So I’m a huge, huge fan of Born to Run. It is one of my favorite books ever. I really enjoyed the subject (barefoot/minimalist running), it had thoroughly engaging stories, I learned a ton and I enjoyed the science he presented. I’d recommend it without hesitation.
Since then, I’ve read a bunch more books on minimalist running (Tread Lightly, Running with the Kenyans, Running Technique, Anatomy for Runners, etc.) and I really believe in the philosophy.
I happened to come by a great article in The New York Times by McDougall (the author of Born to Run) yesterday called The Once and Future Way to Run.
It was on “barefoot running”, mentioned of lots of the guys doing great stuff in this area too (Peter Larsen, Mark Cucuzzella, Daniel Lieberman) and is an interesting read.
The main thrust of this article is that McDougall found a very old, very simple technique to help train proper running form. It is called the 100-Up.
One of the things in the article that I almost missed was a video demonstration of the technique. You might miss it but you can a video of McDougall demonstrating the 100-Up himself at the top of the post.
You can see another view here:
Basically it is a very simple technique that W.S. George came up with in 1874.
When he came up with it, he was a 16-year-old chemist’s apprentice in England and could train only during his lunch hour. By Year 2 of his experiment, he was the fastest amateur miler in England. By Year 5, he held world records in everything from the half-mile to 10 miles.
In George’s words: “By its constant practice and regular use alone, I have myself established many records on the running path and won more amateur track-championships than any other individual.” And it was safe, George said: the 100-Up is “incapable of harm when practiced discreetly.”
If you do a bit of Googling, you’ll see a number of articles mentioning this technique and there are even a couple sites devoted to it (HundredUp.com and 100up.info).
What Is It?
As far as what the 100-Up is, the easiest way to understand is to take a look at the video. I’ll give you a couple of points here if you’re not convinced to watch it yet.
- You take your shoes off and do it barefoot.
- Feet under hips under shoulders.
- There are two pieces to the exercise – the minor and the major
- The Minor basically involves pulling your knee up until even with your hip and your thigh is parallel with the ground while at the same time, pulling the elbow of the arm on the same side back about as far as it goes. Then you switch sides.
- The Major is the same thing but instead of two separate movements, you switch from side to side at the same time, springin from foot to foot. It basically mirrors running.
- Some of the points that this is supposed to train are:
- Upright posture
- Forefoot/midfoot landing
- It’s critical to use good form while doing this. It’s a bit tough in the beginning but gets easier.
If you haven’t yet, I’d urge you to take a look at the video. It’s very short and the exercise is very simple but I think it has a lot of merit.