February 26, 2017
When it comes to developing a race rhythm for 300/400m hurdlers, that can be a very tricky thing, particularly when dealing with athletes who may not be in condition to do the more demanding workouts that such development would entail. Earlier today I was working with a high school junior who ran a personal best in the 49-mid range last year, before I started working with her. Last week I had her do a workout in which she cleared the first four hurdles of the 300h race from a block start. Her reps were decent but erratic. She was fatiguing by hurdle three, and hanging on for dear life by hurdle four.
It became evident that she wasn’t yet ready for such race-specific, stride-pattern-development type of work, so this week I took a different approach to ease her into the process of establishing an early-race stride pattern. Instead of going over four hurdles, we’d just go over three. And instead of a block start, we’d use a standing start.
In this workout, I had her clear the last three hurdles of the 300h race, starting at the 100m start line, and clearing what would be hurdles 6, 7, and 8 in a race, and then crossing the finish line. My athlete, Scout, took a 12-step approach from the 100m start, and then took 18 strides between hurdles the rest of the way. Because we had done a lot of drilling prior to this part of the training session, I only had her do four reps. The aim was for her to stay consistent with her stride pattern the whole way. On her first rep, she took 19 steps to the last hurdle. I instructed her to keep her hands high, to not let them drop. As someone with the ability to alternate, it’s easy for her to become complacent and just lead with whichever leg comes up. But taking 19 steps that early in a race (at what would be hurdle three) would lead to 20-stepping later in the race, which we absolutely do not want.