Triathlon Training: two weeks in Saint Moritz

If you are a keen triathlete and looking for somewhere to spend a couple of weeks during the summer for a training camp, then you should consider Saint Moritz. I was fortunate to spend two weeks with the Trisutto Team, completing my coaching certification and getting in some quality sessions. When you are with some of the world’s leading ITU and long course triathletes, it is hard not be inspired. 

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So why Saint Moritz? Well its got pretty much everything you need and more! The only downside I could find is that if you do not want to have the expense of hiring a car – then it’s a four hour train journey and with a bike box and a bag full of clothing for every weather eventuality that can be a bit of a drag. It is also not the cheapest location.

The first thing that hits you about Saint Moritz is its stunning beauty, with its crystal clear lakes and amazing nature. The second thing is the altitude! Located at 1800M above sea level, you will certainly need to take it easy for the first few days and initially back off both the volume and intensity of the sessions. Otherwise, you will feel exhausted!

So, let’s swim bike run and repeat.

Swimming takes place in the magnificent Ovaverva swimming complex where there are six 25m lanes as wide as motorways. The water is the perfect temperature and once you have finished the swim set, you can relax in the open-air spa. Pool times are 10am to 10pm (except Tuesday which starts at 08am). The pool complex is meticulously clean and run with typical Swiss German efficiency.

As it says – this is where pros train.

If you would like an open water swim there is always the lake just outside of town, but the serious work gets done in the pool. A week’s pool pass is around 60CHF and that gives unlimited access to the pool and spa. Outside of squad sessions I never had more than one person in my lane. The Trisutto swim squad swims four days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) with age groupers and the pro squad in lanes side-by side. Typically, the pros do around 5-6km per session and the majority of the time the age groupers do the same set but just with a lesser volume.

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It’s hard to know whether it’s the running or cycling that offers the most variety. For the running there is a 400m track for any form of track session, or the 5km easy loop of the lake or endless trails through the woods or around the lakes for the weekly long run. You are literally spoilt for choice and of course there is a 600m mini loop of the lake, which is a favourite Trisutto session for doing Moderate, Medium, Mad repeats. A Mod Med Mad set involves typically three laps at moderate pace or comfortable, four laps at race pace, comfortably uncomfortable and then 5 laps at Mad (as hard as you can go). Of course, these all have the benefit of altitude.

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There are some great climbs. This trip I managed to climb Maloja pass, Julier pass and Bernina pass all of which have different gradients but each one is stunning. There are also easy loops and opportunities to practice sprints. Although the roads are open, Swiss drivers are very respectful to cyclists and the road surfaces are excellent. There is also Bobsleigh hill and the Chamfer loop for practicing the big gear intervals a cornerstone of the TriSutto philosophy of building leg strength.

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Accommodation and getting around

A feature of Saint Moritz is that everything is close by. I rented an apartment which was 500m from the pool and 200m from the track and I biked everywhere to get around. A car is an unnecessary luxury and fee parking is a rare commodity. As you would expect in Switzerland everything works and runs like clockwork. Food shopping is easy and everywhere there is free Wi-Fi. 

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If you want a rest day from triathlon, there are endless mountain bike trails around the lakes and through the forests and limitless hikes. 

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So what is it like spending two weeks on Deck with Brett Sutton?

You learn a lot and realise that the pro athletes and the coaching that goes into making them as good as they are is just on a different level. He will always tell it as he sees it. You may not like it but you probably better listen and take note if you want to improve or stay in the squad. His first comment on my swimming was that I better stick to bowling a cricket ball (basically your stroke is crap!). The squad works on a three-day cycle: what you did yesterday influences what we do today and that sets up tomorrow. For pros that can be three sessions a day such as a swim and a double bike day (one strength maybe, one easy). The skill is seeing the athletes firsthand and deciding how to structure the next sessions based on what is coming up i.e. are they racing ITU at the weekend. For the long course IM athletes that can be 20-30 hours per week with long runs of three hours and four-hour bike rides. It is an enviable track record of success, Daniella Ryf, Nicola Spirig to mention but two and in the pool this week was Julie Derron (Swiss ITU), Nina Derron (4th IM Switzerland), Max Studer (9th Tokyo Olympics), Svenja Thoes (winner IM Nice and 6th Challenge Roth), Els Visser (2nd IM Lanzarotte), Rei Colucci (3rd Challenge Roth). There are no Training Peaks, no FTP tests and sessions are given individually. 

The best time to go to Saint Moritz is probably the last 2 weeks of June/first week of July before the real summer season starts when everywhere becomes busier and the roads have a lot more traffic.

Until next year!

By David Hunt, and Certified TriSutto Coach

Posted on 19th Jul 2022