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Last Three Hurdles Workout

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.  

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Starts with Alex and Mike

February 25, 2017

I’m a big believer in the importance of good, compatible training partners. For a hurdler, having another hurdler to train with can be as important as having an effective coach. When two hurdlers of similar ability levels and work ethics train together, they can further each other’s progress in ways that the coach couldn’t have predicted. Last week, a hurdler that I used to coach regularly when I was living in Raleigh, NC came by for a training session, joining another hurdler that I currently coach here on the Charlotte side of the state. Both athletes – Alex Nunley and Mike Garrett – are youth hurdlers at the top of the 13-14-year-old age group, preparing to compete at the indoor Junior Olympic Nationals in New York this coming March.

For that day’s workout, the main item on my agenda was to have them get in some starts together. Neither of them has a training partner who can push them in the hurdles, so I needed to make sure I took advantage of this opportunity to have them push each other.

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Hurdle Drilling and Block Starts

February 22, 2017

Hurdle Drilling and Block Starts

All hurdle coaches have their “go to” drills that they like to use most frequently with their athletes. My personal preferences have evolved over the years, but one that has been a mainstay since I started using it about twenty years ago is the quick-step drill, which involves setting up anywhere from 4-10 hurdles spaced 18-21 feet apart (females) or 21-24 feet apart (males). The athlete approaches the first hurdle from a standing start, usually with a six-step run-up to the hurdle, speeding up the last three strides. Then he or she continues to maintain the quick tempo between the rest of the hurdles. I love this drill because it can serve so many purposes, depending on how many reps I want the athlete to do, and how much recovery time I want him or her to have between reps and sets. The drill, when done as a workout, can help to address technical flaws, can also serve to ingrain the race rhythm into the athlete’s muscle memory, and can also serve as a very good hurdle-endurance workout. Not to mention, it also strengthens the muscles the athlete uses to clear the hurdles.

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