How they Train: Ashley Carter

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Age  35

Did you compete in high school or collegiate cross country or track? I ran cross country in high school but at the time, I looked at cross country as a way to get in shape for soccer and softball. Looking back, I wish I would’ve put more into it.

How many years have you been running? I have been running off and on for most of my life, starting with running club in elementary school but I only began to start following structured running plans in the last few years.

Lifetime personal records: I honestly have no recollection of what my race times were when I was younger.  My PR’s from the last 5 years are: 21:01 5k; 43:20 10K;   1:39 HM; 3:32 M

Running Achievements for which you are Most Proud: I am most proud of earning a BQ at the Albany Marathon last year.  It was definitely the most challenging race I have ever run.

What running events do you train for or what are your training goals? Depends on the year.  One year I may focus on running a fast 5k, another may be a half-marathon or marathon.  Goal races have never been the same from year to year.  There are a few races that I try to run every year that I can manage to just because I enjoy the race, like Fiesta, Double Bridge, Sea Side, & PBR, but none of them have ever been a goal race.

No matter what my training focus is, my goal is always be consistent.  Sometimes, like last year, that works out and I have an excellent running season, lots of great races, lots of PR’s.  Other times, like this year, life gets in the way and I have to scrap all the training plans.  Those years the races are hard, and there are no PR’s but I’ve learned to be ok with that too.  When things get too crazy between kids and work and life in general, I can’t make myself crazy trying to stick to an intense training plan or I will beat myself up over missing workouts.  Sometimes I just have to let it go and run for enjoyment.

How Many Miles Do you typically run when not injured and consistently running?
During a training plan I typically run between 30 and 55 miles/week depending on what I’m training for.  If I’m not training for anything specific, I just try to maintain a base of at least 30 miles/week.

What does your typical week of running look like? This applies to the winter when I hang up my bike.
  • Monday: Easy miles
  • Tuesday:  Various speed workouts (200s, 400s, or 800s)
  • Wednesday:  Off
  • Thursday: Tempo run or mile repeats
  • Friday:  Easy miles
  • Saturday: Easy Miles
  • Sunday: Long run, usually with a marathon pace tempo thrown in

How does your training vary over the course of a year? During the summer, I never train for races.   I just run.  It’s always nice to take time off and just enjoy running.  Summers are a good time for me to switch it up because being a teacher, I don’t have to work.  Sometimes I do some cross fit workouts.  The last few years I have thrown in some swimming during the summer months.  (I’m no good, but it is a nice change) This year, for the first time, I will switch to training for triathlon, which I’m excited about.

Do you take recovery or down time? Yes!  During a training plan I like to take a down week every three weeks.  It helps to get through those high mileage weeks when I know I only have to do two in a row before a down week.

By the end of a training plan I’m always ready to not think about workouts for a little while.  I take a good week off for mental recovery and do nothing.  By the end of the week I’m usually recovered and itching to run again.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? Thankfully, I have not had to deal with any injuries during training.  I have had plantar pain or tendonitis here and there, but nothing serious enough that it has hampered training.

What type of running shoes do you prefer? Right now I really like the New Balance fresh foam line.  My every day running shoe is the NB Zante.

What are your favorite running routes? Anywhere new and different! I’m always excited to get to run in new places.  My favorite thing to do when we travel is to run.  I feel like you can’t truly experience a place unless you’re out in it and running provides an amazing way to do that.  My husband and I used to laugh at some friends of ours that were always running on their vacations.  Now we are those people, and the runs are ALWAYS our favorite part.  I have enjoyed running in Central Park, through the park trails in the Cuyahoga Valley, and in the mountains in North Carolina, but so far my favorite place we have run is in St. Johns.  We were there in September this year and ran every morning.  We would start at one secluded beach, run roads or trails through cliffs and find another secluded beach.  We would open water swim with sea turtles, or explore some little reef and then run another trail until we found a new beach.  It was amazing!

What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else? I got a so much better understanding of my training from the Jack Daniel’s book Running Formula.  It is a great resource.  We are really fortunate to live in an amazing and active community with so many resources for runners of every level.  Running Wild is amazing and does so much to support the running community.  Tri Gulf Coast is also wonderful.

What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training? For beginning runners I say, don’t be discouraged.  You may not be elite, I’m certainly not, but that doesn’t mean your goals and your PR’s aren’t great achievements!  Also, get a partner.  Speed work is best when done with someone else, someone you encourages you and helps you keep going.  It makes a huge difference!  Lastly, get involved.  The Pensacola area has so much to offer active adults.  Being involved with races, running organizations, training groups or anything helps make running a part of your life and not just what you do to exercise.