What The Hurdles Have Taught Me
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What The Hurdles Have Taught Me

Being a hurdler has helped me discover realizations about my inner self, life lessons and how to be tough.

What The Hurdles Have Taught Me
Tim Casey

To most people, a hurdle is merely an obstacle to jump over. There’s no complex way to explain it – that’s simply what it is.

However, the act of hurdling is an art. We hurdlers train anywhere between 2 to 4 hours a day and undoubtedly hurdle more than 100 barriers a week – all for a 12-second race.

The 100-meter hurdle race is a competition of concentration and passion. The quicker you move along the track, the faster the hurdles come up on you and the more intense the race gets. Your body is only used to running a certain speed and a specific pattern, so when you reach a new level of speed, the hurdle race suddenly becomes more extreme and thrilling – an experience you never expected to encounter. It just happens.

Yet, the hurdles are more than just obstacles to me. The hurdles have not only taught me the intricacies of the race, but also knowledge about my inner self, life lessons and how to be tough. That being said, here a just a few key points I’ve learned first-hand throughout my time as a hurdler.

Patience is Key

To start, the first 8 steps of the hurdle race are the most crucial steps of the whole race. If done correctly, these steps will precisely position the hurdler all way down the track – even over the final hurdle. The first two steps out of the blocks are critical. They require patience, not necessarily quickness.

Similarly, sometimes when we strive to reach our goal in life, we have to begin with patience. For example, it is often said that you won’t reach your lifelong goals right after college. You have to work towards it. Just like the hurdle race, you must be patient your first few steps if you want to be in the correct position later in life.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1: 2-4

Don’t Slow Down Before Any Hurdle

After the first two patient steps out of the blocks, you gradually begin to rise, shortening your steps, running full speed into hurdle number one. The finals steps before the first hurdle are the scariest because they are meant to be quick and efficient, achieving maximum speed so that it will give you the speed you need at the end of the race.

My track and field coach at the University of Florida, Coach Mike Holloway, posed this question at a hurdle practice one day, “In life, why would you want to slow down before any barrier? Wouldn’t you want to go full speed over it?” To further explain, sometimes in life, you need to do everything in your power to get to your full speed when you approach a hurdle because it is this speed that will carry you through to the end of your race in life.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Don’t Dwell on the Previous Hurdle

Another part of hurdling is hitting the barriers. You’re going to hit hurdles along the way and you’re going to scrape your knees, ankles and elbows. You’ll develop scars from that amount of hurdles you hit, but these scars give you a story to tell and a lesson learned. Any hurdler quickly learns that hitting hurdles is part of the process. Sometimes you can recover from the hit and other times you hit the hurdle hard enough that you lose all your momentum; it's a part of what you do.

However, if you hit a hurdle, you cannot dwell on it in a race. You must keep going and look towards the finish line. If you think about what has already happened and lose focus, it will mess up your race going forward. The same goes for your day-to-day life. You’re going to face trials – some of which are more difficult than others to recover from. However, you must keep looking forward at your journey ahead and not dwell on the mistakes in your past.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brother and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” – Philippians 3: 12-13

Take Care of Your Foundation

In the 100-meter hurdles, there are 10 hurdles and there are 51 total steps taken (8 to the first hurdle, 27 total steps between the hurdles, 10 total steps over the top of the hurdle, and 6 steps from the last hurdle to the finish line). That said, it is easy to see that there are more steps taken in a hurdle race than there are hurdles.

Similarly, there are more chances to get better and build a sturdier foundation in life than there are the amount of hurdles you will face. So, like Coach Holloway and Florida Gator’s Assistant Coach Adrain Mann always say, “Take care of the ground first and the hurdles will take care of themselves.” In life, if you take care of the foundational principles and if you do everything in your power to propel forward, then the hurdles are already taken care of.

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upond it." – 1 Corinthians 3:10

Don’t Be Afraid to Fall

Now, what about falling over a hurdle? That’s one of the first questions I am asked after telling people I run the hurdles. Well, I’m here to say you’re going to fall in practice and, sometimes, you’re even going to fall in competition when it matters most; it simply comes with the art of hurdling. I’ve realized that all good hurdlers fall. Lolo Jones fell in the 2008 Beijing Olympics while she was in first place; it happens. However, I’ve also realized that all great hurdlers keep going; they get back to work, figure out what went wrong and attack the next race harder than they did the time before.

Falling over a hurdle is never a bad thing. It helps you develop real-life knowledge that probably only 1 percent of the world can say they’ve gained. You see, falling over a hurdle teaches you life lessons that you may have never experienced if you hadn’t made that mistake in the race or taken that chance to run faster than you ever have.

From falling over hurdles, I have developed an unexplainable sense of humility, yet a profound feeling of courage. I’ve been knocked down, but I’ve gotten back up twice as hard. For so long, I’ve looked at hurdling as something I have no control over. Today, I realized that I am in control of the hurdles and I am in control of my own destiny. The hurdles in the race and the hurdles of life do not control me.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” – Romans 5: 3-4
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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