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Training and motherhood a balancing act for Paralympian

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Paralympian triathlete, keynote speaker, psychologist, mother and wife Kate Doughty speaks with Kate Sears about her goals for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and welcoming her first child, Henrik.

We saw you won your first two races post-pregnancy. How did you train differently this time?
I recently won Oceania Championships and the first world cup of the season. It was a nice feeling. I am still not back at full training load yet post-pregnancy, so the results so far are an exciting insight into the lead-up to Tokyo 2020. Training can be quite different these days, as I am breastfeeding so my training revolves around Henrik’s feeds and sleep time, and when my husband, Jarle, is home.  I try to train with my squad (Elotik Pro Triathlon) as much as I can, but at the moment I do what works for Henrik and his routine. I travel an hour to get to squad swim sessions, and my bike, run and gym training sessions are around the Peninsula or at home. 

How does it feel to be the first Australian para-triathlete to return to the ITU (International Triathlon Union) circuit after having a baby?

Pretty surreal. I love being back racing though and being part of the team. I missed it a lot when I was pregnant, and I am even more excited to have Henrik and Jarle there with me at races and training. They keep me motivated. 

How long have you been training for triathlon?

Ironically, I used to represent Australia in equestrian and rode horses for over 20 years. I have only been in triathlon since late 2014, so I was a late starter. I loved swimming as a kid but chose the equestrian path early on. After losing my mum in 2010 to a tragic battle with breast cancer, I also nearly lost my horse to travel illness at the World Equestrian Games two months prior. I was struggling emotionally and I went through a period of grief and significant change. With the loss of my mother I also lost my passion for equestrian, as my mother played a big part in my equestrian career. The equestrian property where I was living and training was sold, so I was feeling quite lost. My whole life I had direction, and for the first time I didn’t. I wanted to get my health back on track and most importantly I wanted to feel better mentally. Exercise was my path to happiness, and ultimately this led me to give triathlon a go and I have never looked back. 

How do you juggle parenting alongside your two careers?

I have a super-supportive husband. Our son always comes first over triathlon, but at the moment we are making it all work. It certainly is a team effort. My coach, Danielle Stefano (Elotik Pro Triathlon), also is super-supportive and helps out with watching Henrik during a training session if needed. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home with my current role in culture and inclusion at Get Skilled Access at the moment, and flexibility allows me to be most productive. 

How does your work as a psychologist complement your athletic career?
It probably gives me more insight into thought processes and how they can positively or negatively influence our own actions, and ultimately performance. The mind is so powerful, and mental training is just as important as physical training. I work with a sports psychologist myself. Even though I may have more insight into psychology and mindset, it doesn’t mean I don’t have to work on my own. 

What was your experience of the 2016 Rio Paralympics?

After narrowly missing out on Beijing and London Paralympics in equestrian, it was so surreal to be going to Rio Paralympics in triathlon after less than two years in the sport. It was a dream come true.

How did you get into public speaking?

I have often been asked to share my story — being born without a right hand, my achievements and hardships to date — but ultimately to motivate and inspire others. It’s always an honour, but often sometimes difficult to be quite candid. However, I feel so honoured to help others achieve their own goals, and if sharing my story does that, then that’s a positive. I also share insight from a psychological perspective, specifically growth mindset, stepping outside our comfort zone, fear and anxiety, and the benefits mindfulness and adversarial growth on performance and achievement. 

Kate is seeking collaborations and sponsors who want to join her journey. You can also follow Kate’s path to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on Instagram at @katedoughty01.

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