Ashley has been running since middle school. Initially she was a competitive swimmer and ran to cross train. She went to high school in south Florida and competed for Wellington High School where she transitioned into a full time runner because she enjoyed it more than swimming and never looked back. She then ran at Duke University for 4 years with what she calls "a less than glamorous career". Now she is continuing her running career as an elite runner and is a Brand Ambassador for Mizuno and Roll Recovery. Her height is listed at 4'11".
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
In high school, I really ran to get away from everything. It was the one thing I could always count on to just let go of anything that I was worrying about. Running also was what defined me in high school. I was "the runner" to all of my friends. Within a week of getting to Duke, I had one of my first major injuries and then continued on to get 4 more femoral stress fractures in four years. I didn't run my first race in college until Junior year and had several people (coaches, PTs, medical staff, etc) tell me that I would never run again and that it wasn't healthy for me to continue the sport. Once you have someone tell you that you may never be able to run again, it makes every step I have taken since that much more important. Now I really run because I do still love it but also to prove some of those people that I could still compete and include running as a healthy part of my life again.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
It's really just about getting out the door. Once I am out the door, then I am fine and remember all of the reasons that I love this sport. Sometimes I'll put on my favorite running playlist to pump me up. Meeting up with friends always really helps the motivation levels too.
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
I would say I have been running about 65 to 75 miles a week totaling around 250 to 300 miles a month with about 1 day off every 4 to 5 weeks.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
With that high of mileage, I almost always just stick with rolling, core exercises and weight based strength training (squats, lunges, theraband exercises). I also live out in Colorado so hill running is a big part of my strength training routine.
Does the famous Duke and UNC rivalries carry over into track and field and cross country?
I would actually say that I was friends with most of the girls and guys on the team! We would actually throw a mixer every year with both the NC State and UNC track teams. Maybe runners are just slightly friendlier than the other teams.
Do you feel like you have an advantage or disadvantage is any way because of your height? If so, in what ways?
I would say in the distance events that I definitely have an advantage sometimes since it's easier to draft off of people. My legs are also really long for my height which helps quite a bit. In terms of wind, it's definitely a disadvantage. The wind resistance seems to affect me more in races than others which also might just be due to lack of power in my legs as well.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
A few weeks ago, I was doing a morning run in the dark by myself and turned a corner up on one of the mountains by me and screamed because I thought I ran into a mountain lion. I swore I was going to get eaten and die. It was a golden retriever. Needless to say, the owner was very entertained.
What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, chicken, and vegetables. Pre-race is almost always toast with peanut butter and a banana on top. Those foods just seem to sit better in my stomach and give me the energy I need to get my workouts done.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
Cookies and froyo are definitely up there. I also love a good beer every once in a while.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
No. I do still take them sometimes but actually feel that massage therapy seems to be more effective for recovery for my body.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Listen to your body. It typically knows what you can handle and can't handle. Once you get better at learning these signals, injuries typically become much less frequent. Also, have fun!
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
Winning the 2007 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in high school was one of my best memories. Also qualifying for the Olympic Trials this year in the marathon was so rewarding after being injured for so long and not knowing if I would ever compete again.
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