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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, in his autobiography, What If? – A Running Journey From Failure To First Place, Ashley Varley details his seven year running journey as he battles self-doubt and personal insecurities.

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What If?

Ashley Varley’s autobiography, What If? will touch the hearts of all as he shares a life-changing decision and the seven-year journey which took him from failure to first place.

What If? by Ashley Varley on The Table Read Magazine
What If? by Ashley Varley

Filled with highs, lows, successes, and failures, and following a disastrous 2016 London Marathon, Varley’s journey is plagued by doubt and dejection. At 43, standing at the precipice of change and contemplating the path marked “What If?”, the burning question arises: can dedication, patience, and a willingness to break free from the comfort zone lead to the realisation of long-held running dreams?

Determined to explore untapped potential, Ashley commits to unprecedented levels of training, pushing limits beyond familiar boundaries. From battling injury setbacks to conquering breath-taking landscapes, this journey spans cityscapes, rolling hills, and challenging mountains. Races ranging from 5k sprints to gruelling 100-mile ultras become the milestones in this quest for self-discovery.

As each stride reveals new lessons, Ashley faces the ultimate question: can he truly become the runner he has aspired to be? This is more than a running tale; it’s a testament to resilience, growth, and the pursuit of one’s highest aspirations. “What if I really tried? I wonder what might happen?” There’s only one way to find out.

With the impact of his abusive childhood always lurking in his shadows, Ashley Varley’s determination to explore his untapped potential and decision to take the path marked what if, shows readers how each mile run distances him further from the past that brought so much pain and sadness.

So more than just another ‘running’ book, Ashley’s passion jumps from the page, whilst also offering hope and optimism to others. And his decision to share his powerful story has the potential to motivate the most running averse to put on their trainers and get out there.

Ashley Varley

Ashley Varley and his wife live with my wife in the seaside town of Hastings, East Sussex.

Running is what I like to do when I’m not working as a gardener. I’ve been running for some years now and I love both trail and road running. What If? A running journey from failure to first place, is the first book I’ve written.

Whilst growing up in Lowestoft, I was subjected to abuse at the hands of my stepfather. I’m not ready to go into graphic detail here, and there’s nothing to be gained by doing that. What I will say is that I was subjected to disgusting and vile behaviour that no child should ever experience. The abuse took place at one address, and as part of my route, I’d decided to run straight past that house.

Approaching it, my heart was beating fast, and I felt incredibly uneasy. As the moment of truth arrived, with my heart racing, I stood as tall as possible, stuck out my chest and held my head high and, in an act of conscious defiance, I ran strong with my eyes fixed on the house. 

Passing what had once felt like a prison to me, I was thinking, “Look at me now, this is who I am, and you did not break me.” Now, at last, perhaps we come to the real reason why running has become so important to me. It’s not about personal bests or medals – every run feels like a small victory for me because when I lace up my trainers, each mile run distances me further from a past that brought me much pain and sadness. But on this day, running past this home from long ago, I was no longer running away from my past – a scared and frightened little boy – I was running straight towards it – a man who refuses to be caged by my history.

-Ashley Varley

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