400 meter Hurdle Training: The 3 Group Types (Part 2)

This 3 part series article is guest blogged by Jim Hiserman, author of the books Program Design Method for Sprints & Hurdle Training and Strength and Power for Maximum Speed.  Part 2 will discuss the 3 groups, and Part 3 will look at Sprint Performance Factors.

The 3 Type of Groups

Iskra divides the Polish 400 hurdlers into three groups for training purposes.

The first is a Motor/Speed-Special Endurance group which is made up of sprinters with high level 400 meter sprint times. Current examples of this type of athlete would be Olympic Gold Medalist Angelo Taylor and Kerron Clement who both have world-class 400 meter times on the flat. In most cases the differential between 400 flat and 400 hurdles is around 3.0 seconds for these types of athletes.

The second is a (Technical) 110/100HH group that exhibits the speed/rhythm components of hurdling that can be adapted to the hurdle speed and endurance necessary for long hurdling. These types seem to be capable of running 400 hurdles within 2.0-2.5 seconds of their best 400 flat times.

The third is a (Rhythm) group that displays the speed endurance and stride consistency of middle distance types without the technical or motor attributes of the first two groups. These are the types that can run almost as fast over 400 hurdles as they can in the flat 400 meters. Athletes in this group can run the 400 hurdles within 1.0/1.5– 2.0 seconds of their best at 400 meters on the flat.

My experience has shown this to be fairly accurate. At UCI, David Mayeda ran 400 meters on the flat in 46.50 and 51.09 at 400 hurdles. Although he qualified for Div. I National Championships, his shorter stature, muscular body type and trouble hurdling with right leg kept his 400/400H differential to only 4.5 seconds.

At the other end of the spectrum was Skye Greene. Her natural Speed Endurance traits, lean body type and smooth and efficient hurdle technique with either leg allowed her to progress from 71.1 seconds her first year to 63.2 the next year and, ultimately, to become a Div. I All American at 57.11 in her final year at UCI!!!

It is certain, from both a review of literature and the training of high level long hurdle performers, that success at 400/300 hurdles requires a certain mix of speed, endurance, strength, technique, rhythm and mobility/flexibility. These attributes can be present in a variety of percentages within potential long hurdlers. This can make it hard to determine those that will ultimately become successful.

At Sonoma State, I experimented with training all of my incoming female athletes that possessed any of the Bio-Motor and physical traits needed to be successful at 400 hurdles. One athlete, in particular, had never hurdled and only ran two years in high school as a 200 and 400 runner. Her best of 62++ seconds over 400 and 26++ over 200 in high school, together with her tall stature and youth gymnastics background, made training for 400 hurdles worth trying. The fact that she ended up running 62.57 and qualifying for Div. II Nationals as a junior justified the great trust that she displayed in trying an event she had never experienced before.

About the Author

Jim Hiserman’s is the author of the Program Design Method for Sprints & Hurdle Training and Strength and Power for Maximum Speed.  His other published articles on this site include:

  1. A Total Sprint-Training Program for Maximum Strength & Power, Core Strength, and Maximum Sprint Speed (5 Part series)
  2. A Sprint & Hurdles Program Design Overview
  3. Training for Development of Maximum Speed
  4. Basic and Advanced Technical Models, including Proper Execution of Key Drills
  5. Speed throughout the Training Year
  6. 400 Meter Training: Greater Strength = Faster Times (3 Part Series)
  7. 400 Meter Training- Blending Short-to-Long and Long-to-Short Methods (2 Part Series)
  8. Speed Training: Developing a Sound Philosophy
  9. How to Improve Acceleration Part 4
  10. Summer Sprint Training: Important Variables to Consider