Q&A: Alice Hector

You came third in Ironman UK and were in the top 10 finishers of Ironman 70.3 in New Orleans and Texas in 2015. What have you got planned for this year?

Unfortunately 2015 was filled with injury and bad decisions! I was fortunate to get a couple of decent results but am looking to build on that a lot in 2016 (and I've just won Israman 113 which had kicked off the year perfectly!) I'll do a few 70.3s, the British and Scottish duathlon championships, and have a crack at a fast and high calibre Ironman, possibly the European champs in Frankfurt.

Recently there’s been a huge turn towards using fat as fuel, rather than carbs. Have you adopted a high fat, low carb diet? Why?

I have dabbled, but as the cliché goes, balance is everything. I feel better eating a mix of good quality fat, carbs and proteins. Cut out carbs and I don't function very well. I have limited refined sugars and feel a lot better for it.

A lot of runners and triathletes struggle with ‘runger’ when training for big events – that gnawing, insatiable hunger that’s hard to shake. What are your tips for dealing with this?

Don't leave it too late! Drip feed in longer training sessions so you don't get through the door ravenous. Easier said than done though! Use main meals to really quash your appetite: don't be afraid to fill your plate high. Eat plenty of good stuff and you'll use that as useful fuel. If you don't eat decent meals, that's when you'll reach for the quick fix - chocolate for me. As athletes you should be eating a lot and not restricting. We must be lean but we must be energised. The key is to enjoy an abundance of good quality food.

What does a typical day of food look like for you?

Eating can be a bit exhausting. It's a constant process when training hard!

Pre-swim session: A banana or apple

Breakfast: One or two bowls of granola, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, blueberries, ginger and cinnamon mix

Run: 1 hour 30 minutes

Lunch: Avocado, boiled eggs, tomato, olive oil and two wholemeal rolls with butter

Pre-session: 50g dark chocolate

Turbo: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

Post-session: Nutrition X MRM protein recovery drink, a handful of salted nuts and a banana. 

Dinner: We use Hello Fresh a lot - so hearty, balanced meals such as lemon chicken and basmati with veg or risotto or a fancy stir fry. If eating out, I love Yo Sushi - especially sashimi - the raw fish, paired with Pinot Grigio.

I like to have something sweet to finish the evening so am finding hot chocolate does the job in winter. I succumb to chocolate quite a lot and whilst dark is best, sometimes only dairy milk will do. I drink around 3-4 litres of water a day too.

Do you take additional vitamin and mineral supplements on top of your diet? Why?

Yes. I got tested by my supporters TimeBack Fitness in Windsor, and they found a few areas in which I was depleted. I take selenium, omega 3, folic acid, zinc and B12. I also take high quality Bio-Kult probiotics due to the beneficial effect of a healthy digestive system on the immune system.

What’s the biggest fuelling mistake you’ve made during an event?

I've never got this too wrong in racing. In training, when I'm less focused, it can go a bit awry. TimeBack testing showed I was caffeine sensitive, which I kind of knew but had never had it spelled out, so caffeine before a run spells disaster! So too is running soon after eating. I have to leave three hours which is annoying. Not fuelling enough is occasionally a factor too and I get back desperately starving! I like to carry an emergency gel or two so the Nutrition X Energel+ is well balanced and light enough to stomach in even the most demanding sessions.

How do you adapt your race fuel for different events? E.g. Olympic tri, half/full Ironman, ultra-marathons

Olympic tri: One bottle of sports drink and one or two gels. Pretty minimal. The body can see you through two hard hours without too much assistance, if you're topped up beforehand.

Half Ironman: Two to three bottles of diluted sports drink, two packs of shot blocks and around four Energels.

Ironman: Some solid food. Banana in T1 and a Snickers bar at halfway on bike. An energy bar as well, plus gels and drink drip fed throughout course. I take on fuel when I need to and find I can read the signs quite well.

Ultra: Whatever you can get down and enjoy! For full day events: jelly babies, flapjack, isotonic drink, sandwiches, pretzels, a few gels and Imodium (yum).

What’s your ultimate refuel meal after an event?

It really can vary for me. Often, I don't fancy much at all. The days after a half or full Ironman is when my appetite returns! I go on a no-fibre diet for three days before a big race which stops any digestive problems, so usually I fancy lots of veg rather than a blow-out! If I'm feeling human, a bit of wine and a couple of cocktails definitely go down well!

What’s the one mid-race fuel product you can’t live without? Why?

I am a big fan of the Nutrition X Energels as I know they go down well. I also always start with diluted blue Powerade - it's just a ritual. Other colours will do if absolutely necessary - I don't even like the flavour of the blue one but it's never done me a disservice so it just sticks. However, I'm also a big believer in not being too dependent on one thing, as in races you can drop nutrition and also events vary with the nutrition available on the course. I know a couple of products out there don't sit too well with me when running, so if they're the only ones available, I'll carry it with me for a while and take very small helpings at a time. I think recently I have over fuelled slightly in races and got a little uncomfortable, so I will be looking to minimise a bit in future races.


Alice Hector is a brand ambassador for informed sport approved Nutrition X, the leading choice of sports nutrition for elite athletes, amateur sports people and casual gym users alike. For more information, visit www.nutritionx.co.uk