FAST FREDDY: Training and Racing With An Injury
The racing season may be done, but it’s never too late to learn a thing or two from the pros. Fred Rodriguez finally got a break from his full Fall schedule to drop us a line on how he balanced his training miles to tune his form for the season enders.
– By Fred Rodriguez-
With little time between races, it is always critical to prioritize training goals.
Ideally I’ll have 3 weeks of solid training to cover endurance training and specific sprint training. But sometimes, I’ll have commitments to the team, as happened in August, when I had to race the Tour of Denmark and Eneco before the Vuelta and World’s, and then shortly after that, Paris-Tours and Lombardia.
With that heavy load of races I had to back off the intensity of my training, because I’d get that from the races. It was important to play it safe and not over do it – in other words, not over train.
Although the team uses Tacx trainers on the road, Fred loves The CompuTrainer at home.
Quality VS Quantity
What’s really important in training is the quality of training, vs. the quantity of training. So no matter how much time I have, I’m training for efficiency, to try to increase my power without changing my heart rate or oxygen intake.
That’s where indoor training using my CompuTrainer comes in – because I can keep all variables the same, including the exact route. First, using my coach’s CompuTrainer Test protocol, I figure out the exact workload required for my ideal power output. As an elite rider my trainer picks a longer interval to really stress the system. He then gives me a wattage figure to maintain during these intervals. I practice the route over and over again until I achieve that ideal wattage. If I ride the same route again and again, keeping my heart rate in its target zone the whole time, my power output will increase because my body is becoming more efficient. This is the key to successful training.
Once we had the numbers from the CompuTrainer I could also apply the workload on the road. My endurance training workout felt easy at first when the body was unfit. But the great thing about using this formula of training is the body recovers fast and before you know it you’re pushing 30-50 watts more at the same effort.
Watch the ‘junk’ sugars when trimming a kilos…
Whenever the weather made it difficult to do the appropriate workout outdoors, I would use the CompuTrainer to get the most out of my days training indoors. This also gave me a perfect environment to see the improvement in the numbers. Cold or heat can really change your power output in relation to heart rate, and it’s a lot harder to see the facts. Training indoors on the CompuTrainer, you are in more of a static environment, particularly if you use air conditioning, and this eliminates the temperature variables so you can accurately compare one session with another.
Tweak The Snack Pack
During those couple of weeks I also needed to lose a kilogram or two to get back to my race weight. I usually cut out certain foods that are heavier in calories, eat leaner protein, and try to run on cleaner fuels like veggies. I love sugar in my coffee so I try to take in less of it when I feel like a shot of espresso. I try to not have snacks that have sugar as to not spike my glycogen. When you cut out the sugar snacks your body tends to stay in the fat burning zone for longer – this is key to losing weight.
The Best Laid Plans
My last race in training for the Vuelta was the Eneco Tour, to up the intensity another level. I would have preferred four days of controlled training at home, but sometimes you can’t have it all. But the weather was perfect and I also wanted to get myself in the mix of things with the sprints to get my game back on. My crash ruined a good plan.
I hit my knee cap on the stem bolt and it became inflamed. The specialist thought I should stop there but at that point I just had one more day of racing. The team and I decided to risk the extra day and see how it felt. I toughed out the extra day and it all seemed ok.
During the Vuelta, my knee was braced and made it to the last few days of the race before it blew up. However, the knee cap inflammation never went away and after 21 days of racing, the knee and muscles around it had given up and I had tendonitis. Add this to the fact that my body was still scared of crashing and probably a bit too careful in the sprints, and it meant another blow to my riding efficiency.
So in the World Championships, my pedal stroke was very uneven. If I had used the CompuTrainer SpinScan at the World’s, it probably would have said 60-70% on my left leg, as I protected my right, injured, knee. But after 5 hours of a 6-1/2 hour race, my left leg was cramping from overwork.
As we neared the tunnel with 800 meters to go, I was too close to the front so I braked to put me in the perfect position for the final sprint. But when the Spanish team doing the lead-out opened a surprise gap around the corner leading into the tunnel, I was already committed to moving back.
I gave it everything I had to the line but with two bum legs I had nothing much to give. I had to settle for 15th.
Next month, I’ll talk about lactate training, getting through the winter months and my long-term goals for next year.