In this recurring series, Canadian Cycling Magazine will take a look at the Monday to Friday training programs of some of Canada’s top professional cyclists. From the hours on the bike to the other activities and training that gets incorporated into their plans, we will get a glimpse on how Canada’s top cyclists prepare for some of the worlds biggest races. Between warm weather training camps, Catharine Pendrel has been at home in Kamloops, B.C. Here is what a training week in February looks like for the Canadian world champion and Olympic bronze medallist.

Catharine Pendrel by Sean Jenkins
Catharine Pendrel training at home in Kamloops, B.C. Image: Sean Jenkins

Canadian Olympic medallist Catharine Pendrel has had a busy year already. Since ending her season at Canadian cyclocross championships in Peterborough, Ont., she has been on training camps in San Francisco and Hawaii with Cycling Canada’s mountain bike program. The two-time cross country world champion is busy preparing for her second chance to race world championships at home in Canada when the event returns to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que. this August.

Between warm weather training camps, the two-time world champion cross country racer is at home in Kamloops, B.C., putting in the hours on snow and the trainer, like many other Canadians.

“A typical winter week for me is on the trainer, in the gym and on cross country skis,” says Pendrel. “I like getting into my winter routine and I find the change from only biking makes winter more enjoyable and my mind fresher for race season.”

After a decade at the top of the World Cup rankings, Pendrel has more experience than most at getting the work done during the winter, and recently shared some helpful tips on her own blog.

Catharine Pendrel’s training program for a January / February week in Kamloops, B.C.

Monday

Rest day.
Catharine Pendrel: For me a day completely off structured training is important for life balance and to mentally and physically commit to all the hard workouts during the week or block. I know I will always get a break so can dig deeper. I like to do yoga this day and catch up on the paperwork side of my job. I am the kids league director of our local bike club, a coach, take online classes and manage Pendrel Racing so always have lots on my plate.

Tuesday

10 min core and 10 min Meditation before breakfast.
I like the apps Sworkit, Fitify for core and the app Headspace for meditation.
AM: Trainer: 2.5 hr ride with threshold focus
20 min warm up
4×1 min high cadence pedalling with 1min easy between.
10 min easy
3×3 min best consistent effort (all 3 intervals similar power) with 3min easy between. 90-100rpm.
10 min easy
5×8 min at threshold/2 min easy between. 90-100rpm.
Remainder of the ride as steady aerobic
PM: Gym: 1hr
Starting with a 10min run for warm up, plyometrics and then Squats, deadlifts, upper body work and more core.

Most literature recommends strength on an aerobic day, but I have always combined it with pretty tough trainer sessions. For a winter-based endurance athlete, I think this split day can help increase your training load and volume when getting in long sustained sessions is more time consuming and challenging. As my endurance days are typically on skis which involves commuting time and also good muscular load I find the trainer gym combo more successful.

Wednesday

10 min core and 10 min meditation before breakfast
3-4 hr Endurance skate ski

One of the best things I did early in my career was commit to learning how to ski and using skiing as a training tool. It enables me to stay home during the winter and combined with my trainer work lets me begin racing in March with great form.

Thursday

10 min core and 10 min Meditation before breakfast
AM: Trainer: 2.5 hr with speed skill and threshold work
Warm-up: 15 min steady
3 x15 sec sprints 2min easy between.
2x3min at 165-175HR with 2min easy between.
10 min steady
FTP pyramid at 90 RPM
2 min @ (FTP-10 w) 1 min easy
4 min @ (FTP-10 w) 2 min easy
6 min @ (FTP-10 w) 3 min easy
4 min @ (FTP-10 w) 1 min easy
2 min @ (FTP-10 w) 1 min easy
10 min steady
Force work at 60-70 rpm
3×10 min at Zone 4 with 5min easy between
Remainder of the ride as steady aerobic

Power often guides my trainer work to keep it focused. In the summer while outside I often used perceived effort as my guide and analyze power after my workout.

PM: Gym: 1hr
Starting with a 10min run for warm up, plyometrics and then Squats, deadlifts, upper body work and more core.

Friday

Active recovery day

Am 10 min core and 10 min Meditation before breakfast
1.5 hr fat bike ride

My Puppy joins just for the first 20+min as this is her favourite day. When she joins, the adventure is catered to her and she gets to choose the pace. We don’t do extended duration rides with her yet, just short introductions intended to familiarize her with bikes.

Fat biking is a nice way to feel like you are maintaining some mtb skills during the winter, be outside on the bike and have some fun. (I highly recommend bar mitts. Game changer!)

Saturday

10 min core and 10 min Meditation before breakfast
3-4 hr aerobic:
Depending on conditions this will be a skate ski, classic ski, trainer or fat bike ride or a combination of these.

I often like one-weekend endurance session to have a bike focus and one a ski focus.

Sunday

10 min core and 10 min Meditation before breakfast
3-4 hr
Depending on conditions this will be a skate ski, classic ski, trainer or fat bike ride or a combination of these.

mont-sainte-anne Catharine Pendrel
Pendrel returned from injury to race 2018 Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup. In 2019, the Quebec venue hosts world championships. Image: Matt Stetson

“I use a periodized three-week build followed by a recovery week of reduced hours,” says Pendrel. “A typical winter week will be 20 hrs +/- 2 hrs and lots of variety.”

Pendrel is getting plenty of variety in now, while she trains at home in snowy Kamloops for the upcoming World Cup season and 2019 UCI mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.

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