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 Fairy Tale 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 long run, 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 Fairy Tale 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.
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 20 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, 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.
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)
[[This program runs from October 8, 2018 to February 24, 2019.]]