Disney Dopey Challenge: July 10, 2017-January 7, 2018

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Disney Dopey Challenge: July 10, 2017-January 7, 2018

$195.00

THE DISNEY DOPEY CHALLENGE

5K+ 10K + 13.1 + 26.2=MAGICAL!

And DOPEY!

And 48.6 miles over four days!

Disney Races are truly magical events. After all, where else can you start under fireworks, kiss Prince Charming, joke around with Phineas and Ferb, and Let It Go with Elsa, then cross a finish line and receive some serious bling?

There’s always a but, though, and this is a big BUT.

46.8 miles over four days will not be magical if you are not properly prepared. If you’re slogging through the miles and barely able to muster a smile—let alone a bicep curl—for a shot with Wreck-It-Ralph, your Dopey extravaganza will be truly memorable. Just not for the right reasons.

Preparation for such a unique event isn’t just about the running, although we certainly have plenty that in this Challenge: it’s about also proper nutrition during training; foam rolling, strength training, and self-care over the months leading up being Dopey; sleep strategies (four days straight of 2 a.m. alarms, anybody?); and having a game plan when you hit the parks, post-races.

With this 26-week, very hands-on Challenge, we’ve got your back and are laying a white-glove-clad, oversize hand firmly on it. The training plan we’ve created emphasizes endurance and time on your feet: the two keys you’ll need to run every mile with a smile. We’ll cover nutrition, so when you come home from a 20 miler, you’re not hangry and don’t gobble up everything in sight. We’ll make sure your hips and glutes, typically the weak spots for most runners, are rock solid. We’ll have some fun too, brainstorming costume ideas and ideas for family time at the parks, post-races. We'll entertain and educate you with exclusive weekly podcasts. And of course we’ll hit race strategies so that you not only enjoy your Dopey Challenge, you’ll nearly fly during each mile. You feel primed and totally ready to run a 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, then a marathon—no pixie dust required.

The end result? 48.6 magical miles, six well-earned medals around your neck and a smile on your face that will remain for weeks post-Dopey.

THE BASICS

This plan fits nearly any runner who is going 48.6 miles in Disney: advanced beginner; experienced; coming back from injury; just had a baby; irritated by running because of said injury, expectations, aging.

You do not have to have previous marathon or extensive running experience, although we won’t lie: We kind of hope you have run a marathon and have been running for a few years before taking on Dopey, which challenges all athletes.

At a minimum, you need to be able to jog for 60 consecutive minutes to be able to thrive on this plan.

With the exception of long runs on the weekend, every workout is measured in minutes, not miles. You’ll run five days a week, with one day of optional easy cross training like a yoga or Pilates class. Most of your weekday runs will not go over 60 minutes, but your long runs are, not surprisingly, long. You’ll cover 20 miles twice, and hit an 18-miler, as well as 19 miler. Don’t freak; all are an easy effort and surprisingly doable. Speedwork is minimal in this plan, as it focuses on maximizing your endurance. You'll also have three weeks where you run four days in a row, to mimic the mental and physical demands of Dopey.

For 16 of the 26 weeks, we are going to cram in as much cardiovascular preparation as possible without risking injury. How are we going to do that? Evening walks, which will range from 20 to 60 minutes. The walks don’t require you to change your outfit, although you might need to change your shoes. In fact, they’re perfect for time to catch up with your family or a friend or a four-legged.

Because Dopey is all about endurance, this plan is based on heart-rate training. For nearly every mile, you’ll aim to keep your heart rate at or under 140 beats per minute (bpm). Why 140? Based on Maffetone’s Formula (180-age, with a few qualifications), 140 is a solid number that works for nearly every body. Keeping your heart rate under 140 greatly expands your cardiovascular/aerobic base, greatly decreases your chances of injury, significantly lessens post-run fatigue, and makes running feel very doable and even fun. (Even 48.6 miles! Truly!)

Fair warning: Your initial pace at 140 bpm will surprise you. You will likely be 2-3 minutes slower than your current average run pace, and you’ll walk quite a bit to keep your heart rate within range, especially when you climb hills. You will be frustrated and possibly teary and maybe even think about dropping the program.

We’ll keep you going, though, and your average speed at 140 bpm will begin to increase. Over the following 26 weeks, you will morph into a cardio monster who can run for hours and hours with no pain and no anguish. Your Dopey experience will be a blast because you’ve committed the time, effort, and resources to maximizing your four events.

Mentally, you’ll feel like you’re flying as high as Tinkerbell and physically, you’ll be compared to Snow White’s Happy—at least until you layer on your six medals. At that point, your neck might be a wee bit uncomfortable!

THE PREREQS

You need to please:

  1. Be able to currently jog for 60 minutes without stopping.
  1. Own a heart rate monitor with a chest strap, and you need to wear it all the time while training. The majority of your time, you’ll be training with a heart rate <140. (Here are monitors we recommend.)
  1. Be able to say adios to your ego and put your pace expectations away for this training cycle. Your training splits will likely be 2-3 minutes slower than they currently are. You will be passed by other (#uncoached, #unloved) runners who have no idea of the physiological magic you’re creating. You will think people in cars are talking about your turtle-like speed. (They aren’t, but it’ll feel like that.) For at least the first six weeks, you will likely walk up most hills and take regular walk breaks. Race pace will be a different thing, and we’ll cover that in depth, but your training is going to be s.l.o.w. Remember, you’ll have a group of #motherrunners doing the exact same thing, so you’ll have plenty of camaraderie and compassion.
  2. Have time—and patience—to devote to 26 weeks of training. During week one, you’ll run for 2 hours, 50 minutes over the course of five workouts. During weeks 16 and 20, the biggest weeks of training, you’ll be running for three hours, forty-five minutes plus 20 miles. The longest run distances are two, 20-mile runs.

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Product Description

The Disney Dopey Challenge includes:

  • A Unique 26-Week Training Plan. Designed by Coach Mary-Katherine (MK) Fleming, the Dopey Training Plan is a 26-week plan that will turn you into a cardiovascular beast. (A beast whose legs look amazing in your Disney costume, btw.)  In the plan, most workouts is measured in minutes, not miles. You’ll run five days a week, with one day of optional easy cross training like a yoga or Pilates class. Speedwork is minimal in this plan, as it focuses on maximizing your endurance. Short, easy evening walks will complete the training, giving you valuable time on your feet so you can thrive during four races at Disney.

    During this training cycle, your perspective on running will change. You will not be wasted exhausted after long runs. Your runs will become more meditative, less stressful. If you follow the foam rolling and strength training prescriptions (all very doable), you will likely not get injured. You will become a smarter, better, stronger runner all by slowing down. We promise.

  • Miles of Resources. Your registration gets you access to the Train Like a Mother private site, where you’ll find helpful articles; video demonstrations of strength training moves, foam rolling routines, and running drills that are totally doable (read: less than five minutes! truly!) and will keep you running strong and injury-free; and plenty of other tips and tricks to compliment your heart rate-based training.

  • Exclusive Train Like a Mother Podcasts. We’ll answer individual training questions—and entertain you on your runs. Your first podcast will be a Heart Rate Training 101, which will explain many of the tenets you’ll use in this program. After that one, we’ll pull in experts, answer questions, help you thrive. As always, no question is too basic or TMI.

  • Accountability—and Camaraderie—Galore. In addition to Train Like a Mother Club, you’ll be invited to join a Disney Challenge club on Strava, where you can track your miles, and a private Disney Challenge Facebook page, where you’ll quickly find an army of (funny, empathetic, inspiring) #motherruner teammates. You’ll share training tips, stories of good runs and bad, cheer each other on, and push each other out the door. Momentum comes from teamwork, and these Challenges roll on some serious #motherrunner momentum.

  • Expert, Accessible Guidance. We’ll also pop in via email weekly with a newsletter in which we preview the upcoming week of workouts, as well as have a Q+A with Coach MK and discounts on training essentials. If you hit a speed bump too big for a Facebook or Strava post, Coach MK has regular weekly office hours for individual questions.

  • Training Peaks Account. This comprehensive training tool will help you analyze your data and chart the nearly daily growth of your endurance base. It also sends you a daily email with your workouts for today and tomorrow so you can plan accordingly.

  • Best.Swag.Bag.Ever. As part of your registration, you will receive a package stocked training essentials, including a tube of Nuun, packets of GU, a pair of Balega socks, and samples of SweatX sports detergent. (Shipping of $6.50 on U.S. orders and $15 for international orders will be added to your registration at checkout to cover the cost of getting these goodies to your mailbox.)

 

FAQs

  • How will heart rate-based training help me become a better and faster runner?
    The plans dial in —or simply develop—an endurance base, which will help your running economy skyrocket and make you a capable, strong, injury-free runner. Think of a pyramid; the wider its base, the higher its apex can be without tipping or crumbling. Same with running: the wider your endurance base, the higher or faster you can run.

    Unfortunately, developing the endurance base is the process most non-elite athletes skip when decide to train for a half- or full marathon. They substituting other activities for easy runs or take the “easy” out of their easy runs. Either way, they don’t get the physiological benefit they need to finish the race feeling strong and healthy.

    Most runners devote a lot of energy looking for the Magic Workout, believing it’s something that involves the track and/or really challenging paces. There is some magic in pushing your paces, but only—and this is a big ONLY—if your body has a developed endurance base and is ready for the more intense work.

    I—MK—know plenty of runners who have been logging miles for decades in search of the Magic Workout and can’t figure out why they repeatedly get injured or continually getting slower, despite putting in more and more effort.

    Their Magic Workout isn’t more effort or speed. It’s the easy effort run with a heart rate cap. Over time, those easy miles allow your body to magically transform into a cardiovascular beast—and that is when the true magic can happen.

    (Dive deeper into the physiology of and my perspective on heart rate-based training here.)

  • How do I know if this is the right training plan for me?

    If you’re registered for the Dopey Challenge, it’s the right plan for you.

    Seriously, in order to do this plan, you need to please:

    —Be able to currently jog for 60 minutes without stopping.

    —Own a heart rate monitor with a chest strap or optical reading on your write band, and you need to wear it all the time while training. The majority of your time, you’ll be training with a heart rate <140. (Here are monitors we recommend.)

    —Say adios to your ego and put your pace expectations away for this training cycle. Your training splits will likely be 2-3 minutes slower than they currently are. You will be passed by other (#uncoached, #unloved) runners who have no idea of the physiological magic you’re creating. You will think people in cars are talking about your turtle-like speed. (They aren’t, but it’ll feel like that.) For at least the first six weeks, you will likely walk up most hills and take regular walk breaks. Race pace will be a different thing, and we’ll cover that in depth, but your training is going to be s.l.o.w. Remember, you’ll have a group of #motherrunners doing the exact same thing, so you’ll have plenty of camaraderie and compassion.

    —Have time—and patience—to devote to 26 weeks of training. During week one, you’ll run for 2 hours, 50 minutes over the course of five workouts. During weeks 16 and 20, the biggest weeks of training, you’ll be running for three hours, forty-five minutes plus 20 miles. The longest run distances are two, 20-mile runs.

  • I want a PR. Will heart rate-based training get me one?

    Here’s the answer for a single race:
    It is totally possible. A PR is twofold: running consistently, and knowing how to race. We will help you do the former and teach you how to do the latter. The comment I—MK— get the most frequently from my runners who previously struggled through races is, “I never had to stop! I ran the whole way through!” That alone can lead to PRs.

    That said, the plan isn’t always the problem when it comes to a PR. Sticking to it is. If you run consistently and arrange your life so you can commit to the plan, I’m confident you will blow your mind on race day. It will be an experience unlike any other you’ve ever had.

    But if you look at the plan like a buffet and only pick the parts and runs you like or you continually find the day has ended yet again and you are out of time to run, you will still find a modicum of success. But a PR probably won’t happen. I’m not sure in those circumstances a PR could be expected on any plan. (Not being harsh; just being honest.)

    If you want proof of the beauty of low and slow consistency, look at me. I did not train through my third pregnancy, no running or cardio, NOTHING (I discovered ‘binge-watching’ and Sons of Anarchy…WORTH IT!) from September 2014-May 2015. I started a plan very much like the ones in the Train Like a Mother Club after my six-week post-partum appointment. I made it four weeks before I had a minor surgical procedure that left me prone in a bed until mid-July.

    My first easy run on July 28 was 14:15 pace. I cried knowing the 2014 NYC Marathon was 13 weeks away. I got back on the plan: five easy, effort runs of varying mileage weekly, no speedwork, but no excuses either. I was consistent. I ran 1:51 at the ZOOMA half-marathon in Colorado Springs in mid-October and a 22:38 5K the following weekend. Two weeks later, I ran 4:16 in the New York City Marathon, pacing a friend to a huge PR. I finished with lots of fuel left in the tank.

    To be sure, I have a wide cardiovascular base built on years of training smart, not hard. But still: I am living proof a #motherrunner (of three) can run slow and race fast.

    Here’s the answer for Dopey Challenge: With four races in a row, not to mention plenty of time on your feet otherwise, Dopey isn’t a place to try to PR. That said, we’re definitely not counting the possibility out.

  • I am constantly injured. Why will heart rate-based training help me stay healthy?
    Muscles have memory, but tendons and ligaments do not. I—MK— see runners going too fast all the time who swear to me, they, “feel FINE!” Perceived effort can be shaded so many ways; the heart rate cap will keep you honest and keep your easy effort days easy. This in turn will prevent you from letting those muscles that feel FINE push your tendons and ligaments beyond their breaking points, leaving you with a roaring case of plantar fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, or shin splints.

    Heart rate-based training slows you down so that your tendons and ligaments have time to get up to speed; in addition, many of the short strength circuits you’ll do after your runs will encourage all the right kinds of running strength.

  • What heart rate monitor do you recommend?
    Here a few monitors with a range of features that we recommend. 

    Here’s a little more advice from Coach MK:

    If possible, it’s best to run with a monitor that has a chest strap; technology has come a crazy long way over the past few years, and wrist-based monitoring is definitely getting there, but a chest-strap is most reliable right now.

    As for exact model, my advice is to go for the low-hanging fruit. Translation: You might not need to run out and buy a super-expensive and fancy new watch.

    Did your current watch come with a strap that is sitting forgotten and unloved in a drawer? Grab it.

    Is your current watch heart-rate enabled but you didn’t buy the strap at the time because you didn’t think you needed it? Get the strap that goes with your watch.

    If you’re ready to upgrade your whole system, check out the price of the watch you want. Sometimes the stand-alone strap is pricey enough that it makes more sense to go ahead and upgrade.

    Don’t have a watch because you run with an iPhone? Look at the available GPS apps like Strava, MapMyRun and Runkeeper. All will sync with different heart rate straps, so check prices and pick the combo that works with your budget.

    Also bear in mind, I wear XL seamless training bras from the juniors section at Nike. Adding the heart rate strap to my chest is NBD. Many of my ‘gifted’ clients need to double-bag their chest and, as such, prefer wrist-based monitors. The only real downside to these is that you have to wear them really, really tightly against your wrist to get good, continuous heart rate data. If you have tiny wrists go for the chest straps, unless you are ‘gifted’ and a chest strap just won’t work.

  • Do I have to do a bunch of calculations or complete a running test to figure out my optimal heart rate zones?
    No. Here’s why:

    When I—MK— started as a coach, I was handed a motley crew of 20 people who were at varying levels of fitness. Not a single one had a decent endurance base yet all were severely overtrained. I was floored. People running less than 15 miles per week shouldn’t be overtrained! Worse, they would absolutely kill themselves on our Tuesday night social (easy effort) runs and swear they weren’t failing the “Talk Test,” or being able to carry on a conversation while you run.

    A big believer in Lydiard’s rule that a well-coached athlete should never be injured, I knew I had to come up with a system that would work for everyone without alienating anyone.* I respect Phil Maffetone’s work and initially told everyone to use his formula (Heart Rate cap: 180-age, with a few exceptions) on their easy effort days.

    This failed spectacularly. Everyone bent the rule, so I set out to write a different rule. I researched all the data and theoretical reasoning behind most existing heart rate training programs, read up on studies of the existing endurance running population in North America, then looked at the success rates of my athletes with their Maffetone formula and reevaluated the verbiage around my ‘rules’ for the easy-effort run.

    The result was a 140 cap on heart rate for easy effort runs. Keeping your effort on or below 140 beats for minute is firmly aerobic territory for most of the population of non-elite endurance athletes and will increase the endurance base and running economy. (Dive deeper into the physiology of and my perspective on heart rate-based training here.)

    In an effort to make sure my runners do as little math as possible, and because perceived effort is not always an effective, we ALL wear heart rate monitors and use 140 as a cap for easy efforts. The cap comes off for other workouts—and there are plenty of times we pick up the pace—but keeping the easy efforts easy will transform your running.

    Exceptions to this rule are people under 20, over 60, and former competitive**/elite endurance athletes.

    [[*I’ve been the fat kid at track club more than once. I HATED it. I make a point to make sure everyone is treated equally and fairly at my group workouts, and have developed a system that ensures no runner is ever left behind our demoralized.]

    [[**By ‘competitive’, I mean, “someone who was ranked in the top 10% at the state level or nationally in track or cross country either in high school or college.]]

  • Does every run have a heart rate cap?
    No. There are weekly Free Runs, where you can run as hard and fast as your heart desires because we know that feels good. Also, there are bits of speed development sprinkled thoughtfully through the programs; depending on your plan, you will do anything from 20-second pickups in an easy effort run to miles at race pace, and those elements do not have a heart rate cap.

    But the Magic Workouts—the easy effort runs that develop your endurance base and running economy—are capped at 140.

  • Can I cross train on this program?
    If you have a spinning or body pump or Crossfit class you just have to attend, you can. But—and this is a big but—spin or pump on a run day and only after you’ve done your run. Doing things in that order will automatically temper your effort accordingly. (And wear your heart rate monitor to the workout so you have a good idea of your effort.) Classes like Orange Theory Fitness are hard to reconcile with a heart-rate-based program, as they advocate sending your heart rate high, not keeping it low. Less intense effort cross training, like Pilates and yoga, is easier to integrate.

  • Does the registration fee include a race?
    No. The fee covers 26 weeks of guided, hands’-on training and all the support you need to thrive during Dopey. That support includes an active Facebook page and Strava club, at least five exclusive podcasts, a Training Peaks Account, a stocked swag package (over $25!), and regular weekly office hours where we can help you over speed bumps.

    All these tools will help you have an DYNAMIC  training cycle and race, both physically and mentally. You will have camaraderie, commiseration, and community on a daily basis (and sometimes hourly, if that’s your thing.)

  • Can you please explain the shipping charges?
    Within a few weeks of registration, every participant in a Train Like a Mother program receives a stocked swag package with some of our favorite training essentials. Domestic #motherrunners are charged $6.50 for shipping; international #motherrunners are charged $15 for shipping. The Train Like a Mother tee and medal have no shipping charges associated with them.

  • What if I realize this isn’t the right training plan for me? 
    We definitely want this to work into your life and your running lifestyle. You can email us within 2 weeks of starting the program and we will set you up with another plan or a credit for an upcoming challenge. We will not be able to issue a straight-up refund.

  • What if I get injured or really sick?
    With a smart training plan, doable strength training, and advice on foam rolling and other self-care, we’re going to do our best to keep you injury-free. That said, if you have an injury or illness that totally slays your training, let us know. We’ll work with you to get you a credit for an upcoming program.