Alison Cowling

Alison Cowling

Director | Actor | Musician | Writer

Running and Resilience

The third entry of The Running Diaries, a continual bob along the track…

The inspiration for this week’s blog popped into my mind on my first run of the week, so clearly and pronounced, it made me smile and drove me on. It was the Wednesday, I had given myself two days off for rest and the newest storm with a novelty name was blowing strong. I had no plan on how far or where to go, apart from to head somewhere well lit – I can’t wait for lighter and drier evenings so I can head to the parks post work.

As I approached the harbour, the rain and the wind really started picking up. Running into it was all I knew I could do in that moment. Be strong, run forward and beat the wind. I do find a sense of doubt is always paired with my moments of inspiration, like trying to light a fire with buckets of water for hands… and although I told myself to feel strong, I didn’t actually feel it. A slight stitch was playing up in my stomach and I regretted downing a celery smoothie (gross I know) with no real carbs, right before I ran, so my pace was slow and steady. But in that moment where ‘Christophe’ really came at me I thought this isn’t strength… this is just about keeping on… this is resilience!

This was the moment!

Then I got excited and ran up the infamous hill of Park Street! Just staring forward – not looking down, not looking back, not stopping to glance at the man who stopped to stare and try and say something to me (a classic man move haha. Maybe this is where my dating life is going wrong, clearly I should give these mid run chat up lines a chance!) I reached the top then followed my nose back home, so pleased with my speed by the end – much quicker than I had thought.

The next day I felt pretty bored, a standard Lockdown emotion, so even though I knew it should have been a rest day, I downloaded a new Spotify playlist and hit the roads, running to some classic female musical solo’s, wishing I could sing aloud as I ran… (sometimes I do a little if I am certain no-one is around haha.)

Then with Friday rolling around, an afternoon off work and with nothing planned to mark the best day of the week, I sat looking out the window at the beautiful winter sun. It was calling me back outside. I laced up my trainers, grabbed my water pack rucksack and hit play on some Broadway belters and West End wonders… to go and run 13.1 miles.

I had such a glorious route through one of the best cities ever with no pressure on time – it was all for myself. It was tough, I was tired from running 3 days in a row, but when I felt my aches, the slight stitch (not sure why I was feeling stitches on all my runs this week) what kept me going was the thought of resilience.

Do we learn how to be resilient? Who teaches it to us? Or is it innate?

Maybe resilience isn’t about being mentally and physically strong all the time. I don’t always feel like that mid runs… and I have definitely spent way too much time feeling no strength within me at all. I’ve lent on walls too much in the past and felt their tight grip as I’ve slid down, down, down to the skirting boards… but with the opening of my eyes and trusted hands, I found my resilience to stand back up.

So maybe resilience is holding onto a part of yourself whilst the other parts are lost or misplaced or trampled on. If you find yourself having to stop on the run… resilience is still there. And it will start you up again. And resilience was definitely with me when it decided to hail on mile 10 of the half!

So as I reach another cool down part of the blog and stretch out, my feet and muscles definitely aching after a pretty high mileage week, I am left pondering… does running make me more resilient – or does bringing resilience to running make me run further, for longer and keep me opening doors?

Soundtrack to this entry: ‘How Far I’ll Go’ Moana

Snack for this entry: Poached Eggs!