I hated cross country and was very good at it. I was the typical 15-year-old who never trained and just turned up on a Sunday. It would be the ice cold environs of a Scottish park, a guy would bang his gun and 200 young boys would just tear away. I remember being extremely cold and hating every minute of it, but I’d usually come in the top 10.
I thought the strip of my running club was cool. I ran for Bellahouston Harriers in Glasgow for about four years. We had these blue vests, with a St Andrew’s cross down the chest, that looked great. In the track season my main event would be 800m, but then I got weirdly very good at long jump and triple jump and started to prefer that to anything else.
I stopped running when rock and roll took over. At about 16 I started singing in a band at school called Strange Relationship, after the Prince song. Then I went to art school. That period of your life, you’re just partying. I started running again when Travis were based in London, about 10 years later.
I was amazed at how unfit I was. I could only run for about five minutes and it floored me. I’d be in bits. So I just thought, “Well tomorrow I’ll run for seven minutes, the next day I’ll run for eight,” and so on. I slowly worked my way up to full match fitness.
Paul McCartney got me to ditch red meat. I managed to persuade Paul to play bass on my solo record [Wreckorder, from 2010] and as a thank you to him, I cut meat out of my diet and went pescatarian. It’s so easy to do that now. I had one of those Impossible burgers the other day and could not tell the difference.
I don’t believe in marathons. I’d never do one. I don’t think people are meant to exert themselves that much! It’s not a good thing to do to your body. My thing is speed and short distances, and I’ve got a brilliant route for doing that now.
The run I do now is my only run. It’s a lap of the Hollywood Reservoir, which is a six-minute drive up the hill from my house. My family lived in Berlin for 10 years and we’ve been in LA for the last three. It’s almost exactly three miles, a bit hilly, and I do it about four times a week.
I didn’t realise how OCD I was about it. A few months ago I got part of the way round, and a gate that’s usually open was closed, so I had to go back the way I came. It was the most upsetting feeling, not being able to go clockwise. I want to do the same thing and get faster every time.
I can’t listen to music when I’m running. I don’t even think. I know some people go out for a run and sort through all their problems. My brain literally just shuts down.
It’s a similar feeling to being on stage. Going on tour, to me anyway, feels like this going-up-the-mountain, zen, trippy thing. There’s a lot of unintentional fasting. You don’t eat much. And you go into this weird, transcendental state when you’re singing. When I come back off tour, running is a really simple way to recreate that zen feeling.
Being in a race is like performing. I said I didn’t like cross country, but it is a different dynamic when you’re racing. I would definitely be able to cut a few minutes off my time if I was in a race. Running around by yourself is the rehearsal. As soon as you get in front of an audience, you tighten the belt slightly.
The latest Travis album, 10 Songs, is out now on BMG.