Physio, PE Teacher, Responsible for the area of sports at Olivares City Council (his hometown), and an Ironman athlete. How can he do all that?
Negative Split interviews one of its own. A self-made athlete that lives life fast. He’s decided to collaborate with NS by testing our full carbon wheelsets, raising awareness of our brand and developing an untapped market in the south of Spain.
Although this interview was done via email and other digital channels, we can perfectly picture Alvaro in his hometown, having a glass of water and a ‘montaito’ (a traditional grilled meat and green pepper sandwich) after a long ride on a Sunday noon, right before lunch at 3pm.
Life in the south is usually slow(er). Not for Alvaro.
This short interview takes us on the journey of a humble guy that changed business management for Physical Education to get closer to do what he loved the most; sports.
About Alvaro //
NS: We imagine the sacrifice required to be an Ironman athlete is something not very easy to understand for family and friends, how do you manage that pressure?
Alvaro: Not easy! I can’t take time off from work and so it’s always the time with family and friends that I need to cut short, that or go training at times where it will be unlikely to have conflicting agendas (like 5am). As an ironman athlete you just need a different set of priorities. I’m lucky my partner has always supported me!
NS: When did you know triathlon was going to be an important part of your life?
Alvaro: I’ve always enjoyed sports and have naturally been attracted to the hardest ones. I found out about triathlons in Los Angeles (2013) when the father of one of my students that saw me riding to school and back every day and that also knew I would race every now and then in running events, asked me why not trying swimming and doing a triathlon. We could say he was the one that triggered my inner triathlete.
My family has been a fundamental piece of who I am, the values that I have today define me in great measure, and I’m thankful to them for that.
NS: First memories of hopping on a bike.
Alvaro: I was very little when I got my first bike, but remember that moment like it was yesterday. I went out to my grandparent’s backyard and there it was; a beautiful green BH California, stunning. I learnt how to ride (and fell a few times!) on that bike. Would do anything to get it back! I owe my passion for cycling to my dad, who cycled when that wasn’t really a thing in Spain.
NS: A moment that shaped the Alvaro we know today.
Alvaro: I can’t point out just one. I think it’s the aggregation of many of those who made me who I am today. I just work hard and know that if I do that, I’ll get a little closer to my targets. My family has been a fundamental piece of who I am, the values that I have today define me in great measure, and I’m thankful to them for that.
NS: Someone you admire?
My father in law is no doubt my biggest source of inspiration. He is an extremely humble guy that was diagnosed with ALS 16 years ago and that he still fights. He is a living life lesson. He’d always cheer you up, have a smile on his face and share a few words of wisdom with you. He’ll show you how to face adversity.
In triathlon, I find extremely inspiring those athletes that gave it all, and yet couldn’t achieve their goals. If I had to pick one, that would be Tim Don. I’d steal his ability to overcome obstacles! I see a strong parallelism between him and my father in law.
NS: A race to remember.
Alvaro: Titan Sierra de Cadiz, 2017. It’s a half-ironman distance event known in Europe as one of the toughest races because of the massive elevation it accumulates both in the cycling and the running segments. Three days before the race a family member passed away and I thought of withdrawing. I finally decided to compete, and during the cycling segment fell at about 50km/h downhill, causing a few mechanical and physical issues. Not sure exactly how it happened, but I ended up crossing the finish line that day.
In triathlon, I find extremely inspiring those athletes that gave it all, and yet couldn’t achieve their goals.
NS: What’s next in 2019? Can you give us some hints?
Alvaro: I’ll keep competing in Ironman distance. Challenge Venice is a potential candidate this season and doing an Ironman Extreme is on the list too. As training towards Ironman I’d be doing a few half distances, I still need to decide which ones.
About Performance //
I tend to think, when your body can’t move any further it’s your mental strength that will push.
NS: What’s your advice to optimally maintain high intensity performance for long periods of time?
Alvaro: You need to know yourself very well. When racing, it’s fundamental to keep your effort under control and know that if you go over it you won’t be able to perform as planned later on. Nutrition also plays a critical role in allowing you to stay in the high intensity zone.
NS: Physical or mental endurance, what’s more important?
Alvaro: Both. Although I tend to think, when your body can’t move any further it’s your mental strength that will push.
NS: Is potential an innate treat, or can it be developed?
Alvaro: ‘Hope can’t be injured’. My partner told me that sometime ago. I think innate potential can help, but ultimately it’s your effort, hope and passion that will take you anywhere you want, in sports and in life.
NS: Once you’re on the bike, what is that one thing that could make a significant positive impact?
Alvaro: Aerodynamics. Both acquired through the optimal equipment and bike fit.
Words of advice //
Enjoy the journey, take every training day as a day you were able to do what you loved.
NS: What advice would you give to the new generations of Ironman?
Patience. I can’t emphasise it enough. Doing an Ironman with just under 4-5 months of preparation could lead to severe injuries. I’d tell them to enjoy the journey, take every training day as a day they were able to do what they loved.
Additionally, I would suggest to get a coach, someone that pushes you in the right direction and knows how to unlock your potential. Last but not least, test and invest in equipment that helps you perform optimally.
NS: Tricky one to finish. In triathlon, what’s a better investment? Good running shoes or good wheels?
The cycling segment is where you’ll invest most of your time during a race. Reducing time in this segment can make a difference. Aerodynamics are a fundamental lever, and wheels are perhaps the most important aerodynamic component together with the appropriate fit.
Wheels don’t wear out near as fast as running shoes do.
Alvaro Pallares is a semi-pro Ironman athlete. He rides a Mendiz RST and his preferred wheelset combo is generally (depends on the course profile) 88mm both front and rear.