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Hurdles Information - Squad Synopsis by Sandy Robertson, 14/03/10

Hurdles were sheep fences, hastily arranged to pen the sheep in; they were crude and heavy- the hurdles were, not the sheep…although… Steeplechase was a favourite country pastime, organised for a fair, when the young men of the village would race cross country from the steeple in one village to the easily seen steeple in another. I’m surprised we haven’t yet seen a race from Lark Rise to Candleford in the popular costume drama, with a few sheep fences and ponds thrown in for good measure. Hurdles are to be cleared…ignore newsreaders who report that they have to be overcome- there’s no need to wrestle with them, although I have seen it done. Luckily, common sense has prevailed, and the hurdles are lighter than in the 19th century, and made to topple when struck- good hurdlers like to feel the hurdles on the back of their thigh when they cross them. Just be careful if your inside leg is longer than the hurdle is tall: you simply sprint over with high hips as usual- don’t go down to it! Since it was once thought to be advantageous to knock the big ones over, you were disqualified for a spill. Then the rules were modified to let you have two down without disqualification, but not three; then one – Eventually the great Irish Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Bob Tisdall was awarded the gold medal in Los Angeles in 1932, but not the Olympic and World Records, because he knocked the last hurdle over. The general idea in hurdling is to sprint all the way, clearing each hurdle with a modified stride, with the agility of a gymnast.

To do this, you need to:-

prepare to drive the hurdle by leaning forward from the waist

drive the lead arm forward parallel with the lead leg

punch the lead knee high and drop the lower leg over the barrier

pull the lead arm back to pull the trail knee forward by action and reaction

land leaning slightly forward, unjack at the waist and sprint off the hurdle.

Common errors include:-

not folding at the waist, so when the lead foot goes down, you stand up straight and can’t sprint off

taking the lead arm across the body 8-10 times as in ‘ironing shirts’, when you intended to run straight

not pulling the lead arm back to start the trail knee’s forward action

leaning back on landing because of any of the above reasons.

Intermediate hurdlers’ practices include:-

Starts to H1, consolidating the rhythm of the approach

Alternate legs, pulling the hurdles in off their marks if necessary to accommodate left/right/left/right clearances

Starts to H1,changing the blocks round to change the lead leg.

Relaxation runs down the back straight, training - not straining

Bend running from 200m-300m, especially on the left lead to get a good lean in

Finishes up the home straight: put an extra hurdle 5m from the line to overload the run.

Hurdle runs with fairly short recoveries to reflect the anaerobic nature of the event e.g.

150H x 8 @ 90 % effort, 90 secs rest.

A.C.Robertson, Mastercoach.


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