Disney Fairy Tale Challenge: October 9, 2017-February 25, 2018

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  • 3 Weeks of Amazing Half-Marathon

Disney Fairy Tale Challenge: October 9, 2017-February 25, 2018

$150.00

THE DISNEY FAIRY TALE CHALLENGE

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.

19.3 miles over two 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 Glass Slipper Challenge 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; and having a game plan when you hit the parks, post-races.

With this 20-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 Glass Slipper Challenge, you’ll nearly fly during each mile. You feel primed and totally ready to run 10K, then a half-marathon—no pixie dust required.

The end result? 19.3 magical miles, three well-earned medals around your neck and a smile on your face that will remain for weeks post-Challenge.

THE BASICS

This plan fits nearly any runner who is going 19.3 miles in Disney: advanced beginner; experienced; coming back from injury; just had a baby; irritated by running because of said injury, expectations, aging.

Every workout is measured in minutes, not miles. You’ll run four days a week, with one day of optional easy cross training like a yoga or Pilates class. Starting in Week 6, you'll have three easy evening walks a week. Speedwork is minimal in this plan, as it focuses on maximizing your endurance.

You will have a handful of weekly Free Runs, where you can run as fast as your heart desires.

For 14  of the 20 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 a week, 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 the Fairy Tale Challenge 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.

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 24 weeks, you will morph into a cardio monster who can run for hours and hours—although maybe not in Glass Slippers—with no pain and no anguish. Your race days will be a blast because you’ve committed the time, effort, and resources to maximizing your two 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 three medals. At that point, your neck might be a wee bit uncomfortable!

THE PREREQS: Before you sign up, you need to please:

1. Be able to currently walk for 45 minutes without stopping. If you’re running right now, you’ve been averaging less than 20 miles a week for the past three months

2. 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.

3. Be able to say adios to your ego and put your pace expectations away for this training cycle. Which is easier typed than done. 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 about the magic you're creating within. 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.

4. Have time—and patience—to devote to 20 weeks of training. During week one, you’ll run for three hours over the course of four workouts. By week 17, the biggest week of training, you’ll be running six hours, five minutes over the course of four workouts. The longest run distances are two, 175-minute runs.

BIGGEST WEEK OF TRAINING: Six hours, five minutes of running + 3 hours of walking in the evening.

LONGEST LONG RUN DISTANCES: Two, 175-minute runs.

3 Weeks of AMAZING HALF-MARATHON PLAN

The first three weeks of the plan are previewed above and to the left. (Quick key: EE: Easy Effort; XT: Cross Training; FR: Free Run; LR: Long Run)

Please sign up for Wave 8: October 9-February 24/25.

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Product Description

The Heart Rate-Based
Disney Fairy Tale Challenge includes:

  • A  Unique Training Plan: 24 Weeks of Training. Designed by Coach Mary-Katherine (MK) Fleming, the Glass Slipper Challenge will turn you into a cardiovascular beast. (A beast whose legs look amazing in a running skirt, btw.)  In the plan, every workout is measured in minutes, not miles. You’ll run four 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 two straight races at Disney.

    The race-specific plan is 20 weeks, and you will also receive a four-week Introduction to Heart Rate Plan, which you can use while waiting for your training wave to take off.

    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 on a nearly weekly basis. 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 private Heart Rate-Based Half-Marathon Challenge club on Strava, where you can track your miles, and a private Heart Rate-Based Half-Marathon Challenge and Disney Challenge Facebook pages, 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 pop in via email weekly with a newsletter, as well as have a weekly Q+A with Coach MK, gear giveaways, and discounts on training essentials. If you hit a speed bump too big for a Facebook or Strava post, Coach MK has weekly office hours for individual questions. We want you to succeed, and want to offer every tool we can to help you.

  • Training Peaks Account. This comprehensive training tool will help you 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, among others. (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?
    This Fairy Tale plan fits nearly any runner: beginner; experienced; coming back from injury; just had a baby; irritated by running because of said injury, expectations, aging.

    To thrive in this plan Heart Rate-Based Half-Marathon, Level I—from  here on out, called the AMAZING plan—mother runners need just four things:

    1. Be able to currently walk for 45 minutes without stopping. If you’re running right now, you’ve been averaging less than 20 miles a week for the past three months.

    2. 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.

    3. Be willing to say adios to your ego and put your usual 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 about the magic you’re creating within. 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.

    4. Have time—and patience—to devote to 24weeks of training. During week one, you’ll run for three hours over the course of four workouts. By week 17, the biggest week of training, you’ll be running six hours, five minutes over the course of four workouts. The longest run distances are two, 175-minute runs.

    Some plan details:
    BIGGEST WEEK OF TRAINING: Six hours, five minutes of running + 3 hours of walking in the evening.

    LONGEST LONG RUN DISTANCES: Two 175-minute runs.

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

  • 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 other 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 need other equipment for this plan? 
    We have optional super short routines that involve a BOSU and resistance loops. While they are not mandatory, they are crazy helpful in building glute strength (BOSU) and hip stability (resistance loops)—two areas that are usually lacking in #motherrunners and are the root of many running injuries. If you don’t have access to or funds for a BOSU, don’t sweat it; resistance loops are adequate and are much more affordable. (You can also look for a used BOSU on craigslist, a used sporting good store or at garage sales.)

    We also recommend having a firm foam roller; the more dense it is, the better. (But we admit: It will be a little painful the first few sessions!) Our first choice is the TriggerPoint Grid X.

  • 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 do CrossFit/Orange Theory/spinning class/other intense cross-training on this plan?
    Because the plan is designed to grow your aerobic base, we recommend that you limit your intense cross training, which naturally jacks up your heart rate. That said, if you are married to one of the above classes, we obviously won’t say don’t do it; we’ll just recommend that you attend after your run for the day (or use it as your free run), and that you wear your heart rate monitor so you have an idea of how hard you are truly working.

    More moderate cross training like yoga, Pilates, moderate swimming, easy biking, etc. is encouraged.

  • Does the registration fee include a race?
    No. The fee covers two training plans (Fairy Tale Challenge+ Introduction) and all the support you need for 24 weeks (nearly 6 months!) of heart rate-based training. That support includes active Facebook pages and Strava clubs, exclusive podcasts, a Training Peaks Account, a stocked swag package (over $25!), and regular office hours where we can help you over speed bumps.

    All these tools will help you have an Cinderella-like 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.)

  • Wait: So I have to pay for this Challenge and the Fairy Tale Challenge?
    Yep—and we’ve heard again and again it’s worth it. Staying committed and motivated during the days, weeks, and, yes, months of training can be ridiculously hard, especially if you’re new to heart-rate training. If you can do that—and these programs are all about accountability and inspiration—race day becomes a celebratory victory lap, not a slog full of self-doubt.

  • 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 wave should I be in?
    Please sign up for Wave 8, which ends on February 24/25. You can start your four-week Introduction to Heart Rate on September 11—or anytime thereafter.

  • 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. 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.