The 400-meter hurdles is an Olympic track and field event challenging athletes to run the length of a standard outdoor track while leaping over a series of ten hurdles evenly spaced around the track. With the combination of sprinting 400 meters and clearing a series of hurdles, the 400 hurdles is often considered one of the most physically demanding track events. As a result, hurdlers use specific hurdle workouts to train running mechanics, speed, endurance and hurdle technique.
Learn to Alternate Lead Legs
The two-step hurdle drill is designed to improve your ability to alternate lead legs as you clear the hurdles. Space six to eight hurdles about 15 meters apart with an intermediate height of 36 inches for males and 30 inches for females. Approach the hurdle at a controlled pace and sprint to the hurdle when you are about 5 to 7 meters away as you focus on leading with alternate lead legs on each hurdle. Use the two-step drill at the end of the warmup and perform two sets of 10 repetitions.
Increase Your Stamina
Ins and outs is a classic track workout that improves overall endurance, stamina and conditioning. After your warmup, sprint along the straight-aways on the track and jog the curves covering a total distance of 2 to 4 miles. The sprints should be performed at about 75 percent to 85 percent full speed while you focus on proper sprinting mechanics with a relaxed upper body. Remove all hurdles from the track for beginning hurdlers and add one to two hurdles on the straight-aways as conditioning and ability levels improve.
Improve Your Speed
Running 200-meter repeats is designed to improve speed, running mechanics and overall conditioning. The workout will consist of eight repetitions with three minutes of recovery between repeats. Set one hurdle at the top of the curve and another hurdle on the straight-away so you'll have to clear two hurdles on each repetition. After your warmup, run the first 200 meters as hard as possible, rest three minutes and perform another 200-meter repeat. The goal is to maintain the same time within two seconds of the first 200 repeat.
Develop Your Rhythm
The rhythm workout is designed to teach proper race pace along with running mechanics. For example, if your goal 400-meter hurdle time is 50 seconds, the rhythm workout will focus on running each 100-meter interval in 12 to 12.5 seconds. Place cones every 50 meters on the track for reference points during the workout. Starting at different spots along the track will force you to run the straight-aways and curves to resemble an actual race. Start at one cone and run 100 meters at your 400-meter hurdle pace. After running 100 meters, jog or walk back 50 meters to the previous cone and run the next 100 meters. Repeat seven times.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.