What does it take to train as a professional triathlete? We caught up with our ambassador and Ironman 70.3 champion for some behind the scenes access to her training schedule.
Triathlete Alice Hector
I'm a professional long course triathlete based in Windsor, UK. Having turned professional in 2014, it has been a hard but thoroughly rewarding journey, and I’m starting to see the benefits of the continued effort now. I recently won my first professional IRONMAN 70.3 event in Germany, which was my first goal when I started.
My days typically consists of 2-3 training sessions with an easy day on Friday. Swimming club dictates that I am up at 5.30 am 4 times per week, so I often have to have a nap in the day (or I would be good for nothing!) Training takes up typically 20-25 hours per week, but with the need for quality recovery, quality nutrition, travel time, sponsor commitments, coach feedback, and physio appointments, it's an all-consuming lifestyle.
For balance, and guaranteed income, I am a freelance copywriter. I typically spend 2-3 hours per day on this, which I really enjoy as I get to use my brain: long distance triathlon training can be quite monotonous and sometimes comes accompanied by the quote: "don't think, just do". Writing requires a lot of thinking, so I find it a great combination, if challenging at times when you're tired a lot.
Here is my training week for the 28th-4th December; so one week before the Middle East Half Ironman Champs in Bahrain. This event contained a world class field and comprised a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run. I finished 7th in 4 hrs and 20 minutes: the goal initially being top 10 and "in the money". This bodes well for the summer, when I will be fitter! I leave 2016 world ranked 37.
As I was training in the cold snap in the UK, a lot of my training was done on the Wattbike - an indoor cycling machine.
One week before a race, it's important to keep moving and include some quality to keep things 'fired up', but also to listen to your body and be aware of any excess fatigue. As you can see below, there were 3 no session days so we could have good recovery windows. For beginners, I would recommend cutting back on your training a bit more than the professionals, and start doing so two weeks before your big event.
Monday 28th November: 81 miles easy ‘talking pace’ bike ride. Hilly, cold, 5 hrs, solo. Not very fun!
Tuesday 29th November: Swim 90 mins, hard intervals, 4000 metres total distance.
Medium/Hard Wattbike session: Main set 2*30 mins at or just above race power: 235-245 watts.
Wednesday 30th November: Hard 75 min swim with main set 20*200 metres off a turnaround of 2.50. 4500m total.
Long slow ‘talking pace’ run: 16 miles, 2 hrs.
Thursday 1st December: 1hr swim with some 400 metre race pace efforts. 3000 metres.
Wattbike 1 hr: main set was 10 *2 mins at 320 watts with 2 mins recovery.
Friday 2nd December: Day off. Important to use recovery wisely, particularly at this stage.
Saturday 3rd December: Swim 5000m – lots of short, sharp 25 metre and 50 metre efforts. Lots of very easy swimming too. 1hr 30.
Wattbike 1hr 45: Main set - 5*15 mins pyramid with 3 mins easy. 240 watts, 250 watts, 260 watts, 250 watts, 240 watts.
Sunday 4th December: Last proper training opportunity.
3hr 'talking pace' ride outside straight into a speedplay run, which comprised going fast for 30-90 secs repeatedly. Total time at full speed was only 15 mins, but it always feels longer! 45 minutes – 10k covered.