Rockstar Athlete: Mike Dimkich of The Cult

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Image via Kristof Acke

Here at Endomondo, we like to think of all of our users as rockstar athletes but Mike Dimkich is a true rockstar athlete. By day he’s racking up miles and by night he’s rocking out on stage with The Cult. Pretty cool, huh? We thought so and Mike was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his rockstar athlete lifestyle. 

1. The word rockstar doesn’t exactly conjure up images of running shoes and bottled water. How/when did you get into running and cycling?

Well, around 1990 I was playing in the solo band of Steve Jones (Sex Pistols guitarist) and we had some big gigs opening for The Cult (which is how I became friendly with them) and I went to try on my favorite leather pants (this was still the late-80s pretty and I was 22 let’s remember) and they didn’t fit! I was horrified. So, the next morning I began running—roughly 1km from my house to the main boulevard where I would sit on the curb and dry heave and then stagger back home. Well, I kept at it and by 1993 was running 10K races and started marathoning in 1995. I was at a good 64 kilos or so by then (and have remained there or lower ever since). So, it all started out strictly due to vanity but, hey, whatever gets you there, eh?

2. You’ve participated in marathons and ultras, what race have you most enjoyed?

My first marathon was pretty epic (and hideous as I was woefully under-prepared) but I’d say I enjoyed the Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run the most. 100 miles through some of the most rugged and gorgeous mountains that the Western USA has to offer. Couple that with heat (90-100F) and it made for a real test of fitness and will. I loved it. Another great race was some marathon here in Southern California that I entered without any expectations but I had started training with some guys who were faster than me—I ran once a week with them for about one month. Come race day I knocked about 12 minutes off of my marathon PR without even trying! That was a lovely feeling. One of my least favorite races was a road marathon when I was shooting for a PR and Boston Marathon qualifying time. I did both but the course was hilly (not what was advertised) and there was a head wind for half of the race. When I finished I was underwhelmed to say the least. Ha! Also, Comrades Marathon in South Africa was brutal. A nice “feather in the cap” but just a wicked, nasty 90km road race. Ugh!

3. Have you suffered any sports injuries?

Who hasn’t?! Yes. I was shockingly injury free for years but in 2001 I was really going for it—I’d done the Angeles Crest 100-Mile and PR’d on the road and really was pushing hard at road marathons and I came up with a hip injury/strain of some sort that just lingered for ages. It didn’t really hurt but was a nagging strain. It was at this point that I really got into road cycling, surprise, surprise! The injury eventually faded and I’ve done a fair number of marathons and ultras since (including Comrades actually). No real knee issues or anything obvious like that so I’ve been very fortunate. As I’ve gotten older I’ve had some Plantar Fascia and other foot issues over the past couple of years which actually surprised me. Those will knock you down just as surely as a broken leg! I broke my collar bone in a cycling crash 3-days before a Cult tour of Europe with The Who. That sucked! I had surgery and flew to Europe 36-hours later and did the tour. The band was pretty shocked when I showed up grey from surgery, swathed in bandages from road rash and in a sling (and vaguely out of it on pain killers, ha!). That was a tour! The crew called me “Chuck Yeager” after the famous US test pilot who broke the sound barrier the day after breaking his collar bone when he was thrown from a horse. That was high praise!

4. Music is clearly a lifelong passion of yours. What music do you listen to while working out?

I have never, ever listened to music while training as I don’t want to end up like Alec in “A Clockwork Orange” and associate the pain of some workouts with music I enjoy! Granted, I’ve been subjected to plenty of music in hotel gyms while touring and hated it. I enjoy the silence and being attuned to my surroundings.

5. When touring do you find yourself running or cycling more?

I’d say generally I run more while touring. I always come home with tons of miles in my legs and threaten to run a marathon again but there’s yet to be one that dove-tailed. Also, after a month or so of running I’m ready to get back on the bike! The last few tours I’ve actually done an equal amount of riding and, if I’m running-injured, I will cycle exclusively on tour. It requires a lot more planning and time but I have enough friends worldwide that I can usually get someone to meet up with me and take me out for a spin. Obviously, running requires less knowledge of a foreign city and less room to roam if I’m in a particularly urban area but when I’m in Europe I really make an effort to get out to the countryside for a big ride.

6. Keeping a fitness schedule can be tough just day to day. How to you stay motivated while on tour?

Yeah, it would be so easy to blow off training but I just force myself to get out there and I never regret it when I’ve completed a run/ride. The absolute hardest runs for me are after a 20-30 hour bus ride or long haul flight when I arrive at the hotel at 10 or 11pm in some foreign city. I will get my shoes on and do at least 70-90 minutes of running. This is somewhat easier during summer hours in cities where at least it is still light out when I start. On normal gig days I sometimes split my runs into two—a longer one in the “morning” which is often noon! Then a shorter run right before a gig as a “pick me up”. The fear of taking a day or two off and that leading to a week off keeps me going. It just requires some dedication and no fear of running at odd hours or in odd places (like the long-term car park at Milan’s airport).

7. You’ve been able to travel across the globe.  Where have you had your most beautiful run/ride?

The best ride I did was when we stayed in San Sebastian in The Basque Country. I’d done a great 130km ride on our day off and we had a gig in Vitoria the following night. Well, we were to leave the hotel at 11am and then sit around the festival site all day til we played at 7pm!? I was having none of that, so I put all my luggage on the bus and grabbed four tubes, frame pump, CO2 & a wind vest and headed from San Sebastian to Vitoria. Well, it’s 100km by car on the autopista but I took the “routes nacional” along the coast and through the mountains which stretched the ride to about 150km and it was awesome! I got to Vitoria and, having no idea where the gig was exactly, I just followed the sound of music and rolled right to our bus. The Basque roads were immaculate and the drivers showed so much respect to cyclists. That was a great ride!

8.  Have you met a lot of other running/cycling enthusiasts along your travels?

I often have to hit the local shop for a tube or just to have a look around and usually get to chatting with the staff. They usually ask me what I’m doing in town and I tell them—usually offering some tickets for the evening’s gig as I don’t often have any guests. Now I have a whole network of mostly cycling friends all over the planet and Europe in particular. Also, my pal Brian Holm always puts his riders who come to train in Southern California in touch with me so that has expanded my cycling pals for sure. It has also let me ride with Mark Cavendish/Bernie Eisel, The Velits Twins and most of Highroad and Quick Step. I usually have some pretty cool pro cycling guests at our Euro gigs! I’m a cycling geek so that is fine by me!

9. Can you tell us what a Cult fan can expect on your upcoming tour?

Well, we are playing a number of tunes from the new album “Choice of Weapon” plus plenty of the “hits” if you will. Also, we always pull some cool rare tunes out of the bag to keep it interesting and odd! The band never “phones it in”—the gigs are always unpredictable and real, like a proper rock and roll show should be. If one wants perfection then they can listen to a CD in their car I think. I’d rather see a potential trainwreck when a band goes for it or unbelievable gig than just a version of a Broadway musical, ya know?!

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