by LetsRun.com (Sponsored by HOKA ONE ONE)
February 3, 2020
February is Marathon Month on LetsRun.com as the month ends with one of the greatest events on the athletics calendar, the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials, February 29 in Atlanta. From the contenders, to the dreamers, to the mountain men and women, HOKA ONE ONE has 17 athletes competing at the Trials, and LetsRun.com is partnering with HOKA to profile all of them. We hope these profiles not only show you the cool stories of the people running the Trials, but also help gets you pumped for the Trials, and gives you some advice for your own running.
Ashley Brasovan is the perfect person to be the first HOKA ONE ONE Takes on the Trials Athlete of the Day. As a high schooler, she was at the very tip-top of the sport winning the 2007 Foot Locker high school national championships over Jordan Hasay. Brasovan then struggled mightily dealing with eating issues and injuries, but after college when she moved out to the mountains of Colorado for a job as an energy efficiency, renewable energy consultant, she refound her love of running and has been able to come back to the sport in a much healthier way. She has made two US Mountain Running teams, is the North American Sky Running Continental Champ, and made her marathon debut at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials where she ran 2:48:32 for 55th place. She’s now lowered her marathon PR to 2:40:20.
Name: Ashley Brasovan
Hometown: Lakeland, FL
High school: Wellington High School/2009
College: Duke University/2013 (Undergrad); 2015 (Grad)
Occupation: Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Consultant
Training Group: SWAP/Coach David Roche
How qualified? 2:40:20 CIM 2017. 2:48:32 for 55th in her marathon debut at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
High school claim to fame: 3x National Champion in High school (5k outdoor, 2 mile indoor, 2007 Footlocker Cross Country National champion); 7x Florida Cross country and track state champion; USA Team member for Junior XC in 2009; PRs of 16:18 in 5k, 10:12 in 3200
College claim to fame: 2012 XC Nationals participant; All-ACC Academic Team; 4 femoral stress fractures in 4 years..
Post college claim to fame: 2016, 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier (2:40 PR marathon; 1:14 half); 2x US National Trail Champion; 2019 North American Sky Running Continental Champ; 2x Team USA Long Distance Mountain Running Team member – 8th at Worlds in 2018, 16th at Worlds in 2019. 1:57 PR for 25k; 2:06 PR for 30k distance
One random fact about myself I want people to know: I have been a certified scuba diver for 19 years and wanted to be a marine biologist growing up.
Road to the Trials
How did you start running?
I started running as cross-training for swimming in middle school and was primarily a swimmer until sophomore year of high school. I won the Florida state cross country meet as a Freshman in high school and decided to commit to running full time immediately after that. Most of my family comes from a D1 or professional tennis background so I always wanted to do something different so that I wasn’t constantly compared to everyone else.
Running has brought me joy and is still the highlight of my day and the way that I get alone time/destress from work. I will be a lifelong runner (and probably competitor) as a result!
How long have you dreamed of the Trials/Olympics?
Since high school! I qualified through the half marathon for the 2016 Trials which was a shocking moment for me and so I have a little bit more experience coming into the 2020 Trials.
What does it mean to make the Trials?
The Olympic Trials are the goal for most people in road running so qualifying is an honor and a benchmark of success on the roads.
What’s your goal for the Trials?
I would love to set a PR in Atlanta (even with it being a hillier course) and would like to improve upon my place from the 2016 trials (55th)
What do you think of the course?
Super excited!! As a trail runner, this course definitely caters to my strengths. I have really only done mountain and trail running for the past two years so am excited to translate all of that success to this course.
How has your training gone in the buildup for the Trials? Did you do anything different because it’s the Trials? Do you feel extra pressure?
I actually haven’t changed too much from my trail training. I have done a few of my key interval workouts on flatter areas but still have been doing more technical, hilly runs since the course has quite a bit of gain. I have also worked a lot on my downhills since that is the part that tends to tear up the legs the most over time.
How long was your buildup?
I finished my trail season in November 2019 so I started doing more specific road training after that.
What was your highest mileage week? Your average week?
Highest mileage is 60 and average is 50-55 off of 5 days a week of running. I swim, weight train or do yoga the other 2 days due to a history of 6 stress fractures in my femur.
You’ve got to be one of a few Trials qualifiers who only runs 4-5 days a week. How did you find that balance and how do you resist the temptation to do more?
I would agree my training is on the more “unique” side. I typically run 5 days a week but that drops to 4 if things are feeling “off.” After having 6 femoral stress fractures/reactions (and 2 of those occurring within the last 18 months), the only way that my Coach/I have been able to compromise on physical health is to focus on quality vs quantity. I also don’t do crazy amounts of cross training (1-2 days/week of 60 min). I just believe my body does better off of lower mileage and lower stress due to training load.
I have also learned that stress is stress and that it aggregates in all parts of your life. I love my day job/career outside of running as an Energy Efficiency/Clean Energy Consultant. It’s challenging work every day but helps me to feel full-filled, happy, and allows me to contribute to society/climate change every single day. This is something that I have decided is important to me, and I am 100% not willing to take a step back in my career to be able to run more. My coach understands that and the compromise that we came up with was this 5 days/week running plan. I was a bit skeptical at first BUT if I can run a 2:40 off of that low of volume, then I think I have a lot more potential with some consistency and the ability to stay healthy and mentally happy. Ultimately, the ability to do things that I love outside of running and the history of injuries drives me to be ok with the low volume training plan. It’s not always easy, but it seems to be working somewhat well enough that I am content with it.
What is your favorite workout?
I really like 6-8x 800m repeats. I don’t like longer workouts so the shorter stuff challenges me and gets me a little bit more excited
How much sleep do you get a night?
How do you balance training and working?
I travel quite a bit for work. I stay pretty scheduled and get my training done early in the morning. Most of the time this means waking up around 5:30 am to run, stretch, strength train, and shower. I am at my desk around 8 am most mornings and rarely have the opportunity to do any training in the afternoon. Staying on a morning schedule ensures that I get everything in and don’t overtrain. I also do a fair amount of meal prep, work prep the night before to save time in the mornings [so I] can just focus on running.
Can you tell us a little more about your job?
I absolutely love my job. I have been with the company, McKinstry, for almost 5 years working with Local Governments throughout the state on Clean Energy, resiliency, and Energy Efficiency strategy and implementation. Our company builds the solar and retrofit projects as well so it’s really cool to pass by buildings and solar arrays and realize that you helped to contribute to that. I majored in Environmental Studies at Duke in undergrad and then went straight into my Masters at Duke in Energy Management. Colorado is really leading the nation in energy independence, efficiency, clean energy and storage. I really moved out here to progress my career as quickly as possible and be a part of a state that was leading the nation in my field (which is also unique since most people don’t move to Colorado for career reasons in my experience). I am very lucky to have landed at a company that fully supports my life/running outside of the office and encourages that. I am also super grateful (and more fulfilled with my life) to be able to contribute some of my time each day to fight the climate change battle and progressing energy on a local level.
How does a person from Florida adjust to the Colorado winters?
They don’t 🙂 Winter has been quite a learning curve for me, and at one point I was like “I should write a book on how Southerners can survive winter.” After 5 years, I have learned to drive in snow (definitely my biggest fear moving here), to layer up, and how to be safe in general with ice/snow/etc. I have started to really love the seasons and you can still get 60–70 degree days in Colorado in January which helps to break things up.
What is your favorite running memory?
Winning the Footlocker Cross Country National Championships in 2007
Who inspired you as a runner as a kid?
What is your race day routine?
I don’t really have one that is too specific and is fairly dependent on the racing distance. I love sleeping so tend to wake up at the last minute possible, shove some food down and then go straight into a 10-20 min warm up prior to lining up. College athletics taught me to deal with any sort of adversity on race mornings and “go with the flow”.
Why do you run?
Because I love it, it makes me happy and it makes me a better human for the rest of my life.
Free Training Advice
What one piece of advice would you give to a high school/ younger runner?
Have fun and enjoy the process! I wish I wouldn’t have taken running so seriously in high school and think that led to many injuries in college.
In regards to “wish[ing] I wouldn’t have taken running so seriously in high school”, what advice do you have for other very successful high school girl runners? So much attention is showered on the top high school runners, and while each case is unique, do you have any advice for the next wave of high school stars?
After running competitively through high school, college, and post-collegiate, I would say keeping things fun and staying mentally happy is something that I would tell younger athletes who are looking to grow and stay in the sport. You can still definitely compete at the top level and do this. Focusing on enjoying the process, not being consumed by what others think, and not letting results drive your happiness/mental health is a great way to make the sport sustainable. In high school, I think I put too much pressure on myself to perform and came into college pretty mentally and physically burned out. There were a lot of other factors that went into my college career (or lack thereof) but I think the biggest piece was taking things too seriously in high school and not enjoying the process 100%.
You have been very open about overcoming an eating disorder in the past to get back to a point where you are healthy and running well. What advice would you have for others struggling with eating issues or coaches dealing with athletes that have them?
This is a tough topic for all parties involved. I still really struggle with whose responsibility it is to address this in an athlete that has an issue. Eating disorders aren’t really this black and white area – you can’t test an athlete for an ED and come out with a “positive” or “negative” response, right? I am open about my story because I believe so many athletes face this issue in running at some point in their career and it’s something that can be difficult to open up about. I am also still feeling negative health implications 10 years later despite having normal bone density now and other full health indicators and don’t wish that trajectory upon anyone else.
For an athlete trying to overcome this, seeking a third party therapist that focuses specifically on eating disorder treatment in athletes (they do exist) can be a great first step. It helps to figure out the root cause and why the athlete thinks this way to ultimately move forward and prevent relapse. For a coach dealing with this in an athlete, my advice would be to gently direct the athlete towards outside resources or talk to his/her family. It’s a very fine line that a coach has to walk when addressing this and the athlete also has to want to get help and/or change behaviors.
What one piece of advice would you give to a first-time marathoner?
Don’t under-fuel. The biggest reason that people hit a wall or don’t perform is because they don’t take in enough calories during the first 60-90 min of the race. It is definitely better to over fuel than under fuel and ensure that you have the proper nutrition strategy.
What is the #1 piece of training advice you’d give another runner?
Make your mental health a priority. People tend to run better when other things in their lives are going well and they are a generally happy person. Sometimes this might mean putting your pride aside and seeing a therapist or psychologist to work through any stressors in your life.
What one piece of advice would you give to a runner pursuing their dreams?
Go for it! You never know what could happen if you are smart and persistent (smart being the key word there). Doctors and coaches told me that I would never run again, let alone compete, after being diagnosed with osteoporosis and having 4 femoral stress fractures in college and then I became a professional trail runner and 2x Olympic Marathon trials qualifier a few years later!
Anything else you want to share?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience and excited to line up on Feb 29th!
More on Ashley: Having Made a Comeback on Trails, Ashley Brasovan Blazes Ahead to the Olympic Trials Runners World
This content is sponsored content for HOKA, but not approved by them.