More than Mud - Anna "MomStrong" Arsenault
More than Mud is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events. They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell.
Tell us about MomStrong. How did it start?
MomStrong is a business I started 2 years ago to just share with women what I was doing to stay in shape, what I was eating and feeding my family. I am a homeschool mom of 4 so I was so often doing workouts in my kitchen while my kids worked on school. I wanted other women to see they could also get in shape with busy lives. It grew quickly and I was helping women all over the world get in shape. As, my own training picked up I started to share my love of OCR with other moms, hosting challenges and working with Spartan to get more women involved.
What is it like being an elite OCR athlete and a mom? How does being a mom help you on the course?
Being and elite OCR racer and a mom is great. I love getting to show my children they have a tough mama who never gives up. OCR shows them that I am the type of woman that sets goals, and I don't quit until I reach them. When I am out on a course I think about things like the pain of childbirth and how having 4 kids naturally prepared me for the pain you feel out there fighting for a top spot. I think about my youngest daughter who has a rare disease, and all that she has gone through and how she is such a fighter. I want to be as tough as she is. I think about being consistent as a parent and how it is similar to training consistently, so I am ready for whatever a race throws at me.
How do you balance life and fitness?
I balance life and fitness by getting my kids involved as much as I can. Having a loving family that supports my passions and dreams is huge because without them I couldn't train hard, still manage a household and a business. The children do body weight exercises with me, and my 9 year old son goes on runs with me. I also workout and train my clients at HeadHunters Tuscaloosa, a MMA/Crossfit gym. HeadHunters is very kid friendly! We do life together. We live as a team.
What are the highlights of your race and event resume?
Some of my favorite OCR moments have been the most difficult challenges. I love that feeling of wanting to stop but telling yourself no. Early on in my racing career I was asked to join High Existence Training, a small group of elite racers. It has been incredible to fight through some of these obstacles together. The team aspect is amazing because you really get to push each other through some of the breaking points, and you become family. The 2014 Spartan World Championships was one of the longest and hardest races I have done, competing on Saturday and then racing the Sprint on Sunday with a 4th place finish. Being from Alabama, I don't get a lot of opportunity to train on mountains so these intense mountain terrains are rough but I love the challenge. During the Sprint on Sunday, my legs were fried. Going up the first slope I thought I will be lucky to even finish! But I picked up pace and managed to catch up to the top girls. I also got to watch Joe Desena in action, flying up the mountain in front of me which was really inspiring.
Have you always been fit? and If not, what was the turning point for you?
Growing up with an Army dad I always loved to run and be active with him. He would take me to PT in the mornings. I can remember looking up at him thinking he was so fast and strong, and I wanted to be just like that. I stayed really active until I hit my teens. Then I sort of became a lazy teenager that was focused on other things besides fitness. I got married and had my first baby very young. I gained 67lbs with my son and I knew right away I didn't want to continue on that path, so I decided to start moving and eating right to get the weight off. With every baby after that I was more careful about weight gain and worked hard to get any extra weight off and keep it off.
What kind of training do you think other OCR athletes often neglect?
I don't think there is just one thing that OCR athletes neglect. We often neglect the things we like the least. I have certain elements of training I like way more than others, so I work on the fun stuff. This is why if you really want to get serious about your OCR career you need a coach, trainer, team or accountability partner that makes you work on the stuff you hate the most.
What is the favorite race experience you can remember?
I'm not sure I can pick one favorite race moment because each race has its own really great memories. I will say crossing the traverse rope at Spartan Worlds after feeling like my body was hypothermic, is at the top of my favorite race moments. Achieving the 4th place finish at the Killington Sprint lit a fire under me to really pick up my training. It was a little taste of what the podium feels like. Three trifectas, one of which came from Canada is a great accomplishment. Being a part of the Spartan community and hosting the 30 squats for 30 days challenge was amazing. Having my Dad at the South Carolina Beast and Sprint was such a special moment for me this year because he has always been a huge champion in my life.
As far as 2015 goes.... I am excited to see how all my off season training pays off. I have a whole schedule of races planned. Starting my season with a road marathon
with one of my dear friends in New Orleans, a half marathon with my son, followed by several Spartans, the Spartan cruise (which I am teaching yoga on), the summer Death Race, several more Spartans and then hopefully ending with Worlds in Cali. I plan to do a team Crossfit event this year with my gym which will be new to me. I'm sure I will throw some local races in there somewhere with all my kids! As I celebrate the second anniversary of MomStong, I am most excited that 2015 will take MomStrong to a new level. My first love is and will always be, empowering women to get moving, and locking arms with them as they enter into their fitness journey.
Great job! Go Momstrong!
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