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What If?  From Out of Shape, Overweight, Failing Runner, to Finding his Salvation – Inspirational New Memoir Shares the Healing Power of Running

An autobiography that will touch the hearts of all, What If? immerses readers in Ashley Varley’s life-changing decision; leading to a seven-year journey which took him from failure to first place.

With the impact of the author’s abusive childhood always lurking in his shadows, this inspirational read is all about the author’s determination to explore his untapped potential. And, having made the decision to take the path marked what if, how each mile run distances him further from the past that brought so much pain and sadness.

Structured chronologically, What If? is 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.


Embark on a riveting seven-year journey filled with highs, lows, successes, and failures as one runner faces a critical crossroads.

Following a disastrous 2016 London Marathon, plagued by doubt and dejection, Ashley Varley stands at the precipice of change, contemplating the path marked “What If?”. At 43, with years of running experience behind, 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.

In her review, Michelle Mortimer (UKRunChat) says:

“I really enjoyed this book. It completely surpassed my expectations, and I was really rooting for Ash to succeed by the end, having felt I was on a journey with him. The ending of the book gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and reminded me of everything I love about running. “Ash’s book has actually inspired me to change up my own training: I’m wondering what I’m capable of myself.

“This book has the best of both worlds – fast road racing for the road runners out there, with plenty of tips to pick up on, as well as extremely long jaunts out in the countryside. Thank you, Ash, for sharing such a warm, honest, and heartfelt true story with us.”

Amassing a host of five-star reviews, Amazon readers say:

“Fantastic book and easy to read and enjoy, whether you are interested in running or not.
Beautifully written, funny and poignant all at the same time.” – R Edwards

“I had the very good fortune to read this book the night before running a marathon. Reading about Ash’s experiences helped me so much the following day, even as someone who has run a fair bit over the years. I’m not saying that buying this book will guarantee you a marathon PB, but it might help! It’s a wonderful book, taking in aspects of Ash’s running and his life. It shows what is possible and what can happen if you really go for it and commit to something, no matter what that is.” – Jon Fielden

“This book is a great read for anyone interested in running, endurance sport – or just the triumph of the human spirit over huge challenges and adversity. The author sets himself a sporting objective and the book details the highs and lows of his journey towards that goal. I was with him all the way, willing him on!” – S L J Marzioli

“This is not just a running book. It’s a personal story that will resonate, on some level, with many people. Yes, there’s running and there’s races but there is also a wonderfully inspirational, simple, story that we never really know what lies hidden inside us, until we decide to unlock it – to try, really try – not just dream about it. Read this book and see where it takes you.” – Jane B

The author says:

“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.”

Independently published, What If? is available to purchase in hardcover (ISBN No: 979-8320396156) priced £21.99, paperback (ISBN No: 979-8320395500) priced £6.99 and Kindle format (£4.99) on Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/57bftv87  /  https://tinyurl.com/bdjbxywn and https://tinyurl.com/mw4uk3h6