100 Up Challenge

I don’t often respond to a challenge. When I do, I tend to keep quiet about it. That’s just the way I am. However, in the belief that now might be a good time to step away from the norm, I’ve taken up a challenge, and am quite happy to shout it from the (virtual) rooftops. It’s a good one, I think, because it fits into my “experiment of one” approach to training.

It’s called the Hundred Up Challenge. It’s the brainchild of Justin Owings of birthdayshoes.com, and is a response to Christopher McDougall’s recent spreading the word about W.G. George’s 100 Up training program, particularly in article in the New York Times Magazine.

George was a 19th century British runner who, after setting numerous world records as an amateur, went professional and, on August 23 1886, set a mile record which was not surpassed for almost 30 years. In later accounts, George ascribed his success to a simple exercise he called the 100 Up. Justin has turned all that into a challenge to see how many people find the 100 Up exercise worthwhile.

Here’s a short video that shows the 100 Up in all its elegant simplicity:

If you look at Justin’s challenge site (here’s the link again), you’ll see that it’s very simple: Pick a benchmark (distance and time), do the 100 Up exercise on a regular basis for 30 days; do the distance again and note your new time; report on the results.

I’m a simple man, and I like a straightforward challenge. So I’ve signed on. I’ve got two benchmarks for this, though only one is listed right now on Justin’s site. The first is for 5K. My PB for that is 28 minutes. I started doing 100 Ups this morning, so, on December 12, I’ll run a 5K, note my time, and report back. (That’s if the sidewalks are clear of snow. If winter’s set in with a vengeance, I’ll run the 5K on my treadmill, and note perceived exertion, ease of pace, and so on.) My second benchmark is longer term. It’s for the half marathon (21.1K). My PB for that distance is 1:57, set at the Oakville Half Marathon. I’m going to do 100 Ups for the winter, and then compare that finishing time to what I can manage at the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 12.

Should be fun. It’ll add to the rigours of a winter training program. If it makes me faster, well and good. If it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure it will improve my balance, leg stretch, and propriception. In other words, it can’t do any harm, and might well do some good.

What do think? Are you in?



  1. I’ve read the article and it sounds promising, so I’ll give it a try.
    Today I found an interesting article in NY Times on running. Deep down, I was always inclined to believe what the article is all about. Just run and the body will find the right form.
    “There is good evidence that your body is exquisitely lazy and will find the easiest way for you to run” (Carl Foster, professor of exercise and sports medicine at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse). In other words, don’t mess with mother nature.
    Here’s the link to this article:

    1. Thanks for the link, Lia! I think you’ll find the 100Up exercise worthwhile. For what it’s worth, I’ve been doing it for five days now, and can definitely feel an improvement in my runs. Could be a placebo effect happening, but…

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