I know this is an old thread but I’m bringing it back because I think it’s a good one. So in the past roughly two years I’ve made some adjustments to my original beliefs.
1) No reason to be afraid of race spacing and height, and discounting is fine as well. After all, if we are convnced that an athlete can run 110m over 10 hurdles without ever practicing that whole thing, why not make changes? I’m not sure how often I used race spacing, but I moved the hurdles in 1 foot the vast majority of the time. I feel 8.5m is too close for boys, and 7m is too close for women.
2) One step drills are AMAZING for fixing technique. I don’t know how many athletes I struggled with and then put them on one steps only to see dramatic improvements.
3) Speed is way more important than people are giving it credit for. For women this is especially true. If your girl is running 13.0 in the 100m, she isn’t running faster than 14.8 in the 100mh. There are exceptions, but they are extremely rare. And if someone tells you their guy ran 14.6 while running 12 in the 100m, he is either optimistic or outright lying.
So since this thread was originally about hurdle spacing and distance, I’ll go though some more of my observations.
4) Whether or not to drop hurdle height is dependant on the hurdler. Some kids just naturally jump the hurdles. You can fix it by having them go over really low hurdles for an extended period of time. They’ll get used to those clearance heights and then you can bump them back up. Some kids naturally drop low to the hurdle and they need to go over race height more often.
5) In the offseason I will drop the hurdle height to the lowest settings but keep the spacing the same. Then tell them to sprint over the hurdles. Technique was already adequate in most cases. The reduced heights made 3 stepping possible even if they couldn’t do it cleanly with normal height. I expect them to hit 15s pace (or 14s for the more advanced guy) before I bump them up a height. I think this can even be viable in season if done properly.
6) I would get split times via video camera (60fps) and compare them to hurdle charts. If I added .3 for every foot the hurdle is brought in and .2 for every three inches the hurdle was raised, I got pretty accurate conversions.
And some case studies. I didn’t get to work with anyone long enough to get a 14 second hurdler, but I have no doubt I would have gotten there at the high school I was at within a year.
-Started with a sophomore boy, 6’2″ ~135 lbs. Never hurdled before. First race in 19.4. In roughly 15 months, he ran 15.8. I had him running 14s paces over 33″ before we stopped working together.
-Started with a sophomore boy, 6′, ~140 lbs. Hurdled in middle school but not as a high schooler. First race in 19.4. In roughly 6 months, he ran 16.2 practice paces. I stopped working with him for academic reasons, but see no reason he won’t run 15s this year.
-Started with a junior girl, 5’4″, no idea of weight. Hurdled in middle school, but not in high school. First race in 17.9. A month later she ran 15.7. Barely did any offseason work with her. Hard to take credit for her accomplishments she was so natural.
-Started with a sophomore girl, 5’10”, no idea of weight. Hurdled in middle school, but not in high school. First race was a disaster so… second race in 22s. I worked with her about a year, and I expect her to run 15s this year.
There were other examples with lesser results. A sophomore boy with minimal hurdling experience went from 18.2 to 16.8 in a month. Another freshman and sophomore boy with not so drastic results but major physical limitations. I had girls run 47.0s and 48.9s in the 300s respectively, but that race is less technical. I made sure to get kids with speed but no boys faster than 11.99, and no girls faster than 13.3 over 100m.
So my takeaway message is that heavy doses of low hurdles and speed work can develop hurdlers quickly just like everyone has been saying for a while. With 15s or faster I would not be opposed to race spacing and height during the season, but definitely use lower heights for development.