I found Ashley through one of her blogs. She has inspired so many with her running and healthy living lifestyle. Not only is she inspiring, she’s witty, funny, and her blog is a great read.
SWIR: When did you decide to make healthy changes in your lifestyle?
Ashley – The turning point for me was really my freshman year of college. I was a gymnast and cheerleader in high school, but other than that I wasn’t very active. My freshman year at the University of Illinois Chicago they opened up a beautiful new gym IN MY DORM! I had no excuse now to work out, and grew to love it!
SWIR: When did you start running and why? Did someone or something inspire you, if so what or who?
Ashley – I started running during the Spring of 2012. My husband and his entire family are AMAZING runners, but it was always something I thought I couldn’t do. I joined a gym that Spring, and they just so happened to be sponsoring the Rock and Roll Chicago Half. Less than 3 weeks into the gym membership, I was signed up for the half.
SWIR: Tell me about your first race. How did you feel after you crossed the finish line?
Ashley – My first race was actually the 2012 Chicago Half. I had a 5k planned during training, but totally mixed up the dates so the half was my first race experience. I ran it with my best friend from home for the first 6 or 7 miles, which was great, but crossed the finish on my own. I get chills thinking about it still — it really is SUCH an amazing feeling! Especially the first time.
SWIR: Is there a particular distance that you are aiming for or have you found your favorite distance and are sticking do it?
Ashley – I LOVE the half distance — it’s manageable, challenging, but doesn’t take up TOO much of my time/life. I have a SERIOUS desire to do the full distance at some point in the near future, but we’ll have to wait and see!
SWIR: Do you cross train? If so, what else do you do and how often? Do you switch it up if you’re training for a specific race?
Ashley – I love yoga! Yoga is my absolute FAVORITE cross training exercise. It not only stretches out my tired muscles, but it calms and focuses my mind as well. While I’m not training, I stick to more constant short runs (I’m doing about 6 runs a week right now, averaging 24-28 miles a week or so). When I train, I run 4 days a week and cross train with yoga or the bike 1-2 days a week.
SWIR: What about nutrition? Did that change when you started running?
Ashley – My nutrition definitely changed when I started running. I have adapted a model of giving my body what it wants within reason. This is under the assumption that my body is telling me what it needs. During training, I definitely eat more protein and carbs than when I’m off…but I am definitely not one to restrict myself.
SWIR: What’s the most challenging part of running?
Ashley – The mental aspect of it, by far. For the most part, every single run for me is still a challenge. That is part of what I love about it. I take most runs one mile at a time and try and stay focused. My body is strong, but sometimes my brain doesn’t catch up!
SWIR: How do you get through the really tough runs when you can’t find your motivation or your body just isn’t cooperating?
Ashley – I normally have a reward for myself. I know they say you should never reward yourself with food, but that glass of wine or big cookie certainly tastes better after a good run. And on the really tough days, I just remind myself of how much better I feel after a run and normally that’s enough for me to lace up.
SWIR: Do you train with groups or by yourself?
Ashley – I primarily train by myself. Running is my “ME” time, although I do LOVE running with my husband every once in a while. I also trained, long distance, for my first half with a friend from back home. That was nice to have someone to help hold me accountable for my distance!
SWIR: Have you ever bonked during a race or a training run? If so, how did you get through it?
Ashley – Oh yes, many times. There have been runs where I’ve taken many “water and stretching” breaks, as well as runs that I have just had to cut short. I try and differentiate between not wanting to do it and my body telling me I SHOULDNT be doing it. If I’m just tired, I try and push through. If something isn’t right, I try to recognize it and put on the brakes.
SWIR: What nutrition do you use during your runs?
Ashley – I am NOT a fan of Gu’s, although unfortunately I think they work the best to get the nutrition you need in right away. This last training cycle I worked a lot with Larabars and liked them, as well as Honey Stingers…
SWIR: What’s your typical pre-race meal?
Ashley – Noodles, salt and light protein. I’m a BIG veggie and salad eater, so I have been tempted to do this too close to race day, but it’s a no-no! Asian food has worked well for me! I really want to try sushi for my next race.
SWIR: What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Ashley – Oh man, is it bad if I say beer and wine? I cut out alcohol for a while before races, so a cold glass of beer or wine sound DEVINE post-race! As well as WHATEVER I’M CRAVING! Last time it was fries and a salad. After my first half, it was a pretzel, cheese, and eggs and toast. I just give my body whatever it wants without thought or concern!
SWIR: Do you listen to music when you run? If so, what’s your go to song or songs?
Ashley – When I’m on the treadmill, I ALWAYS have music. I get so bored. But outdoors, I tend to like going without music most of the time. There is something about it that makes me feel more connected. When I do listen to music, I’m all about fast pace, rap or pop tunes. Think Fall Out Boy, Dr. Dre, oh yeah, old school.
SWIR: What is your most favorite piece of running gear?
Ashley – My Pro Compression Socks. I live by them!
SWIR: How has running changed your life?
Ashley – Running has made me more focused, and just happier in general. It is something I do solely for me, which feels pretty good. As an admitted control freak, running gives me a sense of control when everything else is crazy!
SWIR: What advice would you give to a first time runner?
Ashley – One step at a time! Celebrate the small accomplishments, everyone started somewhere! One of my FAVORITE and most treasured running memories is the first time I ran an entire mile without stopping the first day at the gym. I never thought I could do it, then all of a sudden I was running 13.1!
SWIR: What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a run?
Ashley – Man I don’t know! I feel pretty bad a week before my last half, then had a very sweet couple try and help me, whom I quickly shooed away. Man I don’t think I have any real funny stories…my favorite running memories, outside of races, was running with my maid of honor on my wedding day. That was pretty spectacular, and tough! Golden, CO is no joke, and we definitely had a few laughs.
SWIR: What did you accomplish that you thought was never possible?
Ashley – Finished 3 halves now. I never thought I could run a mile, let alone 13. Now I just have to set my mind to a new challenge
SWIR: If there came a day when you couldn’t run anymore, what would you do?
Ashley – Oh dear, I don’t want to think about that day. Maybe become a dedicated Yogi Master.
I’d like to thank Ashley for taking the time for this interview and wish her continued success in her healthy living lifestyle.
If you’d like to follow Ashley on Facebook, click here and let her know that So What? I run. sent ya. You can also follow her blog at http://chocolatemedals.com/.
Also, if you enjoyed this interview or think that someone else would be inspired by it, please feel free to share it.
Thanks so much for the shout out, and the support! 🙂