Allysse Riordan

Field recordist. Sound artist. Writer. Photographer. Microadventurer. Not necessarily in that order.


1st April 2020


I felt the need to run today.

Not to be healthy, not to exercise, but to escape.

My mind whirled and swirled with thoughts of the news and Covid-19. I was jittery.

So I put on a pair of shoes and went out.


As I pounded the pavement, trying to keep my rhythm steady, my breathing even, I felt my asthma rising in my throat. The tang of metal and blood thickened with mucus invaded my mouth. Was it the virus spreading through my lungs or was it the colder weather triggering my everyday asthma?


I didn’t want to know.


I kept running, breathing. I knew the sharp blades would soon develop in my throat but I didn’t stop. Instead I focused on the pain in my left thigh and the side stitch growing below my ribs. It was good to feel my body, to feel alive and well. And I remembered. The last time I had escaped with a run, the last time I had felt alive in that way from running had been during my au pair days.


I stopped in my track.


Running hadn’t been good then. It had become obsessive and relentless. I did not want to go back to that state. So I stopped and walked. A blister was growing on my right heel, my everyday walking shoes not a good pair for running. I’d have to try another one for the next run.


I crossed the football pitch, the knives of my asthma hurting my throat. But they were small, their edges dull and gentle against my skin. I began running again focusing on my breathing, letting go of my asthma. Slowly the taste of blood receeded and I enjoyed the sights around me. Rainbows stuck to windows, cats lying in the sun, and occasionally someone else out two metres away from me.


My blister bothered me more and more. I slowed down but even walking was painful. I retreated to the grass and took my shoes off. I was still half an hour walk from home but I would have to get there barefoot. The grass was soft under my skin, the ground still spongy from all the rain of March. The tarmac, warmed by the low sun, was both blissful and hard. Stone chips dug into my soles making me tiptoe as fast as I could back to the grassy verge.


People smiled at my bare feet, waved, said hello. I smiled back, waved, said hello. And by the time I reached my front door, I was okay.


I was alive, disease free as far as I knew. My mind was stilled, my body sore, my mood steady.