Temple University track and field coach Elvis Forde calls the 400-meter hurdle a “rhythmic race.”
“Once your rhythm is thrown off, it can impact the outcome of the performance,” he added.
Sophomore sprinter and hurdler Sydney Williams finished Thursday’s 400 hurdles at the 125th annual Penn Relays in one minute, 4.43 seconds to place seventh in her heat and 39th out of 52 runners. St. Augustine’s University junior Shannon Kalawan had the fastest time, finishing in 57.37 seconds.
Williams finished the race at Franklin Field faster than the 1:04.87 mark she recorded at the Larry Ellis Invitational on Saturday. But leaping high over the hurdles cost her time, she said. Williams usually leads with her left leg when she hurdles, but she alternated during Thursday’s race to not break stride or stutter her feet as much during her approach.
“Going over with my right leg dominantly, it’s a little different,” Williams said. “So I end up popping up higher over, which kind of loses time. So [Forde] was just telling me just stay lower to the hurdle and then it’ll get better from there.”
“You want to concentrate on your horizontal momentum, velocity and she was spending a little bit too much vertical,” Forde said. “And if you go up vertical, that’s time spent that we want on the ground, we want to be running.”
Williams ran the race from one of the four lanes closest to the infield, which is less favorable than running from one of the outside lanes on the Franklin Field track, Forde said.
The hurdles in the inside lanes are set up more on the curve, which makes it more difficult for runners to keep their momentum, Forde said.
“As the coach, I have to help her understand that, ‘Yes, you ran a good race, but it wasn’t the kind of times you want,’” Forde said. “‘But think about the challenge that you faced based on how the hurdles were set on the track today.’”
Though Williams would’ve liked a better result, she enjoyed running the 400 hurdles at the Penn Relays for the first time in her career.
The Maryland native also got to run in front of some of her former high school competitors and teammates, including her sister Taylor Williams, who is a senior in high school. Taylor Williams is still choosing which college she’ll attend, but there’s a chance she’ll also be in the American Athletic Conference, Sydney Williams said.
“It’s just nice to run in front of them and just show them this is the college experience, and I can’t wait for you guys to get here,” Sydney Williams said.
“Overall, I feel like it was a great experience, a lot to learn and I really just can’t wait to come back next year and run faster,” she added.