Tag Archives: hurdle drills

Hurdle Drills

After the debacle that was my comeback race, I vowed never to crimp on hurdle drills again. In Bacolod, I seemed to float over each barrier – a far cry from the days when my snappy hurdle clearance saved me from many a race. Such a result was unsurprising. I drastically cut down the time I spent doing hurdle walkovers and plyometric hurdle drills, in the interest of saving time. The result of that race reiterated the fact that in hurdling, as in life, there are no shortcuts.

Instead of quick, once-in-a-blue moon drilling sessions, I adhered to a strict schedule of focused, consistent reps. In each session, I cleared an average of 260 to 280 hurdles on a given hurdling day. Once I got into the training groove, I jacked up the once-a-week sessions to twice in a typical seven-day cycle and opted to clear intermediate hurdles, instead of the lower variant. I have yet to try clearing the tall barriers yet, but I have a good feeling that I’ve regained a good measure of my lost hurdling quickness. I’ve adapted well to the increasing progression of difficulty. I actually feel good doing these drills that a heightened sensation of awareness ensues after each great session.

I just found out that the PATAFA Weekly Relays will commence this Saturday. There shall be no hurried revisions to my training program. At the rate my training is going, I’ll be in tip-top shape by mid-October. As my high school coach used to say, “it takes time to cook good food.”


Hurdle Walkover Variations (13 July 2011)

Coach Geof Chua of DLSU gave interesting inputs during my Wednesday night session. We’ve bumped into each other the past few months, since he’s training a couple of recreational runners. Whilst doing hurdle walkovers, he politely asked “Can I make a suggestion?”

“Of course!” I replied. In light of my Han Solo training routine, I appreciate such kind gestures.

The national team coach suggested that I focus on leading with knee. It was thought-provoking to say the least. I’ve always thought that I’ve (almost) mastered the leading-with-the-knee aspect of hurdling. Then it hit me, I’ve been having problems with my lead leg clearance the past few years. Instead of my thigh skimming over the barriers, it has a tendency to go over the hurdle bent in an ugly angle. Perhaps, something was wrong with the way I’m clearing.


I’ve always put much emphasis on hurdle drills. To be able to efficiently clear the 1.067m-high barriers in full speed, one has to ingrain the hurdling motion by practicing over lower barriers – and at a pedestrian pace. The main reason for my dramatic improvement in the 2005-2006 was the hours I spent drilling over the barriers.

During hurdle walkovers, I put emphasis on the kicking action of the lead leg. I figured that such a movement mimics the actual lead leg action over the senior hurdles. Perhaps I’ve poured too much attention into this kicking action that I’ve neglected the most fundamental tenet of hurdling – leading with the knee.

In the coming months, I’ll be doing a slight variation. I won’t do the kicking action during the first half of a hurdle walkover session (it’s a lot easier on the hams. I don’t see my body complaining!). After which, I’ll switch to the more dynamic version, just to get the feel of the intensity.

It still sucks thinking about how crappy I clocked at the PNG. I am dead set on running fifteen and fourteen seconds again. To get a good shot at redemption, I need to spend time on the track doing these fundamental exercises.

Guy Drut: The Stylish Hurdler

I’ve always loved reading about vintage track & field. Back in college, I drooled at the wealth of track knowledge contained in “A World History of Track & Field Athletics 1864-1964.” I was particularly amazed at how the athletics pioneers ran spectacular times despite a cinder track and spartan training methods.

Before the advent of hurdles with plastic top-bars, the barriers were once actual sheep hurdles (back in the 1800’s in Britain), shaped like an inverted “T” (harder to fall than today’s “L” shaped hurdles) or robustly built (with wooden top bars).

Photo from athle67.athle.org

Take a look at the following documentary about Guy Drut, who won the 110m high hurdles silver in the 1976 Montreal Games, behind the double-armed Rodney Milburn. Although the 70’s were a far cry from the cinder-track days of Paddock and Owens, the video still retains that nostalgic aura.

I like Drut’s style of hurdling. It’s efficient and a joy to watch. Not a single movement is wasted or exaggerated. Drut has a stable center of gravity all throughout the hurdling motion. Even though it lacks the sheer power of Liu Xiang and Allen Johnson (Drut is just a low 13 second hurdler), Drut’s graceful movements epitomize hurdling as an art form. Although the former world record holder could perhaps lean forward a bit more, Drut’s trail leg action snaps with so much vigor. If I were to choose one aspect of Drut’s hurdling that truly stands out, it is the snap of the trail leg.

Hurdlers of all levels can learn important pointers from the way Drut executes the various hurdle drills. Since the main point of drills is to isolate and perfect certain aspects of hurdling technique, Drut maintains an erect body throughout, enabling his legs to do most of the work. For instance, in the quick step hurdling drill variation (3:44), Drut shuns the aggressive forward lean of actual full-race hurdling technique in favor of a straight back. As a result, his hips and legs are isolated, enabling one’s muscle memory to retain the correct movements efficiently.

What I like most about the documentary (aside from the retro outfits!) are the voice-overs.

“Establish contact with the hurdles. True they are obstacles. But above all, they are indispensable instruments to the forthcoming 13-second [I didn’t quite catch the this term]. Tune-up with the hurdle. Harmonize with them.”

I’m not sure if the lines actually come from Drut himself, but if that’s the case, then it isn’t surprising considering the suppleness and ease of Drut’s form. Even though I don’t always exhibit the aforesaid approach to hurdling, we share the same fundamental hurdling principles – of relaxed, deeply-wrought intensity.

Video credit:


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