Training Tips for the XTERRA European Championship in Zittau
Nico Lebrun, XTERRA Europe director and XTERRA/Organicoach Racing Team members have put together some training tips to help you be ready for most important race on the European XTERRA calendar.
XTERRA Germany, based in Zittau is one of the original and oldest races in Europe. Over the years they have built the event into a huge festival built around XTERRA. They have hosted major championships before, the XTERRA European championship in 2016 and the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in 2014. Anyone attending this event will see that German efficiency is not a myth and that the organisers have every single detail 100% under control.
Zittau has transformed an old mining area into a beautiful recreation area, which provides the perfect set up for XTERRA. A big sandy beach, a grassy area, camp site, easy parking, all less than one kilometer from Zittau city center where you can find lots of hotels and restaurants for your stay. The Osee challenge was the first event hosted here in 2004 before becoming XTERRA Germany.
This perfect set up means there will be activities for everybody. With lots of entertainment for kids, many food stalls, warm lake water for swimming (normally around 22°c in August), this area is the perfect place to bring your family.
To help you finish your last fortnight of training ahead of the most important race in Europe this season, we’ve collated a few tips to help you arrive to the start line in your best shape yet.
Make sure you are ready for a non-wetsuit swim! The DTU are strict on the rules, wetsuits are not allowed over 22 degrees for Age groupers (Elites – 20 degrees) and no swim skins are allowed – save them for Maui! Make sure you have the right tri-suit! A tight-fitting suit without pockets will improve your streamlining and help you move through the water with less effort. Head to the pool to test your suit before race day to make sure that it is comfortable to swim in without your wetsuit. Avoid using a pull buoy in your training sessions to get used to swimming without the added buoyancy a wetsuit provides.
Adjust your head position and look further down towards the bottom of the swimming pool to help act as a counter weight for your legs. In Germany the first buoy is about 250m from the start. Choose your starting position wisely, if you are fast and don’t mind the fight then choose the middle to take advantage of drafting. If you are slower then consider starting off to the outside to help find some clear water. If the air temperature is cold and the water just at the limit, then consider warming up in your wetsuit. This will help keep you warm, saving you energy before the race. Just remember to remove it for the race! The start will be on time, with Elites starting first, then AG men 3mins later and then AG women 3mins after.
Example Swim session:
200m choice swimming
4 x [25m kick / 25m front crawl]
2 x 100m Individual Medley
200m increase effort every 50m
4-6 x 150m
As 25m fly
50m FC @ 90% of RP
25m FC with legs cross
50m FC @ 90% of RP with sighting every 6 strokes
+ 60sec rest between 150m efforts
The fly strokes will simulate the hard effort of a race start, if you can’t do fly then try head up front crawl. Swim the 50m FC just below race pace, concentrating on settling back into an efficient stroke. Crossing your legs for 25m will simulate swimming surrounded by other athletes at the buoy, keep your arm turnover high and keep moving! The last 50m is another chance to settle back into a strong stroke just below race pace.
8-12 x 50m at Race Pace with an open turn + 10secs rest
An open turn is turning around without touching the wall at 25m. This forces you to slow down and speed up again, concentrate on 6-8 fast strong strokes to get back to your race pace as quickly as possible. If you are swimming in a 50m pool, then replace the open turn with a front somersault at halfway.
300-500m easy FC swimming.
Mountain bike tips:
The mountain bike course in Zittau will reward a strong all-rounder. The first 5km is mainly uphill with no technical parts, so you will be pedalling hard straight from the swim. Entering the forest, you will continue to climb alternating between fire roads and more technical tracks that could become tricky in the wet. You will now be onto the main MTB loop, and pushing hard as you head to the highest point of the race close to the border with Czech and Poland! From the top, if you have the technical skill you can make up some time on the rolling technical singletrack, using the short sections of fire road to recover, drink and overtake.
During the very last part of the loop, after more than 30km of mountain biking tackle the last steep climb, where if you haven’t managed your pace you will really struggle! The same can be said for the last short and rocky downhill. If you are tired and lose concentration, you can easily have a crash or a mechanical issue. The last part of the course is gradually downhill, so if you are still able to produce good power at the end of the 40km bike loop you’ll be able to make some time up ahead of the run.
1hr 30mins steady riding to fatigue the legs a little before the main session
6-10 x 5mins
As [4mins @ Race pace with a cadence of 70rpm / 1min MAX effort]
Complete the 4mins effort on a flat non-technical trail, before using a steep and technical climb for the 1min max effort. This will help develop strength to fight hard on the bike, but also to help you become used to different efforts depending on the terrain.
Once you’ve finished your effort, ride back easy to your starting point before starting the next rep
1hr steady riding
The run loop has completely changed for this year. It will be two loops, starting in the same area as previous years, but this time completing a whole lap around the lake before coming back close to transition. The 10km run is a proper cross-country course all on dirt or gravel, with short climbs and descents, sharp turns and a few small obstacles to climb or jump over. For this I propose you do the running session just after an easy bike ride, try to complete this as soon as you have finished your ride to get the best possible training benefit. Keep the bike ride really easy and a maximum of 2 hours long.
15min easy running straight after bike riding
8-12 x [40secs MAX effort uphill / 20secs hard effort downhill] + 1min 30secs rest
These efforts include fast running both uphill and downhill. Don’t take any rest at the top of the climb, keep the effort high and push as hard as you dare downhill. This session will help you be able to change your running cadence depending on the terrain whilst still working hard.
15mins easy running or walking
We hope these training tips will help you to be ready for this big race and to be able to enjoy it whilst saving enough energy for the big party. The organisers create an amazing post-race experience in Zittau with a live music show.
Good luck and see you in Zittau!