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Musician Carly Pearce On Making Time To Run While Touring

CMT Music Awards winner Carly Pearce explains how she makes time for running while staying on top of a busy touring schedule.

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Photo of Carly Pearce by Harper Smith.

Prioritizing Running And Music

One of the things that makes running such a widely practiced sport is its accessibility: a person really can run just about anywhere. For individuals with jobs that involve strict or endlessly changing schedules, running is all the more appealing. It doesn’t require access to a court or a duffel bag’s worth of gear—all one needs to run is a pair of trusty shoes and appropriate clothing to hit the trails and get in a full-body workout. This is why running is especially appealing to musicians like Carly Pearce, who are constantly traveling and always adjusting to new environments, unsure of what gym access (if any) they’ll have at the next tour stop.

Pearce began making moves to pursue a full-time music career when she was 16, and she began running two years later. In the decade since, she’s gained momentum in the country music world, earning her first win at the CMT Music Awards earlier this year in the “Breakthrough Video of the Year” category for her “Every Little Thing” music video. Pearce will be touring throughout the summer and into the fall with Rascal Flatts and Luke Bryan as part of a heavy string of concert dates that’ll keep her on the road for months. Near the beginning of the tour, Pearce spoke with Women’s Running over the phone to explain how running keeps her centered and why it’s become such an important part of her daily life.

You seem to have known from a very young age that pursuing music was the right path for you. What made you so sure?

I honestly don’t know. From the time I could form sentences, I told my parents that I wanted to be a country singer and move to Nashville and sing at the [Grand Ole] Opry. It was truly my destiny.

Which artists or bands did you listen to when you were a kid?

A lot of bluegrass: Alison Krauss and her band Union Station, and I loved classic country like Dolly [Parton] and Loretta [Lynn]. I found Shania [Twain] and Trisha Yearwood and the Dixie Chicks, and that was really what hit for me as what I wanted to do.

To what extent is running part of your life?

I started running when I was 18, so I’ve been running for about 10 years. It’s a lifestyle for me. It’s not a pain or a chore. I really do enjoy and love running.

What does an ideal run look like for you?

On some sort of greenway; I definitely love running outside. I actually prefer to run alone, and I will listen to music. I try to do 6 to 10 miles on a good, long run. I’ve done a few half marathons, but I like just going out to have a great run I can feel good about.

What music do you listen to while running?

I change it up; I’ll listen to 2000s pop and boy bands, I’ll listen to Beyonce and Top 40 country radio to get my head in what else is out there. I listen to Shania Radio…it just depends.

How does running inspire your music, and vice versa?

I’ve gotten a lot of song ideas out on runs. I live a very busy and loud life, and I think that those moments where I can truly be by myself and be alone with my thoughts is where I feel the most centered and where I feel very creative. Running is that outlet for me.

Do you write songs while running?

I come up with lyrics, maybe a line or a title or maybe a melody will come to me.

You have a lot of tour stops on your schedule this summer. How will you fit running in?

I either every morning go to a gym and get miles in on a treadmill, which isn’t my favorite but is sometimes what you have to do when you’re out on the road and don’t have familiarity. But my bass player is also a runner, so we sometimes run together.

Running in New Hampshire is very different than running in the humidity in Nashville, and I can feel the difference in altitude when we’re in Colorado. But you can definitely feel it.

From your experience, what tips would you offer runners who are trying to make time for the sport when they’re already managing hectic schedules?

I think you just have to make time for it, whether it’s getting up the extra hour in the morning to fit it in or staying up an extra hour at night. It’s just a part of my day in a way that other things on my work list are. It’s very important to me. You just have to prioritize it.

Are you involved in any other sports? Why does running remain a pulling force for you?

I tried, but I am very much not an athlete. I always wanted to be an athlete because I’m so tall and my dad is an athlete. When I started running, that was my way of feeling athletic.

What are some of the nutrition strategies you employ in order to stay healthy while touring?

I would say that’s the hardest part of touring for me. I’m a super militant eater, so I have no problem saying no to things. It’s just a matter of trying to find a way to eat your way on the road. I go to the grocery store when I’m traveling on the bus, I pack snacks; I always have a plan. I meal-prep, knowing where I’m going to go and what situation I’m going to be in.

When you’re onstage as much as we are, you just want to feel good. The traveling is sometimes horrendous and strenuous, and you have to feel good. I think when I started getting into running I started taking healthy eating seriously.

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered as a runner?

Getting past the first mile. It’s always the hardest for me. And finding the right shoes.

You just won your first CMT Music Award and are in the midst of a busy summer tour. What’s next for you in the months and years ahead?

I am heavy into touring right now; I’ve had a really busy year of touring. I’m starting to think about my next album and will hopefully headline some small club tour of my own. I’ll continue to keep working at it.


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