Running for wellness: Aynslie’s Journey

“You’re one run away from a good mood.”

That motto was printed on a sign on the wall of an office that Aynslie Croney, an IT instructor at NBCC, used to share with a colleague. Whenever the colleague was struggling at work, she would point to her sign and say, “I’m going for a run.”

When Croney gave birth to her son a few years, she struggled with postpartum depression and weight gain. She remembered the sign, and a passion for running was born.

“I was quite a bit larger and I wasn’t feeling great,” said Croney. “I realized that if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my son. So I signed up for a Couch to 5K clinic.”

Progress was slow at first. Croney, who strives for excellence in everything she does, had to come to terms with the fact that she wasn’t as fast as some of the participants – a situation that ended up working in her favour.

“Once I got over that, I always felt great when I was done a run,” she said. “The next year, I helped out as back-end coach, motivating the runners at the back of the pack, which was really rewarding.”

Fast forward to today, and Croney is now a Learn to Run coach at the Running Room, sharing her passion for running and wellness with beginners.

“I get that runner’s high, and I want to share that with other people,” she said. “I love the way it makes me feel, getting people excited about their running journey.”

Croney’s personal wellness journey is a continuous one. She recently achieved her goal of completing one 5K race a month for 12 months, and she’s already on the lookout for another challenge.

She also brings wellness initiatives into her classroom, giving her students tools to cope with the pressures of college life. The most popular of her tools are Lenny, Buddy and Manny, three stuffed toys that provide stress relief for her students.

“There’s research showing that if you hug someone or something, it lowers your cortisone,” she explained.  “So I bring the stuffies to class and the students hold them while I’m lecturing. Some students, if they’re just having a bad day, will come to me and ask if they can borrow one of the stuffies.”

Croney’s wellness toolbox also includes an in-class activity in which students write an anonymous complimentary note to each of their fellow learners. At the end of the class, each student receives an envelope full of anonymous compliments from their peers.

Sometimes, guiding students on the path to wellness is as easy as sharing information with them. Croney keeps cards with wellness resources listed on them, cards which she can casually hand to a student who needs help.

“It’s important for them to stay healthy; they’re at such an important stage of their lives,” she noted.

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