Q: Guest Star Billy Nelson on “Hurdling like a spaz?”

Hi Lauren! I ran the 2000 steeple chase for the first time today and came in third, breaking the meet record, although the first two also did that. I really like the challenge of the steeple and really really want to get better. The thing is, i was a bit nervous about hurdling the jumps so i jumped off instead. My coach and i do hurdle drills and such in practice but i was wondering if you had any advice on technique, how to improve, etc? I saw your steeple time and it was pretty fast so i thought you would be a very reliable source. Thanks!




Lauren puzzledI had to laugh when I read your question because I’ve only run the 3000m steeplechase once!  Like you, my experience was positive and time was fast, but also like you, I was jumping off the barriers the second half of the race, making the coaches cringe on the sidelines.  Bottom line is, if you had watched me run that race, you wouldn’t be asking for my advice 🙂  But you are in luck!  I happen to have a teammate who has been to the Olympics in your new favorite event!  And I am thrilled to say he has offered to give you some pointers, (I’m taking notes too).


A: Billy Nelson

Billy NelsonFirst off, great job!  You were jumping off the hurdles instead of hurdling, and you still ran a fast time and placed third…that is awesome, cause once you learn to hurdle them, that alone will knock off time. As far as drills and techniques go, first of all you need to trust your abilities. I understand that hurdling the barrier is very intimidating, but if you can do it in practice you can do it in races. Improving your hurdling ability is something that even the best steeplechasers work on every week cause you can always get better.
A few drills that have helped me are:
  • hurdle walker overs
  • practicing the water barrier a least once a week
  • “running off the hurdle” (surge your first few steps after clearing the hurdle)
Also do drills which you have the hurdles spaced out like the 100m/110m hurdle races, and stride over the hurdles as if doing a 100m or 110m race.  Don’t go all out like sprint, but stride over them.
My last piece of advice is simple: be aggressive. It’s a huge step to get comfortable over the barriers, but once you break that fear, you can improve so much in just a short time.
I hope that helps. Good Luck and Have Fun!!
-Billy Nelson