Last weekend in Washington, DC, pop star Ellie Goulding ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. A devout runner who often squeezes in a jog while on the road, she rescheduled a few of her Halycon Days tour dates to run the 13.1 mile course, along with 15,000 ladies and a few gents. Before playing a private concert for runners on the eve of the marathon, we chatted with Goulding about setting goals, running through hangovers and how she might’ve sprained her bum.
Have you been running since you were a kid? I actually didn’t run that much when I was young. I wasn’t very athletic. I went to a shit school that didn’t encourage athletics. Whenever there was a cross-country race, I remember being quite good even though I had severe asthma. When I was 18, I decided to start running again and I kind of just haven’t stopped since. I’ve gotten better and better at it, especially in the last month [of training]. When you’ve got aim for something, you realize that you perform better as a runner.
Which requires more focus and discipline, physical training or vocal training? They both require discipline. My vocal warm up has to be very controlled. I can’t just warm up and belt out a vocal run. I have to do really calm runs. And if I’m feeling nervous or particularly stressed for a show, it’s really hard to stand there and hum. So that does require a lot of discipline, even the weird exercises where you pop your throat, requires a lot of patience. With running, I’m quite an impatient runner. I just want to run fast and do it. But then I’ve had to slow myself down, because I know that I won’t be able to run at the pace that I’m running at for 13 miles.
What leaves you more winded, taking a run or playing a show? Definitely taking a run. Doing a show, is more emotionally taxing. I didn’t realize that the emotions that I have to have to do these songs and to revisit the emotion that I had when I wrote them, is quite sort of taxing and you do get exhausted. With running, I get back I’m like, I need food!
Why did you decide to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon? I knew it was time to do another half, it’s been too long since my last one. I actually cancelled some shows in Germany to come over and do this marathon. But I’m doing them again in like a week’s time. It just sounded really fun. DC is cool place to run, it’s relatively flat.
You’re constantly on tour, where is the most beautiful or challenging place that you’ve taken a run? Phoenix Park in Dublin is a beautiful place to run; they have deer. The Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia is quite gorgeous. You’re like, Ooh, that’s pretty, that’s nice, looking at all the herbs and stuff. And then I’ve done runs in a few quite rough areas where there’s poverty. I’ve seen both sides of cities, the really bleak areas. In Helsinki, I ran through some estates and then I ran through the city which is all grand and royal. Also, that was tough because it was very cold and Baltic, like the sea was frozen.
Have you ever puked on a run or run through a bad hangover? Yes! I did a run in Warsaw with a really hard trainer that was like “I don’t know how to slow down.” She was so fast. I had a really intense stomachache and I couldn’t get rid of it. The whole way around I was white like a sheet. I’ve definitely run through hangovers and I’ve run on no sleep. I figure a lot of people run on no sleep, I’m sure your body can deal with it.
What do you listen to when you run? At the moment I listen to Seven Lions a lot, this dubstep guy. MS MR, I really like them, they’re a NY duo. I listen to this guy called Analdi, it’s this sort of classical stuff, with piano and strings, that’s really beautiful and relaxing. I like anything from like the most ridiculous, loudest decibel dubstep to really relaxing classical music.
Do you ever get spotted by fans while running? Is that annoying for you? No, never. Very rarely, if I do, I just give a wave and carry on.
Other than running, what exercises do you do to keep your legs fit? They look great. I do squats and burpees, all sorts of stuff in the gym. I was doing some lunges this morning and it really hurts now. Ooops! I think I sprained my bum.