There was never much of a question of whether Dani Shanahan would get into running. Both of her parents were runners in high school, so when Dani began her freshman year it was assumed she would become a cross-country runner too. “It was just always something I knew I was going to do, without putting a ton of thought into it.” She’s come a long way from that first practice freshman year. Now after a successful college career at Loyola Marymount University Dani is a professional runner with HOKA who is looking to head to Tokyo this summer.

Once Dani began running cross-country back in high school she quickly fell in love with the sport. “It was a really great way to connect with the people around me and develop some great relationships with my teammates at the time.” It didn’t hurt that Dani was also really good, something she found slightly addicting. Today, Dani is still running, but now it’s because she wants to see how far she can take this – how good can she be? As a professional runner on the HOKA team, she has what’s possibly the most important summer of her running career ahead of her.

It’s already been a big couple of months for Dani. Recently she ran a personal best in the 10,000 meters despite suffering a fall early in the race. Dani entered the race in a great place mentally. She was confident that if she executed the way she knew how to that she would come out of it with a personal best time. That she was able to overcome the fall (which certainly wasn’t in her plans) and still finish with a PR only boosted her confidence that much more. “I now have the confidence to trust myself and my ability to run the race the way I want to run it.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that that race is Dani’s favorite memory of competitive running so far.

One of the things that sets Dani apart not just from other runners, but other athletes, is her understanding of the role mental health plays in her performance. Dani was a psychology major in college which she credits for helping her be more comfortable discussing certain aspects of mental health. She knows that if she is going to be the best version of herself when she steps on the line, she needs to take just as much care of her mental health as her physical health. Currently, Dani and the other runners on her team work with a sports psychologist at minimum once a week to make sure they are in a good place mentally.

As Dani heads into the summer brimming with confidence, there’s one event that is at the forefront of her mind, the trials for Japan. A year ago, there was no guarantee Dani would make the team bound for Tokyo. “If you had asked me a year ago about making the team my answer probably would have been ‘Oh maybe, but probably not.’” Now her mindset has flipped. She has already run a qualifying time and there is a real shot she can make the team. Her training now focuses on running a Championship style race. “If it’s fast from the gun, we want to be ready. If it’s a sit and kick type of race, we want to be ready. We just want to have as many tools in the arsenal as we can.”

Part of the reason Dani has been able to achieve so much over the past few years has been her decision to sign with HOKA. She knew that she wanted to be on a team, in a team environment, that helped her get better every day and to her HOKA backed that up. The inclusivity of HOKA was also a major plus for Dani who is Mexican-American. “Seeing people who look like me being included in the marketing, that is empowering.”

You can find all the HOKA shoes Dani trusts when you visit Eastbay today. We have a wide selection of sizes and colorways so you can find the perfect pair for your next run. You can check out the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite team based out of Flagstaff, Arizona which Dani is a part of by checking out their website: https://www.nazelite.com/ and make sure to follow Dani on Instagram @danishani