24 May Get Inspired With Alice Hector! A candid chat with the Ironman 70.3 champion
Pro triathlete and Ironman 70.3 champion Alice Hector is one of Sundried’s sponsored professional athletes. Alice constantly inspires us here at Sundried HQ with all her achievements, so we wanted to know what sparked her passion and who inspires her…
How were you first inspired to get into the sport of triathlon, especially considering how much of a male-dominated sport it is?
My mum was a Scottish National swimmer and is currently a multi-event champion and record holder in her age group. My dad was a 2.34 marathon runner without much training, and he did a lot of local 10k/21k races. As children, we would often go and watch these events, and whilst swimming is not much of a spectator sport, I would always want to be out running with Dad! I didn’t enjoy swimming so much but had friends at a local club, and was encouraged at uni to put the two together and add in the cycling. I wanted to be an elite athlete at something, and triathlon was the obvious direction in which to go. Once I started triathlon, my mum and dad both started too, and mum became World Age Group triathlon champion and dad represented GB in duathlon!
I don’t notice the male-dominated side of things at races or training. Female participation is growing rapidly and anyway, it’s fun to race the men!
Did you find it tough to advance in this sport? Why/why not?
Sometimes you hit your ceiling with your current set-up; and the plateaus and dips get tough. All that work and no reward! It’s then a case of asking the right people for a fresh approach, and see if that can unlock any more. What worked for you years ago won’t have the same effect forever, as your body responds and adjusts to the training. It’s quite rare for an athlete to have the same coach and team around them from the start until the end of their career. To ensure progress, training should be an ever-evolving process.
At what point did you decide to go pro and aim for pro championship races?
I wasn’t interested in age group races myself: if I’m to do triathlon, it has to be done with the set-up that ensures me to get to my very best. Once I’d won the World AG Sprint champs in 2013, having restarted earlier in the year from a 7 year hiatus, I cut out a good portion of my day job and jumped straight into the pro ranks. This was hard as to earn money I had to race on the long distance circuit, and having only done a few sprint distance races, I didn’t have much of a specific base built up, and I kept trying to do too much too soon in training. Only now, 5 years on, do I feel finally ready for a couple of the World Championship races.
Please talk us through your training regime.
My highest weeks peak at 27-30 hours of training and I have done 3 of these weeks this year, so am certainly not doing them not all the time! A normal solid week for me is 20-25 hours with a mix of really hard, really easy, race pace and technique work. Come to a race taper or recovery and it’s down to between 9 and 12. As a pro, it’s quite a light load, but I break down eventually with consecutive high volume weeks. Training should be productive, not destructive, and too many triathletes and coaches are of the ‘more is better’ mentality. This works for some, but once you see ongoing injury issues or lacklustre race results, it’s time to readjust! I don’t want any training session to be a waste of my time.
Who inspires you the most in the world of triathlon?
I respect a lot of the pro’s I race against, and age groupers who do so well with families and full time jobs (no idea how they do it as triathlon is a hardcore hobby!) I’m excited by how fast the running is getting over half ironman distance now, and how the standard is constantly improving. That certainly gets me out the door in the morning! I wouldn’t say anyone inspires me; I am on my own journey and doing it my way.
What advice would you give to people just starting out in this sport?
Less is more! Don’t jump straight into a full training program if you’re training for your first sprint triathlon. Build up gradually: ensure your training leaves you feeling healthy and energised rather than utterly depleted. Any sign of a niggle, stop that discipline immediately and seek a professional physio that comes with a recommendation (social media is great for these sorts of queries!) Consistency is what will see you improve, and if you are set on doing as well as you can, expect the process to take a good number of years. Additionally, make sure you have all the kit you need as triathlon clothing can get quite complicated! A good quality tri suit will help you greatly and can improve both speed and comfort in a triathlon.
Enjoy the good times but don’t get too excited and think you are indestructible! Likewise, you should take the bad times with acceptance that EVERYONE has them, and ensure you don’t get too emotionally attached to success or failure. It’s sport: enjoy it!