Every so often, we take a short break from CBD research, news, and product/brand reviews to focus on particularly inspiring success stories.
When we heard about the transformative effects of CBD on nationally ranked distance runner Ashlee Powers, owner of Ashlee’s Powers CBD brand, we knew we had to find out more about her journey and how CBD influenced it.
Indeed, what we learned in our conversation with Ashlee about how CBD helped her overcome potentially career-ending injuries and start a business was both humbling and eye-opening.
Without further ado, this is the story of a stubborn girl who ran herself to college and far beyond with the help of CBD.
Ashlee’s Running Roots
Hailing from a family of runners, Ashlee took an interest in running at the age of six.
Running was how her parents met, and how she maintained a closer connection with her father, who eventually lived out of state.
As a single mom of multiple talented kids, Ashlee’s mother decided to move the family to Newport Beach when Ashlee was in seventh grade in hopes that the kids would have the opportunity to earn athletic scholarships.
“We didn’t know how to pay for college, but if we found the right school, we could run our way to college,” Ashlee explained.
And run she did—after relocating to Corona Del Mar High School, she met her coach (who she still works with today) and started taking running more seriously.
She delighted in sharing news of first and second place finishes with her older sister to her dad, which motivated her to train that much harder.
Then, sophomore year happened, and Ashlee began a long battle with a very stubborn injury.
It was summer training camp, and Ashlee got lost on a run.
In the process of righting her course, her knee suddenly locked up to the point where she couldn’t bend it at all, and she had severe pain in her shin.
She could barely walk, let alone run, and the wait-and-see game proved unfruitful over the next several days, so she had to take ten weeks off running.
In the interim, she went through a fairly standard set of protocols, including PT, cross-training, and the infamous “boot” (big, clunky leg brace), but to no avail.
This was when the already constant pressure of figuring out how to get into college jumped a rung or two into full-blown anxiety, leading Ashlee to simply tape up the leg and power through the next few years.
Pain was the word, to be sure, but Ashlee somehow managed to run her way to Southern Methodist University.
Though she expressed gratitude for the school and her scholarship, they didn’t have an MD on staff, so it was more taping and icing without any real insight into what the underlying injury was.
Still, Ashlee managed to become the top college freshman in the country for a time, which motivated her to seek out a school that could address her injury and support her development as a runner more comprehensively.
And so, she set her sights on UCLA, transferred, and was receiving an MRI at the behest of the team doctor within hours of making contact with the team.
Sure enough, she was diagnosed with a grade-3 stress reaction, which is characterized by stubborn and highly painful swelling and/or inflammation of the underlying bone.
The years following involved heavy Advil use, frequent MRIs, stress tests, and eventually, recommendations by just about everybody to medically retire.
Ashlee was sidelined, anxious, and depressed, but she wasn’t ready to quit.
She took some time off in 2016 to focus on her mental health and research solutions to her problem, which is when she discovered CBD.
CBD and the Comeback
Having recently left the team, Ashlee was no longer constrained by NCAA or USATF (USA Track & Field) regulations, meaning she could explore hemp-based solutions to her injury.
She had “heard whispers” of CBD, which was really beginning to take off in 2016, so she went to a cannabis dispensary and asked around about low-THC, high-CBD strains.
She ended up going with an oromucosal CBD spray that she would hide in her car and use before practice.
To her surprise, it worked wonders, and she began fervently exploring more CBD products, including topicals and varying concentrations.
As the months went on, Ashlee made miraculous progress in her training and performance, eventually making it back to competition, even though she went from a high-finisher to “mediocre,” as she put it.
She went from barely managing 40 miles a week (child’s play, right?) to running 70 miles a week with far less pain and a renewed sense of focus.
Highlights from this unlikely comeback include qualifying for the olympic trials with a 2:39 marathon, which, by the way, was her first competitive marathon.
This time netted her a top-30 position in the history of American debuts in the marathon for that time period.
Even after dropping a heavy marble coaster on her foot and dealing with a nerve injury in her back, Ashlee was able to beat her marathon time by a minute with the help of religious CBD use.
Just a few days after we spoke to Ashlee, she ran a 2:54 at Duluth, Minnesota’s 45th Annual Grandma’s Marathon.
As she was mounting this epic comeback, Ashlee began making her own CBD bars so she could get her CBD, spirulina, collagen peptides, and other pro-recovery essentials all in one shot.
Ashlee’s colleagues soon took notice, and the more she shared her bars with them, the more people would ask her about them.
Eventually, she turned it into a business, incorporating Ashlee’s Powers in 2018.
Though they started with just the bar, Ashlee’s Powers now has CBD oil tinctures, topicals, and new flavors of CBD bars.
When we asked her to explain the benefits of CBD for runners in her own words, she listed its ability to improve discomfort, sleep, and focus, all of which are essential to setting personal bests as a runner.
Coming from a living testament to CBD’s potential, these perks have attracted an athletic audience to Ashlee’s brand to the extent where her business pursuits are starting to compete with training.
Undaunted by the balancing act, Ashlee told us, “I only fail if I quit running, because I’ll never know what I could have been.”