Friday, November 18, 2011

The Hundred Up Challenge - Week 1

Perhaps the first update should be titled “Weak 1.” For such an innocent looking drill I must admit I find it surprisingly difficult. To make matters worse, my ten year old watched in disbelief as I explained “it’s harder than it looks” only to have her knock out the same workout I had just completed, apparently with less effort.

Let’s face it, the human body has the extraordinary ability to adapt to the stress it is given. Mine is finely tuned to running long distance and short bursts of speed. It has become capable of handling my weekly track workout with very little, if any residual soreness, the following days. My guess is starting something new, such as The Hundred Up therefore puts us at about the same level. It is only through consistent practice and further adaptation that it will become less strenuous to perform.

Results for week one:

Five completed attempts. I started with 40 reps my first attempt just to make sure there was nothing the next day that would interfere with my regular routine. Added 10 reps each session, still without any stiffness or aches the following days. Keep in mind I am do “the Minor” as described by G. W. and will not attempt The Major until the successful, repeated completion of 100 reps of The Minor.

What has this done for my running? Obviously it is too soon to expect any significant change. But I did notice during my final and therefore most grueling track intervals this week, if I leaned forward slightly and tried to incorporate the movement of the exercise, I gained ground on those ahead of me.

I expect to continue with The Minor this week and begin The Major as soon as next week. Results to follow. Precursory conclusion:

There is no down side to this exercise. Let’s see if there is an upside.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The 100 Up Challenge

What is it? A one hundred year old running exercise that focuses solely on running form. The unique aspect of the 100 Up is that it does not involve running, it is a simple stationary drill. Created and documented by an early 19th century miler, W. G. George, with the intent of “perfecting running form.”

Fast forward about 100 years and you find yourself in the midst of a running revolution which claims that all the advantages of high tech shoes created since the 1970’s have not lessened the instances of injuries, but actually increased the injury rate among runners. The solution proposed by the revolutionaries? Running barefoot. To hell with the shoes, run as nature intended.

Needless to say you won’t see me running barefoot any time soon. I have experimented on more than one occasion with a few barefoot miles, but only on the treadmill. However, those few miles taught me something within the first ten minutes that fundamentally changed the way I run:

I run completely different when running barefoot.

My heels never touched the treadmill. Not once. This was not a conscious effort, but my legs taking charge of my running and landing using all the muscles of the lower leg to cushion the impact of each strike. It was a true epiphany. And as natural as running itself, in the purest sense.

I run now only in flats or shoes that have a “zero drop” front to back in elevation on the sole. I still prefer some protection from the elements as well as surface impediments. But the feeling is the same as on the treadmill barefoot, my foot strike is on the ball of my foot, every step.
As stated in my blog title I am always looking for continuous improvement and the idea of perfecting form appears practical to me. Let’s face it, by taking the challenge I could again stumble onto another break through. At this time I do not really see a downside.

I will post updates weekly detailing my progress and thoughts along the way.