Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Hurdles — Look Forward and Keep Moving!

I was reading about the Olympic Games and was fascinated by information about the hurdle competitions. I couldn’t help but think that life is like that. (I am, after all, the daughter of Creola Kincaid Lewis.)

The article said a requirement for success is for the runner to be aware of the hurdle before he or she reaches it, then at the moment of jumping, forget the hurdle, look forward and keep running. What a wonderful analogy!

I did some research on hurdles as a result of that article and probably found out more than I wanted or needed to know about the activity! However, like all research, it was fascinating for many reasons–and all of them reminded me of life and career challenges.

When you can do a lot, don’t settle for doing less.  As you would expect, runners prepare for the highest hurdles by starting with lower ones. But what I found most interesting was that once a runner is prepared for the highest hurdles they almost never go back to the lower ones just to keep in shape. To do that would hurt their muscle memory and give them a false sense of security. That is like our lives: Once we accept the challenges of responsibility we need to look for even greater responsibility to keep our knowledge and skills well trained.

The time to get ready is before you get going. As I looked at photos of hurdle competitors I was impressed with their physical conditions. Their leg and thigh muscles are incredible, but they also need total body strength. They do not get in that kind of condition after the race has started! That also applies to our non-running world, If we wait until we face challenges, tragedies or even triumphs before we prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally, we inevitably will handle the situations less effectively. Every day is a training day.

You don’t have to clear the hurdles to win. Hurdles are weighted so they fall over if touched by the runner. But get this: There are no penalities for knocking over a hurdle. The problem is that the pull-over weight considerably slows down the run. Nevertheless, knocking over a hurdle doesn’t mean the race is lost. The runner just has to run faster afterwards.

One thing you will notice: Runners do not stop and kick the hurdle after it falls over. Nor do they stop to trip other runners out of anger or frustration. They keep looking forward and running.  When we don’t clear a hurdle in our work we want to know why, and how we can avoid doing it again. But, we can do that better if we wait until there is a break in the action. Until then, we should keep going and make the next hurdle a brand new challenge.

Characterisitics of a runner with potential to be great in hurdle competetions: An article that discussed the characteristics coaches look for, listed these (See if they sound familiar for success in work): “Above average speed, light on your feet, have good stride length and excellent flexibility.” Wouldn’t that help us in almost every situation?

The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament of the Bible, said of his faith, “I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. I move on toward the goal to win the prize.” That applies to every race and to our lives and careers as well. You may be facing more than one hurdle today or in the weeks to come. Look at your hurdle, understand it and accept that it will be difficult, but keep your eyes on your final goal. If you have prepared and are as fit as possible for the race, you will clear the hurdles. And if you don’t, you can still keep running and you can end the race with a smile.

Incidentally, every Olympic game points out something else worth remembering: There is more than one medal. And, finishing honorably is reason enough to feel proud.

August 7th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 5 comments


  1. Now you’re talking something I can relate to! My field and track event was the high jump but I started with hurdles. Too much work! Anyway, now you know I can comment. And thanks again for the help last month with the test. Stan

    Comment by Stan the Running Man | August 7, 2008

  2. OK, Stan, so now I know you can comment. What about writing a guest article about raising the bar in our lives and careers. And no, I don’t mean that kind of bar. Geez!

    Comment by Tina | August 7, 2008

  3. I guess I have to get in on the act. I didn’t do any track or field in high school but I was good at roller skating. Maybe life is like that…..You go around and around and never get anywhere. Sorry! I couldn’t resist.

    My grandson, Jason Aguilar, is getting ready for junior high and wants to be in track and field, so I sent this to him and he said to tell you that you are cool. See you!

    Comment by Wiseacre | August 7, 2008

  4. Dear W.A. Thank you for your feeble attempt at humor. Tell Jason I’m sure he’ll do spectacularly.

    I’m not going to respond to the roller skating idea. There are too many obvious things, and I don’t want to encourage you. 🙂 Tina

    Comment by Tina | August 7, 2008

  5. Tina, this was a great idea. I saved a copy for both my daughter and son. I also appreciate your quote from the great motivational speaker, the Apostle Paul. You’re one too! Bill M.

    Comment by W.M. | August 8, 2008

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