Hundred-Up was created a few days after I read a N.Y.Times article by author Christopher McDougall titled The Once and Future Way to Run.
I’m a novice runner. This is despite having created a site about minimalist footwear like Vibram FiveFingers — toe shoes and other “barefoot” shoes — the kinds of footwear that has been passionately adopted by a growing body of new runners. I only even realized I could run without great discomfort in my knees on having run said site — BirthdayShoes.com — for a number of months.
It’s over the course of running BirthdayShoes that I’ve taken another look at running, and taken on running short distances (A mile or two here and there, sometimes shod, and sometimes barefoot). And while my form has adjusted a good bit and I can now run a mile or two without hitting the nagging knee pain I previously hit at about a quarter mile in a pair of Nike’s, my form still needs work.
And that’s why on learning about the W.G. George’s 100-up exercise, a drill that was created by an apprentice, teenage chemist with too little time to train over 130 years ago and led same chemist to run a 4:12.75 mile (a record for the mile that lasted three decades), that I got pretty excited. What if, as Christopher McDougall puts it, there is “one best way” to learn the “one best way” to run?
See the thing about running that most of us take for granted is that, unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to run properly. We assume that running form is a given. If I can run down the street, obviously I can run. Telling someone they can’t run is like saying they don’t know how to tie their shoes.
And perhaps it’s shoes that are the problem.
Seems we once knew how to run as children, learning a natural form that was an extension of moving about tentatively across the earth, afraid to trip, and often wearing innately minimalist footwear (leather moccasins). Yet somewhere along the way our form degraded. Maybe it was the heeled shoes changing our biomechanics. Maybe we just got lazy sitting in front of a TV or at a desk all day. Whatever the cause, at some point we forgot how to run naturally.
And as a result, our running form is so bad that we can’t seem to run without looking like we’re jarring–jogging–our bodies to death. And it hurts! For so many of us in an age of being overweight by default, running is neo-Puritanism.
W.G. George’s Hundred-Up exercise, something that can be performed virtually anywhere, at any time, and with little more than patience, may be the one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of not knowing how to run properly.
Determining if the Hundred-Up is a panacea for bad running form, or even the ultimate training tool for learning how to run, is what this site is all about. It’s about seeing if I can learn to run more gracefully, with more poise and balance, and even more speed, by carefully learning correct form through a drill that has existed for over a century and once was the “go to” training tool of a world-renowned runner, Walter G. George.
If the Hundred-Up works, then anyone can learn proper running form — no books, no magic form-correcting shoes, just a simple drill practiced whereever you can.
I’m up for the challenge of seeing if this thing works. Are you?