I really liked the survey of world class training options by Tonnie Campbell, in his article Hurdle Workouts. One of the most important and the most demanding is the Zone Drill by Wilbur Ross. While several options exist, the most common is removing 1-3 hurdle to get overspeed. The Zone Drill is not for the faint of heart, as you can throw away your Wulf Motor Learning PDFs at Starbucks aside and get into the world of applied coaching. I have not done the Zone Drill for two years now because athletes need to be ready to overcome fear. Like flying, the fear of crashing doesn’t invite many to be aggressive. Be it a typical American power hurdler or Euro style finesse hurdler, the drill simply allows athletes to get use to speeds higher than they are able to muster in races because you open up the speed between the hurdles. You need to be under 14 seconds or trying to break out of mental plateau to take advantage of this workout.
When I see the photos of hurdles stacked in the horizon (such as the one attached) it reminds me of the movie by Bruce Lee as he enters the mirror room and must combine his abilities over and over. One must muster blind faith and simply attack the hurdle and trust that they will be fine. This isn’t easy because most athletes are going to be exposed to faster than meet conditions, even if you are bunching hurdles or lowering heights. I don’t have magic options but here are three considerations.
Safety-Make sure you set up the hurdle in lane 7 for an escape option left or right. I don’t verbally say to bail out but no rules exist on this drill and I like being safe. I also like using a foam cross bar hurdle with a hurdle with no baseboard in between. This allows athletes to bust through. Be warned though I would never encourage kicking as that is breaking the honest effort rule with clearance.
Timing- I used Freelap to get meter per second splits on the open part and the resulting 5 hurdles at regular heights and spacing. If you can reach meet times of .99 or faster that is a great workout. The splits of .96 can be down to .93 with 39 inches and a 3 hurdle zone but that needs an elite world class hurdler when it’s a foot in. The key is to make the athlete be able to produce world class spits not just survive them with altered layouts. See how the zone helps long hurdle workouts beyond bunching and lowering hurdles. The open splits must be faster than hurdle segments at race pace to get overspeed or you are just doing a regular workout without hurdles.
Video- See what the athletes do instinctual for survive or thrive reactions. This is important because athletes can’t mask things at hyper speeds. Speed and power expands errors mechanically and this type of training really shows problems mechanically that need to be worked on. Check the most glaring problem and work on it feverishly in warm-ups and drilling during the week and keep it very simple.
In Part 2- I will share an actual set-up so people can see how this works later this summer.