How running helped Lucy Campbell surf like a pro

How running helped Lucy Campbell surf like a pro
Huck x HOKA ONE ONE — With an eye on the 2020 Olympics, surfer Lucy Campbell is hoping her athletic instincts will pay off on a quest for gold. Lucy's story is the latest in our Huck x Hoka One One series, looking at mavericks who found a new perspective through running.

When most people go surfing, they don’t have a plan. They’re out there to ride whatever waves come their way; they’re happy go with the flow. Lucy Campbell, however, has a different approach. When she goes surfing, she likes to set challenges for herself.

 The 22-year-old pro surfer from Devon, who hopes to qualify for the Olympics in 2020, often tells herself: “I’m not getting out of the water until I’ve done three turns on a wave, or until I’ve done a proper carve where I’ve remembered to put my hand here, or looked back at the whitewater, or whatever.”

Huck-x-Hoka-Lucy-Campbell-select2
Such a habit is a legacy from Lucy’s days as a competitive runner. She was one of the best young middle distance athletes in the UK until foot injuries forced her to quit. She still runs for fun, but one of the things she misses most about her athletics training was how easy it was to measure progression.

“I miss racing against the clock,” she says. “That feeling of improvement, of pushing yourself, and knowing next time you’re going to be better. With surfing it’s tricky to know if you’re improving.”

Her biggest frustrations with the sport are the vagaries of quantifying good surfing – the way one judge might score a wave as a 10, while another might say it’s an eight – as well as relying on the ever-shifting sea conditions. “There are so many different variables in surfing that are so far from your control,” she says, “With athletics, it was just me, my trainers and the track. Just go for it. I liked that.”

Lucy has been running for as long as she can remember. As a child, she used to race her older brothers along the beach after school. “I was always really competitive with them,” she says. “They were quite a bit older, but I still tried as hard as I could to keep up with them. I don’t think I ever really thought about the fact they were boys, I just thought I should be as fast as them.”

Huck-x-Hoka-Lucy-Campbell-select5
It’s a mentality she’s also brought to her surfing. She joined the local lifesaving club at a young age and when she was around 10, her dad took her out surfing. “I had a swimming hat and goggles on,” she says with a laugh. “He pushed me into waves and I loved it from the start.” But she’s never thought of herself as a female surfer — she just happens to be a woman who surfs.

“Growing up, there weren’t many girls who surfed on the same beach as me. So naturally, I surfed with a lot of boys; my brothers, or the locals boys that surfed. I think that helped push me as well. I just saw them doing things and thought, ‘I want to do that.’ It never occurred to me that I couldn’t.”

Huck-x-Hoka-Lucy-Campbell-select1
Lucy’s self-belief has been key to both her running and surfing success. She once raced in the English Schools’ Athletics Championships with a searing pain in her foot – one so strong that she almost passed out. But she kept running to the end, telling herself it was only a few minutes to get through. After the race, she found out she’d been racing with a broken foot.

 “Thank goodness there was something really wrong and it wasn’t just me!” she says now, adding: “But even if they’d said I couldn’t race, I probably would have done anyway.”

 Being headstrong has helped with her surfing many times too. Like the time in Bryon Bay when she got stuck in a narrow channel while a big set rolled in. As the waves smashed her into some rocks, she had to stay calm and keep paddling. Eventually, she made her way to safety.

Huck-x-Hoka-Lucy-Campbell-select6
That dogged determination is an essential trait when you’re trying to be a professional surfer and you hail from Devon, rather than Hawaii, California or Australia. Instead of perfecting your moves in consistent warm-water waves under sunny skies, you’re faced with a frigid-cold wind-blown mess and trying to manoeuvre in a thick wetsuit and hood rather than a bikini or board shorts.

“It’s definitely a lot harder here as we haven’t got the same wave quality as a lot of other countries,” she says. “If the waves are good, I’ll be in for five or six hours a day. But even if they’re not good, I’ll still get in and give it a go.”

Huck-x-Hoka-Lucy-Campbell-select3
Read more Huck x HOKA ONE ONE stories here. If you run, or are thinking about making running part of your life, you can learn more about the innovative Cavu and Mach trainers Lucy wears at hokaoneone.com

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks
Election 2024

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks

Huck is teaming up with our friends at Dalston Superstore and Queer House Party to bring you an election night viewing party like no other.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor
Activism

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor

Groups and artists have been campaigning for Live Nation to drop the bank as a sponsor for Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight over alleged ties to the arms trade.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East
Outdoors

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East

New photo book ‘Football كرة القدم’ draws together pictures from over a dozen photographers to explore the region’s vibrant football culture.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes
Election 2024

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes

East London legend Crystal talks to Huck about her new campaign, Vote, Babes! which brings together over 20 drag artists to encourage young people to use their vote.

Written by: Ben Smoke

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why
Election 2024

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why

One of Starmer’s constituents, Alice tried every way to talk to her then MP about the crisis facing her generation, but he did not listen she writes exclusively for Huck.

Written by: Alice, Green New Deal Rising

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”
Culture

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”

In our latest Daddy Issues column, award winning actor and MC Ashley “Bashy” Thomas talks traditional masculinity, learning survival skills from his Dad and ‘making it’.

Written by: Robert Kazandjian

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now