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Episode 51: Ashley Wiles -- Brooks Running 2016 Inspiring Coach of the Year
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What we cover: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” -- Napolean HillThis is a conversation about running. But not in the way we typically equate talks about running. It’s not about encouraging you to get your fastest time. It’s not about encouraging you to increase your distances. It’s not about heart rate monitors and compression socks and nutrition. Instead, this is a talk about how we can redefine what running means to us. As Ashley Wiles, today’s Guest Titan says: "Running is the most easily accessible, under utilized, readily available tool to help us build positive mental health." And yet, too many of us, continue to equate running with slogging it out and suffering through it – and not as a means simply to release endorphins and create community and foster self-love.
Ashley is the founder of Sole Girls, a mentoring program for young girls, which pops them in an environment that fosters conversations about friendship, body image, and self-esteem, and ultimately sees them train to run a 5km event together.
In 2016, Brooks Running named her Inspiring Coach of the Year, and in doing so, she became the first Canadian and the first non-high school coach to be awarded this coveted recognition. And, while today, Ashley is this poised, forward-thinking, optimistic leader who is using her lifelong relationship with running to inspire a whole new generation of runners, she wasn’t always this way. In her early 20s, she suffered a debilitating depression as the result of an unhealthy relationship and she found herself drawn to the story of Amanda Todd, the Vancouver-area girl who was harassed so severely, she took her own life. Ashley knew things for her could go one of two ways – one being a finish that resembled Amanda’s story. Or the other, to take a look at what she truly loved most in life – running – and find a way to create a dialogue around what it’s like out there for people who are hurting. The result was the 2013 launch of Sole Girls, an organization that today has positively impacted thousands of girls via its innovative programs and super popular Sole Awesome 5km fun runs.
The stats are crazy, but here they are: In grade 6, only 36% of girls say they are confident. Worse though is that by grade 10, on 14% of girls say they are. That means, 86% of girls are suffering from a lack of confidence. Ashley is on a mission to change all that. Because the reality is, most of us have determined who we are by the time we are teenagers, and if we’re going through a rough patch in our younger years, we take those negative belief systems with us into adulthood. In this conversation, I admit that I struggle with that myself at times – dragging a bad phase from my teen years with me even now, 30 years later. Running is a form of relief and release. And an invitation to reexamine and redefine and realign. Thank you for this conversation, Ashley.