In 2017, she first won gold at the German championship in Erfurt and then, with a time of 12.72 seconds, surprisingly also won the bronze medal at the world championship in London. In 2018, silver followed at the European Championship in Berlin. Sounds like a pretty good run for the 26-year-old hurdle sprinter, but for this Pamela Dutkiewicz not only had to overcome the 10 hurdles on the track.
In an interview, “Pämbäm”, her nickname among fans, tells us how she deals with setbacks and competitive pressure, overcomes motivational lows and what role the head plays in sporting success. Because even if it seems a bit too high for ordinary people – to run the 100 meter hurdles as fast as Pamela, you can learn a lot from the Nike athlete:
9 tips from professional athlete Pamela Dutkiewicz
1. success is a question of patience
“If the requirements are too high, many have the impulse to simply give up because it doesn’t work out right away. Keep your big goals, but work towards them day by day in little baby steps.”
2. strength training creates the basis for a light-footed run
“In the build-up phase, I do 10 extensive sessions a week. A large part of this is strength training. I benefit a lot from this later in the competition phase, when I convert this strength into explosiveness”, says Dutkiewicz. “Especially half squats with a high weight and low repetition rate provide a great body tension when performed explosively”.
How the leg muscles work
3. train the head in the same way as the body
“For the European Championship I was not only physically fit as a fiddle, but also mentally prepared for it. Every strength – physically and mentally – was geared to the moment. Barely two weeks after the international highlight I had the next competition, which was not so relevant. Of course my body could have performed exactly the same, but the bulb just didn’t take part. All athletes who start in such a race are well trained, but in the end it’s who has the strongest head that decides”.
Training starts in the head! © Isabel Hayn
4. not to be stressed by food
A healthy diet and the correct distribution of macronutrients plays an important role for competitive athletes. When she was unable to start in the 2015 summer season after an injury, Pamela changed her diet with the help of a nutritionist and lost nine kilos within a few months. The trick: “We actually only reduced from five to three meals a day. This meant that a great mental burden was lifted from me.
Before that, eating was often stressful for me because I always had to make sure that the two snacks between meals kept my metabolism going. With three healthy meals a day, I didn’t have to think so much about food and I saved so many stress hormones, which had previously ensured that my body stored all the energy it was supplied with,” explains Dutkiewicz.
Fit Food: That makes runners fast
5. consciously perceive (regeneration) time
“After hard training sessions I like to go into the cold pool for a few minutes or relax my muscles in the 38 degree warm pool. But it is much more important for me to consciously perceive time. If I know that I have two hours between two training sessions, then I consciously take this time for myself, maybe lie down for an hour, do a power nap first and then read a book. Bringing things to my attention relaxes me a lot.”
6. do it together
“Of course, I too have phases in which I am not so motivated. Especially when the build-up phase starts again and I see the training plan and just think ‘I can’t do that!'” Well, then what? Just do it anyway! Together with others, this works even better. “We also often train in a group. Then we all scold together, but we do it anyway,” says Pamela. No desire doesn’t count when you have a big goal.
For Pamela, the world also ends in a moment of defeat, but she quickly picks herself up again. © Isabel Hayn
7. accept setbacks and start again
“Winning is beautiful. But winning is even better when it hasn’t worked out all the time. I’ve often put myself on my nose – hurdles sprinting is just very ungrateful with these obstacles in the way.”
The 26-year-old recently experienced one of the most difficult moments of her sporting career to date in preparation for the 2018 European Championships in Berlin: “Of course I wanted to give it my all, but then I got injured in the decisive phase. I didn’t think I could do it anymore, I cried a lot and trained very little. It was really hard when I cycled on my bike and the others were already running fast times.
For me, the world is going to end at such a moment, but I quickly get back on my feet – complaining for a long time has never been my thing. Of course you can be sad, but then you have to see what the reason is, what you can do and then just keep going. The fact that I won the silver medal in the end was only possible because I accepted my situation and worked my way forward again with small steps”, says Dutkiewicz.
8 tips to run faster
8. don’t ask too much of yourself
“I’m not athletic,” says Dutkiewicz with full conviction when asked why she did not choose sport as a subject for her teacher training. “Many people think so, but in sports studies you have to be sporty in many ways – and I’m not. I can’t hit a goal wall and I can’t swim well either. I’m good at coordinative, athletic movements, but apart from that I’m really talent-free in sports.
9. see competition as an incentive
“I know I won’t always be first to the finish line. The bigger the competitions get, the tougher the competition gets – and that’s fine. Because winning is only so nice because there is also a second, third and fourth place – it is important that we have each other. In the sprint, thousandths of a second decide and sometimes the competition has a better day. But without my competitors I could run in 30 seconds, but then winning wouldn’t be so nice.
When I realize that we all just try to overcome these 10 obstacles as best we can, I am more myself again and can focus more on my own development.
During training Pamela likes to wear parts from the new Metallic Sheen Collection by Nike. © Isabel Hayn Click here to go’s to the new Nike Metallic Sheen Collection
The most important thing for Pamela is to be absolutely aware of your goal before each training cycle and then work towards it concretely. A goal motivates you to stay on the ball, even if it is hard, and it gives the training the right framework. Then comes the appropriate training plan and the right attitude: a healthy alternation between training and rest is essential to continuously improve performance. Because only a rested body can run to peak performance.
The right nutrition supports the hard work that is required in training. One thing is clear: The life of an athlete is demanding and exhausting. She needs a lot of energy and the right attitude: training starts in the head.
Workout videos: How to master every hurdle like Pämbäm
Hurdle sprint is very demanding in terms of coordination. You have to start explosively and run over the hurdles safely (not jump) without getting out of rhythm and losing speed. In the following three workout videos Pamela Dutkiewicz shows you ten exercises for coordination, explosiveness, stability and mobility, which help her to meet these requirements.
Important: Warm up for a few minutes before you try the exercises.
recommendations: You can vary the training intensity individually. For beginners we recommend 20 seconds of exertion and 20 seconds break between exercises. Advanced users can slowly increase the load duration, professionals start directly with 60 seconds load.
Workout video: The best mobility exercises for sprinters
A short mobilisation before the workout is part of every good workout and ensures that you can use your muscles properly. Intensive stretching before the workout is not recommended, but after hard sessions it can promote regeneration, improve your posture and counteract muscle tension pain. So give your hip flexor and extensor a nice stretch and loosen the backs of your legs:
Workout video: The best exercises for a stable core
Good fuselage stability is also an important building block for hurdling. “Only when I stand stably over the hurdle and am not wobbly do I hit every step well and always pick up speed,” explains Dutkiewicz. A strong centre provides the basis for the legs to run fast. These three exercises challenge your core and give you stability:
Workout video: The best exercises for coordination & explosiveness
“Hurdling lives from explosiveness and light-footedness. In the starting block it is crucial for me to start explosively on command from the maximum calm”, says Dutkiewicz. This is the most important moment in hurdle sprinting, because the eight steps to the first hurdle are the only acceleration phase, from then on it’s all about losing as little speed as possible over the hurdles by means of well coordinated movements.
This is only possible with a lot of technique training, rhythm changes and feeling. With these four power exercises you too can improve your movement sequences and inter-muscular interaction.
If you feel a little awkward during the exercises at the beginning, do not despair! The ability to coordinate is not innate. It must be learned and constantly developed. Especially at the age of 7-12 years the body learns to coordinate movements. But you can also work on it afterwards. “It’s a great feeling when the head understands at some point how to control the muscles properly,” says Dutkiewicz. Therefore: Don’t give up so quickly!
Whether professional athlete or amateur sportswoman – what you can learn from Pamela Dutkiewicz is her disciplined sportsmanship and her irrepressible will, which helps her never give up despite setbacks. Anyone who has already tried out the athlete’s three workouts for stability, coordination and mobility will find similar workouts in NIKE Training Club App.