Instead of hanging up her track spikes after college graduation, high jumper Alison Wood ’95 is carving out a successful career as a masters track athlete. Last spring at the World Championships in Poland, Wood set the women’s 45-49 age group indoor world record of 1.67 meters; earlier in the season, Wood broke the American indoor
record three times. She also holds the American outdoor record of 1.65 and is within striking distance of her collegiate personal record of 1.68. Wood, who lives in Sublimity, deftly juggles her track career with a full-time job as a network engineer for the state of Oregon and her role as mom to two teens. She shared with us how she keeps all those balls in the air:
What’s the biggest difference between how you train now and when you were a collegiate
In college we practiced twice a day. It was intense and fun! Today I practice at minimally
prescribed dose levels with “active recovery” days, which means yoga and walking. Right now
I’m in the offseason, so I train six days a week for about two hours, usually four challenging
days and two easier ones. I also work on my mental game for 15 minutes daily. I still have
intense training days, but they are much gentler than my days at WOU.
What do you find most challenging about competition at this point in your career?
I compete in about 15 collegiate meets a year. The reality of being 25 or more years older than
my competitors brings an interesting perspective. I’m met with questioning looks—security
telling me moms aren’t allowed on the track and newbie officials sending me to coach viewing
areas. Some competitors think I’m the go-to person for replacement spikes, tape or tacks. Fair
enough—I am old enough to be my competitors’ mom. But with age comes experience and
maturity that silences most of the nerves that younger girls deal with.
What do you find most gratifying about competition at this point in your career?
(Current WOU cross country and track coach) Johnson invites me to compete at the John Knight
Twilight every year. I’ve won it my fair share of times, including this year. Getting invited back
every year and being able to compete against some pretty amazing collegiate athletes is
extremely gratifying. Putting in the work and bringing home records and medals is also
extremely fulfilling. I love hearing my kids tell their friends about it, and dragging out my world
championship medals to show them
What’s your proudest moment as a masters-level athlete?
Breaking the world record in Poland. I went to that meet as the current world record holder,
which helped my confidence, but there are no free passes in track and field. Thankfully it was a
good day—a perfect, amazing day!
How did your time at WOU shape you?
WOU was integral in forming my career. Coaches Berny Wagner and John Knight created the
athlete I am today. From them, I learned the true reward of consistent hard work. Berny passed
away a few years ago, but I still wear one of his high school championship medals, a small
golden shoe, as a necklace every time I compete.
You are creeping close to your collegiate outdoor PR of 1.68 meters. Is this something you
All the time! The reason I jumped 1.67 at the world meet was because of the stigma behind 1.68.
It was our national qualifying mark when I was at WOU, and it was what I tried to jump at every
meet. I can’t wait to clear that height again!
These are some of the best moments of your life. Enjoy the practice. Crush the competition.
Don’t cry over the bad days, but celebrate the good ones. Work harder than you ever have and
thank your coaches—repeatedly! Eat well, sleep well and smile.