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How making it to the Olympics has changed my life

Andrea Seccafien is a Canadian 5,000m runner and Olympian. She is the latest addition to Canadian Running's blog roll.

Andrea Seccafien is a Canadian 5,000m runner and Olympian. She is the latest addition to Canadian Running’s blog roll.

When I was an athlete fresh out of university, I dreamed of making a major national team. I thought that when I did, my life would be changed. I wouldn’t have to work full time anymore, I wouldn’t question what I was doing still running and I’d be able to justify the sacrifices more easily.

I did make a national team. I went to Rio and represented Canada this past summer.

After making it to the Olympics, I can says that those things are true. By making the team, I proved to myself, most importantly, that I wasn’t crazy for thinking that I could run sub 15:20 and make a major games team.

I want to fully take advantage of the opportunity to see how good I can become. Making it to Rio has allowed me to set up my life in a way that’s more conducive to training. I feel more confident in my decision to continue to pursue track seriously while putting off further education or a “real” career as some may call it. I know now that I don’t have to try to do one hundred things at once which just ends up taking away from training. I don’t question why I’m still running. When I make sacrifices, I know it’s all part of my job description. 

READ MORE: No, track racing is *NOT* a boring spectator sport

In a way, I feel that my family and friends have come to understand my pursuit of running a little better. You can race at a high level all you want, but once you go to the Olympics, people seem to get it that bit more. It’s no secret that the world is most familiar with track on an Olympic stage so to have had my family see me compete at that level, I think that better clarified for them what I’ve been up to these past few years. Their excitement around this summer has translated into more understanding, encouragement and curiosity around athletics in general.

I approach my training with a greater degree of professionalism and focus. I have no excuse not to get in a second run or a lifting session anymore. This is what I’m doing full time and I try to be diligent and respect the process.

The fundamentals of my training haven’t changed and I still approach every day with determination and a hunger to be a much better athlete. I certainly don’t want to rest on my accomplishments of last season either– I’m well aware that this summer’s World Championships are just around the corner. I still have to run the second fastest 5,000m I’ve ever run to hit the standard and be a sharp racer to place at Nationals.

Competing at the Olympics has raised my expectations for myself in the coming years. I don’t want to just make these teams, I want to be competitive on the world’s stage. In Rio, I placed 20th, and 15 athletes make the final. Now, I want to close that gap to become just the second Canadian woman to ever make an Olympic 5,000m final.