping them partially engaged but with little or no pad/rim contact until your fingers are partially bent, thereby allowing greater use of hand strength.

2) Control your speed (note: this is a pre-emptive idea (see “Cornering” below).

3) Use the rear brake more than the front. Both should be used, but keep in mind the front has much more slowing power than the rear. When you slow quickly your weight is thrust forward, and your center of gravity changes unpredictably (especially on steep hills). So to avoid skidding and losing control, feather the front brake and don’t over brake on the rear wheel.

Rule 4: Cornering

1) See Rule 1 above: Look ahead! You must control your speed before entering the turn, to limit any emergency braking. Therefore, as you approach the turn (be it a sweeper or a switchback) you should slow to a speed with which you feel certain you can negotiate the corner. So look ahead, and control speed.

2) Be sure that your outside pedal is down, and that your weight is planted firmly on that pedal (more on this below).

3) Always look to the inside apex of the turn, whether it be the center-line, the shoulder, or some imaginary line. This is because the G forces will always pull you to the outside of the turn, so keeping your eye on the inside will help you stay on course.

4) Enter the turn a little wide, and then cut it in tight and hold it as tight as possible (tighter is usually better, as the Gs will pull you out anyway), and then exit the turn as tightly as you can given your speed.

5) Once you have entered the turn, you should practice letting off the brakes. This is a tough skill to master, but it works wonders. If you do need to use your brakes, you should feather the front, and apply the rear with moderation. The rear wheel can skid and slide sideways with too much brake applied. The front brake deserves special attention. If you grab a fist full of front brake, the body continues to move forward as the bike slows, and this sudden change in weight distribution sets up all sorts of undesirable scenarios. Also, when the rotation of the steering i.e., the front wheel, slows suddenly, traction changes too, and unpredictably. So, just as in a car, you should brake before the turn, let the wheels roll through the turn, and then accelerate out of the turn, carrying speed until the next turn.

6) When in doubt, lean it more. A bicycle can lean much farther than an untrained rider will generally let it lean. If you find yourself in a little trouble (which you shouldn’t because you’ve been controlling your speed, right?!), it’s far better to lean it, rather than hitting the brakes and bailing out.

“Bailing” (refusing/failing to commit 100 percent) in a turn does a number of bad things. Most importantly, it can send you into oncoming traffic, and/or cause you to straighten up suddenly, thereby throwing your weight forward and off-center (think of yourself as though you’re a plumb-line on your bike, and your weight stays more or less anchored). When one’s weight is thrown off, the likelihood of “high-siding” is increased tenfold. To commit 100 percent to your turn you may have to employ “counter-steering” technique, which is accomplished by pushing on the inside of the handlebar as you simultaneously weight the outside pedal (see above), keeping the knees braced inward. This takes practice, and should be tried incrementally, not all at once at high speeds. Once this technique is mastered, however, it is very, very difficult to crash, because you’re using the laws of physics in your interests, not simply charging downhill and hoping for the best.

7) Finally, when it’s wet, respect the roads! Roads can be very slick when wet — so special care should be taken with your speed and braking.

8) Leave plenty of space between you and the rider in front. Watch the pros when they descend — they always have a few meters of space so they can evaluate and control the bike.

Follow these simple rules, be careful and enjoy your descents on your Gran Fondo event!

About the Authors:

Chris Jones: Chris is a third-year professional with Team Type 1. He is a two-time top-10 finisher in the US Professional Road Championships and has scored 10 professional wins and multiple podium appearances. Chris has been a USAC certified level 3 coach since 2006 and coaching clients since 2005.

Kristi Eastin: Kristi was a professional mountain bike and road racer from 1995-2000. Having won nearly all of NorCal’s challenging road races over her career, Kristi knows how to train for going up hills. She has extensive coaching experience ranging from elite racers to beginners.

Curtis Eastin: Curtis raced as a Category 1 during the early/mid-1980s through the early 90s before quitting cycling because of an injury and starting college. Never too far from cycling, he now coaches riders and races with Sierra Pacific Racing Team, in Northern California.

Both Kristi and Curtis are expert ride leaders with Thomson Bike Tours, which leads performance bike tours to the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. Thomson Bike Tours assisted in the preparation of this series.

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Coaches Panel: Why do knees often track asymmetrically? http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-why-do-knees-often-track-asymetrically_120495 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-why-do-knees-often-track-asymetrically_120495#comments Wed, 09 Jun 2010 18:43:33 +0000 Katrina Z. http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=120495 A bike fitter asks why so many clients require spacers for their left pedal spindles.

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Have a training, fitness, nutrition or health question for the VeloNews Coaches Panel? Send it to coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Editor’s Note: Due to the number of comments about this article, Kit Vogel wrote more on the subject of asymmetry among cyclists.

Asymmetric knee tracking

Hi Kit,
I am a bike fitter at Silicon Valley Cycling Center. For some reason, more folks seem to have the left knee track further out than the right and I’ve been wondering, “Why?” I’ve been noticing that I have a lot of right 20-mm pedal spacers accumulating. Someone has to have this figured out…

Cheers,
— Karl

Hi Karl,
You have an excellent and very relevant question for the cycling world at large. Mechanics of the lumbar spine, pelvis and lower extremities are wonderfully complex. There is more to the story than I can do justice in this shortened forum.

The human body is designed asymmetrically. In a NORMAL human being (male or female), the normal pelvic alignment is also asymmetrical and almost always results with an anterior rotation of the right side of the pelvis (innominate) and a posterior rotation of the left side of the pelvis. (This assumes that the femurs and tibias are the same length and without a structural leg length difference.) This position is exaggerated on the bike because we are sitting on a symmetrical bike seat.

Here is the catch: A posterior rotation of the left side of the pelvis is associated with an out-flare of the same side of the pelvis. In short, this out-flare and posterior rotation of the left side of the pelvis will make the left knee track more laterally than the right because the femur is following the direction that the acetabulum/hip socket is pointed. Additionally, this architecture predisposes the left sacroiliac (SI) joint to jam, which accentuates the lateral position of the left knee.

Therefore, the left knee has more of a tendency to track laterally than the right due to the normal asymmetrical architecture of being human. This is simply addressed with moving the foot laterally and placed under the knee with:
1) Moving the cleat IN to bring the foot OUT.
2) Placement of a 1mm washer or 20mm spacer between the crank and pedal.
3) Using a pedal with a longer pedal spindle (Speedplay Zeros, additional 1/8, ¼ & ½-inch spindle lengths).

I am not surprised that you have extra right 20mm spacers. According to our records at Bike Fit Systems, at least 40 percent of cyclists that we fit need to have the left foot moved laterally beyond the range of most pedal and cleat combinations. In other words, we need to add an additional spacer or longer spindle to place the left foot laterally underneath the left knee. Cyclists who ride like a “V-twin” may also be retroverted (structural lateral twist of the femur bone) or have other hip issues, such as osteoarthritis. However, this leave 50-60 percent that may or may not demonstrate the left lateral knee. Not everyone will demonstrate this specific mechanic.

As always, be careful when working with carbon cranks and know the limits. You need to know if the crank is totally carbon or aluminum wrapped in carbon. (Hint: If you touch it and it feels COLD then it is probably metal inside.) If in doubt, contact the dealer and ask for their specific specs and limitations. To our knowledge, 100 percent carbon cranks are not appropriate for use with 20mm spacers. (Frankly, avoid selling 100 percent carbon fiber cranks to the big dudes that ride like a V-twin. It is a disservice to them.)

So, whenever a person is told, “Your pelvis is rotated,” then it is absolutely correct. We are naturally designed that way with the right side of the pelvis rotated forward/mild in-flare and the left side of the pelvis rotated back/moderate out-flare. Totally normal! The asymmetrical architecture can become a problem if joints of the spine/pelvis become locked or hypermobile. However, one needs then to assess if and when it is a really a problem. Ahhh … thus the necessity for our bike fitting world and our clinical world to work together. We are working on that.

Happy Pedals!
— Kit

Katrina Z. “Kit” Vogel was described as one of the “rock stars of cycling science” in VeloNews in 2007. She earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at USC and MS in Biomechanics/Human Movement & Performance at WWU. She is the Director of Education for Bike Fit Systems, teaches clinically-based bike fitting classes and guest lectures in Biomechanics for the University of Wash PT Department. She is a Cat. 2 track cyclist.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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Coaches Panel: Suggestions for a rider with large leg-length discrepancy http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-suggestions-for-a-rider-with-large-leg-length-discrepancy_119310 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-suggestions-for-a-rider-with-large-leg-length-discrepancy_119310#comments Wed, 02 Jun 2010 16:47:45 +0000 Paul Swift http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=119310

Paul Swift of BikeFit.com. Photo courtesy Paul Swift

Sugestions for a rider with one leg three centimeters shorter than the other

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Paul Swift of BikeFit.com. Photo courtesy Paul Swift

Have a training, fitness, nutrition or health question for the VeloNews Coaches Panel? Send it to coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Large leg-length discrepancy

Dear Paul,
I have been reading your posts and I have a patient with a 3 centimeters’ length discrepancy due to a fractured hip. I don’t really see that having a long crank and a short crack is the answer; at the top of the pedal stroke it’s helpful, but at the bottom of the stroke it makes it twice as bad. I’m inquiring as to the amount of build up that can be achieved using cleat wedges (alternately stacked to create a platform).

— Larry

Larry,
Thanks for the question. 3cm is fairly significant. I would consider several options and perhaps combine a few of them. Often we think of only building up under the cleat of the shorter leg and this is a good place to start. In this case, however, focusing only on the one shoe is not going to be enough. With this type of situation, you can only build so far before the height of the shoe gets to a pivot point that makes it difficult to keep the foot stable — rocking too easily forward or backward creating undue stress.

I’d like to preface my answer by saying we must look beyond just wedges. To tell you just how many wedges to stack alternatively would be rather difficult. This answer depends quite a bit on the type of pedal and cleat the rider is using.

Here are a couple suggestions. Take a look at them and see which one(s) you can use. Most likely, your patient will require more than one approach to optimize his comfort and efficiency.

First, the type of pedal is important. You did not mention the brand of pedal your patient is using. So, I need to mention that the best approached will be with a cleat which requires 3 or 4 fasteners to secure the cleat to the shoe, such as Speedplay, Shimano SL or Look. A larger platform is best and the extra fasteners are important to keep this “build up” and cleat secure. Longer fasteners, which you will need, will be much easier to find for these 3 or 4-hole cleats than an SPD (2-hole) type cleat as well.

If you are working with a 2-hole cleat or SPD cleat, you may only be able to get one alternate stack of cleat wedges (single stack) to work well. You can use a Leg Length (LL) shim. But again, you might only get about 3mm of stack before losing good fastening security. The small area of contact provided with an SPD and being secured with just 2 fasteners makes it tough to get much build up.

Leg length shims (LL Shims) — Before considering cleat wedges I would consider a couple of leg length shims. Steve Hogg makes some in 3mm heights. We call them ”Hoggies.” You will need to stack up 2 or 3 of these to start. You may eventually consider more. But, we often start a little low and work up as opposed to potentially over stacking and then coming back down. Remember, the body has been compensating for this discrepancy for years. So, even a little build-up may be noticed.

Cleat wedges — Alternating two cleat wedges (a single stack) equals just over 1 mm in stack height. Use the cleat wedge to add 1mm or 2mm to the “Hoggies” you’re already using. This may be something you do right away on top of a couple LL shims or it may be a way to add a little more overall stack in-between sessions of adding another Hogg Shim. Often, cleat wedge stacking is used for the fine tuning of the “build up” you are creating.

You also might try a thicker insole in the shoe of the shorter leg. Cycling shoes are typically low volume but if you can get away with a millimeter in this fashion, take it.

Two different pedal systems — I was not able to double-check, but I think Shimano SL has a little lower stack height than the Shimano Ultegra SL. However, Look is taller than Shimano SL. So, you could use a Shimano pedal with the longer leg and a Look with the shorter leg. For even more difference you can use a Speedplay Zero on the longer leg and a Shimano SL or Look on the shorter leg. You can get up to 5mm of difference with different pedal systems alone. Here’s a chart to view some of the pedal stack heights.

Starting with Speedplay in the first place is something to consider when adding over a centimeter of height. Speedplay’s low pedal stack height keeps the amount of back and forth pivot (rock) lower than on any other system, adding more stability.

Different crank length may be considered. Not everyone I have tried this with has liked it. I suggest only a few millimeters difference to start. I’m not so sure I agree with your thoughts that it could be twice as bad at the bottom of the stroke as this is possibly where the most benefit may occur.

These are things you can try. However, if you want to take this to another level (and in this case you may not have any choice as all of these options may not be enough), there is one place and one guy that seems to have the tricks and magic to help with significant differences like this.

His name is Tom Slocum and the business is called High Sierra Cycle Center. It is not cheap. But, all of the work I have seen from him was excellent. We often refer to Tom when things are beyond our limits. Some items he sells you can find elsewhere at better prices like wedges (cants) and pedal extenders. However, when it comes to the real magic like “drop pedals,” there is nothing like it and any price would be worth it. Here’s a link for “drop pedals” and the High Sierra Cycle Center.

Hope this helps and many happy pedals to your patient.

— Paul Swift

An eight-time elite national champion and founder of BikeFit.com, Paul developed the Bicycle Fitting System (BFS), which includes products like the cleat wedges. The BFS helped bring the “front view” of a cyclist into the bike fitting world. BikeFit.com offers tools and education for bike fitters worldwide, helping them to better position humans on bicycles.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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Coaches Panel: How to train for a bike race just a few weeks away http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/05/training-center/on-the-bike/coaches-panel-how-to-train-for-a-bike-race-just-a-few-weeks-away_119318 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/05/training-center/on-the-bike/coaches-panel-how-to-train-for-a-bike-race-just-a-few-weeks-away_119318#comments Mon, 31 May 2010 00:03:41 +0000 Frank Overton http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=119318

Frank Overton of FasCat coaching. Photo courtesy Frank Overton

A reader asks how to best peak for a race just two weeks away.

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Frank Overton of FasCat coaching. Photo courtesy Frank Overton

Have a training, fitness, nutrition or health question for the VeloNews Coaches Panel? Send it to coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Preparing for an imminent race

Dear Frank,
I am five weeks into my racing season and have a big race coming up in two weeks. So far the racing and training has been good but I want to do everything I can to make my “A” race as good as possible. Any ideas?

— Steve

Steve,
Yes, what I suggest is trying to apply an overload of training and racing that ends the weekend before the big race weekend. In other words, if your race is June 19th, and you’ve been riding about eight hours per week, try to squeeze in 10 or 12 hours for the week ending June 12th. Ride more, do more intervals, race both days on the weekend or all of the above. Really flog yourself. Then once you are good and tired (the overload) take a rest week going into your “A” race. Yes, rest — multiple, back to back days off. For example (following a hard training week):

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: race-specific intervals
Thursday: OFF or easy & short endurance ride
Friday: “Openers” 4 x 30 sec ON Full Gas, 1 minute OFF; 1 hr total
Weekend: RACE

After the weekend judge your performance and infer how much the rest week influenced your results and power output. Did you feel good in your races? Did you perform better with fresh legs? Ultimately did taking a rest week improve your performance? I think it will, but it’s important to ask yourself the same question. Good luck!

— Frank

Frank Overton is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach, a former U.S. National Team Coach, a member of USA Cycling’s Power Based Education Committee and regularly writes training tips for VeloNews. Overton works with professional and amateur athletes of all abilities and ages across the United States. To learn more about Frank and his Boulder, Colorado-based coaching company, please visit FasCat Coaching or email Frank.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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Training for Gran Fondos, part 3: Climbing http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/05/news/training-for-gran-fondos-part-3-climbing_115654 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/05/news/training-for-gran-fondos-part-3-climbing_115654#comments Thu, 13 May 2010 14:34:21 +0000 Curtis and Kristi Eastin, Chris Jones http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=115654

Climbing in a group can save energy and improve morale

The third part in our series on training for Grand Fondos and other long rides. This week's subject: climbing.

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Climbing in a group can save energy and improve morale


Editor’s Note: Today we are publishing the third in a series of training articles for riders preparing for Gran Fondos, mountainous centuries, multi-day tours and other ambitious long rides (notice how we didn’t use the word ‘epic’?) The series’ authors are pro road and cyclocross racer Chris Jones of Team Type 1, former pro racer and coach Kristin Eastin, and amateur racer and coach Curtis Eastin. More on the authors is at the bottom of the page.

Part 1: Training for endurance
Part 2: Training for speed
Part 4: Descending

Climbing technique

As the weather starts to improve and the Gran Fondo events loom large, it’s probably time to talk about going uphill. The point most worthy of emphasis is that when climbing multiple passes per day for successive days, one must conserve energy and recover on the bike. If your goal is to finish a ride, it makes little sense to go gangbusters on climb one, only to crack on climb two or three.

How best to approach the big climbs? Here are a few tips.

(1) Efficiency:

Stay relaxed, keeping the arms supple and light on the bars. Avoid climbing in the drops, unless the wind necessitates a lower frontal area.

(2) Position:

Use multiple seat positions to incorporate different muscle groups: sitting squarely on the saddle in your happiest position is most efficient. But sliding back on the seat and pushing forward on the pedals so as to use the large and powerful gluteus and hamstring muscles, while conserving the most powerful muscles (your quadriceps), can be an effective way to conserve strength and recover on the bike, even if it means backing off a bit in terms of power output. Simply backing off a bit will not achieve the same end, as you’re still employing the same muscles. Sometimes it can be effective to slide way forward on the seat to get up a very steep pitch. Having a little to spare in the primary cycling muscles (again the quads) comes in very handy especially later on in the ride.

(3) Cadence:

Choose a cadence that is efficient, rather than comfortable. Usually, somewhere between 75-85 rpm is a good target for climbing. This may warrant much practice and many miles of cycling in fairly hard terrain to achieve.

(4) Standing vs. sitting:

Whatever your preference, it will be appropriate to practice a little of what’s not your modus operandi. If you usually sit, then you should do some extended standing intervals (fast or slow, it doesn’t matter), and vice versa. This will help to develop those muscles before the topography demands that you use them.

(5) Gear selection:

This cannot be stressed enough. Many experienced riders go to the mountains for the first time despising the idea of using a triple or compact system. Many who have grudgingly used a triple chainring setup are bothered on day one, but I have never seen anyone ready to trade it on day five. It’s important to realize that while you may conquer the biggest steepest hill in your neighborhood on any given day using your standard 39/23 or 25, we rarely climb those toughest mountains in our respective environs three or four times in a day, and then go do it again the next day, then again the next, etc., etc., etc.

Bringing the right gear choice can insure that you complete each ride every day on a multi-day event or tour, if that’s your goal. It can also prevent overuse injuries caused by pushing too large a gear. Let me underscore this point by saying this: even the strongest riders will benefit from having a compact system, a triple, or a standard chainring with a large (e.g., 30-tooth) rear gear. Even the pros on last year’s Giro d’Italia were using compact setup on the Mortirolo. Watch out for them on the Zoncolan this year — not many will be using a 39 or 42 x 23.

Remember to practice these tips, and to get the most out of climbing — the more you practice the easier it will get.

About the Authors:

Chris Jones: Chris is a third-year professional with Team Type 1. He is a two-time top-10 finisher in the US Professional Road Championships and has scored 10 professional wins and multiple podium appearances. Chris has been a USAC certified level 3 coach since 2006 and coaching clients since 2005.

Kristi Eastin: Kristi was a professional mountain bike and road racer from 1995-2000. Having won nearly all of NorCal’s challenging road races over her career, Kristi knows how to train for going up hills. She has extensive coaching experience ranging from elite racers to beginners.

Curtis Eastin: Curtis raced as a Category 1 during the early/mid-1980s through the early 90s before quitting cycling because of an injury and starting college. Never too far from cycling, he now coaches riders and races with Sierra Pacific Racing Team, in Northern California.

Both Kristi and Curtis are expert ride leaders with Thomson Bike Tours, which leads performance bike tours to the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. Thomson Bike Tours assisted in the preparation of this series.

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Yoga for cycling: A few key exercises http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/04/coaches-panel/yoga-for-cycling-a-few-key-exercises_111661 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/04/coaches-panel/yoga-for-cycling-a-few-key-exercises_111661#comments Mon, 19 Apr 2010 08:00:02 +0000 Ainslie MacEachran http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=111661

The Standing Bow Pose increases circulation to the heart and lung, improves elasticity of the spine, creates union of strength and balance and helps activate the digestive system.

Yoga helps in stretching, strengthening, and lengthening muscles. It is also a fabulous method of preparing for cycling

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The Standing Bow Pose increases circulation to the heart and lung, improves elasticity of the spine, creates union of strength and balance and helps activate the digestive system.


A week ago was Paris-Roubaix in France, and while most VeloNews readers will never get a chance to race there, you might jump into events like the Boulder-Roubaix in Colorado, the pro/am Tour of the Battenkill in New York, or the Hillsboro-Roubaix in Illinois, also all held the same weekend. Many cyclists, after an event like these, complain about their low, mid or upper back. Similarly, many cyclists have trouble getting low enough on their TT bikes or producing power in the low position. This is usually due to inflexibility of the hamstrings, core musculature and hips.

Yoga is practiced in India for medical benefits. Certain poses will compress or open specific tissues, systems, and organs in order to achieve a desired outcome. Yoga can be used to treat conditions ranging from depression, diabetes, and sleep problems to osteoporosis, scoliosis, nerve function and response. And of course, it helps in stretching, strengthening, and lengthening muscles. It is also a fabulous method of preparing for sports.

There are as many types of yoga as there are forms of martial arts. There is yoga for strength, yoga for meditation, fast-paced yoga, slow-yoga, hot yoga… the list goes on. Finding a class that is right for you may take some experimentation, but don’t quit looking right away if you didn’t like the first class you tried. Find the class and instructor that suits your needs and progress from there.

Cyclists have universal tendencies toward spinal flexion, kyphosis, spondylosis, low-back pain, weak upper body, limited flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexion and common injuries including IT Band tendonitis, Patellar tendonitis and torsions or misalignments of the knee and foot that start in the gluteals. These issues can make it difficult to transmit maximum power on the bike for extended periods.

However, cyclists also have common goals such as increasing VO2 max and maximizing the efficiency of the circulatory system to deliver as much oxygen to working muscles as possible.

Many yoga poses combine physiological benefits with muscular and/or skeletal benefits. Practicing the most necessary poses at least three times per week can make it easier/less uncomfortable to spend hours on the bike.

There are literally thousands of different yoga poses, all with different benefits. Some examples of poses that would be beneficial to the cyclist include (but are not limited to) those pictured above.

Not shown: Standing Deep Breathing

Some potential benefits of these poses are as follows:
•Generally good for the lungs and respiratory system
•Help lungs reach their maximum expansion capacity
•Are very good for asthma, shortness of breath, and nervousness
•Increase circulation to the body

Some of the above moves are advanced and you should consult a yoga instructor with questions about form. Any yoga instructor with a minimum 500-hour certification will be able to assist you in finding the necessary poses to maximize benefit to the cyclist.

Ainslie MacEachran is a premier level coach with www.coloradopremiertraining.com. For more information about yoga for cyclists you can reach him through the Web site. (Special thanks to Desiree Van Hall and Randi Fuller)

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Coaches Panel: Sore groin and numb hands on the bike, related? http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/04/coaches-panel/sore-groin-and-numb-hands-on-the-bike-related_110923 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/04/coaches-panel/sore-groin-and-numb-hands-on-the-bike-related_110923#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 19:07:37 +0000 Paul Swift http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=110923

Paul Swift of BikeFit.com. Photo courtesy Paul Swift

A reader new to cycling asks for saddle soreness help, and wonders if his numb hands are related

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Paul Swift of BikeFit.com. Photo courtesy Paul Swift

Have a training, fitness, nutrition or health question for the VeloNews Coaches Panel? Send it to coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Sore goin, numb hands

Hi!
I’m a newbie to road cycling and have been riding now for about eight weeks. What I would like to know is should I still be getting groin tenderness after this much time?

I have tried to move my seat back and tried moving forward with some minor differences and over a 40km ride find my legs are great and my butt or groin needs to get off the seat to get relief. I ride a Cannondale Synapse 4, 58cm bike with Prologo pro seat. I would appreciate any suggestions as I want to be able to ride 100km in six months.

Regards,
— Dale

P.S. I also get numbness in my hands which I shift around to get some relief. Are the two somehow related?

Dale,
The combination of groin discomfort and hand numbness is, more than likely, related. This may seem a bit crazy. In reality, we do often see them occurring at the same time.

Since your saddle is hurting where I will call “front and center” and you have pressure on your hands, it sounds like this is not the best saddle for you. I noticed some of these saddles are selling on Amazon for as low as $59. I do not see many of these saddles in our fitting business (my reason for checking around). My take is that this saddle is not all that well liked.

When a saddle is uncomfortable in this area, the rider also tends to put more pressure on his hands in order to un-weight things at the front and center area on the saddle. It is possible in some hand numbness situations the saddle is pointed down. Since you are having saddle discomfort at the front and center area, it does not appear your saddle is pointed downward. On a downward-pointed saddle, we often see hand issues from people sliding forward on their saddles. The need to constantly support their forward moving weight and push their butts back on the saddle causes these hand issues.

You need to find a saddle that supports you under the sits bones. Saddles we are having the best success with today tend to be more flat across the wide part or rear of the saddle. Generally, you know when you find the right saddle because you will feel pressure under the sit bones like never before. It may almost seem uncomfortable. Keep in mind that pressure under the sit bones is usually good pressure. If the pressure is not under the sit bones, much of your weight is probably on the front and center of the saddle.

Specialized, and now Trek, offer saddles as I have described. We have had better luck with the Specialized saddles across the board. Trek saddles have improved over the past two years, but not to the point of Specialized. Both companies have invested time and effort in saddles and saddle design. Specialized took this on earlier than Trek and seems to still hold the edge. I believe Trico Sports may have something later this year to consider. However, that does not help us now.

Sometimes, a saddle that is a little too far forward can lead to more hand pressure. In your case, I notice your bike is probably a few years old. Even just a few years ago, the hoods of the brake levers tended to be more curved on top than brake hoods today. If the curve of the hoods is an issue, there is a product that you can use to fill in the curve. I was not able to find great photo or link. But, here is one that does show the product.

It does not, however, show one of the shapes on top of the hoods but under the brake hood cover. This is an area we sometimes fill in when the curve of the brake hood is an issue. Send us an e-mail directly if this seems to be the case. These shapes are no longer being made but we have a few in the back.

— Paul Swift

An eight-time elite national champion and founder of BikeFit.com, Paul developed the Bicycle Fitting System (BFS), which includes products like the cleat wedges. The BFS helped bring the “front view” of a cyclist into the bike fitting world. BikeFit.com offers tools and education for bike fitters worldwide, helping them to better position humans on bicycles.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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Coaches Panel: How do I tell if I am overtraining? http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/03/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-how-do-i-tell-if-i-am-overtraining_109286 http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/03/coaches-panel/coaches-panel-how-do-i-tell-if-i-am-overtraining_109286#comments Thu, 25 Mar 2010 19:43:08 +0000 Eddie Monnier http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=109286

Eddie Monnier of velo-fit.com. Photo courtesy Eddie Monnier

A tired reader asks how to tell if he is overtrained.

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Eddie Monnier of velo-fit.com. Photo courtesy Eddie Monnier

Submit your question to the coaches panel by emailing coachespanel@competitorgroup.com

Identifying overtraining

Coaches,
I’m having trouble completing my workouts. My legs just seem constantly fatigued. I am not able to complete even 30 minutes of tempo.

How do I tell if I am overtrained?
— Jose, Santa Monica

Dear Jose,
I certainly don’t have enough information to give you any definitive answers, but I will start off by saying that it is reasonably unlikely you are overtrained.

How can I say that? The classic definition of overtraining centers on a long-term decrement in performance that is often accompanied by chronic fatigue on and off the bike. Overtraining takes considerable time to overcome — usually months with no training whatsoever. And it’s actually quite hard to become truly overtrained.

What most people mean when they say overtrained is really underrecovered, which is a relatively common occurrence.

If you’re working with a coach, hopefully they are setting your training cycles and you’re getting appropriate rest weeks. But you should definitely coordinate with him or her and work together to identify the cause.

The first thing I would do is take a few days off the bike entirely. Assess your diet. Are you getting enough carbohydrates? I recently had an athlete with whom I just started working make a similar complaint to yours and when I probed on her diet I found she was not taking in adequate carbohydrates. Basically, a general guideline is to take in about 5-8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight.

During intense training (larger volumes and/or intensity), this may need to be more in the range of 8-10 grams per kilo of bodyweight. Once we corrected this deficiency, she immediately started feeling better and was back on track in a matter of a few days.

If your diet is not the issue and you don’t feel better after 3-5 days off the bike, then you should work with your coach and health professional to see if something else is the cause. There is no test to definitely conclude, “Yep, this athlete is overtrained” however bloodwork may reveal elevations in certain markers that may suggest overtraining. However, unless you did a baseline blood test when you began your base training, it may be difficult to see any elevation since there is no “norm” for comparative purposes.

Best regards,
— Eddie Monnier

Eddie Monnier is a USA Cycling licensed Elite Coach (Level 1, the highest certification achievable), a USA Cycling Certified Power Coach, a bike fitter, a category 2 road and track cyclist, and oversees the NOW-MS Society Elite U25 Development Team. Although he lives in Santa Monica, California, he coaches athletes from all over through his Velo-Fit, LLC coaching business. You may reach Eddie at eddie@velo-fit.com.

Editor’s note: Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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