Commonwealth Games 400m hurdler Hayley McLean outlined her workouts to AW

Since winning the European junior 400m hurdles title last year in Rieti, Hayley McLean has run a PB of 56.43 seconds and earned selection for the Commonwealth Games at the British Championships where she was third behind Eilidh Child and Meghan Beesley.

Unfortunately, her run at the Games itself in Glasgow didn’t quite go to plan with a disqualification in her heat, but the experience will no doubt make her a better athlete.

The Chelmsford athlete credits a structured and varied training programme directed by her coach Steve Mitchell for her success over the years. She trains six times a week, incorporating a hill session on a Monday, over-distance reps on the track on a Tuesday, 200m reps on a Thursday, fartlek on a Friday and event specific hurdling on a Sunday. Each session will involve an element of conditioning afterwards and on a Wednesday the 19-year-old does a longer weights and conditioning session.

She says: “I like to vary my training venues during the week and I enjoy training with a mixed group of athletes, ranging from long and short hurdlers through to sprinters and jumpers, at Chelmsford AC three times a week.

“At other times I train at Lee Valley which has great facilities for gym work, or at my local Impulse Leisure gym. I travel to local areas that are excellent for hill running and I also do a mixture of long and short hills.”

McLean started out doing sprint hurdles and combined events and won several national titles. She started working with Mitchell at the age of 14 having never run the one lap hurdles and has enjoyed continual improvement ever since.

The teenager explains: “I think my response to training has been positive over the years because I enjoy training and have built a strong relationship with my coach. I like the variety in our sessions and the challenges they each present. I enjoy the feeling after a session is completed, knowing I have given 100%”

Clearly possessing a powerful competitive streak, the talented athlete continues: “My key sessions involve high quality head-to-head running where I am pushed hard to perform. I like it when I am given times to run up against, as I thrive on being given a challenge in training.”

“I think my response to training has been positive over the years because I enjoy training and have built a strong relationship with my coach”

McLean’s says her favourite training involves “anything that involves hurdling, such as hurdle 10 runs. I like reps that have short recoveries too as the longer the recovery the more I lose concentration and my legs get tight,” she adds.

The youngster who has been competing since 2006 and has tried many events including throws, jumps, sprints and middle distance feels her experience at the European Junior Championships last year acted as a catalyst for her continued development as an athlete.

She explains: “I had the opportunity to run three rounds over three consecutive days and it allowed me to become familiar with post-race media interviews and experience my first drugs test. I hope all of this will stand me in good stead for future senior championships.”

Her performance in Rieti also led to coach and athlete setting new targets and adapting training for the 2014 season, with the aim being to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. “My targets were to keep improving my time to around 56.5sec and run a sub-57 seconds early in the season in an attempt to earn selection. We went about this by working on being faster and more aggressive out of the blocks and working harder on the last 200m of my race, resulting in me having closer splits.”

However, determined to improve all aspects of her lifestyle, she has also improved her diet, ensuring she ate the right foods before and after training and she feels this has really contributed to her improvement this year. McLean adds: “Before a race for breakfast I eat a bowl of porridge with honey. Post-training or competition my favourite snack is a banana with peanut butter.”

Music also plays a part before she races and says: “I listen to any fast tempo music when preparing for a race. My favourite song is ‘Champion’ by Chris Brown, but at the moment I love Ed Sheeran.”

She also benefits from sponsorship from Cedar Hall Clinic, which supplies her with weekly maintenance therapies. McLean credits a warm weather training trip to America in April for much of her improvement this season and reflects: “We went for longer and I also was able to compete while out there. The weather conditions were perfect, so this made training and competing very beneficial, giving me a solid training block, which I believe was a great preparation for the rest of the season.”


Monday: Hill session: Grass surface and around 150m long with steady gradient. Run a loop 12-15x60sec. Followed by abs and core work for 20-30min.
Tuesday: (am) Pilates. (pm) Track session: 600m/400m/200m/400m/600m. In winter usually about 35sec per 200m.
Wednesday: Conditioning and strength work in the gym. Cleans, squats and bench and snatches later in the year.
Thursday: 10x200m – target times get faster, increased rest and less volume as season approaches. In January around 34sec with 2min recovery.
Friday: 30min fartlek on grass or treadmill. Running hard for 60sec and then jog 60sec. Followed by conditioning: Hurdles walkover session or a weights session involving cleans, squats, roll-outs and bench.
Saturday: Rest day.
Sunday: Event specific work: Two runs to hurdle 10 with 20 minutes recovery. Target time is around 90-95% of race pace (52sec or faster). Followed by conditioning: Medicine ball throws.

» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes