When she’s not rushing by on the paths of Pisgah, you could find her educating yoga, writing and producing working movies.
The Southeast is a hotbed for out of doors exercise, however the path working mecca is Asheville, North Carolina. When planning my Trail Sisters Road Tour, Asheville was a should on my record. Not solely as a result of it borders the Pisgah National Forest and is chock-full of mountainous trails, but additionally as a result of my fellow path sister Ashley Hunter Arnold lives there.
I met Ashley in 2012 in Carbondale, Colorado, after we each labored for Path Runner journal and had been coaching at a aggressive path racing stage. Coaching with Ashley was all the time refreshing. Her outlook on working was pure and with a powerful intent to attach with the character round her.
Ashley is a little bit of a renaissance lady. She runs competitively, dances, teaches yoga and identifies as an artist and “cat mother” to Fugazi and Pharaoh. “I’m a Libra, so it appears my life is all about looking for stability,” she says.
I reconnected with Ashley in Asheville to study extra about why she runs, the native working group and what her future holds.
You’ve been an athlete your complete life throughout a number of sports activities. What was it about working that caught your consideration?
I used to be a aggressive gymnast from the time I might stroll till I used to be a freshman in highschool. I stop as a result of I used to be performing in a number of performs and wanted extra free time for rehearsals. After being so lively and aggressive for my entire life as much as that time, I didn’t final lengthy with out a sport.
My sister was a runner and she or he satisfied me to start out monitor. I solely needed to run quick and quick to start with. I used to be a hurdler for the primary few years of my working life. In truth, I refused to run greater than 400 meters at a time. I used to be the 300-meter hurdle state champ my sophomore 12 months of highschool. After which I discovered distance working. I switched to the mile after which finally was recruited to run distance in school.
I stop working in school my freshman 12 months, although, and didn’t actually come again to it with any regularity till I moved to Colorado in 2009 and began working trails. That’s once I actually rediscovered my love for it.
Working, I imagine, forces us to face ourselves in a means that nothing else can. Working teaches self-discipline and presence and helps us study to be robust within the face of adversity. On the similar time, working creates group in an actual and lasting means.
To dive deeper into your curiosity in path working, what’s it that you just love most concerning the sport, and why do you proceed working at this time?
You might say that path working introduced me again to life. I discovered the game at a time once I felt fairly misplaced and unsure about who I used to be and the path I used to be going. I’ve all the time cherished path working for the reference to land—the visceral expertise of it. It’s not likely even concerning the working. Working trails is de facto simply this implies to discover extra and canopy extra floor in stunning, inspiring and wild locations. It’s a path to quiet, to stillness.
That stated, I like working. I can run wherever. I can run round a lodge parking zone if I’ve to (and I’ve needed to). However I like wilderness. And path working has all the time been therapeutic for me as a result of it’s allowed me to do one in all my favourite issues on the earth in a number of the most stunning locations on the earth. However that’s not the principle cause I run. Working, for me, is about self-discipline. It’s about studying to push myself. Studying to be comfy with discomfort. Studying to simply accept myself. It’s additionally about freedom. And creativity. If I can obtain my targets in working, I can obtain my targets in life.
What’s the working group like in Asheville?
I’ve by no means been round a extra inspiring and welcoming group of individuals. The working group right here is inviting and inclusive and supportive.
Monday nights the NC Mountain Trail Runners meet at Bent Creek Experimental Forest for some straightforward path miles. There are totally different tempo teams so it’s straightforward to search out people to run with.
Tuesday night time is Monitor Evening. All of us meet at 6:30 p.m. at Jus’ Running. The exercise is led by Asheville working legend, Norman Blair. Typically there’s upwards of 60 individuals there (all ranges).
I’m now on a working workforce on the town referred to as the Asheville Running Collective (newly added girls’s workforce, really) and we placed on a bunch run each Thursday night time that begins on the Wedge, an superior brewery on the town. (I just like the Ironrail IPA.) A variety of us use this night time as a second exercise night time for lengthy repeats or tempo runs.
And each weekend—or any day of the week actually—you could find not less than one particular person heading out into the wilderness for an journey. There are tons of of miles of pristine singletrack in Pisgah, a lot of which I haven’t explored. And, waterfalls abound, an excellent factor because it will get so humid in summer season months.
You’ve labored for Path Runner, are the gear editor and contributor for TrailSisters.internet, and have a movie enterprise that produces working movies. What strikes you to share your voice and creativity within the sport by way of these shops?
I’ve all the time been a author. And I’ve all the time cherished movie. Once I left Path Runner, I had a possibility to create product movies for a number of totally different out of doors manufacturers. It opened up a complete new world of potentialities for me to inform tales otherwise. Since then, I’ve been lucky to work with fairly just a few gifted filmmakers on tasks through the years and, at this time, I work largely with my companion Austin and his brother, Maitland. We now have a manufacturing firm referred to as Trine Films. We really simply wrapped enhancing a working journey present we produced with Fleet Feet Sports referred to as Run This City.
You additionally train yoga. Inform me why this sort of motion is essential for runners.
Working, for probably the most half, is a forward-moving exercise. After we’re continually shifting in a single path, we robotically lack stability from a purely bodily stage and infrequently discover we have to strengthen the components of our our bodies that develop weak from repetition.
We’re additionally lacking the chance to maneuver dynamically in house—entrance, aspect, again, diagonally—if we solely run, and that causes a extra nuanced imbalance in our religious and emotional physique. Whereas working is releasing, the motion sample is pretty structured. Extra intuitive motion, like sure forms of dance, for instance, present a much-needed aspect of freedom. The correct mixture of the 2, which differs from individual to individual, works to create bodily stability and, from my expertise, a decrease incidence of harm.
What’s subsequent for you?
I plan to proceed to jot down and share and train in a significant means by way of phrase, video and in particular person with workshops and lessons. I additionally hope to encourage individuals to maneuver in stability by way of their lives with the intention to not solely attain and exceed their targets but additionally reside extra absolutely and mindfully within the current second. And I hope to proceed to be part of constructing lasting group by way of the facility of this sport.
I’ve additionally returned to coaching for shorter distances, which is one thing I’ve all the time regretted a bit since I walked away from the monitor my freshman 12 months of school. I’ve targets for certain, however I’ll take issues as they arrive. For now, I’m nonetheless adjusting to common velocity coaching and extra constant quantity, which is one thing I really haven’t accomplished since I used to be 19. I’m excited to see the place it takes me over the subsequent couple of years.
Observe Ashley on Instagram at @ashleyharnold.
[ed. note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]