Out There Mothers

Make The Camille Herron Training Plan Work For You!

If you’re a mom with a long-distance race on your horizon, squeezing a 3-hour run into your full-time child-raising busy mom schedule is tougher than recovering from birthing a 7-8 lb human.

How can you possibly prepare for a marathon without regular long runs?

This perspective was shattered when ultrarunning champ, Camille Herron, spilled one of her secrets. The tried and tested Camille Herron training plan helped smash numerous ultrarunning world records, ranging from 50 to over 200 miles, throughout her career.

Herron’s advice: “Skip the long run.”

This is great news for moms who barely have time to change into or out of workout clothes. But there’s more to the “Skip the Long Run” method than relying on chill 5Ks to get you across a finish line 26.2+ miles away. 

Inspired by Herron’s approach to running, this article shares how it can be modified to benefit your training when you don’t have hours for long runs.

The Camille Herron Training Method

The Camille Herron training plan involves replacing endurance-building long runs with “double runs” or “two-a-days” throughout the week. 

Rather than pounding pavement for 30 miles at a time, Herron runs twice per day, splitting her mileage to around 15 during a mid-day workout and around 6 miles in the evening after 4 to 8 hours of rest. 

She does this several days during the week, culminating in 12 to 13 runs every 7 seven days. Although she is treating her body to shorter runs (you know, by ultra training standards), Herron’s weekly mileage still rounds out at 100+ miles. 

Double running is a training strategy used by elites and runners, unbound by the constant hands-on demands of parenthood. In this training plan, runners run two times per day, usually once in the morning and once in the evening, with up to a 10-hour rest period between.

The Science of the Camille Herron Training Plan

Running twice per day centered on building bone strength.

science behind the camille herron training plan

Trail Runner Magazine summarizes how the bone adapts in this excellent article on Herron’s Advice for Ultra Athletes

As you start running, bones immediately adapt to the force being put on them. When the force (mechanical stress) increases, bone cells are triggered to strengthen the bone by building…well, more bone.

This adaptation is how bones become stronger during exercise.

Here’s the kicker: Bone cells eventually stop responding to that mechanical stress and cease adapting. This happens when those miles add up, and the bone cells sort of become bored with the repetition. 

Numb to the force being applied, bone cells begin removing material. This causes weakening, which is ultimately followed by injury.

The Theory

By substituting a tiring 3-hour plod with two shorter runs cushioned by a 4- to 8-hour rest period in between, your bone cells will remain alert to the stress being applied to your body and, therefore, continue adapting to it. 

Because your first run ends before the cells deconstruct the bone tissue, your body retains that bone growth. Cells will build on top of it during your second run, leading to stronger bones!

The Benefits of Camille Herron’s Approach to Running

The Camille Herron training plan makes sure your body works more efficiently. It covers everything, from how it uses glycogen (muscle’s chief energy source) to speeding up recovery.

Primary benefits of double running

  • Strengthens bones
  • Easier on your body
  • Trains body to work more efficiently
  • Less burnout from long runs
  • Promotes faster recovery
  • Burns more fat with enhanced glycogen management
  • Boosts mileage without sacrificing a rest day during the week

Double running with shorter distances is an alternative to time-consuming runs. This can offer a solution for those who can’t take time away from their busy schedules to increase their overall mileage.

Long Runs Still Matter

Studies show that the Camille Herron training plan can help you increase mileage and crush a new PR.

But those same studies advise us to keep long runs in our training—just maybe not as many as we thought necessary to prepare for a long-distance race.

Long runs are superior to building muscle and increasing endurance

They also give you a platform to practice your fueling and hydration strategy, experiencing how your body reacts to specific measures.

"There are so many benefits you gain from longer runs. You experience the physical and mental fatigue and learn how to manage that."
Lyndal Maloney
Fit woman running along path

Make the Camille Herron Training Plan Work for You

Running twice daily isn’t exclusive to those in the elite category. When I began training for a marathon after having a baby, I often split my mileage between running in the morning and at night to achieve double digits in a 24-hour period.

Although you may not be able to match Herron’s double run distances of 15 miles in the morning and 6 miles at night, you can still absorb double running benefits with 20- to 40-minute runs twice per day.

The trick to embracing this method is to tailor it to what you can realistically achieve based on your ability and availability.

Tips to Incorporate Double Runs into Your Life

The Camille Herron training plan isn’t as straightforward as running twice daily. In fact, here are some tips to help you maximize double runs and insert them into your daily schedule.

Double run 1-2 days per week

Double running risks burnout, so don’t expect yourself to do it daily. Double runs once or twice per week will radiate the benefits you’re hoping for.

Do what feels good for your body

Herron found running 30 miles at a time during training left her body too tired afterward. She felt faster and more energized when she switched to running shorter distances twice daily.

"[While training last year] I skipped the long runs—I only got to 16km, but ran a marathon personal best at 3:42...I felt so good on race day!"
Rose Schuddinh

Have your first run be longer than your second

Crush your greater distance first to challenge your body. Use your first run for any speed work, hills, or strategy.

Go easy on your second run

Treat your second run of the day like a cool-down to massage your leg muscles. Don’t worry about pace, intervals, tempos, or hills. Just enjoy the jog.

Try alternative times

What if running in the morning and then in the evening isn’t an option? You may opt to run at night, go to sleep, and then run the next morning.

How to prevent overtraining

To ensure adding an extra jaunt doesn’t lead to extra injury, practice the following tips:

Ease into more mileage

If you’re not used to running 8 miles a pop, start with 5 and slowly work your way up to your goal.

Prioritize warm-ups and cool-downs

Sandwich your workout between light-intensity exercises to wake up your body for the main run, then help it recover after.

Respect your recovery or rest days

Herron never does long runs back to back. The day after a long run or tough workout should be reserved for a rest day, which gives the muscles you worked a chance to repair and recover.

Don't give training runs your all

Training runs are meant to build physical strength, not degrade it. Running as hard as you can during training could injure or deplete you on race day.

Honor easy runs

If every run is a hard run, you’re asking for injury and burnout. Follow difficult workouts with mellow, low-stress jogs to massage your muscles

Bottom half of person running along a road

FAQs

How Many Miles Is a Long Run?

In the same way, there’s no concrete answer to anything regarding motherhood; there’s no specific distance for what’s considered a long run.

Your custom long run mileage depends on your:

Fitness level

You can’t expect yourself to launch into a 10-mile long run when you’ve only done 5Ks up to this point. Long runs are merely a stretch of your usual distance.

For those new to long runs, I suggest finding your long run mileage by either doubling or adding 2-3 miles to what you’d consider a comfortable running distance.

Weekly mileage

Jack Daniels, Olympic athlete coach, exercise psychologist, and author of enough running books to dominate a small bookshelf, recommends that your long run should be 20-25 percent of your weekly distance

For example, a 21-mile week would include a 5-mile long run and a 50-mile week would have a long run of 12.5 miles. 

Race distance

A 5K doesn’t require the same mileage preparation as a marathon. My favorite tip, picked up while eavesdropping on running conversations during races, is to make sure you can run 75 percent of the distance. 

After that, allow adrenaline and the free banana at the finish line to propel you the rest of the way. 

How long you run to prepare for a race really depends on what motivates you and what you can manage. Just make sure your long runs are a practice in extending your effort to ensure you’re getting the endurance benefits with it. 

What Is considered an Easy Run?

Put your running effort (aka Rate of Perceived Effort/RPE) on a 10-point scale, with 10 being your maximum effort.

An easy run should fall around 6 or 7 on the scale—it gets your heart going, but you maintain plenty of reserves throughout the run.

To learn more about RPE, check out our article on interval training.

How Long Should I Wait between Runs?

When running two-a-days, you should rest no less than 4 hours after your first run. 

The general suggestion is to set your rest period between 4 and 8 hours. Some runners rest for up to 10 hours.

How Long Is an Ultramarathon?

Any distance longer than a marathon (26.2 miles) is considered an ultramarathon.

While the shortest standard for a respectable ultramarathon is 30 miles (50K), I highly recommend celebrating yourself as an ultrarunner for any fraction of a mile beyond a 26.2 marathon distance.

Long runs versus double runs in the camille herron training plan

Final Thoughts on the Camille Herron Training Plan

It’s true all runners can benefit from the Camille Herron training plan. But remember, there’s a reason the double run method is most popular among elite professional athletes—they simply have the time and support to do it. I’m talking sponsorship support!

If our working hours were devoted to running and we made a hefty paycheck from it, everyone reading this would be winning ultras left and right.

For most of us, though, our would-be double running windows are usually filled by parenting and working at jobs that don’t pay us to run far.

"Short, high intensity training is perfect for this stage of life; but it's only really going to work if you have time to do it this way... It's unrealistic to think that working parents could do anything like what [Herron] does."
Lyndal Maloney

At the end of the day, whether or not you can add double running to your routine isn’t what makes you a good runner. Your brilliance comes from your refusal to drop running from your life, even when there’s a mudslide of parenting woes prying you to do so.

Long run or double run—you’re a badass either way.

Final Note:

Fellow running mummas made some comments about their take on Herron’s approach which have been included in this article. Thanks to our running community who always keep it real for us moms out there!

"[While training last year] I skipped the long runs—I only got to 16km, but ran a marathon personal best at 3:42...I felt so good on race day! Previously, I got my long run up to 32km and got to the start line tired and sore, and I ran about a 4:10. Plus, I didn't have to write off a whole weekend day with a long run followed by being useless the rest of the day."
Rose Schuddinh
"There are so many benefits you gain from longer runs. You experience the physical and mental fatigue and learn how to manage that. You get to plan for and practice your fueling and hydration strategy, work out the sustainability of your gear, problem solve issues as they arise, dig yourself out of mental downturns, etc."
Lyndal Maloney
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