5 minutes with triathlete Alice Hector

10 March 2017 by
First published: 27 March 2017

Want a snapshot into the life of a pro endurance athlete? Check out our 5 minutes with triathlete Alice Hector, who recently joined Team Sundried.

Have you always been into endurance sports? How did you get into it?

I ran and swam from a young age but didn’t have access to elite training until I went to Loughborough University. Starting there, I learnt a lot about what it takes to become a professional athlete. I veered from triathlon into ultra running for a while, and then back to triathlon in 2013. 

When did you realise you were good at it?

In 2014. Everybody always said I had a lot of potential but I was probably the last to really see it. You have to believe in yourself in order to commit yourself fully. So I always held something back before then. 

What advice do you have for people who would like to try a triathlon?

Join a club. Experiences are far better when shared with friends, and you’ll learn a lot too. A triathlon has so many facets to it that it can easily become obsessive. It’s important to maintain friendships and relationships outside of the sport and not become one-dimensional. There will be good days and bad. Try not to get too high when it goes well and too low when it doesn’t. The nature of sport is that it’s unpredictable, so go with the flow, and try and learn from every experience. Lastly, stick at it! You’ll be amazed how far you go, but it takes a bit of time. 

How is triathlon different from other sports?

Triathlon is a balancing act. You won’t be the fastest swimmer, cyclist or runner, but you should get close to and be able to operate at speeds similar to your outright personal bests in a triathlon, whereas if a pure runner tried to run off the bike, they would wilt under the pressure.

What’s your favourite discipline in a triathlon and why?

The run, because you’re in control and nearing the end. I am also getting consistently better at open-water swimming and really enjoy the race day tactics of the mass start, getting in the right pack, drafting, navigating through currents and waves. As for cycling, it’s my weaker event and I’ll give that up when I give up triathlon. But in training, I find hard bike sessions are often the most rewarding.

 Do you do any other types of training or sports?

I used to be a club-level badminton player. It’s fun and very skill-based, but there’s no place or time for it at the moment. I am probably more clumsy for giving it up.

Describe your first triathlon experience.

I was 14 and it was mostly horrific. I raced in the British Youth Triathlon ChampionshipsThe open-water swimming that I enjoy these days almost put me off for life. I couldn’t catch my breath. It was so cold. I doggy-paddled my way out to the start, tried to put my head under, panicked, and that was that. The gun went and I did the entire 500m head up. I was a county-level swimmer, yet I was second last out the water. I managed to finish fourth in the end, but the mental damage was done. Never again, said I. Famous last words, although it was a good five years until I went back for more.

Who do you look up to in the sporting world?

I found my heroes in the ultra running world. I follow Mimi Anderson, a Guinness World Record holding ultra marathoning grandmother, who’s also rather glamorous and enjoys a glass of wine – that’s what I want to be like when I’m older! I am also fascinated by Mike Horn, an explorer who pushes the boundaries of physical and mental ability to the limit.

Who do you look up to outside of sports?

The passionate, positive, bohemian people that I have met along my way, that live and see life slightly differently to others. 

What do you like doing on a day off?

I always look forward to my day off (usually one per week), but sadly it often gets filled with admin, chores and boredom! I feel better when training.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

My choice of holiday is, without a doubt, Ibiza – I love a bit of Ushuaïa, Pacha and KM5. I am not a party girl at home but take me there, with its fresh air, relaxed vibe and great music, and I love it. Visits are strictly limited at present, but we squeeze in a small trip every year or two.