Coming off of a serious ankle injury last year, Yvette Lewis is back in a big way! On February 27, she astonished the crowd with her surprise third-place overall finish in the 60-meter hurdles event at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Her time of 8.03 was just three-hundredths of a second behind Nichole Denby, who took second, and close to only three-tenths of a second off of first-place finisher, Kellie Wells. This is great considering that her fastest time last year—at her peak and before injury—was a 7.90.
Running for the Norfolk Real Deal Track Club, Yvette had this to say about the race, “With a good start, I was focused on my lane, my hurdles, and the next 60 meters after that. I just wanted to get to the first hurdle and blaze from there, and that’s what I did. The race was fast with all of the top runners in the country, but a third-place finish in the Indoor US Championships after being out for so long, well I’m happy with that.”
“My focus now is on the world championships,” Yvette said. “My longer term goal is the Olympic Games.”
No stranger to winning, Yvette has propelled herself to several championship crowns in an altogether different event that is complementary to the hurdles. When it comes to the triple jump, Yvette is a superstar. She is recognized as the 2007 NCAA Outdoor triple jump champion and the 2006 NCAA Indoor triple jump champion. She took third at the 2006 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and was runner-up at the 2007 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The triple jump, which puts more stress on an athlete’s body than any other field event, consists of three nonstop consecutive jumps one after the other (hop, step and then jump) and four phases: the approach phase, the hop phase, the step phase and the jump phase.
The event dates back to the ancient Greek Olympics, with records showing athletes achieving distances of more than 50 feet. Records indicate that the ancient Irish competed in a similar event as early as 1829 B.C. The women’s triple jump was not introduced to the modern Olympic Games until the Atlanta Games in 1996.
The approach run for the triple jump is similar to that of the long jump. The idea is to reach the greatest amount of speed that can be controlled throughout the triple jump hop, step and jump phases. The athlete’s strength and technique will determine the optimal run-up distance and speed, which cannot exceed the 40-meter-long runway.
According to Yvette, the key to the event is: “Being able to carry the momentum I achieve from the initial sprint down the runway from one phase to the next with an even rhythm for each phase. I always keep my eyes focused beyond the pit for the entire jump so I can really will myself to reach the farthest spot I can in the pit.”
“All my thinking about the jump I do in practice. When I am at the event, I try to clear my mind. If I have trained hard and properly, the time for thinking is over.”
“Training and nutrition” are everything, says Yvette, who recalls her early high school days out on the track. “The first time I ran three 200-meter dashes all out in a workout, I puked my guts out. I remember crying the day my high school coach made me run 600-meter hurdle intervals in practice.”
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The days of whining and crying are long gone now as Yvette combines a strong work ethic with her natural talent.
Triple jump and hurdle workouts mirror sprint training. A day will be dedicated to “acceleration” consisting of repeated starts over one to four hurdles. The day will focus on power and its application to starting, so multiple starts and jumps will be a part of this workout. Another day will be rhythm and endurance. This will usually include six to eight hurdles run repetitively, shortening the hurdle distances and heights. Interestingly, hurdle workouts at competition distances and heights have been found to be counterproductive to muscle memory and strength.
With regards to nutritional supplements, Yvette remembers comparing the difference between taking supplements on a consistent basis and being off of supplements. “I continue to take the Organic Life Vitamins (OLV), and the vitamins help my body maintain an energy level in which I don’t get tired in practice. I had stopped taking OLV for a week or more due to running out of it, and I can tell the difference.”
“I was recently introduced to a newer product from Natural Vitality. Since I started taking Energy28™ I have lots more energy and am not tired like I usually was throughout the day. I like the taste, and the individual packets are great for travel—like the commercial says: Don’t leave home without it.”
“With constant, intense interval training mixed with hill training, the lactic acid builds up, and sometimes my legs will feel like lead. To clear the lactic acid out I use Nutra Rev, which is a super antioxidant, and Natural Calm Plus Calcium. These are recovery drinks that help me come back strong for the next workout. I notice myself running faster in workouts as a result.”
“I came in fourth in the 2008 Olympic Trials and missed my spot on the team. I don’t want to repeat that near miss again. I am relying on training and nutrition to be a part of my winning combination. See you in London in 2012.”