Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The 100-Up Challenge

W.G. George, 1912

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Week 4 Update Posted! (early!)

The 30 Day 100-Up Challenge

There's been quite a buzz this last week since Chris McDougall stopped by the NY Times to give a demonstration of W.G. George's "100 Ups", an exercise of practicing good running techniques and mechanics while standing in place.  The hope is that mastery of these movements will transfer into a motion of better running.   You can catch the video instruction of the movement by Chris McDougall here.

Justin Owings has started the hundredup.com website and is challenging runners to a 30-day Hundred Up commitment - to practice the "100 Ups" for 30 days and compare your running technique to a baseline run taken before the challenge.  I thought it was a good idea so I'm taking up the challenge.  It's pretty simple and you can read more about it at the hundredup.com website. 

Something to note before I start is I've just taken up the idea of incorporating Romanov's Pose Running technique into my training runs, so the Hundred-Up challenge is not being undertaken in complete isolation.  

I sent Justin my baseline run which was taken yesterday (11/7/2011).  This wasn't a run for speed, just a hill training run.  It was performed without any knowledge of this challenge.  Here are my comments about the baseline run:

November 7, 2011
Starting before daylight, pre-meal of 1 Tarahumara bar, 1/2 cup of tea and 12oz of water to start.
Running temp: 31F
Gear: compression shorts, VFF's, light jacket

Mile 1:  Left ankle complaining (outside)
Mile 2:  Left ankle feels better, enjoyable effort.  Mindful of practicing Pose
Mile 3:  Assaulting the beastly hill - high heart rate, left calf expressing fatigue, experimenting with Pose and falling up the hill
Mile 4:  Popped a GU, chugged some water.  Lactic Acid stiffens legs, pace feels slower
Mile 5:  Really focusing on 'pulling' the support leg.  Left calf yelling louder.  Left ankle complaining
Mile 6:  Final assault and the downhill - both ankles complaining (road camber?) and right knee.  Left calf getting stiffer each step
Mile 6.2:  Heels falling to the ground for last short uphill.  Right inside ankle yelling (an overuse injury from 10/9 marathon)

I'll be posting periodic updates to this page as I work through the 30 day challenge.  Also of note is that everyone in my house is doing the 100-ups (wife, 2 boys age 10 and 8).  The boys baselined 1-mile times of 9:00 and 8:20 respectively 2 weeks ago.  We'll see how everyone does over the next month.  

November 9, 2011 - Day 1
Holy Hip Flexors Batman!  Did 100 minor 1's on each leg at 6am.  I began to question what correct form was, and after a while it began to feel like just another Pose drill.  I recovered enough by Noon to go for a 3 mile VFF/Barefoot run.  I was expecting hip flexor fatigue but it didn't happen.

November 10, 2011 - Day 2
Did not do 100-ups today, sore from yesterday's set and very stiff in general.  Went for a 3 mile run but it was pointless to set any goals (heavy legs, no spring, very sore left calf).  Worked on Pose form mostly.

November 11, 2011 - Day 3
Watched this video several times looking to fine tune form.  Did 100 Stage 1's (50 each leg) and 100 Stage 2's.  Form on the 2's felt weird.  Seemed like a lot of effort expended.  Still not sure if I'm supposed to be putting weight on the heel during these (landing on ball of foot).

November 16, 2011 - Day 7 (One Week Assessment)
After one week I have these observations:  hip flexor endurance is better and I have the feeling of more power/strength.  My 5K pace is better but it could be related to practicing Pose form.  This is a comparison 5K run pre/post 100up's.  The Minors for 50 each leg seem low but are rather enjoyable, even as a warmup.  However, the Majors are a problem for me.  I get a very weird feeling in my right plantar fascia on the foot plant (almost a snapping sensation) and if I press on it does become pain that will affect my run that day.  I'll keep attempting them to see if the condition improves but I do these with a great deal of caution, which I'm sure is affecting proper form.  One other observation: my Top of Foot Pain seems to be diminishing, which has plagued me since I started running in VFF's 8 months ago (it could be from increasing barefoot mileage though.)

November 22, 2011 - Day 14 (Two Week Assessment)
Smacking out the Stage 1's just fine and can pretty much get through all of Stage 2's with good form as long as I'm wearing footwear - barefoot is just too intense and bothers it (as observed in Week 1 assessment).  Went for a 12 mile run this past weekend and clocked in a 1/2 minute faster pace per mile than I'd ever achieved in that distance - and more consistent mile over mile (for the most part) with same heart rate/effort.  Also, 5K pace has picked up.  I think my running form is slightly improved, definitely on the shorter distances.  

November 30, 2011 - Day 22 (Three Week Assessment)
This was a messed up week with the holiday and travel.  Most days I got in Stage 1's but Stage 2's are just killing my feet - think I'm giving them up.  It's hard to run better with hurting feet.   Other than that, no new progress or regress to report.  I've started doing the Stage 1's as a pre-run warmup in addition to the morning set.  

December 4, 2011 - Day 27 (Four Week Assessment)
So I'm a few days early, but due to an injury suffered today in today's 5K I won't be running this week.  It's Sunday night and I have the time, so I'm posting my 30-day update early.  

Today PR'd my 5K by 2:08!!  Wow!!  I began doing 100 Ups on November 7.  For comparison I took a pre-100up 5K (Nov 1), a 5K run in the middle (Nov 15) and today's run (12/4).  It's pretty obvious I built speed steadily through the 100 Up period.  FYI - my Tuesday runs are my speed runs, so all these runs were pressing the pace (although Race Pace is a bit more than a solo run).  These Garmin runs are posted here.

3 Comparison Runs: Before, During and End

Unfortunately I won't be able to compare to my baseline run (immediately) but something has made the difference during this challenge period.  There are 2 other variables in my training in addition to the 100-ups:  

(1) I introduced a barefoot run on Mondays and have been steadily increasing distance over the period (now doing 3 miles).  
(2) I am trying to maintain Pose form awareness and it's becoming more natural.  

Gluteus Medius
As I mentioned in my earlier weeks I have issues with the Stage 2 100-Ups and my Plantar Fascia, but the Stage 1's are a good movement and I try to do 2 sets a day (1 in the morning, 1 before my run).  The only modification I make with the Stage 1's is I try to get a little extra lift on the knee raise by raising my support heel off the ground.  This engages the Gluteus Medius more than the standard 100 Up.  I don't do it for every rep, but in the middle of the set I'll grab 10-15 support heel lifts.  Also, I did not do 100 Ups every day, but at least 5 days a week they happened.  

I can't attribute a 132 second drop in my 5K time to 27 days of 100 Ups, but I've got to admit I'm reluctant to drop them out of my routine based on these results.  Thanks to Justin Owings for jumping on the opportunity to create a 100 Up Challenge.  If you haven't tried 100 Ups I encourage you to give 'em a whirl.  What do you have to lose except a few seconds off your race times?  These are my favorite links for this drill:

NaturalRunningStore Video
RunningWithEric Video

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