Art Of The Rest Day With Ashley Carelock
If there's one person who knows about pushing themselves to the limit (and beyond), over and over again, it's BAR-U-EAT Collective member Ashley Carelock. She's a tried and true professional ultra endurance athlete, who has proven to perform under pressure, in extremely difficult conditions time and time again. Whether it's a bike commute from her hometown of Dolores, CO to Steamboat Springs (via the back roads), or a 700+ mile fixed route, unsupported backpacking race in Morocco, Ashley shows up prepared, takes it to the finish line (often times in 1st place), and finishes the job.
How is Ashley able to operate at this level without injury year after year? Even when she does injure herself, she is somehow able to show up to big races, and compete at the highest level.
We interviewed Ashley and spoke about her off season training plan, and her secret to success regarding staying healthy during time of physical and emotional stress, and achieving peak performance when when she needs it!
Tell us about your post race recovery plan after a particularly grueling event?
Post race (like the one in Morocco for example), I usually take the intensity down quite a bit. I'll take 2 weeks to focus on yoga, stretching / soft tissue, and just walk...no riding. Some events are more taxing than others. In addition to physical demands, ultra racing can also be emotionally challenging, which needs to be accounted for in the recovery (and can push back off season work). For a month and a half to 2 months, I will just ride for fun, and go by feel - my body tells me when I need to not be on the bike!
What sorts of non bike related activities do you work on in the off season?
In addition to focusing on my recovery, the off season is a good time for me to reach out to sponsors, and plan for the upcoming race season.
What does your race schedule look like in general? Is it seasonal, or year round?
Because of the way I do ultra's, I do not have a "typical" schedule. For example, a season could be January to November. I do have longer sections of time off between key races, but do have key races outside of Spring and Summer.
This year I am racing in the Silverton Whiteout 10 hour Fat Bike Race, as well as Old Pueblo, a 24 hour solo race, which is a good time to dig a big hole and recover from it.
How do you shift from recovery mode to race mode - what does the process of ramping up look like?
I always start off with a FTP test. This is benchmarking data that tells me what my overall power is, and acts as a control. I do not get too wrapped up in this, it's just good information. I feel like it tells me where I'm at, and how well I can train. I continue to do FTP tests every few weeks through out my training.
I will then focus on lower zone 2 and zone 3 rides for a few weeks, and eventually work my way into V02's and thresholds. Twice a month, I will try to go for a 5-8 hour ride. I mix up my riding on the trainer, as well as outside (on trails, gravel and road). Since it's cold outside, and may be snowing, I find that the trainer is the most consistent. Oftentimes, I ride the trainer in the AM, and get outdoors on my bike in the PM. And if it's snowing out, I'll fat bike!
What's on the radar for Ashley? What races are you competing in, and where?
I am traveling to Greece in May, and will ride the Hellenic Mountain Race. It's an invite only event, produced by Nelson Trees who also throws the Silk Road and Atlas Mountain Race. For me, it'll be a solo trip (unless you count my Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey or Show Pony) and is a 600 mile point to point race.
In June, I'll compete in The Telluride Gravel Race, which is a second year event over in Telluride - epic scenery, challenging course and close to home!
I am hoping to turn The Ride Of The Ancients, the race I produce into a Colorado Endurance Series event this year (and yes, it will be free).
I have plans to compete in The Colorado Trail Race in late August. This was my first race (in 2018) and I actually had the Fastest Known Time (Denver to Durango) up until this year. I think it's time to go back and race again.
Editors note: The CTR is an extremely challenging race both physically and mentally. In addition to 500+ miles of riding, there's about 70,000 feet of climbing. The singletrack itself is very technical - the CT is a multi use trail with many hike a bike sections, high altitude segments (well over 12,000 feet), and is exposed to extreme weather (late summer monsoonal weather patterns including intense lightning, rain, hail, fog, wind, etc). Completing the Colorado trail by bike or foot is a tough endeavor - doing it self support style, with no outside help, in less than a week is truly next level. This style of racing that requires just as much mental toughness, as well as physical strength and perseverance is Ashley's wheelhouse - we're excited to see how she does this year.
**At the time of writing this blog, Ashley raced in and won The Silverton Whiteout - CONGRATS! We asked her to comment on the race and she said, "The Whiteout was awesome! Great scenery, great weather and great folks. The only thing I regret is that I couldn’t ride longer. 😂"...what did we expect her to say? Maybe something about a big salad...