Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

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100-Up Challenge: Week 2, and Some Inspiration

I won’t lie – I skipped a few days this week. But on the days that I didn’t skip, I worked in the 100-Up Major this time. One word: wow. They don’t call this major for nothing. Perhaps I’m not the most athletic minimalist runner in the universe….well okay, I’m definitely not. So maybe this was harder for me than it will be for you. But the first day I attempted the 100-up Major, I nearly fell over after 7 reps. I wish I had it on camera! It was like a slow listing to the right, and a few more reps I would have landed on my ass. I think part of the problem is that the only time I have during the day to do these in peace is first thing in the morning, and my joints are not exactly in tune yet. Not to mention my ankle ligaments that still need some time. At night my husband is home, and for some reason I am not really that comfortable bouncing around the living room with him watching. Maybe it’ll be less embarrassing once I’m more graceful at it. Maybe.

So the 100-Up minor does a lot for my hip muscles. The 100-up major? Had me sore in the following places the next day: shoulders, upper ribs, lower abdomen, hips, calves, shins and the arches of my feet. I mean, not since the pushup have I worked so many muscle groups all at once. Not to mention these are all the parts that get the most tired and sore after my long runs, so these are the perfect muscle groups to be targeting. I’m thankful that it’s only 100 reps, too, because it’s difficult to keep up. It’s harder than running, and I think that is why W.S. George found this exercise helpful. If in practice you work harder than you’ll need to during the test, then you’ll pass with flying colors.

I am hoping that a good dose of this exercise will help my ankle strength and prioperception, as well, something I definitely lack.

How are your 100-ups going?

And on another note, I wanted to pass along a link to this video that I saw this morning on Run Barefoot Girl‘s blog. Shelley Viggiano, an ultra runner, creator of the famous Mind the Ducks 12-hour Run, and truly an inspiration herself, shoots video of her husband on his  first 100-mile race. By the end of it I was feeling a lot of different emotions, among them pride, happiness and nothing short of absolute inspiration. Now, more than ever, I feel as though at some point in my life I will become an ultra runner. Maybe not 100 miles, but hey…a girl can hope.

From the description it seems a lot of folks had already seen this two-part video, but if you haven’t, it’s really something to behold.

Burning River 100-Mile: Part 1

Burning River 100-Mile: Part 2


The 100-up Challenge: Week 1

So it’s been about a week that I’ve been doing 100-ups. For this week I decided to only perform “minors.” I guess I figured I’d go slow with something, for once. The first couple of days I stopped as soon as I caught my back bending slightly to compensate for tired legs. By the third day I was up to 100, no problem.

What I learned this week:

  • If nothing else, the 100-up is an excellent workout for the hip muscles. I recently learned that I have some hip weakness that may be causing kinks in my form (or vice versa), so the tired hips I get from this exercise is welcomed.
  • I theorize that the 100-up exercise is helping build some muscle memory in my back, which is the first thing that decides to give up the ghost when I’m tired. I won’t say it’s any kind of miracle difference, but I did notice on my last two runs that I sit up a tad more, and that my back was still straight at the end of my miles.
  • During this week, my friend Christian (the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy) threw some darts at my 100-up Challenge (but I think he was aimed more at Justin Owings’s, because he has more than 12 readers), proposing that squats may be an even better way to train your body to run well. I say he is right and wrong, and only wrong because I think both exercises may be only equally good. Both exercises expose your body to some of the actions of good-form running, but neither of them is anything like running (although, one could argue that at least the 100-up involves leaving the ground).
Conclusion? This week I may include squats in my regimen, and see if there is any added benefit to my form. Anybody else have some good conclusions? I’d love to hear them. And as always thanks for reading!


The 100-up Challenge

A still from McDougall's 100-up video (click to URL)

The other day, Chris McDougall, NY Times columnist and author of Born to Run, published a piece on the importance of good running form called The Once and Future Way to Run. In it, he describes his concern over the way that barefoot and minimalist running footwear has not by itself deleted the heel strike, or magically created a bunch of runners with perfect form, as once surmised it would. He writes about the New York City Barefoot Run in September of this year, an event that I attended. During the run, Peter Larson, an evolutionary biologist at St. Anselm College, filmed all of the runner’s scantily-clad feet. And despite our lack of shoes, the video caught a ton of us heel striking.

I like to believe I wasn’t one of those heel strikers, but even still the thought makes me want to re-evaluate my form. For the last several months I have been perpetually injured. I have been in the mindset that my injuries have been caused by overuse or some other excuse that helps me to more easily reject the idea that my form needs work. But if I’m getting injured at all, something is missing. It’s either a lack of good form, strength, basic ability or a little of everything…I need an overhaul.

At the end of this article McDougall posted a video introducing what’s called the “100-up Method.” It’s an exercise developed in 1874 by a runner named W.S. George. George didn’t have enough time to run during his lunch hour, so he did this exercise instead. The 100-up exercise made him a smoother, lighter runner with perfect form, and over time he was able to earn world records in several distances.

So I watched the vid a few times and thought to myself, hey, what the hell, I’m going to do this. I’m giving myself this challenge: practice 100-up every day for a month, and see if it does anything. If I like the results, keep doing it.

Today I got to 68 “minor ups” before I wonked out. The rule is that as soon as your form starts to slide, you stop and call it a day. I look forward to seeing how this goes.

So Check out the video, folks. Try it for yourself. It might make a world of difference, it might not. But I think it’s worth a go. I hope you’ll check back in a little while and let me know how it went for you.