The Low or "Crouching " Start.
A Close Finish.
The general scheme of training for the sprints may, to speak very roughly, be applied to the other distances. That is to say, there must be some long work, and more shorter fast work. As I have said before, however, no two men can train in exactly the same manner. Delicate men who rely largely on their "nerve" to carry them through a race, cannot stand as much severe work as their more rugged fellows, though they may run their races quite as fast.
Men who are training for distances from the quarter mile up scarcely need to be sent beyond their distance oftener than once or twice a week. The rest of the time may be spent in running from half to two-thirds the distance at a much sharper pace.
As to a man's "style" in running, there is not much to be said, except that he should be as natural as possible. He should stride out freely, getting his knees well up in front of him, but should not attempt to step too far. The arms should swing easily backward and forward, and should not be hugged up to the chest in such a way as to contract the lungs. Above all, don't attempt to run with your mouth closed. It is pitiful to see some men half strangle themselves in a race by attempting to breathe through the nose alone.
"Hurdling" (or leaping over obstructions while running) requires not only the speed and endurance of flat-running, but also a coolness and grace which some men can never acquire.
There is a material difference between hurdling and a common jump. The spring being taken from one foot, the other should be brought up so that it will be nearly as high as the knee, and only slightly forward of it.
The leg from which the spring is taken should be allowed to follow with the foot well back, and knee up to one side. Never hurry this foot forward. In order to clear the hurdles with the smallest possible loss of time, the athlete must regulate his stride so as to be ready to leave the ground at practically the same distance from each hurdle. He must not go higher than is absolutely necessary to clear the hurdles, and must land on the ground poised in a position to continue his running.
The two popular distances with hurdlers are one hundred and twenty yards, and two hundred and twenty yards. In the former, there are ten hurdles, usually three feet six inches in height, and placed ten yards apart. The first hurdle is fifteen yards from the scratch. In this race the runner is able to get in just three strides between the hurdles. This forces him to take his spring, every time, from the same foot. Fear of the hurdles, and a tendencv to get too near them before leaving the ground, are difficulties against which the beginner has to contend. If his stride comes right, however, and he is able to run fast between the hurdles, it will only require practice to enable him to run through with as much certainty about coming up to the hurdles properly as if he were a machine. One well-known high hurdler has expressed confidence in his ability to run his race blindfolded.
The two hundred and twenty yard hurdles are each two feet six inches high, placed twenty yards apart, the first one being set twenty yards from the start. The runner will find it necessary to take either seven, eight, or nine strides between the hurdles. The best hurdlers require only seven. This enables the runner to spring or "take off" always with the same foot. Few men, however, have a long enough stride or sufficient endurance to enable them to go through all ten hurdles, taking only seven strides between. Eight strides demand of the runner the ability to "take off" equally well with either foot, while nine strides are too many to enable a man to attain any great speed between hurdles. The ability to hurdle easily may be gained in the winter by using a single hurdle in the gymnasium.
Leaping the Hurdles.
Whether in flat-running or hurdling, it should always be remembered that a race is won at the finish. There the supreme effort should be made. It is a frequent mistake with novices to stop running a yard or two from the finish, and many a race has been lost in this way.
Chapters might be written about the proper way to run the different distances, but the fine points of racing are best learned from experience.
BY NORMAN W. BINGHAM, JR.
Captain Harvard Track Team of 1895.