Alison Cowling

Alison Cowling

Director | Actor | Musician | Writer

Running and Drive

The second entry of The Running Diaries, which this week is very much a jog and a sprint and a glide and a trudge…

Mile 19. You’ve made it. To mile 19. You can’t quite believe it and so double check and triple check and quadruple check the app. There would be the sense of elation if it wasn’t for your feet starting to pipe up… getting louder than the beats in your ears. The right is starting to ache, the left starts to twinge and there is the whisper of a stitch swiftly, twisting around your stomach. All you want to do is to take a seat on that wall, on that bench, hey even that curb would do. But you’ve got to keep going, there’s a target, there is an end… and it will come eventually. But each step feels so much heavier and slower than before so you’re not sure when that will be…

That’s how I have felt this week. Like being perpetually at mile 19.

After the marathon, it took me over a week before I could lace up my trainers again. I thought my muscles would be in bits after the NYE run, my feet putting up a fight the next time I even looked at my trainers, but actually my body was pretty chill after the marathon – thanks to some icey showers and lots of yoga! I did manage one or two ice baths – check out my Only Fans. (I’m joking mum! :P) Instead it was the one and only… CLASSIC cold which left me in bed for several days (don’t worry negative covid but positive cold!) so it took over a week, before I could manage a day without lemsip and felt strong enough to run once more!

I was driven to get back out by a fire of frustration… I just felt angry at you know what. The lockdown. (Do people even like trilogies?) And with each run this week there’s been a drive of emotion that got me out the door, whether it be a firey pounding of the pavements to try and make some sadness pass or an energetic whizz around the block to tire me out like a kid.

My head was definitely driving each run this week. Although the mileage was fairly low on each run, my feet asked for rest days, but I ignored. I knew that getting outside alone, and filling my body with endorphins and air when covid, social distancing and people left me feeling pretty wavy, was all I could do.

And my changeable mood, with its highs and lows this week, meant that every run was different. But then maybe that’s what keeps me running. If every day felt the same you would get bored. If every run was the same… well if that was the case I think I would spend more time on the sofa!

This week, I think I listened and reacted. Setting out on my Sunday run, once again with no plan on where to go, left me finding new links between places I’ve run through before. I even tried out a bit of trail running through the woods. It was muddy, slippy and uneven. But actually it turned into my favourite run this week. So maybe it’s the harder and more tiring paths which can be the best. Once you start them and commit to carrying on, that’s when you find the fun along the way.

As I go into a new week, I hope I’ll start to feel like I’m moving forward again. And I can be wrapped in a kimono of optimism! (I don’t own a kimono… yet).

So as I steadily slow, cool down and bring this entry to a close… I listen to what’s driven me this week. All I want to do is see my family. All I can do is run. It might have felt like Mile 19 all week… but soon it will be Mile 20. And I’ll be a little closer to getting to hug them again.

Soundtrack to this entry: 2 for this week. Marking how different my runs felt.
‘Can’t stop’ Red Hot Chilli Peppers – It felt like I just couldn’t stop running. And in a way I know I can’t. Have to keep going.
‘Everything’ Michael Bublé – A really random running song I know. But it made me smile as I imagined the lyrics to be about running haha. “In this crazy life, and through these crazy times, it’s you, it’s you, you make me sing, you’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything”.

Snack for this entry: Chia Seeds. For energy boosts!