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How to self-isolate like a pro: Catharine Pendrel

Zwift meet-ups, routine and positivity keep Canadian Olympian on track during COVID-19 outbreak

Catharine Pendrel

As the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak develops, many of us are making adjustments to our daily lives in order to stay healthy, and do their part to slow the spread of coronavirus. This includes Canada’s top professional racers.

After returning to Canada from training camps and races, many Canadian pros are following recommended periods of self-isolation. Catharine Pendrel shares how she is adapting her training and daily routine to the challenge of self-isolation, after training camp in California was cut short.

The 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist has been hosting Zwift group rides, focusing on the positives and finding strength in maintaining routine.

“I think the biggest thing we are learning is that we can adapt and cope with pretty much anything,” Pendrel says, adding that we all “have a big responsibility to keep our neighbours safe.”

How to self-isolate like a pro: Catharine Pendrel

Catharine Pendrel racing the 2018 Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup round. Photo: Matt Stetson
Canadian Cycling Magazine: Self isolation looks a little different for everyone right now. What does your new daily routine look like in isolation?
Catharine Pendrel: I think a healthy routine is pretty important right now.  I am not always good at meditating consistently but with my mind working on overdrive at the moment, taking ten minutes 1-2 times a day can make a big difference.  I wake up and do a 10 min meditation  (Headspace app) followed by a core workout to start my day feeling good and focused.  After breakfast, I get outside with my dog and (Keith…school teacher on spring break and also isolating with me).  Sun and this normal routine is good for the soul.

During the day I’m able to do my normal of training, meal prep and getting back to emails…the difference here being I’m working off of the groceries Keith pre-bought before I got home so we could avoid stores. I’ll spend a bit more time inside training but, as it is the first week we have had sun and double digits in Kamloops in months, I headed out for some gravel adventures.

I’m making more time to connect with friends and family on the phone too just to make sure everyone is doing ok and feeling connected.

In the evening we unwind with some TV.  As much as following the news and being informed is good you can also get a little overloaded by all the news so unwinding with a book or show before bed helps me keep a good sleep routine.

Catharine Pendrel by Sean Jenkins
Catharine Pendrel training at home in Kamloops, B.C. in 2019. Image: Sean Jenkins
Any unexpected lessons learned from your first week in self-isolation?

I don’t think any of us ever really expected to experience something like this in Canada in our lifetime.  I think the biggest thing we are learning is that we can adapt and cope with pretty much anything and have a big responsibility to keep our neighbours safe. Self-isolation actually feels a lot like when I rehabbed from broken bones.  You just have to take it one day at a time, do what you can and stay positive.  Things will get better…but often it takes a little longer than desired.

How are you adjusting your training to isolation?
Only on day 3 so, so far so good.
I am definitely avoiding public places.  Our trails are not snow-free yet so long road rides would likely be what I was doing anyhow, but I have added some Zwift meet up rides to get people riding together- a cool opportunity my rides would normally be a bit too focused for, but now I can create a fun opportunity out of a tense situation – I will likely do some Zwift races to get in some intensity while not burning too many mental matches doing interval sets.  We could be back to racing in May but it may be much later and I want to have more to give when it matters most.
Pendrel Canada Bronze
Pendrel won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 2020 Olympics are still scheduled as planned, at this point. How are you adjusting your training with most races currently cancelled?
[Editors note: Events are changing fast. Pendrel responded to our questions before the news that IOC would be postponing the Olympics and the UCI had postponed Nove Mesto WC XCO]
Yeah, I think the Games are still a big question mark, but we need to be ready if we’re told they are a go as currently scheduled.  I am taking an unstructured training week this week because last week was pretty stressful being out of country and, watching Spain, France and Italy, it could come to a point where we cannot ride outside.  It is sunny and gorgeous at the moment so I want to soak that up.   I think we will have a good idea when we are actually 1 month from our first competition so I will keep myself at a fitness level where, with key intervals, I can be 100% in 4 weeks, but not be mentally exhaust myself trying to be 100% for months on end without an event target.
What challenges do you face maintaining motivation with such a large goal on the horizon, but a sudden lack of immediate goals?
We can always have immediate goals.  When I can get back on dirt I can sharpen my riding – although I think it is very important we aren’t taking any risks riding right now that could send us to the ER, our medical system is already on overdrive.  I can improve every aspect of my fitness and raise my mental game with visualization, but I also think keeping it fun and doing something maybe I couldn’t do with all my racing and training is important.  Maybe learn a new trick or do some trail work.  The athletes that come out of this the strongest I think will be the ones that were able to embrace whatever moment they were in.  Enjoy training for training, not just the rewards that could come from it

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