Ninja running

November 3, 2011 in Arts and Music

Christopher McDougall, author of the extremely popular book about barefoot running -Born to Run-, is featured in a NY Times article today describing a technique to achieve the single best way to run. He states that he found an essay from the 1870’s by W.S. George entitled “100-Up”. According to McDougall, this man invented an exercise that enabled him to become a highly competitive runner despite a very limited amount of time to train. The key was running style and efficiency. These are allegedly innate abilities of the human form that are trained out of our muscle memory by wearing ‘protective’ shoes. The “100-Up”, McDougall believes, is a simple way to re-train the mind and body back to a the natural running form. If a runner is successful in learning this method then he/she should be able to easily run barefoot on any hard surface by landing softly on the ball of foot. Not only that, his/her performance may improve significantly without incurring injuries from overtraining.

Below is the excerpt from the NYtimes article describing the “100-Up”:

I snapped a twig and dropped the halves on the ground about eight inches apart to form targets for my landings. The 100-Up consists of two parts. For the “Minor,” you stand with both feet on the targets and your arms cocked in running position. “Now raise one knee to the height of the hip,” George writes, “bring the foot back and down again to its original position, touching the line lightly with the ball of the foot, and repeat with the other leg.”

That’s all there is to it. But it’s not so easy to hit your marks 100 times in a row while maintaining balance and proper knee height. Once you can, it’s on to the Major: “The body must be balanced on the ball of the foot, the heels being clear of the ground and the head and body being tilted very slightly forward. . . . Now, spring from the toe, bringing the knee to the level of the hip. . . . Repeat with the other leg and continue raising and lowering the legs alternately. This action is exactly that of running.”

Good luck to those runners who try this method. I will be doing so in hopes of developing that easy, weightless feeling.

Be safe and have fun.