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Posted: April 12, 2005

Triathlon: Runner's Web 20 Questions with Geneviève Pellerin

Runner's Web 20 Questions - Athlete's profile

This month we profile: Geneviève Pellerin, Canadian Triathlete

Full Name: Geneviève Pellerin (I don't have a middle name!)
Sport: Triathlon
Born (City): Magog
Current Hometown: Gatineau
Age: 28
Coach: Cliff English
Club(s): Competitive Edge Training
Occupation/University: Full time triathlete (Profession: Lawyer - not practicing)

Sponsor(s): Greg Chisties' Ski and Cycle Works,  
Cervelo, Peak Centre for Human Performance, Kinesys, 
La foulée sportive, Les Impressions soleil…, 
and not to mention Stephen Partridge (!)

Personal Web Site: (
not yet set up - but soon hosted on

Favourite Web Site: To be honest, other than doing emails on Hotmail, 
I don't really surf on the Internet that much!

First of all, congratulations on your third place finish at the Bay Islands International Triathlon for your first international podium finish.

1. Runner's Web (RW): When and where did you start competing and in what sports?

Geneviève Pellerin (GP): I competed in gymnastic from the age 6 to 14. As soon as I quite gymnastics I started swimming. I competed in swimming until my last varsity year in 2000. Thereafter triathlon became my sport.

2. RW: At what age do you consider you became a "serious" athlete and in what sport?

GP: Somewhere between 9 and 12 years old I became serious about gymnastic competitions and I was aiming high already!

3. RW: You are a full-time athlete. Do you believe it is possible for someone who is not a full-time triathlete to compete at a high level internationally?

GP: It's possible but very difficult. It's easy to burn yourself out if you don't listen to your body.

4. RW: Who has had the greatest influence on your athletic career to date?

GP: No doubts my parents. They were both athletes themselves and kept training and competing while raising my brother and I. I was always really proud to say that my parents were athletes. My father was always involved in our sports, whether he was coaching us in swimming or on the board of the club we were training with. I always go to him for advice. He's the one that taught me my motto "Listen to your body" and be smart in my training.

5. RW: Could you discuss your training in terms of an average week's workouts prior to racing season? Also could you review, at a high level, your macro program for a year? Do you do most of your training alone or as part of a group?

GP: My macro program this year started with one month off from mid-September to mid-October after the 2004 season, then I did a month and a half of light training including a lot of cross-training (mountain bike, cross-country skiing, etc.) and aerobic work. Except for my running, I started a run focus in early November and included tempo runs on the treadmill right from the start. I built my base through February. Then I did a one month training camp in Arizona where I boosted the volume, mostly on the bike, and the intensity. There, I started building my pre-race season. My racing phase will start mid-May through October.

My average week at the moment will go from 15 to 20 hours of training a week, but my recovery week will drop below 10 hours a week. On my hard weeks, I now swim five times, ranging from 2.5km to 5km workouts. Most of them will include 1500m pace interval sets or faster pace sets, except if it is meant to be an active recovery workout. I run at least 4 times a week (which sometimes include a session with the Ottawa Lions Track Club). I'll do at least 2 intensity or tempo workouts, outside or on the treadmill (which I used a lot over the winter months), one or 2 short runs off my bike workouts, and one long aerobic run (75-90min). As for the bike, I'll ride at least three times a week with two workouts including race pace work. My longest rides are 3 to 3.5hours and the shortest being 30 to 45 minutes! In my recovery week, I drop the volume a lot, but still keep some shorter interval high intensity workouts.

Since I've been back from Victoria in September 2004, I've doing most of my training on my own over the winter. But when I was there last year, most of the training was in a group. However, this summer, I hope to join some people for different workouts.

6. RW: What are your short-term (rest of the year) and longer-term goals?

GP: This year my goals are to run a sub 39min on my 10km off the bike, make more points on the ITU circuit and start racing World Cups. My long term goals are regular top 10's at World Cups and a spot on the National team going to the Pan Am Games in 2007 and 2008 Olympic Games.

7. RW: What do you consider your best race to-date and why?

GP: My best race to date was certainly my race in Honduras last month. Not only because of my placing, but mostly because of the way I approached the race and the attitude I kept throughout the race. I was confident because I was just coming from a training camp where I worked really hard, so I wasn't scared of hurting, I was anticipating it. I kept a very positive attitude during the race, really enjoying it and embracing the pain and the competition.

8. RW: What do you consider your strongest attribute of the three triathlon disciplines?

GP: I still consider swimming my strongest attribute because I can train really hard in swimming and not be worried of getting injured or hurting during a set. However, in the race itself I feel like my swimming is now pretty even with the other two disciplines, it's not outstandingly fast compared to the bike and the run anymore. I guess I am becoming a triathlete and not a swimmer doing triathlons!

9. RW: Do you have any interest in coaching or other involvement in sport after you stop competing?

GP: I don't have a very high interest in coaching… you know, you may be good a something but poor at explaining how to do it well! I am more interested in staying involved by motivating people and organizing events, ie. Doing motivational speeches. I like helping people getting motivated to get or stay active and live a healthy life. I am starting a little jogging session with the cheerleaders at my old high school this spring. I don't consider it coaching but mostly getting them hooked on staying in shape and having fun running, so that they can do it on their own initiative when I'm not there.

I will also get involved in my kid's sports… if I have kids! I want to do what my parents did for me!

10. RW: Have you been tested in a lab for max VO2, body fat, etc? If so what were the results? If not, do you plan on getting tested?

GP: Yes I get regularly tested. I am very fortunate to have the Peak Centre as a sponsor. I get tested for my lactate threshold and the determination of my heart rate zones every three months for my run and bike. I got my VO2 Max tested 2 years ago and it was at 56. As for my percentage body fat, last time I got it measured was last year and it was below 12%. Genetically, I am quite lean, but this measurement is very subjective as there are many factors that can alter the result.

11. RW: What is your favourite triathlon and why?

GP: My favourite triathlon is the Meech Lake Triathlon organized by the Ottawa Athletic Club. I love it because it's basically in my backyard and I know the loop in the Gatineau Park very well. Also, it's a long swim compared to the bike and run portions of the race… therefore it's advantageous for me. And it's so much fun because I know almost everyone one doing it, and the BBQ after is sooo good! The unfortunate thing about it, is that not every year is it sanctioned by the Triathlon Quebec federation and as an TQ Elite athlete, I can be penalized doing a non-sanctioned race in Quebec.

12. RW: What do you consider your greatest achievement in the sport?

GP: Right now I think that my biggest achievement is to have committed full time to the sport and deciding to put my career as a lawyer on hold for a while. I believe that my greatest racing achievement is still to come…

13. RW: You recently returned home to Ottawa/Gatineau from training in Victoria? Could you discuss the pros and cons of the two training environments?

GP: I loved Victoria! It's so beautiful there! The pros of training there were the ability to ride outdoors all winter and to train with other high level athletes whose goals are similar to mine. Being a member of Pacific Sport National Triathlon Centre has its benefits too, ie. Organized clinics and seminars on all sorts of subjects related to sports and training at a high level. There weren't many cons, other than the influential environment I lived in. You have to be strong not to get influenced by what everyone else is doing and stay focused on what is good for you. It's easy to say "oh she is doing this, maybe I should do it too!".

Here in Ottawa/Gatineau, the cons are the winter months and finding people to train with whose schedule matches yours. Training full time, you can do your workouts during the day… well most people I know here work during the day and do their workouts before and after, so I often end up training alone. The pros are the Gatineau Park (!), my family and friends, the Peak Centre and the other contacts I have in the community that help me with my training and everything else around it. I also have to admit that financially it is better for me here as I have a special someone that supports me a lot!

14. RW: Could you describe your current training environment in terms of training sites, partners, etc.

GP: For the winter, we'd set up our garage as a gym. We painted it a bright dynamic orange colour, put in carpet, a borrowed treadmill, two bike trainers (all in front of a small TV on the wall), a Nautilus set for weights, and our training clothes. So I had everything I needed (missing an endless pool!) to train indoors. Since I don't have my own Computrainer yet, I do a few workouts at the Peak Centre on Canotek Rd.

I swam mostly on my own at the Ottawa University pool, sometimes I join the group that swims at lunch time and put my workout on the board so that people who want to join in may do so. I also swim the Peak Centre group at Plant pool once in a while.

I run with the Lions once in a while - with the girls or the guys.

I live right in front of the Gatineau Park, so I bike and run there a lot in the summer and swim at Meech lake (I do the beach to beach on Friday mornings!). I also use the loop at Asticou quite a bit for interval work and Bricks (there is an old track there too.).

Finally I hope to partner up for rides this summer with different groups and people, like the Cyclelogic rides on Saturday mornings, train with Marie Danais and Dave Harju (pro Ironman triathletes).

15. RW: Apart from swimming, cycling and running, do you do any other training, such as weight-training, yoga, etc.?

GP: I did some core and strength training this winter, a little less now. I did some yoga in the fall. I would love to include one yoga session a week in my schedule, but can't afford it right now - and I'm not disciplined enough to do it alone(!).

16. RW: Apart from the triathlon what is your favourite "other" sport?

GP: I use to love sailing (my parents use to have a small sailboat at the cottage but sold it (both the cottage and the boat!)). When I'll quite triathlons (if I do) I always told myself I would take up dancing. I love dancing!

17. RW: What activities do you do away from sport to relax?

GP: I read. When I was in law school I stopped reading for fun, now I'm catching up! I like having people over and entertaining with a glass of wine. Another thing a started appreciating in Victoria is hanging out at a coffee shop with a friend or just reading or doing some work.

18. RW: What is your racing schedule for the next year?

GP: I will do at least another 6 ITU races (Columbia, Tempe, New York, Caledon, Kelowna, Boston). My 'A' race being the National Championships in August in Kelowna. I will include also some provincial races in Quebec (Gatineau, Magog, Verdun, etc). The local races are most likely going to be the new Kingston triathlon in May, and one of the Ottawa triathlons (not the new Ironman…!!).

19. RW: Could you take us through the Bay Islands race, discussing your strategy, how you felt during each of the disciplines, etc.

GP: I went to Honduras to test my fitness after my Arizona training camp and to make ITU points early in the season. No matter what happened or who was there, my first objective of the race was to stay on Susan Williams' and Laura Bennett's feet in the swim. I tend to have a good fast start but a tougher second half of the swim… I didn't want that to happened. I ended up having a blast in the swim! The water was just amazing - it was like doing snorkeling! And I stayed on their feet - first objective was accomplished. I had a fast transition - first one out! Then on the bike, it was the hardest course I ever did! Right after the transition was a huge 20% hill - no exaggeration. I started off on the girls's wheels but got dropped pretty quickly… so did Laura right after me! But that didn't affect me because I was kind of expecting it. I mean Susan Williams is a known climber. I found some humour in it because I was actually zigzagging up the hill! After that I stayed focused and worked really hard to stay out of my comfort zone. I finally caught up Laura half way into the bike race. That was a big reward in the middle of the race that boosted my motivation and confidence. My other main objective was to run close to 39 minutes for my 10km and stay as close as possible to Laura - I accomplished that by finishing less than 2 minutes behind her. I was really hot on the run and also wanted to make sure to keep cool and not pass out like in Puerto Rico last year! I splashed myself with water a lot!!! Overall it was an awesome race. I had fun throughout and never had a negative thought!

20. RW: How long do you intend to compete at the top level of the sport?

GP: Until the 2008 Olympic Games, after that I will be 32 and will want to start a family… unless an exceptional job in international law comes my way before that and I can't refuse it.

RW: Thanks for doing this. Continued success in your competitive endeavours.

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