Genevieve LaCaze has been running since she was a kid growing up in rural Queensland. Representing Australia at the Rio Games in the 3km and 5km steeplechase events, Gen achieved personal best times in the finals for both distance events.
Here, the New Balance ambassador describes how she mentally and physically strives to be her best, and who has helped her most along the way.
How did you get into running?
I started running right back when I lived on a farm inland from the Gold Coast. My three brothers and I had so much backyard to explore, so we were all very active growing up.
I was the only one that loved running out of the four kids but we all did so many other sports growing up, and I only decided to stick with running towards the end of high school.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
The first biggest challenge I faced was packing up my life and moving to Florida, USA. I accepted an athletic scholarship to compete and complete my degree over there for four years. I was petrified and it took me over six months to settle into college life away from friends and family.
My parents then unexpectedly got a divorce during my first year away and I struggled with feeling extremely disconnected and helpless on the other side of the world.
My biggest struggle with running was breaking my ankle in 2013 during a race. I lost so much momentum that year and it triggered a vicious cycle of injuries for the next few years as I spent four months in a moon boot. Mentally, I had to really stay determined and make every day count to get my body back to where it needed to be.
"I love long runs. They are so relaxing and you can escape any troubles or stresses for those 80 minutes."
Who helps you to be your best?
My boyfriend, Ryan Gregson. Athletics is an extremely individual and lonely sport. It requires you to be very selfish and disciplined and I have had to learn how to balance my lifestyle. I was always a good athlete and very committed but Ryan has taught me that next level. He has shown how important the little things are that would go completely unnoticed. Those ‘one per centers’ that may seem insignificant to some but when you add them all up, they can be the winning edge.
He has made me a better athlete but he has also travelled every step of the way through this tough lifestyle. We move a lot and don't have a base for more than two months at a time, so he is also my travel buddy.
What did you learn from studying that helped your running?
I studied to be a physiotherapist, so my day job of training and racing go hand in hand with what I learnt for four and a half years. It has been very beneficial for me to have a lot of knowledge from my courses because I
am now very in-tune with my body. While studying, it helped that I was an athlete all my life because I felt like I already knew a lot of the basics.
What do you do to improve your mental fitness?
The mental aspect of my running mainly comes into play for races. The best thing that I do, and I learnt it from Ryan, is to relax. Over-thinking is very common, with distance athletes especially, so I turn my focus to non related running things on race day to stay relaxed and save the nervous energy.
What training sessions do you look forward to most?
I love long runs. They are so relaxing and you can escape any troubles or stresses for those 80 minutes. We travel to great running destinations all over the world so our long runs are always so enjoyable.
Tips for people to enjoy running and being active?
Routine! Any type of exercise can seem like a struggle when you first begin, but I think routine helps the body mentally deal with exercise. Make your run the same time every day and make it just part of your life. For me, I wake up, have my banana and coffee and go train. It's all I know and without it I feel like my day just hasn't started properly.