Bellamy's Organic Olympic Marathoner Ambassador Genevieve Gregson Interview

Bellamy's Organic Olympic Marathoner Ambassador Genevieve Gregson Interview

Can you tell us about your journey into motherhood and how it intersected with your athletic career?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson: I always wanted to be as active as possible when I decided to fall pregnant, however, my circumstance was a little different than I had always imagined. When I ruptured my Achilles tendon at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, I found a window in my normally vigorous schedule to break and breathe and start a family. I did a lot of different forms of exercise while pregnant, but running wasn't really an option during this phase due to my injury. In saying that, growing my baby boy, Archer, who was born 15th June 2022, while rehabbing a very difficult injury went hand in hand for me because I had always wanted to be a mother and it took away the anxiety and stress of being sidelined from what I love to do.


What was your journey back into elite-level form and what motivated your return?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  This was a long road but a seamless one. Although becoming a mum had its challenges, it was also such an exciting journey for me. Everything was so new, so I was able to take the pressure and expectation away from my performances and let my body take the time it needed to return. I used my training as a way to energise myself when I had a rough night from not much sleep. Running for me is a happy place so rather than feeling like it was an extra load on top of being a new mum, it was another fun challenge to watch my body progress and regain strength and endurance over time.


Did you encounter any unique challenges, obstacles or barriers as a mother returning to competition and how did you navigate them?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  The scariest part of the whole return was worrying that I may never get back. Although I say I enjoy a challenge, it is obviously normal to have a lot of doubt creep in at times, especially when you are functioning on less sleep and navigating parenthood for the first time.

I worried my sponsors would walk away, or that I wouldn't be able to compete for a living if I didn't get back to where I left off. I had to learn to trust that I would get there, but I needed to get there my own way and be flexible with how that journey could look. I listened to my body and made hard decisions to pull back when I knew it was necessary.


During your journey back into elite-level form, have there been instances where you have been pleasantly surprised?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  So many times. My last year has been filled with personal milestones that have made me so proud of where I have come from. My athletic career has jumped to a new high over the last six months and it has been the most magical time for my family and I. I am so lucky to have the support I do at home because my team around me are the reason I even have the opportunity to be a mum and an elite  portsperson.


Can you share any strategies you used to manage stress or maintain resilience during this demanding time?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I think any time I felt overwhelmed and stressed when trying to be a super-mum and super-athlete was taking a step back and focusing on recovery. I am naturally someone who goes full throttle and has an abundance of energy, so I'll find myself cleaning the house in between sessions and during the baby's nap time. When I start to feel stressed, I know it's because I have taken on too much, so I try to schedule more naps or go to bed earlier or just slow down in general. It always makes me feel better.


What does your weekly training schedule look like?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  At the moment I am prepping for a marathon block soon, so it's high mileage with a lot of weights and Pilates. I run everyday, some days twice, and I try to cover a minimum of 140km a week.

How has your experience as a mother influenced your approach to training and competition?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I think I am mentally stronger in a way because I have a whole new perspective when it comes to my running. I know when to pull back now, which I never used to do, and I know to not get too obsessed with performance. There is so much more to my life than my results now, and I love that I can focus on my baby boy if I am ever disappointed in a race result.


In what ways do you think your experiences as a mother have enriched your athletic career?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I make all my big races a family affair now and everyone comes along for the ride. This has helped me relax so much around races and ultimately allowed me to have some amazing results. I used to treat running as an individual sport, whereas now I have a team wherever we go and it's so much more fun.


What is your stance on the sporting industry and their support of professional athlete mothers?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I believe the sporting industry is taking steps in the right direction. I do believe there are improvements to be made, mainly just support for mothers that have returned or are returning to sport professionally. There is so much more to consider now as I prepare for the Olympics with travel and help with my baby that an individual would never have to worry about. The best part though, is there are so many mums out there doing it and if they keep paving the way and shining light on where and what can be better, there will be no limit to what a mother can do with her sporting career and family.


What advice can you give to working mums of young children when it comes to the internal tug of war - competing priorities between career and family?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  It is so so hard and I still find myself having that inner battle with what to do when it comes to having more children. I believe you can have both, it just comes down to your support system. Do you have a village of people that can help support your ambitions of being a mum and career woman? It's okay to ask for help when you find you have taken on more than you should. I really lean on my husband and parents when I can and they are just as onboard with my dreams and goals as I am.


What do you believe are the most significant values that the Olympics promote, and how do you embody them, especially since becoming a mum?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  The Olympics represents the union of athletes all over the world meeting to compete but mainly to promote sport and culture and inspire millions of people all over the world. I hope that becoming a mum and representing my country and family on the biggest stage in the world inspires people around me to chase their dreams no matter what.

How do you inspire children and young athletes to pursue their dreams in sports while maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I love to document my journey on social media as a way to show the whole story. Right from rehabbing injuries, navigating parenthood, sicknesses, sleepless nights, hard training and lots of travel. I try not to only show the highlights in hope that this may inspire others when they may be facing a tough time. Chasing dreams can be hard and I try to show that when obstacles may arise, there is always a way around.


Can you share any specific strategies or initiatives you have for time poor parents to adopt healthier habits?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  Meal prep is a must. I cannot think on the spot when it comes to meals and I get too tired and lazy to prepare something when my body needs a big nutritious meal at the end of the day. On a weekend I think of food I really need for everyday meals and snacks, and pre plan dinners ahead of time. My mother in law and grandma also are big on bulk cooking then freezing, so that's another winner.

With regards to fitness, try to have a schedule with your exercise that can be from the door. Mothers are usually time poor with a million other priorities, so being able to step out the door and get a quick and efficient run or walk in definitely gives you the best bang for your buck.


How has motherhood influenced your perspective on nutrition and maintaining fitness levels?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I would say I have become more on top of my nutrition since becoming a mum. I breastfed for 15 months and this really drains you from so many nutrients. I try to make sure I never go hungry and that my meals are calorie rich. Sometimes I slacken on veggies at dinner, but I am always conscious about getting them in at some point.


Can you share any personal experiences or challenges you've faced in ensuring your children have a balanced and nutritious diet?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  Yes – my little boy hates the colours of vegetables. He even knows when I have tried to sneak a pureed veggie of some sort into his meals because of the colour. He is good with trying new foods and being adventurous but in general, he will try knock back veggies!


How did you celebrate Mother's Day?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  It will start with a long run in the morning as it's Sunday, but after that we will probably get my extended family together and celebrate all the mother's we know and love. Probably a picnic in the park for the kids to play.

Can you list five things that the Australian public may not know about you?

1. Grew up on a farm
2. I have 3 brothers and we are all a year a part
3. My husband is a 2 x Olympian
4. I am a serious clean freak
5. I have always wanted 5 kids


What advice do you have for athletes who are thinking of embarking on starting a family?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  I say do it! Of course it has its challenges, but you find your way and the love you will naturally have for your child/children will be far greater than any other emotion you experience in the tough times.


Will your family take the journey to Paris whilst you compete on the world stage?

Olympic Marathoner Genevieve Gregson:  100% - everyone booked before I had even qualified. Very risky or unwavering belief?
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IMAGE CREDITS: Jade Ferguson @visualpoetssociety


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