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COUPLES THAT TRAIN TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER

September 25, 2020

COUPLES THAT TRAIN TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER

HOKA trail runner Caitlin Fielder (1st Tarawera 50km Ultramarathon) and her boyfriend George Bennett (Tour de France rider), are showing Europe what Kiwis are made of.

We chatted to Caitlin about how they make their relationship work around their heavy training loads and transient race schedules.

How do you cope with time apart when racing around different parts of the world?

We're pretty used to spending time apart. It comes with the territory of being a professional cyclist, so it's something I have gotten used to over time! I always get asked if I go with George when he's doing a Grand Tour, but he's at work when he's racing. Grand Tours are huge processions and I still have to plan how to get to places around all the road blocks etc, which gets pretty stressful sometimes. I usually try to get to some of the rest days, or see the mountain top finishes where I know I'll at least have a chance of spotting George! I plan it all around my trainings and work schedule as well. 

Good communication helps a lot with the distance. I know he will call me when he can, but I also don't put too many expectations on him. He's got a lot to focus on when he's racing and I understand that. He's really good when I am racing too. Because of his schedule he hasn't been able to make it to some of my bigger races, but he always calls me and talks me through my plan and any pre-race nerves I have. 

 
How you maintain a balance between sport and life?

Having an injury or taking time off running (e.g. end of season) definitely makes me revise this balance. It's sometimes hard to separate myself from something I am very dedicated to, with a lot of my life focused on training and races. I think its very important to make sure that my identity and self esteem aren't attached to running and the results I achieve. If not, it's pretty easy to make the sport become more important than it realistically should be. 

Having my own business (Caitlin Fielder Fine Art), George, my family and supportive friends, has meant I have to achieve balance with these things alongside sport. I've needed to find time for friends, family and opportunities outside of running in order to maintain life balance. 

 Caitlin Fielder Fine Arts - Caitlin hand paints bike shoes.
How do you handle the pressures around racing and not let it impact your relationship?
Knowing that you are well prepared going into a race definitely helps, if I go into a race knowing I have prepared as well as I could have reduces my anxiety. In the end both George and I are in endurance events, usually we have 6+ hours of racing to do before we see the finish line, and being really anxious at the start isn't going to help during those hours. George doesn't tend to get nervous or anxious before races, whereas I still do sometimes. I still have my own business alongside running so any pressure and expectations I create are within my head. 

George is a really great support.  Cycling his full time job,  for sure he still feels pressure in certain situations, but he maintains his composure and knows how to handle the pressure.  

What are some of the key factors that lead to a successful athlete relationship?
My own racing and training has helped me to gain perspective and an insight into George's life as a professional cyclist. I understand the amount of mental, physical and emotional preparation that races require, and also understand that sports like running and cycling have a timeline to them. It's not possible to do them for your entire life, so you have to make the most of the time you have. We always communicate the races we have during the year, and make rough plans so that we're both on the same level. George is really helpful and knowledgable, so is always giving me advice and supporting me with my running. I'm lucky that I can take my work and running shoes with me and train pretty much any where we go, but we're both as flexible as we can be.   




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