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What running taught Nicole Sifuentes

Last week Canadian indoor 1,500m record-holder Nicole Sifuentes announced her retirement. Here are her thoughts one week removed from the announcement

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Two-time Olympian and Canadian indoor 1,500m record-holder Nicole Sifuentes, 32, originally of Winnipeg, Man., announced her retirement from professional running last week.

RELATED: Nicole Sifuentes leads entire B.A.A. Invitational Mile, wins in course record

Sifuentes set the bar high in Canadian women’s distance running. She was a very consistent racer, always a staple at the Canadian championships, and a member of multiple senior teams. But when she no longer felt compelled to try and make those senior national teams, she knew it was time to say goodbye. “When I realized that I did not really want to go to Doha 2019 and did not want to tackle making another Olympic team, I knew it was time to be done. While there are no guarantees about making teams, I felt that for me personally it was important to at least want to make the teams and work toward those goals with sincerity if I were to continue running professionally.”

Gabriela Stafford
Photo: Michael Doyle.

Sifuentes won gold in the U23 championships at NACAC in 2008. She went on to take silver at the 2010 Continental Cup, silver at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships, silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games, as well as representing Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London and 2016 in Rio. (Sifuentes made it to the semi-finals at both Olympics.) Her lifetime best is 4:03.97. 

RELATED: Nicole Sifuentes announces retirement plans

When asked to reflect upon what she learned from the sport, Sifuentes says that she learned a lot from running, but above all, she learned that running isn’t fair. “There are no guarantees and sport is not fair. For athletes I think it’s easy to feel entitled to success when we are very disciplined and put in the time, waiting patiently for “our turn.” In my experience, sport does not follow those rules.”

Honolulu Marathon
Canada’s Nicole Sifuentes during the Kalakaua Merrie Mile. She ran 4:29 for top woman.

She continued, “Unless you can enjoy the process of working toward a goal it’s very easy to become bitter if you don’t get the desired outcome. So the hard work and discipline has to be worth it either way.  “The process” is like the ice cream sundae, and if you get your ultimate goals, then you also get the cherry on top. Some will get the cherry on top and some won’t, and oftentimes it’s determined by circumstances outside our control. I learned to recognize and really really appreciate when I got my desired outcome, but I also just loved the day-to-day training and working toward my goals.”

After years of going fast, Sifuentes is looking forward to slowing down. “These past couple of years, all the travel for competition and training was becoming harder to enjoy. I am very much a homebody and absolutely love sleeping in and waking up in my own bed next to my husband on the weekends. As an athlete, every year was planned out so far in advance based on the teams I was trying to make and race opportunities. It’s so nice not having to plan everything so far in advance anymore.”