Training Tips for XTERRA Switzerland by Stephane Delicourt
Stephane Delicourt was runner up in the 40-44 division at the 2016 XTERRA World Championship, was ranked third in the 2017 XTERRA European Tour, and is a massage therapist for the Organicoach/XTERRA Racing Team. This father of two has some great tips for the course at XTERRA Switzerland.
XTERRA Switzerland is the seventh race of 17 in the XTERRA European tour. It will take place in the Vallée de Joux, les Charbonnières on June 23rd. This part of the country – also called the Swiss Jura – is known for its watchmaking. Even if you can’t afford an Omega or a TAG Heuer, you can visit the Espace Horlogé at Le Santier, which is a beautiful watchmaking museum that was completely rennovated in 2012.
The XTERRA venue is idyllic and something out of a fairy tale. There are two clear lakes, small villages, and miles of green fields where cows calmly graze. This is Switzerland after all, which is known for its wonderful local cheese.
Race organizer, Laurent Adriet, his son and all the team from the Sport Center of Vallée de Joux in le Sentier are highly experienced and will run a very efficient event. They have been hosting XTERRA races since 2013, and have put on many road triathlons as well.
The race will begin at Brenet Lake, which is at an altitude of about 1000 meters. Because of the mountain climate, the weather can be unpredictable. Last year, it was a non-wetsuit swim, but in 2013, the swim was canceled because it was so cold. Definitely come prepared and bring your wetsuit but not your speedsuit.
At the start, the water is about waist deep, so be prepared to dolphin dive at the start. It’s good to know that this is a one-loop 1500 meter swim, so be prepared to go the distance. The swim exit includes some running in shallow water running, and then a 200 meter run is soft grass to get to transition.
The two-loop mountain bike course is a bit longer and more challenging than last year. You will start in the opposite direction from last year and climb a short rocky section to get to a grassy meadow. Next you will have a short stretch on a flat, paved road, which will take you to the figure eight trail that includes a bridge. You will enjoy some beautiful single track along the lake and then climb up through some switchbacks until you get to the bridge to finish the loop. A right turn will take you to “Ski Jump” Climb and the start of the second loop. When you climb this loop for the second time, you will turn left at the top and finish the way you did in previous years and head down the technical, rocky section you climbed at the start.
This new course may add about 10 minutes to your bike split as well as some vertical climbing, but all in all, it’s not a highly technical course and is one of the fastest on the European tour. All told, the 27K course includes 400 meters of climbing.
The run is a 10K run around the lake you swam in. It starts in a meadow and then you will enter some sweet fast and flat single track along the lake. Enjoy this flat and shaded section because on the other side of the lake, you will start to climb up a steep hill, which can be slippery after it rains. On the top, you will pass through fields full of cows and be treated to a beautiful view of the lake. Turning left, you will head back down the hill, first through the field, and then on single track.
Your next right turn will bring you onto a road for one kilometer. Make sure you do some speed and agility drills to take advantage of this section! Coming back around transition, you will either head into a second loop or into the finish line to celebrate.
Like the bike course, the run is a great course for beginners because the hill includes less than 200 meters of elevation and it’s quite manageable, even if you aren’t really experienced.
We have included three training sets designed specifically for XTERRA Switzerland.
The swim at XTERRA Switzerland is a single loop so it’s good to work on your endurance and staying efficient when sighting and navigating the buoy.
Start with a good warm-up of 600 to 1000 meters where you progressively build the intensity.
100m free at 80% threshold speed*
25m swim polo, where you head out of water and use a quick arm stroke
25m back easy
Do four sets and take an easy 100 meter swim between sets.
* To calculate threshold speed, do a 400 meter timed free style at race pace. When you are finished, calculate your pace per 100 meters, and use this as your threshold speed.
2 x 200m free – Never touch the wall and focus on your turns and how to get back your speed.
Rest 30 seconds between each 200 meter drill.
Finish with a 200 or 300 meter cool down.
The mountain bike course at XTERRA Switzerland requires power on the flat, an ability to change gears and speed regularly, and a few climbs. This training set will help you gain strength and push more gears.
The ride should be about two hours over a non-technical route with a few hills that aren’t too steep.
After a 30 minute warm up, you will work at about 80% of max heart rate for 60 minutes. The goal is to alternate some climbing with lots of strength, big gears and low cadence, with some climbing at high cadence. In both case you will always make sure to do a maximum effort of 10 seconds on the top of each climb. Use the terrain to accelerate, and use the downhill to get back quick to the 80% HR. You finish with a 30 minute easy cool down.
This running loop is quite easy to reproduce at home.
Take an easy 15 minute warm up on the flat focusing on your feet. Stay relaxed and efficient.
4 to 6 x (1 minute flat at 80% HR max + 3’ up hill -steep 15 to 20% grade, at 90/95 % HR max.)
Rest between sets by running easily back downhill back.
Finish with a 15 minute flat and easy cool down. This training will help you to change gears during the run and be ready for this hard climb in the middle.
I hope those expertise and tips will help you to get ready for XTERRA Switzerland. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.