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.

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