Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 100-Up -((Worth A Try While Watching TV!))

From Noakes Lore of Running, Mr. Walter George (100-up inventor): 

"By modern standards, George trained very lightly, claiming that he traned on 'beer and enjoyment.' For the first six years of his running career, his only training involved doing '100-up' exercises. This entailed little more than running on the spot flexing his knees alternately to hip level. The idea was to build up training until he was able to repeat the exercise 100 times at maximum speed."

Caballo Blanco's Intro To Minimalism Session

‘Run like you’re on clouds and don’t want to fall through,’ says Caballo Blanco (real name Micah True) as I pound on a treadmill. ‘Lean slightly forward and let gravity pull you forward. Take smaller steps and land on your forefeet rather than hitting with your heels. It’s like how you’d run as a kid.’

When Blanco speaks, runners listen. He is the hero of best-selling running book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall, who eschewed Western values and headed into Mexico’s Copper Canyon to learn the secrets of the little-known Tarahumara tribe – the most gifted natural runners in the world. Whenever they’ve come across traditionally trained athletes, they’ve beaten or matched the best every time.
Even stranger, the members of this elusive tribe train on a diet fuelled by tesgüino, a corn-based beer, and run in ceremonial costume with nothing but sandals on their feet. Their exploits are one of the reasons for the current trend for barefoot and minimal running.

Traditionally, runners were told to take long strides, impacting on their heels as they landed, turning their feet through the curve of mid-foot to forefoot. Minimal runners tend to take shorter strides, land on their mid or forefoot and claim that running with little between them and the ground improves their ‘feel’ for the terrain.
To a point, science backs them up. Running slams six to eight times your weight through your body with each stride – for an 80kg runner, that’s around 500kg per step – so it makes sense to use a quick turnover of strides and land on the fleshiest part of the foot.

Running coach Nick Anderson ( is a fan of the forefoot strike and minimal running. As Blanco gives me advice at my ‘introduction to minimalism’ session, Anderson cocks his head towards the treadmill. ‘Key in training is to listen to your body,’ he says. ‘Listen now, you can hardly hear your feet touching the treadmill, whereas before you were making quite a noise.’
The minimal craze has inspired shoe manufacturers to produce footwear a million miles from the structured, supportive trainers many of us wear. Check out someone with Vibram Five Fingers on their feet and you can bet they’ll have a dog-eared copy of Born To Run somewhere.

Shoe specialist Saucony has gone further by introducing a range of shoes from a structured shoe to a minimal one, allowing those wishing to make the change the chance to step down gradually. ‘We produce different shoes with different degrees of minimalism,’ says Spencer White, of Saucony’s Human Performance and Innovation Lab. ‘The key difference in any minimal shoe is in the amount of “drop” between the heel and the forefoot. On a traditional shoe it’s 12-14mm, whereas minimal shoes have 4mm or less.’

However, although runners could make the step down to minimalism by wearing each shoe until they wear out and then buying the next ‘level’ down, White says this should be done with some caution.
Massage therapist and fitness trainer Lillian Lartey ( is less convinced by the clamour for forefoot striking and minimal running. She says: ‘When you forefoot strike, pressure goes through the front of the calf muscle and into your shin bone. If your calf muscles are weak, it will increase the chance of getting minor fractures.’
For those wishing to make a switch to minimalism, she suggests a programme with lots of cross-training and strength work such as lunges and calf raises.
White admits the running community remains divided over the best way to run.
‘There are elite athletes who forefront strike and others who are heel strikers,’ he says. ‘What they have in common is that their centre of mass moves quickly over their foot and their leg shank is nearly vertical when it hits the ground. Effectively, impact is minimal as they move very quickly and that reduces the load on their legs.