Dani Horan Reflects on her Individual Career and the Masters Division
At the 2013 CrossFit Games, Dani Horan made her Individual debut, placing 18th overall in the women’s division.
Ten years later, she’s still here.
At the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Horan, in the 35-39 division, finished sixth, her highest career finish. In the ten years between when she first stepped on the floor (in 2012, she competed on a team) she’s watched the sport grow up alongside her.
- “When I first started, I had never been into a gym before and everything was really foreign to me, but I just fell in love with the process of always trying to get better at something,” Horan said. She started the sport in 2010 with a background in gymnastics and competitive horse jumping. “I guess I constantly struggled, and I just really enjoyed that.”
Looking back on her time in the individual division, Horan admits that she had an extremely one-track mind. She says that to a certain degree, she laments it since she didn’t have much balance in her life, but knows it was integral to her success at the top of the sport.
Now, as a Masters athlete, she’s able to balance the life she wants while still competing.
- Horan: “I didn’t want to do the individual competition anymore, just because I felt like the volume was a lot. I’ve been training CrossFit since 2010 and I don’t think there’s enough research done to say how my body is going to feel when I’m 50. I want to live to be 100-years-old and be able to stand on my own two feet, so that was my draw.”
After several years of setbacks and injuries, Horan said she needed a win going into the 2023 season. At the CrossFit Games, she battled against a stacked field to get sixth overall, including a test win in “Endure the Coliseum.” Coming into the final stage of competition seeded eighth, she exceeded expectations with her knowledge as a seasoned competitor.
- “I’m really thankful for what I was able to achieve this year given everything that was going on,” Horan said. “I was very grateful to do something that I love, and that brings me so much joy, and have balance in my life.”
Another thing that has brought Horan joy, especially since retiring from individual competition, is personal training at her affiliate, Champlain Valley CrossFit.
She’s seen how much CrossFit has improved her livelihood and ability and wants to share her same goal of living to 100–and doing it well–with others. She knows that the general population at an affiliate isn’t aiming for the CrossFit Games and she’s found passion in seeing the tangible changes in someone’s lifestyle through what they accomplish together in the gym.
- “I think I really like to help others and I like to give back, and when I have an individual come to me that has trouble physically doing job because of issues within their body and I can help them, that makes me feel really good knowing that they’re getting their quality of life back,” Horan said.
One of the more challenging aspects of her experience in the space, Horan says, has been making sure she’s not falling into the common pitfall of comparison. She says that she knows logically that what one competitor is doing isn’t necessarily what she should be doing, but it can definitely feel that way.
- “I think you’re like, oh, these other athletes at this level, this is what they’re doing, so I need to be at that level as well,” Horan said.
- “There’s definitely some (comparison) but as I’ve matured in age, I’ve realized that just because someone is doing something doesn’t mean I should be doing it.”
Despite the challenges and at times frustrations that Horan has dealt with in growing up with the sport, she knows that it’s had a net positive effect on her life. Her positivity and perseverance through adversity are chief among these.
“I’ve had a good amount of adversity, so I think I built a really good mindset, changing how I say things and how I speak to myself,” Horan said. She implements the positive talk theories of Procabulary in her everyday life and when coaching. “I’m pretty strong between my ears.”