Red Bull X-Alps

Meet the two Red Bull X-Alps athletes with training styles poles apart

They come from islands on opposite sides of the planet. Red Bull X-Alps athletes Steve Nash and Nick Neynens’s approaches to training are as far removed as their countries.

© Nick Neynens
 © Steve Nash

Training for Red Bull X-Alps must be hardcore, right? Well, depends who you ask.

Some, like Italian Aaron Durogati, have thrown themselves into intense physical training. Durogati has been running, ski touring or doing gym work for between 15 to 25 hours every week. 

Other athletes, like Swede Erik Rehnfeldt, are balancing strength and fitness training with flying time and planning.

But there might be no greater difference than between Brit Steve Nash and Kiwi Nick Neynens. They have training approaches that are as far apart as their island nations. 

Neynens doesn’t want to hear the “horrible ‘T’ word”. He hates being asked about it.

“The word training has connotations of grueling tedium and suggests I should have the same cliché approach and mindset as everyone else,” he says.

For Neynens, the most important guiding principle for training is the same reason he’s competing in the Red Bull X-Alps: fun.

He’s taking it all as it comes and trusting his own intuitive judgment rather following a meticulous training plan. 

Nash, on the other hand, is recording every aspect of his tough physical training schedule – including running a few ultra marathons – with his sports watch and analyzing it in his training software.

“I’m driven by constant improvement, looking for ways to make gains, however small,” he says. “I’m also working with personal trainer and Deca Ironman Dave Clamp who did 10 Ironmans back-to-back so he knows a thing or two about preparation for endurance events."

A typical training week for Nash involves five 30km cycle rides, two 15km off-road hill runs while carrying 4kg, one 15km road run carrying 4kg, one 20km hike carrying 10kg, one hill run interval training session and 12 hour hike and fly days on weekends.

If you think that's hardcore, read here about how American Red Bull X-Alps athlete Gavin McClurg is training.

Rather than getting into the details, Neynens is counting on his past adventure experience and his all round outdoor skills to get him to Monaco. 

“I’ve always thought all-rounder skills such as fitness, navigation, management in the outdoors and in marginal weather, handling the wing, taking off and landing were surprisingly lacking in many past Red Bull X-Alps athletes,” he says. “I believe these are my strengths so I’m continuing to focus on improving my flying to get better in the air.”

Come July we’ll see who gets better results.