Steeple Training

Simon demonstrates the passage of the water pit, using snapshots from a film taken in Tilburg at a club competition meeting (1999):

Click here for an animation (360 Kb; loading may take some time)

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Picture 1: The jump towards the barrier should not be a high parabolic jum where one would land almost vertically on the top of the barrier. You should really jump at it almost in a straight "low" line. The heal of your foot should hit the barrier on the side, such that the foot can role over the barrier with the toes ending on the other side of the barrier.

Picture 2: Here you see that the foot has started to role over the barrier. An important feature is that the centre of gravity of the body actually stays very low; this can be achieved by forwarding the arms underneath your body.

Picture 3: Due to the low arms movement, the centre of gravity has always stayed low. Here the foot has rolled to the other side of the barrier and is ready to push off. The knees are nicely bent, due to the low position on the barrier.

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Picture 4: Here, I have pushed off from the barrier. And here is also the first mistake I am making (yes, I am not perfect ;-) !!). I have let my foot off the barrier too soon, before it could actually complete a powerful pushoff. One should actually wait until the body "almost falls into the water pit"and then push the leg straigh off the barrier for maximum push.

Picture 5: Note that I have jumped off the barrier in a downwards hyperbole / straigh line. Don't jump upwards! This wil cause you to seriously loose time and make a harder, more vertical landing into the water. In turn, that would cause a slower step out of the water pit, because one has to convert vertical direction again into horizontal. Also note that my mistake clearly shows here: the knee is fully bent, while a hard push-off would have resulted in an almost straigh leg backwards!

Picture 6: I have landed in the water at about 75% of the pit, the ideal landing space. Not too deep, but the comfortable shock-absorbing effect of the water. Try to land with your centre of gravity in front of your body ("lean forward"), this will facilitate stepping out forwardly. I only marginally lean forward, again due to not pushing off completely with my leg.

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Picture 7: I am stepping out of the water pit within my first step after landing, slightly hanging forward. The second foot should always come dry; in training, focus should also be on a good and firm second step out of the water!

Picture 8: With a dry second foot I run out of the water pit. One can see that I just manage to keep my second foot dry; it would again have been easier if I had pushed off better from the barrier.....

Picture 9 Go Go Go!!!!!!

Hurdle drills

preferably performed 1x weekly as a separate session without a long (running)warmup / cooldown

0) Warming up/flexibility

1) Stepping: 4x6 hurdles.
Hurdles 1 meter apart, step over them – just 1 foot on the ground between each of the hurdles. Land with your feet straight ahead so you can keep on running straight. Second leg: knee high, almost hitting your armpit. Heel of second foot stays with the butt, toes up. Hurdles are 1 position lower than steeple height (men) or at steeple height (women).

2) Hopping: 4x6 hurdles.
Hurdles slightly further apart, same exercise, but now ‘rhytmic hopping’ instead of walking - (same foot touches ground twice). Hurdles at steeple height (if men can, otherwise 1 lower)

3) First leg: 2x6 right/left.
Hurdles 5m apart, focus on first lifting the knee, only then kick lower leg out, try and land quickly after hurdle with foot straight and centre of gravity forward (do not lean back while landing). Second leg besides hurdle does nothing.

4) Second (trail) leg: 2x6 right/left.
Hurdles 5m apart, the first leg makes a small jump besides the hurdle and lands behind the hurdle, second leg focus on lifting knee high under armpit and heel at but, toes up.Land straight!

5) Hurdle running: 4x6 hurdles.
Hurdles 7m apart so you have to switch legs left/right/left/right. Focus on elements above, limit balance disturbance.

6) Strides with 2 hurdles in them.
Hurdles on variable distance, try and focus as late as possible on the hurdle and only then decide which leg to jump it with.

7) Optional: double hurdle.
Two hurdles 5m apart, the first will be jumped with your left, then 2 steps in between and jump second on your right.

8) Optional: second leg high.
Put a hurdle with 1 side low and 1 side high, put your trail leg from foot to knee on the hurdle (knee on high side) and pull yourself off it to the direction of your knee with the foot dragging over the hurdle. Your knee is forced high up.

Waterpit drills

instead of hurdle drills, preferably 1x/wk every 3rd week

0) Warming up, flexibility

1) Approach.
Run slowly up to the barrier (in front of the sandpit) and exercise to run ‘against’ it rather than jumping on it.

2) Push-off.
Stand on the barrier, make sure you ‘sit low’. Lean forward as if you wanna dive in a pool. Wait long (!) while ‘falling forward’, then firmly push of the barrier and only leave the barrier when second leg is fully stretched. Do not jump upward but horizontal or downward. Make sure to even the sandpit after each jump (ankle!).

3) Full jump with short run approach.
Focus on the above, also on foot placement with toes just over the edge (so you can push off!). Also on keeping your body centre of gravity low possibly by taking both arms forward below the body.

4) Full jump with long approach.
Focus on all above – alternatively, do this with a curve in your run towards the barrier, only to come on the straightaway 20m before the barrier. Check under Steeple for a technical description of the jump.

Weight training

preferably carried out 1-2x/wk as a separate training with no running involved at all!

1) 30 minutes core stability.
Abs/back 2:1.

2) 30 minutes Weights.
Key are Squats (e.g. 3x15 both legs, medium-high weight, 3x15 left leg only, 3x15 right leg only), and Step-ups on a block of 25/30cm. Step ups 3x15 left, 3x 15 right, weight lower as squats.

Steeple and training

1) In your track sessions: 2 hurdles per lap. Try all year round once every 2 weeks to include only 2 hurdles per lap in your repeats unless weather prohibits. Both in 1000+ reps as in 400s.

2) Focus both on endurance (5000m) but also really on your 1500m skills. Despite the fact that it has been proven that steeple is as tough as 7km flat running, the importance of a good 1500m is often underestimated. Do not focus too much on mileage.

3) Tempo changes. Try and train these in fartlek trainings or track sessions every now and then.


sometimes, it helps answering the following questions to yourself.....

1) My 3 strongest qualities as a runner are…

2) My 2 weakest qualities as a runner are…

3) I like the following training: …

4) I dislike the following training: ……

5) I train … times a week (summer/winter)

6) My weekly mileage is about…………

7) I have logged my training?

8) My PBs for 800, 1500, 3000 5000m flat are……

9) My ambitions for this season are………


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Last race
July 21st 2013
Nederlands kampioenschap, Amsterdam (NED)
3000m steeple: 9.13.17 (1)
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