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Ieuan Thomas's top tips for steeplechase

by Press Release
Thursday 3rd August 2017
Ieuan Thomas will be representing Great Britain in the steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships. He tells us how we can get into steeplechase and why you shouldn't fear the water! 

Ieuan in action (right)

So you’re thinking about getting into Steeplechase? You have all the qualities of a good steeplechaser – speed, strength and endurance…but where to start? Here’s my top 5 tips for getting into steeplechase:
Talk to your club
There are a lot of steeplechase opportunities out there. Just expressing an interest to your club that you are interested in the event is a great starting point, especially if you are a youngster. National Young Athletes Leagues and other local leagues will offer the opportunities for 1500m or 2000m steeplechases, which is a perfect starting point for anyone looking to race the chase for the first time. Clubs often struggle to find steeplechasers so will no doubt be incredibly grateful that you are looking to get in to the event. Then as you progress the BMC offer fantastic opportunities for full-length steeples at their Grand Prix events throughout the year.
Seek out good coaching
I like to use the phrase ‘be a sponge’ when it comes to steeplechasing. Because it’s a pretty technical event expertise in coaching the chase comes few and far between. Both you and your coach should seek out advice from other steeplechasers and coaches who have experience in the event.  You don’t have to leave your current coach, as quote often there is no reason to do so, but you may have to adapt sessions to be more steeple specific and input from those who have been there is a great place to start.
Try it in training
Before jumping straight into a steeple race, it’s definitely a good idea to practice your hurdling. Those big barriers don’t have any give in them (I should know  - I’ve hit them a couple of times) and if you’re going to run well you need to be able to clear them as efficiently as possible. Doing some strides on the track over hurdles, or even adding hurdles to your normal workouts is a perfect taster of the rhythm of steeplechase and a great way if discovering if there’s a natural talent there! 
Leave your fears behind
Respecting the barriers is one thing, but if you go in with a fear of the barriers then your focus is not on the race. If you have prepared well there is no reason to fear. This is especially important coming into the water jump. You need the confidence to leap onto and push away form the barrier; otherwise you may find yourself leaping two footed into a pretty deep pool of water.
Steeplechase is a very technical event.  It takes time to master. I have been running steeplechase for 5 years and I’m still not there yet. If your first session, or race, isn’t all you hoped it would be then that’s o.k. Not much can prepare you for the hurt in the last km of the race, having to hurdle when all your body wants to do is stop. It takes time. Keep at it, success comes with perseverance.

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