Run­ning While On the Road

White­horse’s Luke Doucet might be Canada’s fastest rock star

Canadian Running - - RUNNING CELEBRITY -

While the vast ma­jor­ity of marathon­ers spend the day be­fore their big race re­lax­ing and ner­vously await­ing what’s to come the fol­low­ing morn­ing, Luke Doucet of­ten finds him­self on his feet.

Doucet and his wife Melissa McClel­land are on stage many Satur­day nights of the year per­form­ing as the rock out­fit White­horse. This De­cem­ber, Doucet de­cided to fit a marathon into a short tour of the Amer­i­can Pa­cific North­west. “I de­cided to run the Cal­i­for­nia In­ter­na­tional Marathon in Sacra­mento,” says the 43-year-old who, when not in a tour van, calls Toronto home. The night be­fore the race, Doucet and McClel­land were on­stage in San Fran­cisco play­ing a head­lin­ing gig. Af­ter the en­core, they got in the tour van with their en­tourage, in­clud­ing their two-year-old son Jimi, and drove two hours north so he could tuck in a 42.2k race at 7 a.m. the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Af­ter the race, they hit the road for a gig in Port­land, Ore. that evening.

“Rock and roll has its life­style pit­falls,” Doucet wryly. “Ev­ery­one is cel­e­brat­ing around you while you work, and in my mid-30s I de­cided that I’d kind of like to do this for­ever.” So he started to curb the cava­lier ap­proach to eat­ing, sleep­ing and par­ty­ing em­braced by many mu­si­cians on tour. But it wasn’t un­til McCel­land made a crack at his slow­ing me­tab­o­lism that Doucet de­cided to make a big change.

“Melissa made one joke at the ex­pense of my waist­line and I just said, “OK, got it.”

He started run­ning five, then six days a week. Af­ter he re­al­ized he’d been run­ning ev­ery­day he tried run­ning a half-marathon dis­tance. He was hooked, and now has run sev­eral marathons, in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive 2:46 per­sonal best.

With the ex­cep­tion of a few months try­ing to sell of­fice fur­ni­ture in Van­cou­ver, Doucet has been a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian since he was a teenager. His con­stant tour­ing and record­ing sched­ule was ini­tially a chal­lenge to his run­ning, but he started to em­brace the chance to run in all sorts of strange places. “I kept a log for a while, and I had 130 cities that I’ve run in,” Doucet says. “There’s no bet­ter way to get to know a city than to go out and kill 15k in it.”

Doucet says he has a soft spot for run­ning in the Cana­dian Prairies, par­tic­u­larly Win­nipeg, where he grew up af­ter spend­ing his early years in Halifax. “There’s noth­ing bet­ter than go­ing for a run out my mom’s front door,” he says of his go-to route when he passes through on the sum­mer fes­ti­val cir­cuit.

Just as Doucet’s fall 2016 wrapped up, White­horse fin­ished record­ing a new al­bum of orig­i­nal ma­te­rial that was recorded in Toronto and Brook­lyn. “A sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of my writ­ing out­put in the last six years has been a prod­uct of, and deeply inf lu­enced by, my runs,” he says, not­ing that run­ning is essen­tially a drone. “Your brain starts to do stuff to en­ter­tain it­self. I’m not even nec­es­sar­ily aware of it; but af­ter a week or two it drives me crazy and I’ll sit down with a gui­tar.” That’s when Doucet latches onto a lyric and the mu­sic at the same time.

The new record prom­ises to be some­what of a mu­si­cal de­par­ture for the band, who’ve been la­belled as “Amer­i­cana,” even though they have al­ways ex­plored ev­ery­thing from blues to tracks driven by a drum ma­chine. The up­com­ing al­bum will have “Por­tishead, Bri­tish trip hop and Beck el­e­ments,” Doucet says, per­haps again al­low­ing the cere­bral na­ture of the run creep into their song craft.

Doucet thinks he’ll prob­a­bly skip a spring marathon, as it’s al­ways tough to fig­ure out the lo­gis­tics of tuck­ing in a marathon as he did while on the road in De­cem­ber. “That’s partly why I chose last fall to get into train­ing hard,” he laughs, know­ing that the first half of 2017 will be fo­cused on sup­port­ing the al­bum, and get­ting back to some of his favourite run­ning spots while on the road.—


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