Handling Life’s HurdlesAnna Woods
Obstacle Course Racer Finds New Strength, Motivation
By Cat Poland
As a young adult, Jen Crane faced two challenges that made her rethink health and why it was important.
“I had my first seizure when I was 19. I went away to college and started having more because I didn’t take good care of myself. I was living in Lawrence by myself when I had a seizure in my bathtub, that’s when I decided to move home. Shortly after, I started budgeting for the gym and changed my life.”
But Jen’s life was about to take another turn, when she lost her mother just a few years later.
“My mom died of a brain aneurysm at only 53 years old. It was sudden and she was fairly healthy so it was very scary and a surprise.”
Jen continued to pursue her health journey, but like many women, associated health with how much she weighed.
“I was about to be 30, and I didn’t like how I felt about myself. For the longest time I associated health with a number on the scale. My thought process now is completely different. I weigh more now than when I was 29. And I’m okay with that.”
So what changed for Jen? Her fitness journey has been a progression, overcoming one challenge then another, rather than a straight sprint–much like one of her favorite pastimes.
“I’d been going to a personal trainer at a big gym for around 5 years. I had some good results, but not everything was clicking. I wanted to start doing obstacle course racing, something to push myself, and it sounded fun.”
Jen did the Warrior Dash, a 5K mud run, and was hooked.
“I decided I wanted to do more. I became part of a racing group, and started getting into more competitions. I did the National Obstacle Course Racing Championship and qualified for world, but didn’t go because it was too expensive. My ultimate goal is to go on American Ninja Warrior, and I would love to meet Jessie Graff, my favorite athlete.”
Jen couldn’t keep her enthusiasm for the sport to herself, and has even started an obstacle course racing club at the middle school where she teaches.
“I am also the assistant track coach. I do hurdles, which makes a lot of sense considering my background.”
So when Jen was faced with another health setback several years ago, she had to figure out a way to overcome this hurdle in her own life.
“Unfortunately I tore my MCL racing. I went to my trainer for physical therapy, but wasn’t getting the results I needed. He recommended me to Anna Woods with SheStrength.”
Jen had met Anna before through the obstacle course racing community, and they’d even taken a picture together at one of the races. But when Jen started seeing Anna for strength training and rehabilitation, it was like she’d known her for a long time.
“That little tiny workout I did with her my first day, she was so in tune with me. My shoulder had been hurting for a long time too, and she knew just what was wrong. Her knowledge of how the body works is insane.”
As Jen continued working out with Anna and had to relearn some movements she’d been doing for years, she started noticing some big differences.
“I was trying so hard to get good at pushups, but always felt like there was something wrong with my shoulder. Anna proved my point. There really was something wrong! It made me feel so reassured and understood.”
Although Jen is still working to regain the speed and ability she had before she injured her knee, she’s seeing gains in other areas.
“I got to where it just hurt to run at all, even a quarter mile. So I’m doing endurance training with Anna, rehabbing my knee. I ran a mile the other day, and that was big. Now that I’m training with Anna, I know it’s not about your weight. I’ve had to overcome a lot of mental blocks, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”