More Feelings, Less Watts: The Transformation of Loanne Duvoisin

In shifting priorities from all-out physical training to a healthy balance in state of mind, Loanne Duvoisin no longer feels emotionally flat or burned out. Instead, she stands ready to go and stronger than ever as the newly crowned 2023 XTERRA European Champion.

Written by
Sarah Bonner
min read


The Loanne Duvoisin of 2023 is one the world of XTERRA has never seen before. As the newly crowned European Champion after her victory in Belgium, this season is a marked turning point for the 25 year old Swiss athlete. During the off-season, she changed almost everything in her life and the transformation not only made her fall in love with training and racing again, but it gave her a whole new weapon up her sleeve. 

“Last year my goal was just to try to follow as long as possible but this year I can push more."

Already one of the most physically strong athletes competing this season, a change in mindset could make her one of the toughest puzzles to solve in the female division for years to come.



Big Changes

It all started with her graduation. In December 2022, Duvoisin completed her studies and became a fully qualified physiotherapist. For years, her precarious balance between training and her studies presented a constant challenge, one that she didn’t always master. Although she is still not a full time athlete, working 1 full day and 2 half days a week, Duvoisin has found a steady balance.

“I work at 40% so it's really different. I can really train more and I do more quality sessions…and more naps,” she laughs. “I can be more focused on recovery.”

Finishing her studies, however, was only one of the big changes in her life. “There's really a lot of changes now for me because I finished my studies in December but I also moved at the end of the year with my boyfriend to a flat and I changed my training coach at the end of last season. So yeah, a lot of changes, really a lot of new things,” she says.



Burn Out

The complete transformation of her ecosystem was underpinned by a necessary and crucial change to her coaching situation—a relationship that wasn’t working for some time. “Last season I had maybe one or two really good races but otherwise it was up, down, up, down, and not really consistent. I really didn’t find confidence during the races. Sometimes I was so tired, I just wanted to finish the race and I was even thinking of that during the race and that was so strange,” she says. 

“For a few years, I really lost a lot of energy and also happiness. Last season I was flat emotionally.”

Duvoisin was burnt out. “For a few years, I really lost a lot of energy and also happiness. Last season I was flat emotionally,” she says. For her whole life, training and racing was something she loved but that feeling slowly slipped away as she was drowning in physical and mental fatigue. “If I do all these sacrifices, it's not a problem if I am happy in what I do, but last season it started with less motivation and then in the races I was just thinking about finishing. So I was like, okay, I have to change something.” 

Finally, with the conclusion of the season and her physiotherapy studies, Duvoisin decided it was the right time to start fresh with a new coach.



More Feelings, Less Watts

Duvoisin found a coach quickly, someone she already knew who had a coaching philosophy that offered what she so desperately needed. “I just needed a coach who would take more care about my mental health and not always push, push, push,” she explains. 

After some time off, she started preparing for the 2023 season and, much to her delight, her passion and excitement for training had returned: “When I started again, training with the new coach, I felt what normal was like again. I was really happy.”

Duvoisin knew first hand how hard it is training for XTERRA at the professional level and she expected her excitement would fade. “I said to myself, I think it’s just because it is the beginning. In the season, it will fade out again—but it stayed like this,” she says. Although she was happy, the lessons from the past made her resolve to work, train, race, and live differently.

“More feelings and less watts,” she says about her new philosophy. When she speaks and plans  training and racing goals with her coach, the conversation includes her subjective feedback and mental health, not just the data analysis of watts and paces. 

“Last season I felt so bad that even when I had a good race, I was not about to realize,” she says. “Maybe it's a little bit stupid for other people but, for me, this year I'm just happy to take a healthy approach and to perform with a healthy body and mind. That is more my goal.”




Having a healthy body and mind meant that Duvoisin’s menstrual cycle naturally returned. It’s another consideration that she and her coach take into account when analyzing her training data and her races—especially her performance at the Oak Mountain World Cup. 

“[Racing with my period] is something new because before I didn’t have it every month and now I have them again,” she says. “Often the third or fourth day, I have a pretty big down and I’m not able to push and, unfortunately, that was the day of the main race.” Duvoisin struggled through the swim and took the bike 10 minutes at a time. By the time she got to the run, it was just about finishing, which she did in 7th place. She wanted to be able to start the Short Track race the following day and she worried she was going to feel the same, “And you have to push even more,” she laughs. “So I was just thinking about that and then I tried to change my mind. I was really focused in the head, not just about the place, but to push myself really hard.”

“Fail or fight. If you are in a bad situation, you have two options: give up, or you say, okay it's not comfortable, but I try to fight and then I will grow from this.”

Duvoisin was feeling stronger, both physically and mentally, when she lined up for the Short Track race. “Fail or fight. If you are in a bad situation, you have two options: give up, or you say, okay it's not comfortable, but I try to fight and then I will grow from this,” she says. And so she fought, coming from behind on the bike to take the win with a commanding 14 second gap ahead of the entire field that earned her the maximum 20 World Cup points on offer.



The XTERRA European Championship

Her Short Track win at Stop #2 of the World Cup in Oak Mountain only made her more hungry for Stop #3 in Belgium - billed as one of the hardest races to win outside of the World Championship. 

Lining up with XTERRA’s best, including Sandra Mairhofer,​​ Alizée Paties, and Solenne Billouin, is something Duvoisin is familiar with but, this season, she is racing against them like she never has before. 

“Last year my goal was just to try to follow as long as possible but this year I can push more. I feel better and I want to ride for me and not just follow the other girls,” she says. Duvoisin says her and her coach prepared a tactical strategy for Belgium, something she had never done before. She spoke about her wetsuit and how she worked with Synergy to find the best textile for shoulder flexibility. She explains how she has been working on longer intervals on the bike, taking lactate measurements to maintain precision. But of all the changes, it’s her confidence that is the real weapon on course. 

"I feel better and I want to ride for me and not just follow the other girls.”

After a tough swim in Belgium, Duvoisin had a lot of work to do to put herself back in contention. “I felt okay on the bike and had some good legs so I pushed as hard as I could,” she said, posting the fastest bike split (1:44:49) by over 90 seconds. She confidently blazed out of T2, dropping everyone to also post the fastest run split (46:05) and take the victory, the European title, and the 110 points that will see her move into second place on the World Cup leaderboard. 

Duvoisin might not be all about the results this year but, as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.



Confidence to Fight

Her approach to racing is the same philosophy that underpins her life. “I choose my studies for the work, not for the easiest way and now I'm so happy with that. I had a really difficult period last year with training but then you also learn a lot from this moment and it helps you grow,” she says. “It’s how you choose to do the journey.”

“You can have every goal in your life but if you just see the goal and not the road you take to achieve the goal it will give you less happiness. But if you say, okay, I will have some ups and downs and I will love the ups and the downs, then even if you don’t achieve the goal you will be really happy.”

Instead of looking back on her difficulties with regret and sadness, Duvoisin only sees them as chances to learn and grow—chances to fight, not failures—and it’s that spirit that makes her an incredible athlete, a role model, and every ounce worthy of her new title as the XTERRA European Champion.










From this story:

Author Bio

Sarah Bonner

Sarah Kim Bonner (MA, PGDip, BA Hons) is a Canadian freelance writer, graphic designer, and professional triathlete. She has worked as a creative for over 10 years, specializing in written storytelling within endurance sports. Emotionally allergic to an office 9-5, she has lived and raced all over the world from the Arctic to Africa and now calls the Canary Islands home. Find her at or @sarahkimbonner.

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