When you envisage the life of a touring rock star, drug-fuelled parties packed with fawning groupies spring to mind rather than vegan diets and early morning running sessions. Yet the debauched image of musicians could be a thing of the past as an increasing number take to running and embrace a healthier lifestyle ...
Running and rock music may seem unlikely bedfellows, but the history between the two goes back further than you might think. Ian Crawford from record label El Rancho Relaxo explains more: “The clue’s in the name I suppose, but Kevin Rowland from Dexy’s Midnight Runners was notorious for insisting all his bandmates go running with him every morning.
“Even if they’d been on a massive bender the night before, he felt it was important to stretch their legs and get some air into their lungs. Frontmen in particular seem to go in for running. Staying fit is obviously important to guys like Mick Jagger so they can run around onstage without getting out of breath.”
Ian knows all about the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, having previously been lead singer with the band Raising Kain and alt-country outfit Schnapps. Though he didn’t take up running until after his time in both bands. “Ten solid years of being in a band and the highs and lows that come from it left me with a void in my life. Running helped restore some balance for me and get back some confidence too.”
On why it’s become a fashionable activity for musicians, Ian has a few ideas: “There seems to be a big appetite for running throughout the world these days and especially in the UK. I have a band coming over soon from America and their rider is completely vegan. Perhaps that’s an ethical choice rather than a health one but it demonstrates that musicians are now thinking about their bodies and what they’re putting into them.
El Rancho Runners
“I don’t like the idea of being tied down to a gym membership where you’ll be surrounded by poseurs with Kiss FM being blasted out. Running outside I find much more appealing, so I think that may be where a lot of rockers are coming from.”
To capitalise on this newfound popularity, Ian is starting running group El Rancho Running Alliance. While not exclusively for musicians, the group will involve a lot of people who are active in the local music scene.
Ian explains: “Once you start running it’s quite contagious. You go around telling people all about it and most people say ‘I’d like to’ but they don’t think they can. It’s not true at all, just about anyone can. So I’ve decided to launch a running group to help introduce people to the activity. I’ve enrolled in a jogscotland course to become a jog leader as I want there to be a semblance of professionalism to it and I don’t want anyone hurting themselves.”
Ian completed New York Marathon on 2 November last year, raising funds for Get Kids Going, which helps children with disabilities to get active and compete in sports. He’s not the only member of the music fraternity to take on the 26.2-mile race. Here are a few other musicians who’ve tackled a marathon:
Huffing and Puffing
P Diddy aka Puff Daddy took part in the 2013 New York Marathon, finishing with an official time of 4 hours, 14 minutes and 54 seconds, despite complaining of leg cramps for about half the race.
Star of Track and Field
Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch is perhaps the quickest singer to ever run a marathon. In 1986 he completed the Glasgow Marathon in 2:57:08 at the tender age of 18. He was due to compete in New York Marathon in 2005 but had to withdraw due to recording commitments.
Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr completed the New York Marathon in 2010, clocking a respectable 3:54:18.
Red Hot Runner
Inspired by the book Born To Run, Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea completed the 2011 LA Marathon in 3:52:59.
The Man Who Ran
Travis frontman Fran Healy was a Bellahouston Harrier as a kid in Glasgow. Running fell by the wayside at the height of the band’s fame, but a ‘jelly belly’ comment from his son inspired the singer to pull on his shoes again. He took part in the Berlin relay marathon in 2012.
The (Race) Winner Takes It All
ABBA star Bjorn Ulvaeus took part in Stockholm Marathon in 1980, finishing in a highly respectable 3:23:54. Forget about the Dancing Queen, looks like we’ve found a Running King…
Next time you’re listening to your iPod on a run and daydreaming of emulating the singer coming out of your earphones, there’s a good chance you’re already doing so …