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The Purest Art Form of All

April 17, 2014

“You can’t make a living running track.” That’s what one of my friends said to me one fall night in my sophomore year of college. He was laughing. I had just gotten back to the dorm after doing a set of 10×150 on the track by the light of the moon. We were a small DIII school; official practice wouldn’t start until after first semester exams. So in the fall I did much of my training on my own. That time of year I preferred to run at night because I could pretty much have the track all to myself. I was the only fool who liked to train in the dark.

That night I had a particularly exhilarating workout. I had been able to hit my target time for all ten reps without adding  a longer recovery period in the last few reps. I felt like I was really rounding into shape and that I was on pace to reach my goals.

So I walked into the dorm on a runner’s high, feeling like I could run another ten 150’s. But as soon as I hit the door, my friend – a pre-med student – grimaced when he saw my sweaty frame. And I’m sure I didn’t smell all that great either.

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Let Your Shoulder Lean

April 14, 2014

I was listening to the song “Shoulder Lean” by Young Dro last night as I was putting together the finishing touches of the latest issue of The Hurdle Magazine. As the hook settled into my consciousness – “let your shoulder lean, shoulder lean” – I found myself unconsciously relating the message to hurdling. Let your shoulder lean.

I found myself thinking back to my college days, when I was adjusting to running over 42’s. To avoid hitting hurdles while still maintaining momentum, I learned to shift my weight slightly to my lead leg side as I took off. So, as a right-leg lead, the right hip was slightly in front of my left hip, and my right shoulder was slightly in front of my left shoulder.

Both hips and both shoulders were still facing the front. I wasn’t twisting my hips or shoulders. But by shifting my weight to the lead leg side, I felt like I had more power and speed going into the hurdle. And as long as my trail leg didn’t delay in driving to the front, I never had any issues with balance.

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(Ain’t Got) No Time for Slackers

April 9, 2014

In my senior year of high school, my coach would have the hurdlers – all three of us – run one 400 at the end of every workout as a way of improving our late-race endurance. One day, for like the third time in two weeks, only two of us lined up to run the rep. When our coach asked us where the third kid went, we answered that we didn’t know, but “I think he went to the bathroom,” my teammate said.

Coach hesitated for a second, scowling at the fact that this kid was ducking the hardest part of the workout yet again. But then Coach’s face lightened as he shrugged and said, “that’s par for the course.” He had the two of us line up and we ran the rep.

Our coach could have had sent someone to the locker room to bring the delinquent hurdler back to the track and demand that he either complete the rep or face a harsh punishment. That’s exactly what a lot of coaches would have done, and many would argue that it’s what he should’ve done in order to maintain his authority.

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