A couple of weeks ago Chris McDougall caused another little stir in the barefoot/minimalist running world with an article for The New York Times entitled The Once and Future Way to Run. Within this article he mentions something called the 100-Up exercise...
Earlier this year, I may have found it. I was leafing through the back of an out-of-print book, a collection of runners’ biographies called “The Five Kings of Distance,” when I came across a three-page essay from 1908 titled “W. G. George’s Own Account From the 100-Up Exercise.” According to legend, this single drill turned a 16-year-old with almost no running experience into the foremost racer of his day.
I read 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.”
Could it be that simple? That day, I began experimenting on myself.
[... two pages later ...]
Last fall, at the end of a local 10-mile trail race, I surprised myself by finishing five minutes faster than I had four years ago, when I was in much better shape. I figured the result was a fluke — until it happened again. No special prep, awful travel schedule and yet a personal best in a six-mile race.
“I don’t get it,” I told Cucuzzella this past June when we went for a run together through the Shepherd University campus in Shepherdstown. “I’m four years older. I’m pretty sure I’m heavier. I’m not doing real workouts, just whatever I feel like each day. The only difference is I’ve been 100-Upping.”
Naturally, this last bit got everyone excited and within days, Justin of Birthday Shoes fame, knocked up a dedicated site - HundredUp - to raise awareness and put out a challenge to people to try it themselves for 30 days and report back.
Naturally, as I'm keen on learning about improving my performance, I read through McDougall's article, watched the video, and read through the HundredUp site. McDougall's demonstration of the exercise in the video in the NYT article instantly rang bells, but I couldn't place why.
It was only this weekend that I worked it out... this is a lot like the "tapping" and "change of support" exercises from POSE running, except with more emphasis on high knees than on bringing the foot up under your body.
Compare for yourself. First, the 100-Up video which shows the minor and major:
Next, the tapping and change of support exercises from POSE (the commentary is in German, but you're only meant to be looking at the pictures 😉)...
Interesting stuff. Of course there will be some overlap in methods taught - I'm sure Chi Running probably has a similar exercise too - and for all I know, Dr. Romanov could have taken some of his inspiration from W.G. George's 100-ups.
Whatever the reasoning, I think any exercise that encourages people to land on their mid-foot or forefoot and that strengthens the muscles and tendons around that area is better than nothing at all.