10 weeks and 149.1 miles in to preparing for the Disney World Dopey Challenge, and I am realizing what I’ve signed myself up for…and this is only the beginning.
For the past 10 weeks, I have been training and laying the foundation for the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Dopey Challenge! UPDATE: CHECK OUT WEEKS 11-22 HERE!
What I am doing:
I am Charity Running the Dopey Challenge on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society (check out our charity page here) as one of my ways to jump-start 2018 with a bang, while also fulfilling my desire to run on behalf of someone else at least once a year! I’ve spoken a lot about some big running goals I have set for myself. If you haven’t read those post, take some time to check them out: RunderlustFifty50 and Dopey Challenge.
Quick recap of what the Dopey Challenge is:
The Dopey Challenge consists of 4 days of back to back races:
- Thursday, January 4th – 5k (3.1 miles)
- Friday, January 5th – 10k (6.2 miles)
- Saturday, January 6th – Half-Marathon (13.1 miles)
- Sunday, January 7th – Full Marathon (26.2 miles)
Training so far:
In the last 10 weeks I have run 149.1 miles. Mileage wise, I am coming off of my biggest week so far, having ran 24 miles this week (partly to make up for a 3 mile run I missed last week). I just knocked out my longest long run so far of 11 miles, yesterday. It was my hardest run yet! I have been using the 29-week Dopey Challenge training plan Walt Disney World put out by Jeff Galloway. I used that plan to build my personal training plan calendar that maps out my runs, cross-training sessions, and rest days. This plan has been great for helping me ease into my training, and it has helped me get used to the weekly increase in mileage as I have been getting started (Snapshot below).
The best thing about the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge training plan is the fact that it is 29 weeks! I knew going into this training that I would need all 29 weeks to prepare and get stronger. Last year/Earlier this year, I failed miserably at training for my first marathon (How Not to Run a Marathon). My biggest problem preparing for the Rock-n-Roll New Orleans Marathon was the fact that I did NOT prepare! Being the queen of procrastination that I am, and because of some weird health issues I was having, I waited until 10wks before the marathon to start training…and it hurt! Packing on the mileage that was needed in that short period of time was BRUTAL! Given the commitment of these races, I want to put maximum effort into training.
But, in the last few weeks, I have settled on a major change to my Dopey Challenge training plan. Starting this week, I am going to be incorporating the Hal Higdon Dopey Challenge plan into my training. Why am I doing this? Well, for a couple of reasons:
- After taking 10 weeks to get into a groove, I feel like I could use a little more mileage during the week. The Galloway plan is primarily 3 runs a week, and 4 runs on the weeks that have a long AND longer run scheduled on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday Long runs). Higdon alternates between 4-5 runs each week and incorporates cross-training on the weeks where its only 4 runs.
- Mainly, with Higdon, on the recovery weeks, the weeks in-between the increasing long run weekends, I am still clocking decent mileage: 20+ miles a week. Whereas the Galloway plan has a set mileage of approximately 12-13 miles on those in-between weeks (depending on how fast I am pacing on certain days). I’m not feeling any benefit in dropping down to 12-13 miles every other week, I need just a little more on those weeks to keep my stamina up.
- I feel comfortable with Higdon’s plan after doing my research on him, his experience, his books, and looking into his reviews of people who have followed his plan. Honestly, I don’t think anything is wrong with the Galloway plan, I just want to add a little more to my training – without over-training! Short of hiring a run coach to develop a personalized plan, I don’t really think there’s really any one plan that’s better than the next.
- Higdon’s plan is only 18 weeks. By itself it would not have been enough for me. I am feeling really strong after spending the last 10 weeks building up to his training plan.
I will be picking up the Higdon plan on week 11 of my current Dopey Challenge schedule. This past week was the last week I will be strictly using the Galloway plan. Here’s a snapshot of the two plans so you can see the changes I am making.
My plan based off of Galloway Dopey Challenge Training Schedule
New Plan w/ Higdon’s Dopey Challenge Training Schedule
So, how is my Dopey Challenge training going and body holding up?
Summer marathon training has been brutal. In fact, I do not even know if brutal is a good descriptor for it down here in Louisiana. I’ve done plenty of running during the summer, but this year seems to be an especially hot one! What’s crazy is, when I started in June, the hottest months were still to come. To survive, my goals have been to run first thing in the morning or as the sun was setting. Honestly, it is still hot as first thing in the morning, but sun set has been decent.
The first couple of week I was trying to run just as the sun was rising and I felt like I was dying! I had to drop my pace down by 1-2 minutes (which you should do in the heat anyways), and I had to walk whenever I felt like I was overexerting myself. I finally realized that the magic hour for me to run in the morning, and survive, is right before the sun rises; somewhere between 530 and 630 as the sun is coming up a little later now. Evening runs have always been easier for me because I am fueled up better from the day and able to withstand the heat better, versus having to wake up early enough to eat and fuel before I run after a full night’s sleep.
I’m tired boss! I’m in a place where I pretty much always tired. Although, I don’t know if it is strictly from training. In addition to running a few days out of the week, I am also a full-time PhD student and Mother with a full-time career. On the days I run in the morning, I am crashing by 10-11 AM. On a typical day my alarm is going off at 5 to either run or get my daughter dressed for school before I run. Once I get to work I am heavy-eyed by 1030.
I am currently playing around with my diet to see what I can add to it to give me a natural boost of energy throughout the day. If I run in the evenings, it takes a whole lotta discipline to get out there after a full day of work, even more so on the weekends when I want to be on the couch netflixing at 7pm instead of running!
As to be expected, I am having to pay special attention to what I am eating; more importantly, HOW MUCH I am eating! Back in March of this year, I switched over to a vegetarian diet (part-time pescatarian). Since then, I have been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen to find new recipes that don’t include meat. Now that I am Marathon training, I need to increase the amount of food I’m eating, while making sure to eat a good balance of protein and carbs. For the last year, I have been having GI issues after my runs. My doctor wasn’t able to give me a good explanation to the cause, but I think it has a lot to do with not eating enough.
The last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with eating as soon as I finish a run, even if it’s just a protein bar or banana. Doing that has helped out tremendously! If I run in the morning, I try to eat a banana before I run and a protein shake immediately after I get done. If I run in the evening, I make sure to eat a full breakfast and lunch; a healthy snack in-between breakfast and lunch, like a piece of fruit; and eat dinner as soon as I finish my evening run. If I wait too long to eat after I run my stomach will have issues for the rest of the day and I feel like crap!
Most of the days my struggle bus is a mental game. The only thing that really stands in the way of me training strong is myself, letting me convince myself that I am just too tired to get out there and get it. So far I have been able to overcome that mentality to hit all of my training miles, and I always feel amazing after my runs! It’s just the matter of getting out there and starting!
On the other hand, there have been them days that I have forced myself out there to get it in and my body was just like, “naw B, not feeling it today”. On days like that I just slow down my run and inhabit the moment to enjoy what is going on around me. I always feel my best after my long runs. My energy is always ramped up, and I am always feeling accomplished and proud!
Strength Training & Cross Training:
This is most definitely where I have been slacking. For the first couple of weeks I was consistent with hitting my scheduled cross-trainings. The one thing that has held me consistent to cross-training are weekly sessions I have scheduled with my trainers. Working out with other people has been proven to help hold me accountable. It’s extremely easy for me to write this part of my training off as ok to miss when I am hitting all of my miles. While it is important to hit all your training miles, I have learned the hard way that it is just as important to build your strength up. If your body isn’t strong enough, it’s not going to carry you 26.2 miles, let alone anything further!
Even though I have been slacking on this some weeks, I have also had some really great strength sessions with two good friends of mine that are personal trainers! They have really whipped my butt during their sessions. In addition to strength sessions, I have taken cycling and yoga classes. I would like to start incorporating swimming into my schedule in the next couple of weeks. I am going to try to do a little swimming at least every other week on Sundays.
When I started training I didn’t really have a goal pace in mind for any of my four races. I simply have no clue what my body is going to feel like on race days! Since these are races at Disney World I want them to be fun, I want to enjoy them! On top of that, I am Charity Running for an amazing cause for the Dopey Challenge. My main goals are to prepare myself, mentally and physically, and to finish each race. I plan to use the 5k and 10k and easy shakeout runs. I plan to run/walk the half-marathon.
For all three of these races I have no intentions on running anything faster than 10 minute miles. Probably slower with the walking during the half-marathon. My “moonshot” goal for race weekend is to run around 4:30 on the marathon. I am completely okay with just finishing it strong. I have been training as if I have the goal to run a 9-minute marathon pace. Hopefully, when I slow it down a tad on race day, I will be strong enough to make it through the weekend alive!
Long runs have been getting increasingly longer every other week in the training plan. I am just coming off of running 11 miles on Saturday at 10:42 minute pace. I have been able to hold strong at an average of 9:30/mile on all of my long runs, but this past run was rough. My legs were extra tired from the 5 miles run I went on the night before. All in all, my body is handling the miles extremely well so far.
The true test of how well I am handling the training miles will come in the next few weeks. Then, I start peaking over 30+ miles / week with long runs over 13 miles. In the past, I’ve had issues with my right ankle, hip, and IT Band area; but I also was not training properly and increasing mileage at reasonable rates. I am looking forward to seeing how my body handles a proper training plan mixed with solid strength training sessions!
The last few weeks have been so tempting to pack my rest days with more mileage or cross-training. Running only 3 days a week for 12-13 miles has me feeling like I am under-training. I’ve been consistently reminding myself to be patient and build a solid foundation. My body, and sanity, appreciate these rest days!!!
My Dopey Challenge training schedule is not set in stone. I tend have a billion things going on, like everyone else, so I’m taking it a week at a time. I move around my run/rest/cross-training days depending on how life is flowing each week. To me, the most important thing is to make sure I get the miles and workouts in. Therefore, it’s all good if I have to move a Tuesday run to Wednesday!
I jump started training with a couple new pairs of shoes. I am partial to Brooks Running shoes. For my first marathon, I trained in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS Seventeens. I loved them so much that I went ahead and bought a new pair in the Heathered Grey! They’re by far my favorite pair of shoes. To have another pair to rotate into, I also bought a pair of Brooks Ravenna 8. These are nice, but I feel like they are heavier than my Adrenalines. I think the sole is more solid, which can cause my shins to hurt a little. I must have a strong support shoes because I have flat feet. Because of my flat foot, the lack of an arch causes me ankle and plantar fasciitis issues.
I am currently looking for some good compression socks and different hydration packs. Unfortunately, I’m not too big on the fanny pack, it bounces too much. I don’t go anywhere without my Goodr sunglasses; and I track all of my runs on my Garmin Fenix 3HR, which is by far my favorite toy!
This race is serving a two-fold purpose for me. I wanted to sign-up to do push myself to do something that I would typically tell myself I couldn’t do. In signing up, I’ve gained the opportunity to run as a Charity Runner for the National Down Syndrome Society. Running is a privilege, I want to use running as means to run for other people. You can check out my fundraising page to learn more about why I chose the National Down Syndrome. I also have the goal to train properly and finish strong. Past that, I am not adhering to any pace goals or time limits (other than the limits outlined by Disney). I want to fully enjoy these races.
What are you training for right now? OR What do you want to train for?!
How do you stay energized when you’re working out and throughout the day?
Are you a morning person or night owl when it comes to training?
What are your favorite ways to cross-train?
What are your favorite pieces of gear? (Shoes, hydration systems, watches, headphone, compression socks, all of it)
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