Last night I went to a talk given by marathon runner Silvia Ruegger. Silvia represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She ran the first women's marathon ever to be hosted at the Olympic games. Silvia had not intended to compete in the women's marathon event, but rather the track event which she had trained for for nearly eight years. It was just four months before the games that she switched events, and the Olympic race was only her second marathon ever. She placed eighth overall and during the course of her marathon career set the Canadian women's marathon record. She still holds that record today.
Silvia's talk was amazing. She touched on many things which athletes and non-athletes alike can identify with. She talked about the promise she made to herself when she was fifteen years old and the obligation she felt because of this promise. She also talked about the training process itself. According to Silvia, it's not the outcome that makes someone successful or not, it's the process. The process of dedicating hours and hours running in the early winter mornings in Ontario made her what she is today. The thousands of hours dedicated to focused training gave her the discipline to carry out her "audacious goals" as she calls them.
Audacious goals. Silvia repeated that phrase over and over again. The idea is that someone out there has to step up and dream big. Someone has to chose the scary route and then follow it to the end. Instead of choosing the safe route and following a traditional path, Silvia chose to follow a path that seemed crazy. She chose it because she knew that if she hadn't, she would always wonder "what if."
I approached Silvia after her inspiring talk and asked her if she had any advice for an athlete who is early in her career. Just go for it, she said. Enjoy the process and the outcome will present itself. Every moment that you spend pursuing your goal will fulfill you; and don't measure yourself by other people's standards of success, only your own. Wow, those are words to remember the next time I'm wondering why my friends have all run out and got themselves careers and I'm mucking about in boats.