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This is the standard 110m/100m hurdle workout that I use, from which many
variations can be derived. Set up five to six hurdles, with the first
hurdle on the regular mark, the second hurdle one foot in from the mark,
the third hurdle two feet in from the mark, etc. (My observation has been
that many high school hurdlers practice with all the hurdles on the regular
marks, fearing that if they can’t do it in practice, then they won’t
be able to do it in a meet. This logic is misguided. In practice, you
have to make allowances for lack of adrenaline, less time to stretch and
get loose, and, in many cases, not running in spikes. I hardly ever have
my athletes practice with the hurdles on the regular marks; we almost
always practice with the hurdles moved in.) From a standing start, or
from a sprinter-style three-point stance, sprint over all of the hurdles.
Jog or bounce back on the balls of the feet, then go again. Do two sets
of about ten reps per set. A full workout would be 100 to 120 hurdles,
focusing on a specific aspect of technique. Rest between sets should be
5-7 minutes, staying active by stretching or doing drills. This is a good
workout to do at any time of the year. Late in the season, however, you
would want to decrease the number of reps.
· Do a total of 40-60 reps, then do some sprinting (something like
4×200); this way, you can hurdle more often per week.
· Raise the hurdles so that regular height feels easier. Collegiate
110 hurdlers can’t do this because the hurdles don’t go any
higher than 42”. But I’ve found that for experienced high
school hurdlers, raising the hurdles from 39” to 42” for this
workout, or for part of this workout, enables them to return to the 39’s
with a new confidence, because the 39’s suddenly feel so “low.”
Same thing goes for experienced female hurdlers; raising the hurdles to
36” for this workout can be similarly beneficial. However. For taller
women hurdlers – those in the 5’9” range, the 33’s
already feel low, so there wouldn’t be any point to employing this
· Lower the hurdles to emphasize running through the hurdles.
Hurdlers who get too high because they are afraid of hitting hurdles can
get over this fear by doing this workout over 36’s (boys), 30’s
(girls, women), or 39’s (men). When the hurdles are raised again
to their normal height, the athlete will tend to maintain the aggression
he or she displayed over the lower height, which was the whole point of
lowering them to begin with. Meanwhile, his or her body will instinctively
make the necessary adjustments to clear the hurdle at its normal height.
· Move the hurdles in even further for hurdlers who are getting
crowded in races. Do this especially late in the year, when hurdlers’
speed is reaching its max. Late in the season, you may need to move the
second hurdle in two feet, or even three feet, from the regular mark,
to mimic the crowded feeling that your hurdlers have during races. Adjust
all hurdles after the second one accordingly.
· I’m sure there are many other variations to be found; as
a coach, don’t be afraid to be creative in finding ways to tailor
workouts to specifically fit the needs of your athletes.
A good hurdle-endurance workout for 110m hurdlers that I like to do is
to set up five to six hurdles twelve yards apart from each other, with
the first hurdle on the regular mark. Try to get in a total of 100 –
150 hurdles, divided into two sets of 10 to 15 reps. Rest between sets
should be five to seven minutes, depending on the weather and the athlete’s
level of conditioning. Rest should be spent stretching, doing easy drills,
staying loose. Don’t sit around. Within each set, rest should be
to jog slowly or bounce on the balls of the feet back to the starting
line, then go again.This workout, with the five strides between the hurdles,
enables the hurdler to get a good sprint going between the hurdles. The
five strides is also more tiring than the normal three; that’s why
this workout is so good for conditioning. I generally don’t do this
workout during the competitive season, because if the 5-step rhythm starts
to feel too normal, it will be hard for the athlete to adjust to the 3-step
pattern of a race. I generally have my athletes do this workout about
once a week during the winter months. In warming up for this workout,
the athlete should do a lot of stretching, sprint drills, and hurdle drills,
and also a few windsprints, mainly to prevent injury. In the actual workout
itself, the athlete should be focused on improving one specific aspect
of technique. A good one hundred hurdles worth of focusing on snapping
down the lead leg, or keeping the hips square, for example, will make
that particular aspect of technique much better. I always say that an
athlete’s goal in any hurdle workout is to be a better hurdler by
the time the workout is over than you were before you began. So, you gotta
get the reps in. And they have to be quality reps. Doing a whole lot of
sloppy reps isn’t going to make you any better. Nor will your confidence
increase. Beginning hurdlers should have a coach present when doing this
workout – a coach who knows what to look for. Even experienced hurdlers
can benefit from having a reliable set of eyes to observe and point out
any noticeable flaws, as even the minor flaws become major as the level
of competition grows more intense. This workout is a good one to videotape
as well, because of the high number of reps, and of how progress can be
monitored from the beginning of the workout to the end. For athletes who
compete on the weekends in the winter, this would be a workout to do in
the early part of the week – on a Monday or Tuesday, so that your
muscles have time to recover from it, and also, as I said earlier, so
that you don’t grow too accustomed to the five-step rhythm.
This workout can be done either as a hurdle-endurance workout, as a quickness
workout, or as a combination of both, depending on the athlete’s
needs, and on the time of year. Set up five to ten hurdles, approximately
six yards apart from each other. If your focus is on quickness, then keep
the number of hurdles low (five to seven); if your focus is on endurance,
then raise the number of hurdles (eight to ten). With the first hurdle
on the regular mark, the hurdler should take a quick-stepping, high-knee
approach to the first hurdle, getting to it in nine or ten steps. If you
get to the first hurdle in eight steps, you’re going too fast. Slow
down. This is a quickness drill, not a speed drill. For each rep, clear
all the hurdles as quickly as possible, taking short, quick strides between
the hurdles. If you’re feeling crowded, then good, that’s
how you should feel. The more crowded you feel, the quicker you have to
be, both between the hurdles and over top of them. Force yourself
to be quick. Rest between reps should be to jog or bounce on the
balls of the feet back to the starting line if the focus of the workout
is to improve endurance, or to walk back to the starting line if the focus
of the workout is to improve quickness. When emphasizing quickness, clear
somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-140 hurdles for a full workout, broken
into two sets of 10. When emphasizing endurance, clear somewhere in the
neighborhood of 240-300 hurdles, broken into three sets of 10. Sometimes,
I might break the sets down into one set of 15 reps, one set of 10 reps,
and a third set of 5 reps. If you want to do something similar to that,
that’s fine. Rest between sets, whether the emphasis is on quickness
or endurance, should be in the range of five to seven minutes, staying
active. The benefits of this workout is that it gets you accustomed to
the feeling that the hurdles are racing up at you, which is how it usually
feels during a race. You get used to using your reflexes, of flirting
with disaster without being afraid of getting too crowded. For endurance
purposes, this workout is beneficial because you don’t exhaust yourself
with a lot of running, so you get the opportunity to clear many more hurdles
than you would if you were sprinting to the hurdles the whole workout.
You’ll know that if you can clear over two hundred hurdles in one
workout, maintaining a high level of quality, then ten hurdles in a race,
even at full speed, will be no problem for you. This is another good workout
to videotape, and it’s another workout in which the watchful eyes
of a knowledgeable coach are virtually essential for maximum benefit.
This is the ultimate pre-race workout, described and explained in detail
by hurdle guru Wilbur Ross in The Hurdler’s Bible. Set
up hurdles 1-4, leave an open zone where hurdles 5-7 would be, then set
up hurdles 8-10. Athlete clears the first four hurdles, at full speed,
runs through the zone, gathering even more speed, then clears the last
three hurdles and crosses the finish line. This workout should be done
two days prior to major competitions, so, for a high school athlete, it
should be done two days before the first day of the state meet, for instance.
For college and elite athletes, it should be done two days before the
first round of any major championship race. The amount of reps should
be no more than two or three, out of the blocks, with spikes on, preferably
with a teammate to run beside, a coach to give the starting commands,
and another coach or reliable individual to time the run. A 5-7 minute
active rest between reps should be enough recovery time. The goal is to
run each rep within .5 of projected race time. This workout requires a
high level of fearlessness; it is essential, when coming out of the zone,
to attack the 8th hurdle with aggression.
This workout is the ultimate hurdle endurance workout. It is the one that
Renaldo Nehemiah did as a senior in high school, when he became the only
high school hurdler ever to break 13.0 in the 110s. For this workout,
set up the first five hurdles twelve yards apart, then set up five more
hurdles beside the first five, facing in the opposite direction. Bouncing
on the balls of your feet, approach the first hurdle in nine or ten steps,
then five-step between all the rest of them. Without stopping, turn around,
and clear the five hurdles going in the other direction. The five steps
between should not be evenly paced. The first two steps are short and
quick, then with the last three, you want a higher knee action and full
arm swing. Up and back one time equals ten hurdles, so the amount of times
you go up and back without stopping to rest depends upon your level of
conditioning. You want to get to a point where you can go up and back
at least 2 ½ times (25 hurdles) without stopping. Rest time between
sets will also depend upon conditioning level. Anywhere between three
and seven minutes is okay. When I would do this workout back in the day,
I would increase the amount of rest gradually, starting with three minutes
after the first set, then working my way up to six minutes as I grew more
fatigued. To clear a total of 200 hurdles (8 sets of 25, for example)
would be considered a full workout. As a point of reference, in Ken Doherty’s
Track and Field Omnibook, Nehemiah’s high school coach,
Jean Poquette, states that Renaldo worked his way up to four sets of 100
hurdles in this workout during his senior year, which I find even more
amazing than his sub-13.0 as a high schooler. This is definitely an out-of-season
workout, as it is way too exhausting and causes too much muscle soreness
to do during the competitive season. Ideally (although it never actually
happens this way), I like to have my hurdlers do this workout twice a
month from October through January, marking the progress they make each
time in regards to how much they’re able to do effectively. The
most obvious benefit of this workout is that it gets you into excellent
hurdling shape, it forces you to be efficient with your technique, and
it is another method by which to correct technical problems. One of the
dangers of this workout, however, lies in trying to do too much too soon.
The more fatigued you become, the higher the hurdles get, if you know
what I mean, so it’s important to know when enough is enough, as
well as when to decrease the reps and increase the rest. This workout
is one in which falling is a very real possibility, as fatigue can cause
major breakdowns in technique. So work hard, but work smart.
· Do all or part of the workout clearing the hurdles with just
the lead leg, or just the trail leg if there are specific problems with
either leg that you need to address. The benefit of this approach is that
you can get a quality workout and correct technical flaws without enduring
the overwhelming fatigue that comes with clearing the hurdles with your
whole body on every rep.
· Clear only 100 or so hurdles, and mix in some 100’s or
150’s between sets. This way, you’re still working just as
hard, but you’re not beating up your legs as much by clearing so
This one is similar to the quick-step workout, but the hurdles are even
closer together. Set up eight to ten hurdles five yards apart from each
other. I usually use the men’s 110 marks. I’ll put the first
hurdle on the first mark, the second hurdle half-way between the first
and second marks, the third hurdle on the second mark, etc. In the workout,
have the hurdler do super-quick three-step reps over the hurdles. Between
the hurdles, there will not be enough room or time to drive the knees
or pump the arms. This workout is more plyometric in nature than the quick-step
workout. Because the knees are low and the arms are not driving between
the hurdles, the athlete must quickly thrust the lead-leg knee upward
with a quick, explosive push off the ground over each hurdle. Also, the
arms, torso, and head have to instantly transition into hurdling posture.
Since this workout is so plyometric, it helps the athlete to get used
to pushing off and diving into the hurdle without the benefit of the momentum
that comes with speed. Like the quick-step drill, this is a good workout
to use for improving hurdle technique in that it requires a lot of hurdling,
but doesn’t require a lot of running, so the amount of hurdles the
athlete will be able to clear in one workout will be significantly more
than if he or she were running fast between the hurdles. Hurdlers don’t
always need to go full speed at the hurdles to development the muscle
memory of hurdling mechanics.
Doing this workout as an off-season or pre-season conditioning
workout, the hurdler should clear in the neighborhood of 200 hurdles (20
reps over 10 hurdles, for example), broken into sets of two, or maybe
three to start with. There should be a jog-back recovery between reps,
and a five-to-seven minute recovery between sets.
I also like doing this workout as a light pre-race workout.
It helps the athlete to maintain his or her muscle memory, and to work
on minor technical flaws without the physical demands that come with going
at the hurdles at full speed. When I have a hurdler who has late-season
tired legs, this is a workout I’ll use often. In such a scenario,
I’ll have the hurdler do maybe five to seven reps (50 to 70 hurdles),
with walk-back recoveries between reps. I would note, however, that this
is not a good workout to do with athletes who are just learning, or have
just learned, how to three-step, as they will internalize the lower knee
lift and low arm carriage because they have yet to internalize what it
feels like to three-step comfortably and confidently in a race. If they
do internalize the lower knee lift and lower arm carriage, then they’ll
regress in their development of mastering the three-step rhythm.
This workout can also serve as a drill to do as a warm-up
before big meets or indoor meets where there is a limited amount of space
to warm up. In such a case, setting up four to six hurdles five yards
apart can serve the purpose of providing some pre-race preparation.
Do the workout back-and-forth style, setting up five hurdles facing one
way, and five more beside them facing the other way. This will make it
an even more challenging hurdle endurance workout. Again, 200 hurdles
would be considered a full off-season workout. I’d start by doing twenty
hurdles per rep (up and back twice), taking 1:30 rest between reps. Ideally,
you want to do the workout in one continuous set, but if fatigue becomes
too overwhelming and form begins to break down, then divide the workout
into two or three sets, with a five to seven minute rest between sets.
This workout is another good one for
off-season conditioning. In the months-long training process, hurdlers
often need hurdles in their way to keep from getting bored, so this workout
is a good one to use to get in a good amount of running without the tediousness
that comes with doing endless interval workouts. Set up five hurdles on
the straight-away. Using the men’s 110mh marks (for males) or the
women’s 100mh (for females), set up only the odd-numbered hurdles
(hurdles 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9). Hurdles should be set at race height (39”
for high school males, 42” for collegiate males, 33” for females).
From a crouched start or standing start, or a three-point stance, the
hurdler will take an aggressive 8-step approach to the first hurdle, then
continue on with a fluid, quick, but not-all-out 7-step or 9-step approach
(depending on the athlete’s sprinting speed) between all the rest
of the hurdles. After clearing the last hurdle, the hurdler will continue
through the finish line for the full 110m (males) or 100m (females). For
recovery, shuffle/jog/bounce back to the starting line, catch your breath
and gather yourself for about twenty seconds, then go again. Twelve to
sixteen repetitions, preferably as one uninterrupted set, would be considered
a good conditioning workout.
The challenge of this workout lies
in the fatigue factor, as it is very difficult to get over a high hurdle
with efficient technique when taking so many steps in between the hurdles.
This workout gets you into the habit of lowering your center of gravity
during hurdle clearance even when you’re feeling so tired from doing
so much running that you don’t feel you have the energy to get down
that low. It’s also good to get in the habit of running through
the finish line after clearing the last hurdle, as many hurdle workouts
allow you to relax after touching down off the last hurdle.
If you want to do this as a speed workout, reduce the volume down to somewhere
in the range of six to eight reps, divided into sets of two. Jog-back
recoveries between reps, walk-back recoveries between sets. With the increased
speed, hurdlers who are able to take seven steps between the hurdles in
the conditioning version of it will have to be a lot quicker to fit those
steps in, and those who take nine steps in the conditioning version will
really have to focus on being sprinters in between the hurdles in this
version, and cut the number of steps between the hurdles down to seven.
Never take an even number of steps (six or eight) between the hurdles
in this workout unless the hurdler is a high school female four-stepper.
As a 110m/100m hurdle workout, it requires that all three-steppers take
an odd number of steps between the hurdles, even if they have the ability
to switch legs, as they will never switch lead legs in a sprint-hurdle
If you want to do this workout
as a 300m/400m hurdle workout, then lower the hurdles to the respective
height (36” for males, 30” for females), place the hurdles
on the even-numbered markings for the sprint-hurdle race (hurdles 2, 4,
6, 8, and 10) so that you will have a longer approach to the first hurdle.
Set up this way, this workout would be good for those hurdlers who are
learning or trying to perfect their ability to alternate lead legs, as
eight steps between all hurdles would be a comfortable rhythm to serve
this purpose. Even for those long hurdlers who don’t alternate lead
legs, this workout would still be good for conditioning. Someone doing
this as an intermediate workout, however, would want to increase the amount
of reps to the 16-20 range for a full conditioning workout.
This is a drill that serves as a good warm-up before a hurdle
workout. It is not a workout unto itself. It gets the muscles loose and
prepares the mind for the need to act instinctively when hurdling at full
Set up 6-10 hurdles at 42” (college men), 39”
(high school boys) or 33” (women, girls) about 9-10 feet (men and
boys) or 7-8 (women and girls) apart from each other, measuring from crossbar
to crossbar. Do five passes with just the lead leg, five passes with just
the trail leg, then five more with the lead leg, then five more with the
trail leg. Then increase the distance between the hurdles by a foot, and
do five passes over the top of the hurdles. This drill requires a high
level of quickness and ability to react reflexively. It is a drill that
will expose your technical flaws. If you’re slow snapping down the
lead leg, this drill will expose you. If you tend to lock the knee of
the lead leg, this drill will expose you. If you remain too upright during
hurdle clearance, this drill will expose you. If you lean from your upper
back instead of from your waist, this drill will expose you. If you tend
to drop your trail leg too soon, this drill will expose you. If you swing
your trail leg around too widely, this drill will expose you. If you swing
your arms across your body during hurdle clearance, this drill will expose.
There is nowhere to hide in this drill, and that’s why a lot of
hurdlers don’t like it, but that’s also why it is so beneficial.
It is a good way to address technical flaws without the fatigue that comes
with running. This drill also gives you the courage you need to flirt
You could lower the height of the hurdles by three inches and still derive
more or less the same benefit. If the regular race height seems too dangerous
to you at first, then start with the hurdles lower until you feel confident
enough to raise them.
This is a workout that I got from Enrique Llanos, a professional hurdler
who trains near me in Raleigh. In this workout, you set up twelve hurdles
nine yards apart from each other, with the first hurdle on the regular
110 mark. The hurdles should be 3 inches lower than race height. From
a standing start, approach the first hurdle with good knee lift but not
a lot of speed, then go down the lane of hurdles as quickly as you can,
five-stepping all the way down.
When Enrique does it, he does two sets consisting of
the following: three reps of just trail leg, three reps of lead leg, and
three reps of over-the-top. Five minutes rest between reps, ten minutes
rest between sets. Have someone time each rep, making it a goal to keep
the times as fast as possible, but as consistent as possible. The watch
should start at touchdown off the first hurdle, and stop at touchdown
off the twelfth hurdle.
This workout is a monster. It’s not for beginners. It
covers all the food groups, so to speak – quickness, strength, endurance,
technique. It is very hard to fit five steps between the hurdles, and
it’s especially hard to do it for twelve hurdles. You start getting dizzy
as you go down the line, so you really have to stay focused and relaxed.
Even though you’re on the watch, you can’t press the issue and chase after
the time. If you do, you’ll stumble, maybe even crash. From a strength
perspective, the groin and hips are doing a lot of work in a very tight
space, so those muscles, as well as the hamstrings and quads, are getting
stronger and developing essential muscle memory. A hurdler who relies
more on power than on quickness will struggle tremendously with this workout
My favorite workouts for my 300m hurdlers is to have them do repeat 200s
over the last five hurdles. In the early part of the year, I’ll
have them do five to six reps, with about three minutes recovery between
each one. By the last week of the season, I’ll have them do two
reps, or three at the most, with about six minutes recovery between each
one. So, in the early part of the season, I emphasize hurdle conditioning,
and in the latter part of the season I emphasize speed. Each rep is timed,
and the athletes always have someone to run beside. Most of the time,
it’s another 300 hurdler of the same gender. Sometimes I might have
to pair a boy with a girl and give the girl a head start, and sometimes
I might have the hurdler run beside a sprinter. This workout is the one
I use to predict what the range of the athletes’ race times should
be for that week’s meet. So, I always do this workout two days before
race day. If, for instance, an athlete’s average time on the 200
repeats is 27.0, I project that his race time will be in the range of
40.5 (13.5 x 3), give or take a half-second. Although the athlete obviously
won’t be able to maintain the early pace in the last 100 of the
race, it is also true that the first 200 of the race will be even faster
than it is in practice, due to factors such as adrenaline and to the fact
that, in a meet, you only have to run it once. I have found this workout
to work remarkably well in predicting race times. The only way it doesn’t
work is if the athletes are taking either too little or too much rest
between reps. So, the coach needs to be sure the athletes are getting
on the line and running when it’s time to go. An equivalent workout
for 400 hurdlers would be to run repeat 300s over the first eight hurdles,
with similar recovery periods. Then do the math x 4 to project race times.
So, if the athlete averages 42.0 for his 300s, the projected race time
would be in the range of 56.0. I also like repeat 200s as a 400 hurdle
workout as well, except with more repeats and less recovery. If you’re
a 400 hurdler who is able to do eight 200s at a consistent pace with two
minutes rest between each one, you will feel the same level of fatigue
in the last few reps that you will feel at the end of a race. So, if you
can handle those last few reps, you can handle the last part of the race.
This is an off-season conditioning workout. From a standing start, run
100 meters one way, rest 30 seconds, then run 100 meters the other way.
In the early part of the off-season, you might not want to add any hurdles
at all. Then, as conditioning increases, put two hurdles at the 50m mark
(one hurdle facing one way, the other facing the other). Then move up
to four hurdles (two facing one way, two facing the other); in this case,
use the intermediate hurdle marks on the final straightaway for hurdle
placement. A total of twenty-four 100 meter sprints would be a full conditioning
workout. I generally will have my kids do four sets of six reps, with
about three minutes rest between each set. This is a good workout to do
on days when you’re pressed for time because, with only thirty seconds
between reps, you’ll be getting in a lot of reps in a very short
period. The emphasis here is not on speed at all. It’s more a matter
of getting in the habit of maintaining running form when fatigued, and
getting used to stepping over hurdles when fatigued.
· As a speed workout, to be done during the season, do only two
reps per set, with five minutes rest between sets. Four sets would total
eight sprints. Each sprint would be timed, and the goal would be to keep
the second rep of each sprint as fast as the first rep. For this workout,
having a teammate to push you to fast times is virtually essential.
· Do 110s instead of 100s, having five hurdles going in one direction,
and five more going the other way Place the hurdles on the even-numbered
110 marks. In other words, set up hurdles 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 of the 110
race, but set them at the intermediate height. Recovery between reps and
between sets would be the same as for the 100 meter back & forths
discussed above. Sixteen reps of this workout (four sets of four reps)
would be plenty for the off-season; six reps (three sets of two reps)
would be plenty when in season. For hurdlers who want to alternate lead
legs, this workout is especially useful, as you’ll probably take
eight steps between the hurdles. Someone who can’t alternate legs
will take either seven or nine. For girls or women, keep the distance
at 100 meters, and use the women’s 100m hurdle marks for placing
the hurdles, not the men’s 110 marks. But yes, still have five hurdles
facing one way, and five more beside them facing the other way.
This is a workout I’ll usually reserve for the latter part of the
season – after spring break. The 400 starts at the 300m start. Hurdler
clears the first three intermediates, sprints the curve and part of the
homestretch, then clears the last two hurdles, crosses the finish line,
cuts into lane one, and finishes the 400 at the 300m starting line. I
time them at the 300m mark and at the 400. Athlete should hit the 300m
mark no more than two seconds slower than projected race time, and then
try to finish the last 100 in 16 seconds (for a boy) or 18 seconds (for
a girl). So, if the athlete’s goal is to run a 40.0 in the next
meet, then, in this workout he will want to come across the 300m mark
in 42, and finish the 400 in 58. I’ll have the athletes do two reps
of these with an 8-10 minute rest between each one.
· Set up the hurdles differently. I set them up this way because
it mimics, as close as I can, the 110m zone drill workout. If the athlete
is having trouble with curve hurdling, then leave out the first two hurdles,
and have the athlete clear hurdles 3-5 and 7-8. If the athlete is running
out of gas at the end of races, leave out the first three hurdles, and
have the athlete clear the last five. If the athlete needs to improve
the early part of the race, then set up the first five. Really, as long
as there are five hurdles set up, the challenge to the athlete will be
more or less the same. For me, I like having the last two hurdles set
up no matter what, because I want the athletes to get used to coming off
that last hurdle and driving through the finish line.
· For a 400m hurdler, these would be 500s, starting at the regular
starting line, and finishing at the 1500 meter start. When I did this
workout in college, our coach had us run over the first three and the
last three hurdles. I remember dreading this workout, but I also remember
that it led me to dread races a lot less.
Shuffle the deck
This is a workout I got from Coach Lee Pantas of Asheville-Reynolds
High School in Asheville, NC. Also, Andrea Mosher, a 400m hurdler at Illinois
State University, mentioned that it’s a workout she does fairly
regularly. The workout is designed to improve the ability to use either
lead leg with equal efficiency, and to develop a full confidence in both
legs. In the workout, the athlete does a series of reps covering anywhere
from 100 to 400 meters, setting up four to seven hurdles at race height,
and staggering the distance between them anywhere from ten to thirty meters
apart. In the profile I did on Coach Pantas, he said that the key to the
workout is that the athlete is going to have to attack each hurdle with
whichever leg comes up. It puts the athlete in a situation where he or
she is forced to react. After each rep, the coach “reshuffles the
deck,” to use Coach Pantas’ words, meaning, the coach randomly
changes the distance apart between each hurdle, so that the athlete doesn’t
get used to the stride pattern during the course of the workout, and therefore
continues to need to adjust and use whichever lead leg comes up.
This isn’t a workout that a steeplechaser would do, necessarily,
but is a pre-season conditioning workout for intermediate hurdlers that
mimics the set-up of a steeplechase race. In this workout, the hurdler
runs 2-3 miles (timed or un-timed, depending on his or her conditioning
level), clearing six hurdles per lap. The hurdles should be set at the
same height as they would be for the 300/400m hurdle race (30” for
females, 36” for males). The hurdles should be evenly spaced, with
two on each straight-away, and one at the crown of each curve. This workout
is good for working on hurdling technique, but is specifically designed
to help build the athlete’s cardiovascular strength. Also, because
there are hurdles in the way, the workout is not as monotonous as a usual
“distance” workout would be. Finally, since sloppy technique
causes a higher level of fatigue, this workout forces you to be efficient
in negotiating the hurdle, and it also forces you to get low, to transition
into an attack mentality in those last few steps before the hurdle, and
to drive at each hurdle with aggression.
Variation: to work on curve hurdling, set up two hurdles
on each curve (one at the top of the curve, one at the bottom of the curve),
and only one on each straight-away. As most curve-hurdling problems do
not occur on the crown of the curve, setting the hurdles up at the top
and the bottom of the curve will force you to deal with the balance issues
you would have to deal with in a race.
This workout is as old as Track & Field, I suppose, and that’s
because it works. It’s another one that’s good for conditioning,
and putting hurdles in the way is always a good method to make it specifically
useful for hurdlers. In this workout, you sprint the straight-aways and
jog the curves, running a total of anywhere between two to four miles,
sprinting and jogging combined. The sprints should be run at about 75%
- 85% of full speed. The jog between should be more of a bounce/shuffle,
not a distance runner’s fast-paced jog. The focus of this workout
is on maintaining efficient sprinting mechanics, staying relaxed in the
upper body, and developing cardiovascular strength.
Hurdle-specific variation: add a hurdle on each straight-away,
on or about the 50-meter mark, so that every sprint includes the need
for hurdle clearance. When you get in even better shape, add two hurdles
on each straight-away, about 30-40 meters apart from each other. The hurdles
can be at any height; raised as high as you like for the sake of the challenge.
Generally, however, I would say set them at 30” (females) or 36”
(males). I think it’s important for hurdlers to always have the
option of doing hurdle-specific variations of sprinter/quarter-miler workouts.
It’s a mindset thing more than a physical thing. Since the basic
difference between a hurdler and a sprinter is that a hurdler has to negotiate
barriers while sprinting, having hurdles in the way during workouts always
keeps you tuned in to that fact.
This is an intermediate-hurdle version of the 110m hurdle back-and-forth
workout. Set up hurdles 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 on the straight-away, using
the 110hh marks. Five hurdles going one way, five the other. The workout
is to run over the five 36″ hurdles (30” for women), 9-stepping,
going 100 meters one way, turn around, go 100 meters the other way, then
repeat the entire up-and-back once more. In other words, go up and back
twice, running a total of 400 meters, clearing a total of 20 hurdles.
Unlike in the 100m back-and-forth workout that was discussed earlier on
this web page, in this workout, there should be no rest at all in the
turn-arounds; don’t cheat the workout! Five reps, with three minutes
rest between each rep, is an excellent conditioning workout for the 400m
hurdles. If the quality of the workout begins to deteriorate too soon,
then increase the rest to four minutes, five minutes, and even six minutes
if necessary. Even though the athlete doesn’t run at full speed,
this workout is very demanding, because keeping the 9-step rhythm for
the entire 400 meters gets to be very difficult. The fatigue factor in
the last 100 meters of each rep mirrors the fatigue factor in the last
100 meters of a 400m hurdle race. Therefore, if the athlete can maintain
consistent arm swing, knee lift, and efficient hurdling technique in the
latter stages of the workout, he or she can do so in the latter stages
of a race.
This workout is not designed to mimic the stride pattern
of an actual race. Similar to the five-step rhythm of the high hurdle
back-and-forth workout, the idea is to build up your hurdling conditioning,
and to trust that when you do run full speed, the strength that you gain
from this workout will help you to maintain speed and technique for the
entire race. An athlete who utilizes the ability to switch lead legs in
a race will want to do some of the reps leading with the left leg, and
the other reps leading with the right leg. Or, another option would be,
on each rep, to lead with the left leg on the way up, and to lead with
the right leg on the way back. Be creative in adapting the workout to
suit your purposes.
One drawback of this workout is that it does not factor
in the curve issues that become a problem in the longer hurdle race. If
you feel that your biggest flaw in the intermediates is that you lose
your stride pattern on the curve, then this workout is not the one that
will provide you with the most benefit.
In this workout, the coach shouldn’t time anything
except the recovery. The purpose of this workout is to teach the body
to relax when fatigued. Maintaining the stride pattern will serve the
purpose of making sure the athlete doesn’t decelerate drastically.
Too often, athletes try to force speed. But when you’re too tired
to force speed, then you have to rely on your running mechanics, running
posture, hurdling mechanics, and ability to stay relaxed when the body
is instinctively trying to tie up. When you’re able to do those
things, then speed becomes not a matter of running fast, but of being
able to maintain the speed you have. Similarly, technical proficiency
becomes a matter not of being able to hurdle efficiently, but of being
able to maintain the technical efficiency that you have already established.
Everybody looks good over the first hurdle, right? The idea is to still
look good over the tenth.
This is the workout I used to help Johnny Dutch prepare for the Nike Outdoor
Championships, where he had to run a 400 hurdle final, and then come back
ninety minutes later for the 110 hurdle final. So it’s not strictly an
intermediate hurdle workout, but I listed it there because I had to put
it somewhere. Here are the details of the workout:
–1×300 all-out over first 8 intermediate hurdles
– 5-minute recovery
– 1 rep all-out over first 7 high hurdles from three-point stance, with
the hurdles moved in one foot.
– 15-minute rest
– Repeat the double, this time with a 3-minute rest after the 300.
This workout is designed strictly for major championship
meets, particularly in meets that feature a very challenging schedule.
I would suggest, instead of following this workout exactly as it is designed,
it would be better to similarly design your own workout based on the scheduling
demands of your championship meet. For instance, if you have a kid who
will be running the 300 hurdles and the 4×400 relay in your state meet
with only twenty minutes between races, have him or her do something like
an all-out 200 over the first five hurdles, rest 3-4 minutes, then an
all-out 400. Be creative.
This workout is designed specifically for the 400m hurdles. And it is
best suited as a big-race preparation workout, to be done two or three
days before a championship meet. Set up all ten hurdles. Have the athlete
sprint a timed 200 over the first five hurdles. Then, after a minute rest,
have him or her sprint another timed 200 over the last five hurdles. After
a ten-minute rest, repeat the double. Then, after another ten-minute rest,
repeat the double a third time. The goal is to keep the second rep of
each double within two seconds of the first rep. If the athlete can maintain
a two-second difference throughout the workout, then you know he or she
can maintain that difference in a race. Once the second rep of a double
gets to be more than four seconds slower than the first rep, then cut
the workout short because the athlete is not ready for it and it is no
longer serving its purpose. In a race, a difference of more than four
seconds between the first 200 and the second 200 indicates that the athlete
is fatiguing too much in the latter half of the race. For a beginning
hurdler, the difference will be closer to six seconds in a race.
Variations: to adapt this workout for the 300m hurdles,
do the same thing. Set up all eight hurdles, and have the athlete do a
150 over the first four, take a minute rest, then do another 150 over
the last four, with the goal being to keep the second 150 within two seconds
of the first one.
Damn Damn Damn James Workout
This workout is designed for the 300m/400m hurdler who has
trouble finishing strong. I named it after one of my club hurdlers who
was having this problem. It’s a mid-season to late-season workout,
designed for race preparation. Here’s the workout:
6×200 over the last five IH’s, with a walk-back
recovery after each rep, and a 6-minute rest after the third rep.
On each rep, the athlete should strive for a negative
split. For instance, if I want the athlete to hit all the 200’s
in 26 seconds, I’ll want him to run the first 100 of each rep in
14 seconds, and the second 100 in 12, crossing the line in 26. This workout
forces the athlete (and therefore teaches the athlete), to control his
speed. In the intermediates, distribution of energy is one of the keys
to success. So by striving for negative splits, the athlete is learning
to go out hard, but not too hard. Also, getting in the habit of finishing
the last part of the race in acceleration mode helps the athlete to move
beyond the mindset that he or she is just trying to hang on at the end.
In this workout, it is the coach’s job to make
sure the athlete doesn’t go out too fast. For instance, if, in the
above example, the athlete goes out and runs the first 100 in 12, the
coach has to step in his way and tell him to stop, walk back, and start
the rep over. Some athletes have no “body clock,” so to speak;
they go full speed every time they step on the track. If allowed to run
in this manner over and over again, such an athlete will never learn how
to distribute his speed throughout the course of the race.
This is a workout I got from Aaron Wheatcraft, a former hurdler who now
coaches in Minnesota This drill is designed to help a hurdler develop
the ability to alternate lead legs. Here is the drill as Wheatcraft described
The hurdles should be about 15 steps apart (not meters,
foot to foot). Set the hurdles at intermediate height – 36 inches
for boys, 30 inches for girls.
Have the hurdlers chop/high knee to the hurdle and then,
when about 5-7 meters away, have them attack the hurdle. The natural tendency
here is that they want to carry a lot of speed to the hurdle, which isn’t
necessary. They need just enough speed where it forces them to be quick
with both the lead and trail. That is the beauty of this drill –
it forces you to alternate and to speed up the mechanics.
To make it more challenging and to work getting down
off the hurdle, I will shorten the distance after the first set. Not much,
maybe 1 or 2 feet. This makes them even work harder on the lead leg whip
and bringing the trail leg through.
I usually end our warm up with this drill. We do 2 sets of 10 reps through
6-8 hurdles. Obviously you can change the quantity as you see fit.
Set up the last three or four hurdles and have the athlete run 150s or
180s over those hurdles, having him or her focus on sprinting off the
last hurdle and through the finish line. The idea is just to get the athlete
in the habit of coming off the last hurdle sprinting, of conceptualizing
the finish line as an 11th hurdle, if you will. I don’t advocate
the idea of running 300s or 400s in which the athlete clears only the
last three or four hurdles. You can’t develop a hurdling rhythm
that way. To add a sense of late-race fatigue, have the athlete do something
like a set of 30 pushups, followed by a 30-meter lunge, and then go to
the line and start the rep. That way, the athlete can get in more reps
without a lot of unnecessary pounding on the legs. As an off-season workout,
a total of 10 reps, with a break at the half-way point, will do. As an
in-season workout, 3-5 reps is plenty. Rest should be anywhere between
2 minutes and 6 minutes. The later in the season it is, the more the rest
This is a workout that I got from one of my athletes,
actually. He was a 400/800m specialist whom I was teaching how to hurdle
so he could compete in the 400m hurdles, and I was going to have him do
a set of 200s, when he asked if he could put up a couple hurdles at random
spacings just to get a feel for going over the hurdles. So we set up two
– one on the curve, and one on the homestretch – and he did
his 200m reps over the hurdles, lowered to the girls’ height of
30 inches, because he was a beginning hurdler and wanted to play it safe.
Since then I’ve used variations of this workout with other athletes
and I’m coming to like it a lot. Let me first break down the workout
and then explain the possible variations and possible benefits.
Set up two hurdles, one at the top of the curve and one on the homestretch.
Have the athletes run timed 200s at a pace they can maintain consistently
throughout the workout, depending on the amount of recovery and the amount
of reps. This workout should be done in spikes.
As an off-season conditioning workout (which is how I
first approached it), have the athletes do about 8 reps with about 3 minutes
recovery. Have them do the first rep all-out, and then have them try to
keep all the rest of the reps within two seconds of that first rep. If
they fall off further than two seconds, increase the rest by a minute.
If they continue to fall off, abort the workout and try it again another
day, when they’re in better shape.
As a speed workout, to be done early in the competitive
season into the middle part of the season, set up the hurdles in the same
manner, but decrease the reps down to 4, and increase the rest up to 5
minutes. Again, have the athletes do the first one all-out, and have them
try to keep all the rest of the reps within one second of the first one.
If they fall off further than a second, increase the rest by 30 seconds
or a minute. Sometimes I’ll increase the rest before they
fall off if it looks like they’re about to, just to ensure that
the quality of the workout is maintained. Such decisions are a judgement
call for the coach.
Increase the amount of hurdles. I’ve had athletes do the speed workout
with three hurdles set up just to increase the challenge.
Increase the distance. Though I’ve yet to do it
myself, I’d seen nothing wrong with having the athletes do 250s
or 300s with the same plan and same goals in mind.
Increase the distance and the amount of hurdles,
for the reasons mentioned above.
The conditioning workout is good for inexperienced hurdlers in order to
get them used to the idea of running over hurdles, to help gradually ease
their fear of the barriers, and to help them develop their own sense of
the necessity of getting over the hurdles somehow someway even when their
timing is off, and to help get them out of the mindset that it’s
okay to go around hurdles.
The speed workout challenges hurdlers to stay in attack
mode, to stay aggressive. The tendency is to lower the arms and lower
the knee lift as you get closer to the hurdle. But when you’re being
timed and you’re trying to keep your times consistent, you know
you can’t afford to lower your arms, lower your knees, and chop
your strides. So it gets you out of that habit.
For hurdlers who alternate lead legs, the workout compels
them to stay aggressive and to react at the hurdle so that they develop
a trust in both legs.
Don’t do this workout later in the season, prior to championship
meets. By that phase of the training process, you want to focus on rhythm
and timing, so all 300h/400h workouts should be done with the hurdles
at the race spacings.
Assuming you keep the distance for the workout at 200
meters, I wouldn’t put up more than four hurdles. Adding too many
takes away the speed element and the element of opening up the stride,
and puts too much emphasis on the hurdling element.