Alison Cowling

Alison Cowling

Director | Actor | Musician | Writer

Running and The 4x4x48 Challenge

The seventh entry of The Running Diaries, hopefully you don’t need as much stamina to read this as was needed to do it…

Monday morning…drifted into Monday afternoon. The ceiling looked unchanging. The walls unmoving. The sounds from the street outside unexciting. I had nowhere to be, nowhere to go and no family to see. I could feel my mood pressing me down under the covers… It wouldn’t lift me out of bed, out the door or out of my low thoughts.

Eventually the pull to go and get a cup of tea made me roll out of bed. And the day of Monday ticked on. I know I am not good at having no work or projects to do, that this lack of motivation was caused by a change in my routine. It was only going to be a week, and half term is meant to be spent relaxing… but I just couldn’t when my mind was continually wallowing in how much I miss my family.

Night fell and I found myself scrolling on Instagram yet again, when a friend, Alice’s story caught my attention. A repost of David Goggins’ challenge. 4 miles, every 4 hours for 48 hours. I checked out his profile and realised my friend Emma had recommended his book and someone at work had mentioned this challenge the previous week. Could I do it in a few days time, with no real preparation or training? I really did doubt it…but I had to try!

So the plan was set and with my incredibly kind housemates agreeing to do the nighttime shifts so I wasn’t alone, I found myself warming up and getting into my running gear on Wednesday night. Midnight struck and my housemate and I set off down the quiet, dark and quite windy road…the enormity and randomness of what I was going to try and do starting to sink in!

But on that first run, on a route I know so well, the mile marks started getting hit and I locked into the power of positive thought! If I thought I could do it, then I would do it. I just had to keep saying, well I’m on mile 1 and just up there is mile 2 then that’s basically mile 3 then that’s nearly back home so that’s another 4 miles done. And that was pretty much my philosophy for the whole challenge. That and realising the super strength I have….no not my feet, not my thighs, not my core. My big teeth! They are so big I have to smile. 😀 Smiling makes me think and feel positive and will always get me through any run!

I fell into a routine of stretch, shower, food then lie down (!) between each run. 4 miles is really not that long, the distance was do-able, it was the down time that was harder. After spamming my mates’ Strava feed, here’s a few notes on what happened on each run.

12 AM39:28. Joined by Housemate Bes. The adrenalin and novelty meant this was a fun run but our “spidey senses” were definitely tingling, adjusting to the random foxes, cats and sporadic night time cyclists.

4 AM38:46. Joined by Housemate Rozzy who cycled alongside which kept my pace up. The wind was really howling through the trees so I was very glad I was not alone! We chatted about how maybe, this was a crazy idea… I should think about skipping a run to sleep and doubling up the miles later… but that doubt made me want to prove to myself I could do it!

8 AM42:00. Solo run. I had chosen to head to the park on this one, which had more hills. The interrupted night’s sleep started to hit me on this run. But the thought of my sisters as new mothers made me think if they can boss being a mum with only a few hours sleep then I can boss these runs!

12 PM37:55. Solo run. Had the dance music on and the sun was actually shining! That vitamin D spurring me on to get my fastest run of the challenge. I was buzzing so much during and after!

4 PM43:13. Joined by Uni mate Emma. We were chatting away on this run…starting to feel physically tired so really appreciated the company!

8 PM44.12. Joined by Uni mate Ollie. Back running in the dark. The park we went round was not lit at all so we were changing the route as we went. Squeezed in an hours nap before this run which didn’t massively help!

12 AM41.40. Joined by Housemate Bes. More foxes, less people, windier and colder!

4 AM43.34. Joined by Housemate Rozzy. This was a tough one! The first time some negative thoughts came in… where even hitting the first mile seemed far. But the thought of going back to bed after, got me through!

8 AM48.26. Joined by Theatre mate Casey and his buzzing personality and bants kept me going. The slowest and physically hardest of them all but we did it!

12 PM38.24. Solo run. Stocked up on poached eggs, smoothies, tea, apple juice and a cheeky pain au chocolat (lol), had the tunes back on, my fav route to do (short uphills and long downhills) so feeling strong again!

4 PM40.55. Joined by Theatre/Uni mate Tom. Still feeling happy and strong on this penultimate run. Repeated the same route as earlier – sticking to the pavements rather than muddy parks was much easier!

8 PM38.45. Solo run. I couldn’t believe I had made it to run 12. And I knew I would do the last one cause I had already run 44 miles. What’s another 4! The nerves came more from running alone in the dark with lots of rogue men about (One stopping to go and stand in a bush and stare at me…lol), so I dropped back onto the main road. And the thought of a Maccy D’s once I got back (20 nugs to myself of course) kept me going! (…I know it’s awful… but… well… 😛 )

A pic before each run. Spot the one where neither housemate was awake to take it haha.

So I had done it. 48 miles in 48 hours.


Why not!

It was something to do. So that is the why. Simple… just like the pattern of eat, sleep, run, repeat.

And because if I hadn’t of done it, my low mood wouldn’t have shifted. Being able to see my family can do that. Being able to hug my friends can do that. Working in the theatre can do that. Performing onstage can do that. Going to the pub can do that. Dancing with strangers can do that.

So until I can do those…I will run. Running will always shift my mood. 48 miles in 48 hours can do that.

…and it gave me a lot of time to start planning the next challenge.

(You can watch the whole adventure on my instagram stories. @alisonc93)


Soundtrack to this entry: Chatting with my running companions! But also 2 dance tunes which proper got me dance/running ‘Touch’ Shift K3Y and ‘I Got U’ Duke Dumont, Jax Jones.

Snack for this entry: Maccy D’s Box of 20 nuggets for sharing. With yourself.