About Danelle Kabush

I am certified mental performance consultant, a mom of two, and a LUNA bar sponsored athlete.

Thank-you LUNA!

Almost exactly eight years ago, with a two month-old baby girl at home I was offered my dream contract as an an athlete – to race with the LUNA Pro team. It was all the motivation I needed to get training and get back into the best shape of my life! Thank-you to Luna for believing in me, supporting my racing and helping me to come back stronger than ever into motherhood times two! It was the ride of a life time as an athlete for seven years on the Luna Pro Team and one year as Luna Chix Sponsored athlete. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to compete at the level I have for as long as I have, and am especially proud to have worked with and represented such a progressive and incredible company as Clif Bar and Luna in this last racing chapter.

As I look back I have no regrets. I’m thankful for the years I had to put into life and racing challenges as a runner on the track, as a cross-country mountain bike racer, and finally as an Xterra off-road triathlon racer. More importantly I’ve met and made so many incredible friends that will last way beyond the next race. I look forward to lots of play in 2016 and maybe the occasional race purely for fun!

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Photo during first Luna team camp in March 2008

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One of the few times an Xterra run felt almost effortless on my way to 2nd place at the 2008 World Championships

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The year our amazing Luna mechanic, Chris, raced the World Championships with Shonny and I in 2011

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Lots of amazing places to ride and race via Luna support for Xterra!

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The best support crew ever in Maui 2012 with my family and awesome Luna team manager, Waldek holding Nico

2013 Luna Camp

2013 Team camp – Cheers to Gary and Kit (pictured in the middle and co-founders of Clif Bar) who started the Luna Pro team, a professional women’s only mountain bike team launched in 2001

Sports Parenting in 10 Sentences

Some great succinct advice here!

JAG GYM Blog

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1 word: Hi.  Greet your child when they get in the car with “Hi” before you ask about practice, the score of the game or homework.  

2 words: Have fun.  In all likelihood you’ve heard this statistic: 70% of kids quit sports before they turn 13 for the primary reason that they are not having fun.    Encourage and remind your kids to have fun.

3 words: Tell me more.  Before forming an opinion or dispensing advice, ask for more information from your child.  This will force them to tell more of the story and give you more information as to what is actually happening.  

4 words: Good job. Keep working.  Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers and parent of a NBA player suggests these four words.  Rivers notes that as parents we are often tempted to say…

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What my parents taught me about raising healthy, happy and self-motivated athletes

At 40 years old I’m scaling back my racing focus for the first time and the lifestyle of my most recent sport, that of a Professional off-road triathlete – although I love training and racing too much to ever “retire”. Meanwhile my 3 x Olympian brother continues to race his mountain bike after 22 years and counting with in his words, a motivation of “increasing complexity”.

While there are many factors that have kept both of us active and competitive since our first competitive beginnings in track and field club at the ages of 10 and 12, I would give a lot of credit to our parents and how we were raised.

After several years in the motivation lab at the University of Ottawa to complete my doctorate, and having worked with athletes over the past 10 years, I’ve heard about the pressures from parents often enough. Of course, the majority of parents have well-meaning intentions. But I can’t help reflect on a few things my parents definitely got right, which I believe have made a lasting and positive impact on sustaining our self-motivation, and I hope I can do the same with my children.

1. Our parents participated alongside us. On weekends growing up in the earlier days we did family runs. As our two border collies zig zagged in and out of the woods in front of us we ran several miles as a family on the roads and trails in Courtenay, B.C.. We cross-country skied together, did breakfast runs with the local running club together. My parents chaperoned the local kids to many track meets. My dad shot hoops with us, played soccer in the back yard. Both parents got into mountain biking well before I did when my brother started racing his bike.They are still mountain biking, xc skiing, hiking, swimming etc as they head into their seventies.

2. Give lots of free time to play. We were lucky to grow up on 10 acres of land with lots of forest to build forts in and climb trees. While of course there were some structured activities like swim lessons and soccer, my happiest memories are just free time play shooting hoops or running around the yard. My brother spent hours juggling the soccer ball or hopping over the picnic table on his bike. With plenty of playtime, there was room for self-discovery, curiosity, and creativity – all foundations of self-motivation. For one winter in high school I attempted to play club volleyball, high school basketball and continue my winter base training for running. It was all my own doing and after getting totally burnt out, I chose to drop the volleyball. It was a glimpse of how many over scheduled kids must feel all the time today!

3. Be more interested in the story than the outcome. Whatever sport we were doing, our parents took an avid interest. On top of participating with us, they were students of the sport and huge fans. They have always been most interested in the story of the day versus the end result. (e.g. How did it go? What was your workout today? How did you feel today? Not “Did you win?” or “Why didn’t you do better?!”). They’ve always known enough about our developmental stage, the sport, and the competition to understand what a truly good or off-day meant. I still appreciate that I can call up my Dad, say I smashed a track workout, tell him my times and he’ll get it.

4. Leave any “critiquing” out of the parent-child relationship. In contrast to the last point, I don’t recall my parents handing out any criticism or “coaching” type tips unless I specifically asked. Their unconditional support has primarily been through the role of being the patiently guiding, active listeners to let me express my feelings, and do all the problem solving on my own. All my choices in sport have been self-driven. As a female athlete I also need to give a big kudos to my mom. While many athletes struggle with body image to some degree or another for various reasons, I admire my mother in that she has not once put herself or her body down or once made ANY comment about mine. I cringe when I hear other female athletes say, “I’m so fat” or “Look at that girl, she is SO skinny”. I’ve even caught myself thinking or saying similar comments. I try to mindful of never making such remarks in front of my own daughter.

Thank you to my parents for continuing to lead by example, and for your continued support and unconditional love!

What drives you from the inside out?

Whether it be work, school, sport or any other arena in life where one needs to perform, the prevailing motivation view is typically, “reward me and I’ll work harder.” But is that how motivation really works? Not always, at least for the longer term for motivation sustainability. According to my favourite view of motivation, which is well grounded in science with an abundance of research around the globe, Self Determination Theory has demonstrated well that the psychology of motivation is innate, universal across cultures and evident for any age or developmental period.

When your motivation is self-determined, you have high levels of intrinsic motivation. And why is it important to pay attention and cultivate intrinsic motivation? As opposed to the other end of the motivation spectrum being extrinsic motivators, intrinsic motivation has proven to be associated with higher quality motivation, specifically better learning, more interest, greater effort, higher self-esteem, increased life satisfaction, and enhanced health. In sport, intrinsic motives also correlates to increased persistence and higher performance.

To cultivate your inner motivation, consider the three following types of intrinsic motivation below. If your motivation is wanes from time to time consider getting in touch again with any of these types of intrinsic motivators:

1. Knowledge. In the context of sport, what peaks your curiosity? What do you seek to understand better? (e.g. training science, nutrition, technology, new and innovative techniques?) What kinds of novelties and creative approaches to your life as an athlete keep your motivation fresh?

2. Accomplishment: Do you take pleasure in surpassing your previous self and personal bests in training or competition? Do you enjoy the ongoing challenge of mastering all the skills essential to your chosen sport? Can you take pleasure in the journey of becoming more and more competent at what you do?

3. Stimulation: Anyone who has ever called themselves an athlete, knows sport can be full or highs and lows. Intrinsic motivation for stimulation means focusing on that drive to experience excitement, the adrenaline rush of pushing our comfort zones, the challenge of putting it all together for a peak performance, and experiencing the optimal challenge-skills balance of being in “flow”.

Intrinsic motivation is experienced in those moments when you are simply enjoying the pleasure and satisfaction of doing your sport. Getting in touch with your intrinsic motivation means connecting with those moments of pure enjoyment, embracing the challenge, cultivating what is interesting and exciting, letting go of any fears of failure and doing your sport simply because it feels good!

Full Circle Focus for 2015

It all started with a grade six science experiment for school. The details escape me but it involved training with short versus long interval repeats, and running a mile flat-out several times, sometimes on the track and sometimes on a gravel road and see where I improved the most. It hurt every time and my lungs burned. My dad timed every one and cheered me on, he hasn’t stopped cheering since.

Running fast was fun. Battles and wins were fun. I peaked, plateaued and peaked again. A handful of times I experienced that perfect race: effortless, floating, in control with another gear ready to unleash anytime. It is the most amazing feeling when all the hard work pays off. Then my first long-lasting injury.

Why don’t you try mountain biking? Not many girls are doing it. Sure! You only live once! I learned that momentum is everything as I smashed my face into rocks and flipped over the bars. I was bloody and bruised almost every day that first summer. I was hooked. I like to be in control but I learned to let go of the brakes and be comfortable letting it slide. “RIDE IT!!” my brother bellowed from way down below. His teammates were watching on, waiting. I was shaking but I DID IT!! Things that were once scary and sent my heart racing became exciting and fun. I grew quads, developed pedal power and learned how to push mentally through race efforts of over two hours. I learned how to focus through fatigue and fear in order to stay upright at maximum effort on two wheels. I have had the opportunity to race on amazing single track all over North America. The post-race story-telling high can last for hours. There’s nothing like the feeling of flow on a mountain bike.

But I’m glad I dabbled with swim club racing in junior high. Gliding rhythmically through the blue water of a pool, over sea turtles, or next to the tree-lined shore of a glass calm lake is magical. I learned about balance through training for a 3-discipline sport. How all our energy comes from one place and that we need to spend it wisely; how variation and variety are the spice of motivation. From a sport that embraces the young to the very old, the able-bodied to the physically challenged, I have learned we should never set limits on what we think we can do…especially after birthing babies’ ladies! And oh, the places I might never have been and the wonderful friends I have made!

I’ve been away and now I’m back to where it all started. I’m falling in love with the purity of running all over again. I’m a runner who swims and bikes. I’m a triathlete who runs a lot. Either way, I’m having fun and still love the focus a competitive goal brings, the challenge of pushing way past comfortable, that body burn all over at least a few times per week. There’s no way I’m ready to just go easy yet. Maybe one day. Family and health come first. And for now, I just want to run out the door and see where it will take me next, some days easy, some days as fast as my legs can go.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Sharon Styles

Meet Sharon Styles, a coach (Team TriLife), runner, triathlete, wife and mom of two teenagers from Calgary, Alberta. While our paths crossed in Alberta such as at the Great White North triathlon in 2013 (pictured below), I unfortunately didn’t get to know much about Sharon, until now! Thanks for sharing your story Sharon, for another awesome perspective and great tips for balancing it all. Read on for another dose of momthlete inspiration as she talks about athletic pursuits with teenage children in the family!

Great White North Triathlon 2013 Overall Women's Podium

Great White North Triathlon 2013 Overall Women’s Podium (Sharon on far right)

1. What was your life as an athlete before and after kids? And how has it evolved as your children have grown?

I discovered I was a decent distance runner back in junior high, doing those dreaded 12 minute run tests.  I joined track in junior high but really started to love running in high school.  I competed in track and field and cross-country running in high school as well as some competitive swimming and cross-country skiing.   I went on to run track and cross country with the University of Saskatchewan.   After my daughter Ayden, now 17, was born I made the transition to 10km road races and continued to race at that distance after my son, Liam, now 14, was born.   After having to take a year off of running due to injury in 2005/2006 I decided to give triathlon a try in 2007 and was instantly hooked.   I started out with some sprint distance tri’s and quickly moved up to the olympic and half iron distance races where I found myself enjoying age group success.  Over the past three years I have seen huge improvements in my racing and I’ve become more competitive, investing more time into training as well as improving my health.

  1. What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and/or continue racing?

I feel like being a runner (now a triathlete) was a huge part of what defined me.   Being a healthy mother is a vital part of raising a family and running was simply a part of my daily routine and a healthy lifestyle.   Making time for it was as important to me as brushing my teeth.    I feel the same way now 17 years later, not just because being an athlete is a big part of what I am ( I love training and racing) but also because I value being fit and healthy.   I love that,  with my husband, I have set an example for my children on how to maintain health and fitness throughout your life.

  1. Did you “train” during your pregnancies? How has your training/racing evolved/changed over the years as a mother?

I stayed active throughout my pregnancies, with easy running in the early months and transitioning to cycling and walking in the later months.   I kept my workouts fairly easy.

Over the years my training and racing has definitely become more serious.    When the kids were small I stuck to running only, which made it a lot easier to get workouts in because you can take the kids with you most of the time.  I hauled my kids around in a double chariot for quite a few years!  When my daughter started riding a two-wheeler she would ride along side or sometimes we would even hook the chariot up to her bike and she would pull her brother while I pushed.   As they got older and grew out of the chariot I often ran small loops around our rural property while they played outside or I would get it done on the treadmill.  Even on gorgeous days I remember doing  trainer rides on the deck while the kids played in the yard.

Of course now they can look after themselves when I go out training, or if I am really lucky they will join me on a run.

Sharon volunteering at Alberta Summer Games while son, Liam competed in track

Sharon volunteering at Alberta Summer Games while son, Liam competed in track

  1. What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2015?

In 2015 my goal races are the Wasa Lake Triathlon, Great White North Triathlon and ITU Worlds in Chicago where I want to defend my 2014 age group Gold medal.  I want to continue to get faster in 2015 and hope to improve on my Olympic distance and half iron distance pr’s.

  1. How do you balance family/work demands and interests with your athletic goals? 

In lots of ways training and racing with older children is even harder than when they were younger.   Timing seems to be everything, from weekly training volume to the big races.    I am a running and triathlon coach so I do some of my work from home and train during the day while the kids are in school.   Evenings and weekend are full of sports and extra curricular activities.   Saturdays have become one of the hardest days to get a training session in.  When I train during the school day I will often take my laptop with me to practices and work where ever the kids are.   I will also fit training sessions in during kids’ practices, running, swimming or cycling during volleyball, soccer, baseball, track, guitar….  I have worked out in a lot of different venues, including vacations.  My kids always joke how mom turns relaxation into workouts.

When it comes to racing there are only 2 or 3 races I firmly commit to, and I don’t travel far for most of them.  The rest of my races I try to work around the kids schedules so I can be there for their important games / tournaments / meets.

Of course it helps to have a supportive spouse!  My husband Marty, an avid Crossfitter, is able to be sports dad x2 when I head away to race.   Of course if the crew is free, they are there to cheer me on for the bigger races.   When I recently competed at the ITU World’s in Edmonton they were there to cheer. Nothing meant more than having them there to celebrate with me.

Sharon and family at 2014 ITU Worlds in Edmonton

Sharon and family at 2014 ITU Worlds in Edmonton

  1. Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape and/or competing again after having children? And more specifically tips for teenage years?

Make your goals and fitness a priority, but within reason.  Keep it simple.  Your teens need you around, even though they would disagree.    Sure, they don’t want to talk to you 75% of the time, but you can’t miss the 25% when they do.  I want to be at their special events as much as I want them at mine.    I want them to know they are more important to me than racing, and yeah, I do love them more than I love my bike, despite the jokes

Be flexible….   Know that sometimes your workout needs to be done between events and that the other parents will get used to seeing you in spandex and not smelling all that great.    Sometimes the Saturday long run has two options, 6am in the dark or 6pm in the dark, and you make it work.  If you planned on a 1 hour work out one day and only had time for 20 minutes, that’s OK. The benefits to your mind and body are incredible even without the volume.

Menu planning….being on top of this is so important for both you and your family to eat healthy.   Planning meals that  can be eaten on the go or that you can throw in the crock pot help a ton!

Invite your kids to train with you.   They might say no 9 times out of 10, but on that 10th time, you will share something special.

Family bonding Color Me Rad Run Race 2013

Family bonding Color Me Rad Run Race 2013

Athlete-Mom Interview: Katie Palavecino

Meet Katie Palavecino, a “triathloning” mom who lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband, Matias, and two young children: 2.5 year old son, Leo, and 16-month old daughter, Chloe. Katie and I first met in 2008 at a Luna Chix summit and have kept up with each other now and then online since then. Read on to see how this crack-of-dawn rising mom balances family-time, work and training with that other thing we all deal with along the way – mom-guilt! When Katie isn’t training with her current team HPB, she manages to also find the time to keep a family blog (www.thepalavecinos.com) and a training/racing blog (www.katiedavison.net). You can also follow Katie on twitter: @k80gage

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What was your life as an athletically, and otherwise, before having children? How has it evolved before and between each of your children?

I met my husband, Matias, in 2007 at a masters swim practice.  We were married in August of 2011 and soon after had two children, Leo (2.5 years) and Chloe (16 months).

Triathlon has become my lifestyle since I did my first triathlon in 2005. It has had it’s ups and downs since then but has always been and will always be a part of my life. The summer before Leo was born after several years of heavy training all I could think was…I wish I had a baby so I wasn’t expected to go on a 6 hour bike ride every weekend!  I needed and wanted  to find more of a balance in my life.

Now as a mother, the volume of training has definitely decreased…while the intensity has increased….quality over quantity!

Chloe 1 year-15

What has motivated and inspired you to get training and racing again?

Balancing family, work and training is a challenge…but anything worth doing is worth overdoing right?! Managing it all on a daily basis is extremely fulfilling to me.

Since becoming a mom I still have a lot of the same motivation to train…as it has become my lifestyle and a part of me.  And now with a family have added more motivation…I want to set a good role model for my children and I need to stay fit to keep up with my two bundles of energy!

One aspect of triathlon that has somewhat dropped since having a family is the social aspect.  I don’t have as much time to go on group rides/runs/masters practices or happy hours.  I got a coach in August to help with giving my quality workouts that I could do on my own and keep me from overtraining…knowing when I can stop and I have trained hard enough for the day.

Did you “train” during your pregnancies? 

I stayed active through both pregnancies…swimming, spinning, or jogging every day…just got to keep moving.  With both I swam right up until the day I delivered.  I think I did about 500 miles in the pool with each :)

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What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2015?

After back to back pregnancies and not much racing for 2 seasons…2014 was all about feeling it out at local races…seeing how competitive I wanted to be.  Training and keeping in shape will always be part of my life…but the racing I was unsure of.  My first race back and it was like nothing changed!  I was loving it.

2015…hoping to venture out a bit.  I have always struggled with running.  Hoping to get that more solid and have a successful half ironman, as well as compete in my favorite local races.

How do you balance family/work demands and interests etc with your athletic goals? 

As much as I am motivated and driven to continue in the sport…I still struggle with mom guilt.  Before children I thought it would be about finding the TIME to balance it all.  But I have all the time I need.  I have a super supportive hubby and I don’t like to sleep.  But there is this thing called mom GUILT that gets me!  Or not so much guilt but wanting to be with my kids.  I plan my days and balance of family/work/training to minimize this feeling :)  Love hurts!  (in a very good way)

I work at home full-time as a Patent Examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The job is extremely flexible.   A typical day is getting up before everyone (4:30am) and rolling up to my office to start work.  Once the family gets up (6ish) we all hang out and they are out the door to daycare (7ish).  Then is my training time.  Then it is back to my desk.  Often days I am able to finish early and pick the kids up and do something fun before the evening routine of dinner/bath/bed.

Chloe 1 year-8

Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape and/or competing again after having children?

Routine and planning!  Making a schedule with your family (hubby) is such a huge help!

Also having the help from a coach…with less time to get in with groups it gives focus and quality workouts and having that accountability to someone.

Incorporating family into workouts is huge too.  Some weekends can be crazy with my hubby and I both trying to fit training in.  Taking kids to the pool with us to play a bit, jogging with the kids in the stroller, riding with the kids in the trailer…all ways to get in workouts while spending time with family :)