The 100-Up Challenge

What if practicing a simple movement could dramatically improve your ability to run? What if a drill of alternately lifting your legs to hip-level, taking special caution to perform each lift correctly and with care for getting the motion right (And not just getting it over with), could eliminate any chance of injury while running?

What if it could make you faster? is an effort to answer these questions through self-experimentation. I’m a novice runner: I can run a couple miles without problem and my running form is already “barefoot style” (As evidenced by the slow-motion video taken by Pete Larson here). I’m in good health, too. But I sense my running form could be better — much better.

I also don’t mind tinkering with my own health. This has resulted in various forays into self-experimentation through fitness and nutrition (e.g. adventures in intermittent fasting/paleo/low-carb and most recently Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains). Anyway, the notion of a century old drill that was invented by a once-world-record-holding miler (W.G. George) that could be performed almost anywhere, at any time, not only educating proper running form, but attacks the problem with a distinct flare of neuroplasticity and mastery (learning by doing) … well … I just had to get this going and see what would happen.

So allow me to be so bold as to create the 100-Up Running Challenge.

What is the 100-Up Running Challenge

It’s simple, really. No matter where you are in your running abilities and no matter what your current training protocol is, the 100-Up Challenge requires you commit to the following:

  1. Establish a benchmark for your current running abilities — write down your last run’s time. Write down how you felt running it. Get it all onto paper in as much detail as you can manage. Did anything ache? How did your stride feel? Any problems you encountered? Commit that run to paper!
  2. Learn about W.G. George’s 100-Up drill and start practicing! — mind that you might not be able to do the preliminary version of the 100-Up perfect the first time, or maybe even the fifteenth time, but attempt the drill as often as you can, so long as each attempt strives for perfect practice (And not just getting it over with). Feel free to continue on running your normal mileage if you like, or take a break and focus on the drill. Do the drill! That’s the whole point of the challenge, and being able to determine if the 100-Up works or not completely depends on following George’s instructions as best you can and practice, practice, practice (perfectly!)!
  3. Run that same distance as in step 1. above 30 days later — now you get to see how you did. How’d it feel? Faster? Slower? Less aches and pains? What happened, if anything?
  4. Now report back on the whole experiment.

What’s the point? Well, the point is to see if the 100-Up actually makes you a better runner or not. And if it doesn’t make you a better runner, well at least you’ll have learned a new exercise and perhaps attained a bit of practice in the art of meditation.

Are you up for the challenge? If so, drop me an email at justinowings at birthdayshoes dot com and tell me about No. 1; that is, if you’d like to share your experiment publicly (though your true identity can always be obscured if you prefer!). I’ll be doing the experiment myself, so you won’t be alone.

Who is in?

Disclaimer: As with any physical activity (or lack thereof for most), you are ultimately responsible for any impact be it positive or negative such activity (or inactivity) may have on your health. This site disclaims all such responsibility! Proceed however you will at your own risk.

52 Replies to “The 100-Up Challenge”

  1. I’m in, but I’m not going to stop doing my running workouts. I’ll try this as a supplement and see if I notice any additional difference during my workouts.

  2. I love this, and will definitely give it a try, but I’m just wondering where the “100” comes into play. Does that mean when I do the full version I do it 100 times?

  3. Right on! Good to know I wasn’t the only blogger inspired by the 100-up in McDougall’s article! (I have a similarly-titled entry in my own blog). I am on the third day of my own 100-up challenge. I look forward to seeing how it works out for all of us.

    1. Okay, I never was moved to the challengers page, but that did not stop my experiment. I also unintentionally added an extra week of 100 Ups. My 1.1 mile test was ran at 13 min. 49sec. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. I noticed that my Patellar Tendinitis kicked in immediately after the 100 Up. I do believe that slowed me down.

      Through the five weeks I found my knee appreciated doing the 100 Up exercise after my run and followed by about 3 to 10 minutes in the good old Paleo Seat, a.k.a. Potty Squat, Asian Squat, etc. I have noticed that my PT issue has significantly diminished over the course of the experiment. I attribute this to form (barefoot running and 100 Up), consistency and strengthening of my hip flexors.

      As for results, this morning I ran the same 1.1 miles on the same five hours of sleep as the first test. I had no Patellar Tendinitis soreness and covered the distance in 10min. and 42sec. During both tests I believed I was pushing myself.

      I should also point out that I have been doing miles at pace between 14 and 15 minutes per, and have ran 41.44 over the five weeks.

      Gracia y paz,


  4. Count me in! Feeling so tore up after a half marathon last weekend I am anxious to try something different. Will report back after another half, in approximately 30 days.

  5. Awesome! I’m definitely excited to try this out. It’ll be hard to get started as it’s just getting cold here in Colorado and I haven’t been running lately but I’m in!

  6. corro due volte la settimana, quando il lavoro me lo permette. Mi piace correre. Trovo questi suggerimenti molto stuzzicanti, elastici nella loro applicazione, ma al tempo stesso rigorosi nella loro semplicita. Ho gia iniziato a saltellare da fermo…..quindi un poco da fermo e un poco mentre corro…vediamo cosa succede. Ci vorra tempo, niente cade dal cielo.

  7. Let’s see how a non-runner does with this challenge! I haven’t run in years, but have been wanting to get back into it. Plus, I’m really leaning towards going with minimalist foot wear (which is SOOOOOOO NOT NORMAL FOR ME!).

    So I’m going to try this method from the get go.

    Here’s a link to a vid I made for my first day where I set a benchmark:


  8. I’m in [age 46 – just ran Stone Cat Trail 26.2 in 4:55] and I’ll get my son, Komodo [age 14], in as well. We’ll go to the track and run a clean mile sometime soon, do 100 up for 30 days, and do it again for the ‘after’ – literally nothing to lose & huge upside!

  9. Havent run regularly since the Boston Marathon which I had major I.T. problems. I am starting the 100 Up this week and will let you know how I do and hopefully this will get me back on the road where I love to be. 7 marathons and 20 half marathons and very banged up in 7 years. Fingers Crossed!!

  10. I’m a new runner (13 months) and have had nothing but injuries since I started – trained for Vermont marathon and was grounded a month before with hip injuries – have had sprains, tarsal tunnell, shin splints, FAI, and now sesamoiditis (all the same side L) I will try ANYTHING!!! My last run was a half marathon in September and I was DYING the last 2 miles – I will be interested to see if this works – and I am also looking into barefoot running (as per my ortho’s recommendation). I’m 45 – maybe I was just too old to start this sport!

  11. I’m a barefoot runner who races mostly halfs, 10Ks, with the occasional full marathon and short ultra thrown in. My PB for the half is 1:57, and I’m looking to get that down for my next half (in March 2012). I’ve just started doing 100Ups, and will log a time for a 5K, then compare it against a 5K in 30 days time. It’s in my calendar!

  12. I am in too! I had to quit running 20 years ago due to my knees, or so I thought. I started with barefoot running this year and I am slowly building up. I want to see if this helps.

  13. Used to run 7 miles in 35 minutes, quit for 30 years. Started again 15 years ago, running silently and secretly in the dark of morning. In local Running Room “races” did 5k in 24 mins and a half in 2:02, and think I can do better. I’m signing on.

  14. I am in. Lines are drawn on the basement floor. Benchmark run is done and details writen in my running log. So I am heading to the basement now to do my first Hundred-Up. Nothing to lose, should be fun and it will be interesting to see the results.

  15. Did my 100-ups just before my run…then ran only thinking about keeping my form exactly the same as 100-ups and it did make the run feel so much easier. I ran 4 miles at 8:50 pace and it felt great.

  16. I have been doing the Hundred Up minor and a few tries at the major for a few weeks now. My benchmark was my constant speed on a treadmill at 5.5 mph. My first two treadmill runs since then have been at 7.5 mph. I can’t wait to check my speeds on the road.

  17. I’m in. last real run: oct 29 half marathon 2:02. plantar fasciitis is driving me nuts so my first run since then was last Saturday Nov26 on the treadmill, one mile in 12 min. Still not healed. Hope these 100s help!

  18. I’m in. I’m coming in to the 100 up challenge with a pretty good base already built up… but after watching the video and reading through the site this morning, I went on a 5.66 mile run and REALLY practiced this and it was amazing. I could barely feel my feet hitting the ground and I bet I could’ve snuck up on a deer without it hearing me. My hip pain was gone too.
    I realized today that even though I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes (Nike Free’s and Merrill Trail Gloves), I didn’t really have the proper technique down.
    I’m ready, I basically started today (11/30/11), but I’m officially starting tomorrow, 12/1/2011, and I have a really “giddy” feeling that I’ll be completely pain free and much faster than I have been by 1/1/2012.
    Sorry this is so long, but lets get it started.

  19. Found out about this challenge & am in for it. Being a newbie runner with beginning injury issues I started looking at minimalist & barefoot running. Found this and hoping this will help with foot issues from “cushy” running shoes. Love running & so want to continue. I will start challenge today

  20. Still doing 100 minors. I ran this am and worked on form. It was interesting to find myself visualizing my 100 ups and incorporating that into my running form. I can tell you it was easier and smoother running, lots more FUN! Next week I will start on 100 majors.

  21. I know the challenge is over…but someone just forwarded this to me today and I’m up for the challenge. I just completed a 5K yesterday so I have a starting point of reference.
    If this link is no longer active and there is somewhere else I should send freeback to, please let me know.


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