Exclusive : Comrades Winner Camille Herron Q&A Interview – Part 2

Camille Herron Wins Comrades
"I hope that winning Comrades can create more respect and interest in ultra road running amongst Americans" -Camille Herron

In the second part of our exclusive Q&A interview Camille shares her inspirations and ambitions, some of the lessons she has learned, and also reflects on the best and worst advice she has received.

What was the hardest part about running the Route 66 Marathon dressed as spider man ?
Hahaa, the chafing and having to go the restroom (but I wasn’t allowed to zip off the costume!).

What was the hardest part about winning the 2017 Comrades Marathon ?
Having a sore hammy and not being able to open my stride the final 30-40K. I was more limited by my hammy than fatigue from the race.

How fast was your very first marathon?
I ran 2:48:36 at the 2007 Eugene Marathon

What is your approach to dealing with self-doubt.
I joke that I have the biggest cheerleader in my head when I race! I gain mental strength from my training, so as long as I train hard and prepare well, even if I’m not in top level fitness, this helps me overcome any doubts.

I partially tore my MCL at a trail race in mid-March this yr. I had to rest for 2 wks and only had 2 months to train for Comrades. I put the nose to the grindstone and had 8 wks of solid training, while being mindful to listen to my body if I needed more rest.

It was through the support of my medical team and reassurance by my husband/coach that I was able to race Comrades this yr! Surrounding yourself with positive people who reassure you is important.

Name three people who have inspired you to your achievements thus far.
I’ll collectively mention people from 3 phases of my life. Having heroes is very important!
Our parents were my first inspiration– Dad and our grandpa played basketball at Oklahoma State, and I grew up wanted to play basketball in college. Our Mom was probably the better athlete though– swimming/golf/bowling. She had a quiet tenacity and didn’t have the competitive opportunities like we do today. I got Dad’s long arms and legs and Mom’s strong heart and lungs.

When I got serious with the running after college, my husband and Bill Rodgers were my inspirations for the marathon. I had lived and seen the commitment it took from watching my husband when he was an elite marathoner. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him!

I have Bill’s Rodger’s autobiography, which has traveled the world with me. I found his training logs on the internet 10+ yrs ago– he inspired me to put in consistent high mileage and get into the back-to-back marathons.

Finally, Bruce Fordyce and Yiannis Kouros were my inspirations for ultrarunning. I’ve known about Bruce and Comrades since getting my first running book, Lore of Running, in Jr High. I couldn’t wrap my head around how Bruce and Yiannis do what they do, but now I’m starting to grasp it. I want to go much further like what Yiannis did!

What lesson(s) about running do you wish you’d learned earlier ?
I’ve learned with age and experience to rest more after races and when I’m tired in the middle of heavy training. I’ve become more cognizant of rest and recovery within training, when dealing with injuries, and trying to maximize sleep and such.

I’ve learned with the ultrarunning to hydrate and fuel better. I wish I had known what I know when I was a marathoner! I thrive on always having at least 1 bottle with me throughout a race (stuck in my shorts!) and hydrating as needed. I aim to get in 60-95g of carbohydrates/per hr, drink as needed, and sip on some sports drink as needed.

I had a lot of injuries in high school and college, and I wish someone had educated me on taking my easy days easier and hard days hard. I didn’t really understand how to train until my husband began coaching me– I started being healthier and being able to handle more mileage once I slowed down the pace on my easy runs.

I’ve experimented a lot over the yrs with things like heat training, altitude training, strength training, vertical/hill training, mileage, and iron supplementation. I’ve learned you can overdo these things– you don’t want to cook your goose!
Everything is an added layer of stress, and how and when you apply these stresses is important. People can tend to get overzealous and run down from doing too much. Being rested and feeling good on the starting line is important!

Other than winning Comrades again, what race would you most like to win in the next year or two?
I recognize that I need to space out my goals and maximize my talent at the right time, while focusing on being healthy too. I shouldn’t try to do it all at once!
Right now I want to chase the hardest speed records, including the 100K road American Record, 12 hr/100 mile road/track World Records, and the 24 hr WR.

This fall, I’m racing Templiers in France and The North Face 50. I think that going for wins and course records at Western States and Leadville are good goals.
Beyond that though, I’d love to tackle some of the harder trail courses like UTMB and Hardrock and some of the classics like Spartathlon, Badwater, and Marathon des Sables.

Would you ever compete in some of the more extreme ultras like Badwater or Marathon des Sables
Hahaa, you read my mind– see my answer above! I met this yr’s Marathon des Sables (actually a 2-time winner), Elisabet Barnes, a few wks ago and was in awe!!!

I’d love to do the Self-Transcendence race in NYC, which is 3100 miles around a neighborhood block.

I really feel that there’s something special inside of me to keep going longer and see what’s possible! I feel like I could do what Yiannis Kouros did and push the limits and my own limits.

Pick three favorite movies and three favorite tv shows.
My husband and I were just talking about this! Favorite movie is Forrest Gump, and favorite TV show is The West Wing. It gets hard to limit it to 3 after that– so many great movies and TV shows!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received ?
Frank Shorter signed a poster for me at the 2003 OKC Memorial Marathon expo that said, "Run for stress relief!" I was a pre-med student at the time, and I really took this to heart that I need to use running as a form of relaxation and stress relief from my studies.

I started slowing down the pace. It was within a year that my running began to take off, and I could run more than I ever had! It’s amazing how a shift in how you feel and view running can transform you.

What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received ?
My former agent (and I stress the former part!) told me that no one cared what I had done as a road racer and that I had to be a trail-runner to gain respect within domestic ultra-running/trail-running community.

I had worked so hard to do what I did in 2015 (winning the 50K and 100K World titles). I realized I needed to follow my heart and do the things that light my fire and not care what others think. I choose to surround myself with positive people who support my goals and what I want to do with my career!

I hope that winning Comrades can create more respect and interest in ultra road running amongst Americans – there is such a strong culture devoted to trail-running. Internationally though, ultra road racing is the most competitive and most intense of the ultra running world.

The best ultrarunners are competing on the roads and at Comrades. I would love for more Americans and people worldwide to experience the magic of it!

Click here for Part 1 of this interview

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