The steeplechase is a challenging track and field event that tests both an athletes technical ability and endurance.
Many young athletes who have succeeded in the event at the junior distances struggle to transition to the full 3000m, and in quite a lot of cases, the athletes at the top level have actually switched from middle-distance running.
Rosie Clarke is one such example of an athlete who successfully transitioned from middle-distance running in recent years. The 25-year-old went on to become the British national champion in 2016 and most recently represented Great Britain at the World Championship in London.
Clarke shares advice for young middle-distance runners considering a switch to the steeplechase.
1. Find the right coach
What you achieve on the track is dictated by what you do in training.
Be sure to work with someone you trust to stand you in the best position to succeed.
It’s also important that your coach has both the technical and endurance training background to prepare you for the different aspects involved; running, hurdling, and long jumping.
2. Start with the basics
Steeplechase takes a lot out of your body, and it’s important to work on your weaknesses before you start trying to go 7.5 rounds with the hurdles.
Hip strength is particularly important and should be a key focus because, over the course of the 3000m, you will face 28 hurdles and seven water jumps.
3. Give the endurance work the attention it needs
Too many people move to the steeplechase and are brilliant for 2000m, but then really struggle in the closing stages. This is something I was guilty of last year.
The long winter efforts will make you strong but don’t be tempted to neglect your endurance entirely in the summer months.
4. Don’t be scared of the water jump
Many athletes that are new to steeplechase are really timid around the water jump, and literally, lose seconds from their final time through the momentum that they lose.
Practice the water jump into the sand and learn to be familiar with the barrier. Everyone falls occasionally, there’s no need to be scared!
5. Enjoy the challenge
Taking on a new event is a brave move, and it could catapult your career to the next level, but it can seem daunting. Just enjoy the process for what it is, take every day as it comes and build as you go.
We do this sport because we love it, it’s always important to keep that in the back of your mind.