Learning to Hurdle

OK, football season is nearly over and I’m starting to think about indoor track. In the past, I have run the only open 60m, but I’d like to add at least one other event so when I travel some distance to a meet, I can participate for more than 7 seconds :slight_smile:

So, I’ve started trying to teach myself to hurdle. I found a HS track that doesn’t lock up thier hurdles and have taken it very low stress. Basically keeping the hurdles on their lowest setting and close together just to get the feel for running over them. I checked the forum here for hints and that seems to be the right way to go. I have also embarked on a serious stretching program (hurdling has finaly given me the motivation to get serious about flexibility and no surprise, it seems to be helping my sprinting as well!)

I have a bunch of questions, but let me ask a couple of things to get started.

First, I still am planning on running the flat 60m (which is my first love). Does anyone have any suggestions on a weekly setup for addressing both the 60m and the 60mH? I assume hurdle work is a high intensity element. Should I devote a day to hurdles, then a day to speed? Or should I do a bit of hurdling and a bit of speed on each high intensity day? I figure that in this set up I would do the hurdling (skill work) first, then work on speed.

Second, do any of you experienced hurdlers (Herb, et al) have any tips for beginners. Things you wish you had known when you started?


First thing I wish I had known when I started: if you are going to run hurdle races in competition, you better run them (full ones) in practice. It just never occured to me that going over the first three hurdles in practice wouldn’t equate to running 10 hurdles well in a race (or 5 indoors). This was of course easy for setting up and taking down the hurdles, but somehow when I look back I think that shouldn’t have been a main consideration of mine or my coaches.

Next thing: hurdle technique is only important insofar as it allows you to continue on and sprint in between the hurdles. Just get over the hurdle in such a way that you can get on to the next and the next whilst accelerating in between (up to the 6th hurdle I guess…for some reason I could only accelerate to the 3rd).

Thanks Herb…good stuff. I have mostly been working with 3 or 4 hurdles. I’ll make sure to go up to 5 before entering a (indoor) meet!

Any recommendations on how to progress from low hurdles spaced closely to competition height and spacing? My approach has been to keep them low and increase the spacing over the course of the workout until I find that I am losing my rhythm. Does this make sense? If so, then how should I progress from there?

I was roomates with Rod Jet, an american hurdler at some High Altitude training camp, and he told me that Renaldo Nehemiah told him that “it is all about rhythm.” So don’t loose your rhythm. Still, you have to practice both at race height, and at lower. Tim Kroeker of Canada used to practice at higher than normal hurdles, which worked for him, though I don’t recommend that.

I think you’re on the right track. One approach I’ve used myself and with athletes I’ve coached is to start off a session with lower hurdles closer together and then for each rep move them a little further apart and higher until you are at or close to regular height and spacing for one rep and then work back down to where you started. This keeps the tempo close to what it would be during racing or faster, which is good. The early reps are part of the warm up, the middle ones are close to the racing setup and the later ones keep the rhythm about right even though fatigue is setting in. You end up with about 10 reps over 3 or 4 hurdles.

Once in a while you could run as many as 5 hurdles, but your number of reps would have to be reduced, otherwise the quality suffers. As you mention, you have to pay attention to the rhythm. If you start losing that, stop the workout or reduce the spacing/height to where the rhythm returns.

As for balancing the hurdles with sprints, it’s a challenge. Once you have the hurdling down, you probably would do one or two speed sessions a week with hurdles and then the other speed sessions (one or two per week) would emphasize the sprint. The only thing that gets funky when doing this is starting. In hurdles, you come upright more quickly than in a sprint. The stride length might be a bit different, too.

One other thought on doing hurdles and sprint work on the same day. Hurdle work is demanding and is like doing plyometrics. I think you can do some sprint work after hurdles but the volume would need to be fairly low. Hurdling is acceleration work. I think you could follow it up with some flying 20s and 30s (max speed). Or maybe just a few reps of speed endurance (2-3x 50-60 meters). Depends on the volume and quality of hurdle work, as well as how you feel when you’re done with that.

For the start you could keep your regular trainig for the 60m and just replace your tempo days with some low int hurdling. Use the regular spacing(10 hurdles) and go with 5 steps between. This should give you a chance to work on your hurdling technique.

I’m not a hurdler but it strikes me that regarding scheduling something like the following would be a good place to start?

M - Accl’s to 1st hurdle, Flying Sprints
T - Tempo
W - 60m flat specific session
T - Tempo
F - 60m hurdle specific session
S - Tempo
S - Rest

with some form of low int. hurlding like THEONE describes on the a couple of the tempo session to get comfortable with the hurdles.

Is it desirable to work on two different start techniques or could the 60mh start be adapted, probably with a shorter drive phase than normal in the flat sprint?

several keys that need to be stressed, once you start to transition to the 42inch, is the dive through the hurdle and knee up. another point i wanted to add was the difference in the hips in accleration between your two 60m races. for the hurdles the hips need to be up, to help prevent jumping. i found it a difficult transitition because i wanted to “drive” to the first hurdle. ending up with my head and hips down and too close to the first hurdle.