JUSTIN HAWKINS, THE DARKNESS – I’m a Runner – Runner’s World, Dec 2023

I try and dodge interviews wherever possible but I made an exception for this one. I actually have some Runner’s World branded shorts, which a company called Satisfy did as a limited edition a couple of years ago. I really like the logo.

The greatest sporting achievement of my career was winning the cross country in middle school. But I didn’t have a very good relationship with the sports teacher. He told me it was a fluke. He was quite imposing, looked a bit like Hulk Hogan. I don’t mind telling you he was a complete dick. But I did join the Lowestoft Road Runners and ran outside of school as well.

I stopped doing it in my twenties and picked it up again about 10 years ago. When The Darkness were at their biggest I wasn’t able to leave my house without being chased down the street anyway. I didn’t want people seeing me all sweaty. I am still a vain individual. But as the fame diminished I got back into it.

I haven’t been famous for a long time, but recently I’ve been getting papparazzied again. It’s my YouTube channel. I started doing it because of Covid, and now it feels like my main job. I’m still a songwriter, but this pays the alimony.

Now I try to run every day. Except Mondays, which is football training. I prioritise it, and make sure there’s always a window of opportunity to do it wherever I am. If I haven’t been out and run, it feels like I’ve wasted an opportunity to make my day better.

I had a period of running at three or four in the morning, which wasn’t me getting up early, it was me getting ready to go to bed. I was in north London, doing a lot of co-writing and having to take calls from Americans, who keep different hours. I’d have foxes running alongside me on the other side of the road.

I don’t usually run to music. I’m listening to the engine, you know? The only time I’ll play something is if there’s an album I want to educate myself about. But I’d rather hear gravel underfoot. I do like a podcast where I guy called Tony Walker reads classic ghost stories.  When we were touring British coastal towns, that was perfect.

You should be talking to my brother. [Darkness guitarist] Dan does marathons in really good times: three hours 20, something like that. I wouldn’t do a marathon. If it’s competitive, I’m not interested. Dan raises money for JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity, which is something that’s close to our family’s heart. We’ll run 10k together every day on tour. If you’re not familiar with a city you can end up in some pretty dodgy areas, so it’s safety in numbers really.

Every musician I know is superstitious. So if you run 20k on a day you have a great gig, you think: ‘Now I have to run 20k every time.’ You associate whatever was different with how special the gig was.

Running on tour is a good way to see a place, but most of my running is done in Switzerland. I’ve lived there 10 years now. My favourite runs involve forests and water. The route I love where I live goes through two forest areas and ends up at a river.

My running isn’t really connected with my sobriety. It’s like they live in two different parts of my mind. It’s not that heavy for me, just a bit of me-time. What I will say is: when I wasn’t pursuing sobriety, I couldn’t give a f*** about exercise. So it is connected in the sense that, when I’m thinking straight, I know it’s important.

Permission To Land…Again!, the 20th anniversary edition of the debut Darkness album, is out now. The Darkness tour the UK in December.