In the 1870s, a teenage chemist’s apprentice and runner in England named Walter George came up with an unorthodox training method that he called the “100‑Up.” George’s apprenticeship schedule left little time for running, so instead he practiced this stationary drill that involved alternately bringing one knee up to the level of the hip while placing the foot of the other leg back down on the ground. In his written account of the drill, George describes a basic “Minor” version suited to beginners, performed while standing tall with the foot flat on the floor, and a “Major” version done while balanced on the ball of the foot, with the body tilted slightly forward, incorporating a quick springing action and counterbalancing arm movement. The drill is limited to 20 repetitions (20-Up) until it can be performed perfectly, after which one may gradually build up to 100 at a time. Soon, with little or no actual running as part of his training, George was winning races and setting local and world records.
In this video Born to Run author Christopher McDougall takes a group of runners through the 100-Up, and explains how well over a century later, it remains a valuable training tool for building good running form. The video accompanied the web version of The Once and Future Way to Run, an article McDougall wrote for The New York Times Magazine in 2011 in which he describes demonstrating the 100‑Up to Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a physician, a professor of Family Medicine at West Virginia University, and runner, who has run multiple sub-2:35 marathons since turning 40. Cucuzzella, a proponent of minimalist running, was impressed. “The key to injury-free running is balance, elasticity, stability in midstance and cadence,” he said. “You’ve got all four right there.”