“My Dad used to say playing cards with me was hell because everything was a competition. I don't handle losing well,” says Australian track star Gen Lacaze. “In the past people have asked 'are you competitive on and off the track?’ and I'd be like ‘no, when I'm on the track I'm beast mode and when I'm off, I'm a friendly lovable person', but I have three brothers and they'll all disagree,” she says with a laugh.
Behind her smiling face and outsized personality, it’s hard to believe Lacaze has an alter ego; a caged ‘beast mode’ prowling about waiting for an opportunity to pounce. But stop for a moment and consider the nature of her event – the 3000m steeplechase – and you’ll understand this isn’t an event for just any casual runner.
“A lot of it does come down to determination and toughness,” says Lacaze. “I'm extremely tough when it comes to racing and going up against my competitors. In this sport, if you're a person who just wants to float around in your comfort zone, you're never gonna get far. I'd say that distance running is all about testing your limits and really pushing beyond what the human body wants to do. I've definitely found over the years you don't really know your limit.”
“To run 7 and a half laps over water barriers and hurdles, it's not easy. You’ve got to approach every race with no hesitation whatsoever. You can't have an ounce of doubt in your mind."
While Gen’s intense focus and desire to win is perfectly suited to the gruelling challenge she’s famous for, it also crossed over into the recent three-day Nitro Athletics concept. Headlined by sprint champion Usain Bolt, the team-centric event included teams from across the world challenging each other in a series of track and field event.
“Nitro was supposed to be a very light-hearted, fun, energetic, fast-paced anti-establishment track meet,” Gen begins, before acknowledging she’s not easily changed “but I just couldn't help but get so competitive. When we lost against Bolt's team, I sulked and Bolt came over in my face, telling me we're losers. I walked away like 'I can't handle this, I need to get out of here!’”
“When it was day two, and there was a chance [the Bolt All-Stars] were gonna lose to us, [Bolt] was sulking. He was causing such a fuss. It wasn't even for TV, I just don't think he's ever lost.”
Despite the loss, the team element of Nitro was a change of pace Lacaze truly enjoyed.
“When you go to the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and World Champs, it's so individualised. You don't pay attention to anyone else. You’re focusing on getting the best out of yourself. Nitro was so light-hearted but I could also do the little huddle at the start. If someone didn't quite perform how they wanted to, you could say ‘hold your head up, let's go make sure we get those points elsewhere.’ It was a really good atmosphere.”
"You’ve got to approach every race with no hesitation whatsoever. You can't have an ounce of doubt in your mind.”
With an intense training regime, racking up a grip of kilometres at high altitude in preparation for the next event, Lacaze’s lifestyle is ideally suited to Nike Air Max. Even when she’s switched off, she’s still all about improving her performance.
Lacaze’s training regime is as intense as you would expect. Camped in a remote area, clocking up a crazy amount of kilometres at altitude, staying focused on diet and limiting distractions wherever possible. At camp it’s all about performance and making the most of downtime, making her Nike Air VaporMax the perfect pair for the task at hand.
“It's right up my alley – or really any runner's alley – cos they've made it look like a casual shoe but it's also sort of multi-purpose.” Gen says about the latest addition to the Air Max family. “It's a lightweight, very bouncy shoe. At the moment I'm kind of living in them. I'm a bit obsessed with the colour and the style, it goes with a lot of my outfits. They just feel bouncy underneath and have a lot of give-back, it's a really nice feeling to just walk around in them… And I do play with the bubbles a lot.”
Gen is currently in one such altitude camp, high in the Australian Alps training for the upcoming national championships. Wherever she may be situated though, the goal remains the same; improving her performance, clearing the hurdles and pushing herself harder the next time.
“I'm gonna keep testing barriers. Everyone can run, all you need is shoes. It's not a very technical event. So I do feel that you're up against the world completely, and to get as far as I have, it is a satisfying feeling, but I definitely never want to find myself complacent at where I am.”
Complex have partnered with Nike to introduce the Revolutionairs who are defying convention in their chosen field. Don’t miss your chance to get the Nike Air VaporMax the moment it drops.