‘This is my London route’ said Luke Wood as we set out for a scenic, sweaty run around the capital. The President of Beats by Dr. Dre travels a lot and has his favourite routes in the all the cities he visits, using running to explore new places. Armed with a perfectly curated playlist at the ready, we set out to find out more about his love of running and music -
When did you start running?
I started running when I was 26-years-old and I’d just finished touring in a rock band. I basically decided that I didn’t want to get old, so started to run and I’ve not stopped since.
What’s your biggest running achievement?
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s never being injured. I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve never suffered any injury to slow me down.
How often do you run?
A good friend of mine Glen Plake, who is a professional mountain skier once told me his philosophy on fitness, which was to workout every single day. If you think back to 10,000 BC, people didn’t have the choice, they had to hunt, they had to walk from town to town, there was no day off. I’m definitely not a coach or a trainer, but it sounded good to me, so I just run every single day.
Wow, that is an achievement. What’s drives you to lace up your trainers every single day?
There’s three things I get from running; the first is just a general state of fitness, the second is mindfulness – running gives me the ability to focus my mind and think about everything in a really new and fresh way and thirdly, I find running is a time to completely embrace music. Music is one of the most important things in the world to me and I just love that opportunity.
Do you always run with music?
I do. I think some runners consider this to be antisocial, but I look at it in a very cinematic way. On runs like today I feel part of a community and part of London and my music is just a soundtrack - I’m watching this great narrative of all these different stories as they pass me by. ‘Oh look they’re dating and there’s that cute family again and oh they’re fighting’, you see all this and the music is just the soundtrack.
How do you create a running playlist that you don’t get bored of?
Well, I like a diverse group of genres, but on my phone I have about 40 different running playlists and at this point I know what they do. They each have an emotion and a feeling assigned to them and they’re a mix. Some of them will be a mix of soul, R&B, 80’s hip hop, others will be punk rock, hardcore, others will be deep house into Buddy Holly – just a totally weird mix of genres. I think it’s a little private, kind of like trying to pick what you want to eat for dinner, what do I want to programme as my feeling and then I know oh run 17, that’s that feeling.
What’s the secret to putting together a running playlist?
I think you need to start with a core idea, so for example if I’m looking to hear new things I’ll use a new Apple music playlist or listen to Zane Lowe on Beats1. If something doesn’t feel right to you then don’t force it, change the song out. It’s like programming any sort of music, you’re telling a story – it’s not really about pace, tempo, key, song narrative, it’s about how all the songs feel together.
Do you share you runs or do you keep them to yourself?
I quite like to have some idea of my pace, just because it’s interesting and somehow gives me an indicator of my emotional temperament. I don’t feel one way or another about my pace – I don’t feel disappointed or uplifted, I just like to know, it’s like a quick check of ‘oh I’ve got some energy today’, or ‘oh I better eat something’, and then I move on, I don’t look back.
You travel a lot for your job, if you had to pick, where has been your favourite place to run?
My most memorable run was in Cambodia, I was just outside Siem Reap and I got completely lost and ended up in a town with no electricity – it ended up being a very long run! If I had my way, I love to run in the forests in the mountains. Running in Germany is beautiful. I love to run in the snow; I did an amazing run once in Reykjavik in the snow, which was unbelievably beautiful. I just run wherever I am, but to touch back into a sense of community and being part of the world is so important to me – we all get so busy with our lives, so to move away and just be in this transparent place with other humans where we’re all equal is such a great feeling.