100-up running is a running drill from the late 1800’s that was more recently publicized in a 2011 New York Times article by Christopher McDougal (author of Born to Run). There was a lot of publicity in the blogosphere following his article where it was often billed as the rediscovery of the “lost secret of running”. There is now even a website devoted to the 100 up drill.
The blogosphere was generally gushing with praise from fan boys with only a few critical appraisals of it (by Peter Larsen and Alex Hutchinson). There was no science or evidence presented in the article by McDougal in support of it. The approach advocated in the 100-up drill is based on the principle that there is one best way to run and this drill helps to achieve it.
To quote McDougal:
W.S. George’s “100-Up,” and I’d been doing the exercise regularly. In George’s essay, he says he invented the 100-Up in 1874, when he was a 16-year-old chemist’s apprentice in England and could train only during his lunch hour. By Year 2 of his experiment, the overworked lab assistant was the fastest amateur miler in England. By Year 5, he held world records in everything from the half-mile to 10 miles.
In the 1800’s runners did very little training by today’s standards and the better runners were those who were the most gifted and got by on that talent and not any training they did. Just because W.S. George could break world records using this 100-up technique does not mean he did it because of the technique
The method that was developed by Walter S. George, has the runner running in place lifting their knees as high as possible and repeating this 100 times, at least once each day. Here is the video from the New York Times article:
There are similar drills advocated for those who want to use the Pose running technique. One Pose coach has raised concerns that there is too much hip flexion in the drill and should not be used, suggesting instead using the Pose version. Most competitive runners already do high knee lift drills as part of their training and hill running involves a higher knee lift.
There are a lot of comments that the 100-up drill is a good way to teach the correct forefoot strike, and it has been widely adopted by the barefoot running and natural running communities; however that is based on the assumption that forefoot striking is better for everyone, which has not been demonstrated as being correct. Some forum posters think its silly. Most of what is written on the 100-up drill is based on anecdotes and individual experiences with no data to support it.
Video on how to do the drill:
Research on 100 Up Running:
Google Trends Graph on Interest in ‘100 up Running’ Over Time:
Another video on how to do the drill:
Cover of Walter George’s original book: