I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how I trained for the Dopey Challenge so I figured I’d finally write down exactly what I did and my advice for anyone wanting to run 48.6 magical miles themselves one day.
How does one prepare themselves for a weekend of 48.6 miles + countless other miles of walking around the Disney parks? My simple answer: run a fall marathon. For a more detailed answer, keep reading…
Dopey Challenge training Step 1: Train hard for a fall marathon.
For me, the easiest part about training for the Dopey Challenge was that I essentially didn’t even think about it until 7 weeks before the actual challenge. My mind was focused on one thing and one thing only: PRing at the NYCM (which I did, btw – woohoo!).
I think my biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to tackle the Dopey Challenge is to pick a fall marathon and train hard for it. The NYCM was my goal race for the year. It occupied my mind (so I was never busy worrying about running 48.6 miles!) and at the end of it I had a shiny new PR and was in the best marathon fitness of my life (hey, thanks Coach!).
Dopey Challenge training Step 2: Recover before starting a reverse taper.
Recover! I trained for 16 weeks for the NYCM and it was easily the hardest I’ve ever trained for any race in my life. My body needed to rest so I made sure to give it some extra TLC before beginning a reverse taper (increasing distance each week). I went for a 90 minute full body massage, I spent many days relaxing on the couch and going for easy walks, I even went to bed one night at (gasp) 6:45pm. No, really… I fell asleep before Jeopardy came on.
Giving your body adequate time to recover from months of training and a 26.2 mile race is essential for getting to the starting line of the Dopey Challenge healthy and ready to run. Even if you feel great (which I did within a day or two of NYCM), be mindful of what you just put your body through and take it easy for a while.
Dopey Challenge training Step 3: Maintain distance fitness and get to WDW healthy.
After the NYCM, I knew that I needed to let something go to get to WDW healthy and not completely burnt out on running. For me, that something was speed. All of my running workouts were done at whatever pace felt comfortable that day. After months of tracking paces and stats, this was a welcome change and kept me sane the weeks leading up to the Dopey Challenge. My only goal was to maintain distance fitness so that I knew I could complete the distance of the marathon (and then some) in January. Speed? Not necessary. No pressure running FTW!
My actual Dopey Challenge training:
A couple of months ago (right before running the NYCM), I had posted a tentative training schedule for Dopey. I made some changes prior to starting but the general idea was the same:
- Limit weekday runs and increase indoor workouts like spin and yoga (hey, it’s cold and dark here in NYC during the winter)
- Run both Saturday and Sunday to get used to running on tired legs
- Give myself a solid 3 week taper and max out with an 18 mile long run (for NYCM I used a 2 week taper and maxed out with a 22 mile long run)
Below are the exact workouts I did beginning the day after the NYCM and ending with the Dopey Challenge:
Training didn’t go perfectly – The first weekend in December had a lot going on and I didn’t do my planned 14 miler, I got sick the week of Christmas and significantly decreased my workouts and mileage (that 4.5 mile “long run” was supposed to be 10 miles, for example). But, as always as usual, listening to your body and giving it what it needs (rest, in my case) was more important than a number on a training schedule. Note: this knowledge did not stop me from freaking out about my taper period.
I’ve said it in many posts now since having completed the Dopey Challenge… it was the most fun I’ve ever had and it was easily the best I have ever felt while running a marathon.
What I think I did right:
- Recovered properly from NYCM
- Removed any pressure to maintain speed fitness
- Created a training program that maintained distance fitness but also didn’t burn me out from running (for NYCM, I ran 4-5 days a week)
- Ran smart throughout the Dopey Challenge.
- And most importantly… had fun!
[bctt tweet=”Want to run the #DopeyChallenge next year? @DErunnerNIAL shares her best training advice: http://wp.me/p2po9H-16r ” via=”no”]
Favorite fall marathon? GO.
Any future Dopey Challengers?!?
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