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Catching Up With Ashley Erba

Published by
Scott Bush   Oct 18th 2012, 2:53pm

It's been a big senior season for Indiana's Ashley Erba (Sr., Warsaw Community, IN). Having broken 17:30 for 5k numerous times this season, Erba set the Indiana state 5k cross country record of 17:13.70 at the Culver Academies Invitational in late-September. Erba continues to build off her successful 2012 track season, where she won the NBON 5k title in a meet record time of 16:18.21. As the post-season nears, she's firmly establishing herself as one of the national favorites.

Currently ranked in the top five nationally, we caught up with Erba this week, discussing her season up to this point, how her training has evolved over the past year, why she rocks a black headband in all of her races and much more.

Scott Bush (SB): You've had a tremendous start to your season. How would you grade your season up to this point?

Ashley Erba (AE): I truly have had a great start to my senior season! I am not big on giving out letter grades, but it has certainly been fun and exciting. I think it has set me up very well for my tournament and post-season endeavors.

SB: You've improved consistently the past few years, but have taken another big step forward this fall. What type of training did you put in this summer to prepare you for your senior cross country season?

AE: This summer I mainly worked on continuing to build a very strong base of training. My “summer training” started a little later than usual this year, as I competed at NBON in mid-June.

After nationals, I spent a few weeks doing lower mileage “cruise” runs to let my legs rest and restore a bit. Once July started I built up my mileage and did a lot of long runs, build-up runs and Kenyan/tempo runs to work on my strength without the strain of repeats. I also incorporated a lot of hill work, especially during the two-week time period that I spent in southern California. 

The hills there are a different beast from anything you find in Northern Indiana! It wasn’t until late July that I did an actual interval workout. Once August started, however, training took on a more typical pattern with intervals, long runs, tempo/Kenyan runs and recovery days interspersed.

SB: Indiana has a strong tradition of high school runners, but you're now the fastest of them all, having run the fastest 5k time in state history. What's it feel like to be at the top of the list, knowing you've run faster than all the greats?

AE: We certainly do have a strong legacy of female distance runners in Indiana. Being at the top of the list now is very meaningful to me, but I know that the times you run in high school alone do not determine the greatness of a runner. How you learn from these experiences and what you can take from them on to the next level are what truly matters. 

Watching some of the incredible things that the women who have come out of Indiana have done, and knowing that I am ahead of where they were in high school, definitely fuels my drive to one day be there myself.

SB: Looking forward, what are your goals the rest of this season?

AE: For Semi-State on Saturday and State the next, I am looking for two more wins and two more records. I am excited to have my last time racing on the New Prairie course be one that hopefully makes history. I am coming into the State meet this year from a whole different perspective from last year when I was still a relative unknown and definitely the underdog. I love the Lavern-Gibson course and cannot wait to let it rip, as I race on it my last time in high school.

Post season I am excited to be racing in a few big meets, which should be great experiences for me. I can’t wait to get to compete with some of the best girls in the nation!

SB: Your dad is an Ironman triathlete and your mom is an ultra-runner. What's it like to be part of such an inspiring endurance-oriented family?

AE: It’s incredible. I am part of the very best family I can imagine, hands down. They have been such a strong support system for me throughout everything, not to mention how inspiring they are! With my approach towards running, I find I struggle to relate with those around me but when I’m with my family I know that I am always understood. God has truly blessed me!

SB: Every picture we've seen of you racing, you're wearing a black headband. Is there a story behind the headband?

AE: You’ve noticed! I am so glad, haha. There isn’t really a story behind it but I always wanted to have something unique that people would know me by at races. I tweak my “look” a bit season to season but the thick black headband has just stuck.

Fast Four (four quick questions, four quick responses)

SB: Favorite food?

AE: Homemade cookies (or really any freshly baked good, my mom is the most incredible baker!)

SB: Shoes you race in?

AE: Men’s Nike Zoom Victory for track and Men’s Nike Zoom Victory XC’s for cross.

SB: Favorite class in school?

AE: Calculus BC

SB: Best vacation you've been on?

AE: Staying with my grandpa and his wife for two weeks at their house in Oceanside, CA this summer. Vacation at its best!

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