8 weeks from today I will be heading down to Orlando to take part in the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, specifically the inaugural Dopey Challenge. This is a four day event from Thursday January 9th through Sunday January 12th and consists of a 5K (3.1 miles), a 10K (6.2 miles), a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and a Full Marathon (26.2 miles) for a total of 48.6 miles.
This weekend I am running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon and after this I have less than 8 weeks between this event and the Dopey Challenge in which I need to build in recovery time, ramp up my distance and taper again. This is a pretty short span of time (unless you are one of those folks who runs multiple marathons a year). I actually have done this process twice before, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2011 and the Walt Disney World Marathon 8 weeks later in January 2012 and I ran the Philadelphia Marathon again in 2012 and ran the ‘Goofy Challenge’ 8 weeks later in January 2013 (Philly2Goofy!) and will pretty much be using the same approach this time.
The first time I did this I used Hal Higdon’s 8 week back to back marathon plan just as Hal designed it. I changed it up a little for the 2013 Goofy Challenge so that my Saturday runs would be exactly half the distance of my Sunday long runs to try and mimic the Half plus Full scenario. Training, in addition to building endurance and general well being, is the place to simulate and practice race conditions. The small modifications for the Goofy were simple to slip into the plan as it just meant adding a mile or two the day before the long run. Dopey training calls for a somewhat different approach.
Although I plan to similulate the 4 day event by doing 4 consecutive days of running, I still need to build in some recovery time, some rest time and some taper time. With that in mind I adjusted Hal’s program slightly to similuate race week just twice during the training plan but these will be on the longest distance weeks to make the training most effective. See below.
I think the key to this training plan is to take advantage of as much rest time as the plan allows. I have used Hal’s Intermediate 2 Marathon Training Plan for my last 5 marathons and the back to back plan follows a similar pattern with the exception that Mondays are rest days vs cross training days. The plan still calls for 5 days of running each week with the same pattern of a semi-long run each Wednesday and the long run on Sundays. I also allowed myself one race (the Thanksgiving 5 miler for the Bucks County Road Runners).
I’m getting pretty excited about this now. I have reached my fund raising goal for Team Up with Autism Speaks so that pressure is now gone (but not the pressure of completing the 4 day event of course) and I have chosen to run both the 5K and 10K in costume (yeah…not sure how that is really going to work out) and the Half and Full Marathons in ‘Team Up’ gear. At the end of the day very few people are running these events to PR. This is a Disney race where there is so much atmosphere and entertainment along the courses to take in. Not to forget the toll that 4 very early mornings will take on the body in addition to the events and some park time (I know, that is all my personal choice). My goal is to finish the event with a smile on my face with great memories and most importantly knowing that I raised money for a worthy cause. PRs can wait for other times. This event is going to be fun.
I’m not saying that this plan works best for anyone other than me but having used it a couple of times I am comfortable with the approach and hope to stay fit and healthy enough to get to the start line and to finish the event. My travel plans are fixed, I have my advanced dining reservations (including a character dine) and I am looking forward to buying lots of presents for my two little boys who will be cheering my on from back home in Pennsylvania). I look forward to meeting up with all my Facebook friends who are also taking part in the Marathon Weekend and look forward to meeting new people and seeing my favorite characters out there on the course and in the parks. This will be my third consecutive Walt Disney World Marathon and ultimately my second Goofy (as a matter of doing the Dopey too). Lots to look forward to over the coming weeks.
Thank you for reading.