Category: Mission to Marathon

Mission to Marathon: Dressed to the Nines (Dressing for the Weather)

When I first started running, I never considered the amount on gear I would need.  Running is just slapping on a pair of sneakers, right?  Nope!  There are things needed for every season and every type of weather.  Feeling overwhelmed?  Well Hannah here is break it all down for you!


Note: We are “mid-move” from our house to shacking up with my in-laws for a few months while we look for a new house (our’s sold in a record 4.5 days). I had intended to take photos of most of the stuff mentioned in this post, but as about half of my clothing is in miscellaneous bins at my in-laws its just not possible. I am including some links to help, but can’t personally vouch for some of the items because they vary from what I own and use.

Planning your race-day gear can be complicated. As they say “no new is good new” on race day, and I definitely second that. You need to try out your clothing before hand to make sure nothing will be rubbing in weird places or shifting to reveal things you don’t want to reveal. And most importantly, DO NOT wear new shoes for a race…especially anything longer than a 5k. If you want to complicate matters even more, try planning for a destination race where you aren’t personally familiar with the climate. How do you even plan for that? Oh, and the Disney Marathon weekend…forget about planning months in advance because the weather can turn in a day down there.  I’ll talk a bit more in a few months about actually packing for the Disney Marathon Weekend, but here are some general destination race tips for hot and cold temperatures.

Running in hot weather:

1 – Stay Hydrated. I know this isn’t a clothing associated suggestion, but its definitely something to think about and that I like to mention as often as possible. Drink up the day before, the day of, during, after, and the day after. Yeah…stay hydrated! And not just water…make sure you aren’t losing too many electrolytes! Sports drinks, sports cubes/gels, coconut water, etc are all good ways to keep hydrated and keep your electrolytes up.

2 – Say bye-bye to cotton. Cotton is a wonderfully glorious fabric that I love dearly. But do I run in it? No. Especially not in hot weather. Cotton will soak up your sweat and then cling to you like no other. Try some moisture-wicking fabrics. If you can’t afford the “big brands” try picking up some up at Target (they carry C9 by Champion). I have scored some great clothes from the clearance rack in Target!

My favorite running capris are Under Armour Heat Gear. They suck you in like no other and they are wonderful in keeping me cook and keeping me sweat free. I highly recommend.


SIDE NOTE: In general, you should NOT wear cotton socks…ever. It took me forever to convince my sister-in-law to “pony up” and buy good socks and it made a world of difference. If you want blisters, be my guest, get some cotton socks…otherwise, find some other ones. I am partial to under armour’s, but Target’s C9 has come good ones and Thorlos is a brand I know many people love.


3 – Wear less. I don’t care what you look like in a bikini or bathing suit or naked…don’t think you’re going out in the hot, humid weather in sweats and a hoodie. No one cares. I promise you. And if they do…well…you know what they can do. Seriously though, you should have different clothes for different seasons. I am not a huge fan of shorts or tank tops but I do keep them in my drawer for those really hot days.


4 – Sunglasses.  A MUST for sunny days. You can find cheap ones or high-end ones. Just make sure they are comfortable and do what YOU need them to do. I have a pair that I wear for races that have a yellow lens and are polarized to reduce glare. I personally have issues with my eyes and have a really difficult time with glare so the glare reduction is important for me. I also like a light lens. But that’s just me. You need to try on different ones and find a pair that works for you.


5 – Know your gear. You may need to switch up your gear and accoutrements based on the season. I cut back on my running belt and anything on my wrist when its really hot. I also wear a wider headband (I love sparkly soul) because it keeps all my wispy hairs out of my face better when I’m sweating up a storm. Know your gear and know what’s going to bother you if you get hot and sweaty.


Running in Cold Weather:

1 – Layer, but don’t layer too much. You do not need the same number or type of layers that you do if you’re going for a walk as you do for a run. You will warm up once you start moving, I promise. This year we had record snow fall in Pennsylvania and it was bitter cold. And, I still shoveled our walk and parking spaces in a hoodie and sweats…in below zero. When you are moving you will warm up. If you are running a race, I highly suggest the “garbage bag” as your top layer. It will keep you warm (really warm) and you don’t need to worry about getting it back or carrying it through a race. Just remember to cut holes.

I have heard the tip to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. If that works for you, go for it. I just kind of eye-ball it and wear stuff I can unzip or stuff in a pocket.

My layering basics:


Base Layer (must be moisture-wicking). I actually like to run in Under Armour Heat Gear as a base-layer. But on really cold days I’ll switch and wear their cold-gear. I personally like a tee at my base, but whatever you are most comfortable with works best for you. For bottoms I wear a pair of long tights. For colder days you can get lined tights that are even warmer. I find I don’t really need this.

Layer 1 (top only). For me its a long-sleeve shirt or jacket. Again, I like moisture-wicking. If this is my top layer, I like a jacket with some wind resistance.

Layer 2 (top only). For colder days I’ll do a long-sleeve tech shirt and a jacket on top.

Layer 3 (top and bottom). For those below zero days…run inside? No, I’m only kidding… I’ll add a sweatshirt in between the long sleeve shirt and the jacket. And, if necessary throw a pair of looser pants on top of my running tights…sometimes even a pair of shorts on top will help.

Accessories: I wear a Lululemon headband and a pair of mittens. Sometimes I’ll throw gloves under the mittens if its really cold. And the hoodie helps on top of the headband. I get HOT fast so the gloves, mittens and headband often get pulled off and throw in my jacket pockets after about a mile. I have also pulled the headband down and run with it as a neck warmer when my head gets hot.


NOTE: If you are discarding clothing during a race, make sure you pack extra clothes in your gear back or pick up a thermal sheet after the race. You will cool down quickly and need to put layers back on shortly after you finish.

2 – I meant it when I said, say goodbye to cotton. Look, cotton is fine for an exterior layer in the winter, but make sure you have a wicking fabric next to your body. You will get warm and you will sweat and cotton could actually be bad if you cool down and then the moisture it is holding cools down and before you know it you’re at risk of frost bite or hyperthermia. You need something that is going to keep moisture away. And, definitely keep away from the cotton socks even in winter. I have seen people layer cotton over something else in the winter…that’s fine if you like layering socks. But, I tend to wear my normal socks, or a slightly thicker pair. Many people swear by smartwool, but I do not personally own any of them.


3 – Wind is the enemy. So is precipitation. You think its cold? Its going to feel much colder with the wind chill. I suggest your top layer have some sort of wind-breaking ability. For snowing/sleeting/raining, like we get here in Pennsylvania, something that blocks moisture  (water resistant) is helpful as well. I really like Under Armour’s storm gear for shorter runs where I’m not as concerned with wind-blocking. I wear a jacket from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) for wind protection.

4 – Fluorescence and reflective clothing are your friend. When its cold out, its usually dark out later and earlier (duh…). If you’re running before or after work, there is a chance you’ll be running before its fully daylight. Wear clothing that will catch the eye of other runners, bikers and especially drivers!  Reflective is best, but fluorescence is helpful as well.  I don’t personally own a lot of this stuff so I keep to running during the daylight hours, or run take it to a treadmill if I need to run while its dark out.


5 – Switch up your shoes. I don’t do this. But it may be helpful to have a second pair of shoes made for wet running (that have gore-tex or at least less mesh). This is especially important if you’re doing long runs in the cold, wet weather. If you’re keeping your runs shorter and aren’t worried about your feet getting cold/wet during the run, it can also be helpful to have a second pair of shoes available if you want to run back-to-back days. DO NOT put your running shoes in the dryer. Let them dry naturally. I actually have about four pairs of running shoes, but I also own like…40 pairs of shoes. If you aren’t a shoe hoarder like me (I swear I wear them all!) try to get at least one extra pair of shoes  to have on hand. As a general rule, its not a bad idea to rotate your shoes to keep help each pair last longer.


Here’s my tip for buying shoes:

Visit your local running store to get fitted and buy your first pair. Then, either hold out until they are having a sale (usually when new styles come out) and buy a second pair. Or, go online and find your shoes for cheaper. Sometimes you can find last year’s model for half price. I love to support my local running store, but holy cow sneakers are expensive! I did not pay full price for all four of my pairs. I think I paid full price for one pair and then got the rest discounted.  Oh! Don’t forget to ask if there is a discount for being a member of a running group (our local store gives a discount to Team in Training runners) or for teachers/students. You never know!

Running in unpredictable weather:

1 – Plan multiple outfits.

2 – Pack layers. And extra layers. Seriously…fork over the dough for the baggage fees and make sure you have what you need.

3 – Take an extra pair of shoes if running multiple days.

4 – Scoop out the expo (know what will be on sale and from what brands) or nearby running/sporting good stores.

5 –  Check the weather, then check it again. Oh, and check it again. Wait, one more time. Last year I was checking the weather about twice a day for the 10 days leading up to our trip to Disney.

NOTE: This is important so I’m including it, and will likely mention it about sixteen million more times. I WEAR my running shoes on the airplane and pack all my running gear in my carry-on. I WILL NOT have my stuff get lost if my bag goes missing.

Here’s my September Running Train Plan! Thanks Jeff Galloway for an awesome plan for FREE. :o)

10 – Week Sept 1: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 11 miles

11 – Week Sept 8: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 3 miles

12 – Week Sept 15: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 4 miles walk; Sunday 13 miles

13 – Week Sept 22: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 3 miles

14 – Week Sept 29: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 5.5 miles; Sunday 15 miles


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Mission to Marathon: runDisney runCation & August Training Plan

I LOVE this post that Hannah put together!  Running a runDisney is very different from any other race you will run because guess what??  YOU’RE GOING TO DISNEY!!  If you are making the trip to The Happiest Place on Earth, you know you are going to want to get some park touring in there, but where to start?!  It can be super overwhelming.  Good thing Hannah is here to break it all down!


Now that you’re officially registered for a runDisney race, you get to do the fun part. I’m talking about planning your Disney Trip/RunCation!

Planning a Disney trip (Walt Disney World or Disneyland, or any of the other Disney parks) can be incredibly overwhelming.  When you add in a race, that can just make things even more difficult. If you’re a newb, this blog should help you get started, but feel free to reach out to me directly if you have specific questions. I love talking Disney and my family is pretty sick of hearing about it at this point.

Later in the year I will talk more about packing for a runcation, this post is dedicated to the planning portion of your trip.


Here is how I typically plan my runDisney runCation.

Right away

Start daydreaming. Yup, day dream. Plan your trip, research rides and show and all the fun stuff. Figure out your “must-do’s” and your “can miss” attractions. My personal favorites — Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Muppets 3D, Toy Story, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Lion King Show, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Mission: Space, and Soarin’.

12 months out (or as soon as possible)

Plan travel dates:

Right now, our travel dates are a bit up in the air. But, I do have a general idea of when we’ll be going and how long I want to be there. If you have specific dates that is best.

NOTE: Make sure you check the expo schedule and arrive in time to attend and pick up your race packet. You will likely need to arrive one or two days before your race in order to this. I highly recommend you plan to arrive a day or two in advance, or more, to allow yourself time to adjust to the new location regardless of the expo schedule.

Book a Room:

For those familiar with Disney, you know how difficult a task this is.

First you’ll need to decided if you’re staying on or off property. On property means you’ll be staying at a Disney resort hotel, which provides some extra perks (transportation, extra magic hours, etc). Off property means you’ll need to find your own transportation, but it may be cheaper. For me there is no question that I’ll be staying at a Disney resort. You’ll next need to decide what “level” of resort you want to stay at. There are basically three categories  — Deluxe, Moderate, and Value. Deluxe also offer Deluxe Villas (like the Disney Vacation Club Villas). You can also rent Disney Vacation Club points and book your trip that way, but I don’t have personal experience with that (although I did consider it!).  Once you know what level, take a look at the resorts in that level  and pick the one that most interests you. I tend to look at food options, search online for photos and browse transportation options.  You can book your trip online, but I like to call Disney reservations and talk with the kind Disney folk who help me make a final decision and get everything booked.  You may also wish to check out a travel agent, but be sure you find one who is qualified and really knows Disney!


If you are staying off property, I have had great success using Priceline’s name your own price tool to book a hotel at various locations around the country. My advice for doing this is to review the hotels in the area and make sure you are comfortable with a star level. Review what the hotel prices are and bid accordingly. I tend to bid low at first and increase after that. Read the rules to understand the process a bit better.

6-7 months out

Figure out dining.  If you book with Disney you can book Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) 180 days out.  I tend to make a chart with each day that I’ll be at Disney and then each meal of the day, and fill in as I go. I also browse (one of my fav’s) for crowd calendar. Since we don’t park hop at WDW, I like to plan which park I want to visit each day. We will likely change our minds, but its good to get a rough plan together in advance to work out your dining.


When planning make sure you know yourself with regards to running. I tend to plan to not be in a park the day before a race. This allows me time off my feet so they aren’t tired for the race. I wear a fitbit in the parks and can rack 5-6 miles on a “easy ” day without feeling tired, but man…that can add up if you have to run 26.2 the next day! I also like to plan to be in the “easy” parks (Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom because they are smaller, or a park I am visiting twice) on the days surrounding the race.

NOTE: You can book Advance Dining Reservations 180 days before your first day (and for ten days after that). I will either call or be online first thing in the morning to get my ADRs booked, especially if I want hard-to-get reservations.

3-4 months out

Book travel:

If you need to fly in, this is your window to book flights. If you can start browsing costs before hand, that will be helpful in determining if you’re getting a good deal. I personally like using’s travel search tool to get a baseline. Once I find an airline price, I tend to book directly with the airline, unless there is an opportunity to book cheaper at a reputable location elsewhere.  Any search for “how to find the cheapest flights” will tell you 3-6 months is the best window and that searching Tues afternoon is the best time of the week. I tend to start looking around 6 months ahead of my trip and as I get closer to the 3 month mark, I do a quick search each day.

Once your flight is booked, call and set up your Disney Magical Express or look into getting a rental car.

NOTE: There does not seem to be a lot of change in flight prices lately. Also, make sure you are flying into/out of the correct airport. Orlando has TWO airports. Orlando International (MCO) is the one that has Disney Magical Express transportation. Orlando Sanford does not…you gotta find your own want to the world.

2-3 months out

Make sure you have your Magic Bands picked out. At 60 days before your trip, you can book your FastPass+ reservations. Take a look at all the options before hand so you know what you want to do. This is especially true if you are a)not a once-a-year Disney traveler; b)traveling with kids; or c) traveling with complicated people (people who can’t ride certain things, or need special accommodations).

Anytime (anytime before the 45 day cut off for travel change fees)

Change all your plans. Okay, that’s not really a necessary step, but I am putting it here because it’s what I usually do… I tend to book a room and then call and change it a few weeks later because I’ve changed my mind or decided to bump down a level in the resort, or my dates have changed…who knows. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know it’s OKAY to change your mind. Disney has a great policy where if you book a vacation package you can change or cancel up to 45 days in advance without a charge. So go ahead, change your mind!


Here’s my August Running Training Plan:

6 – Week Aug 4: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 7 miles

7 – Week Aug 11: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

8 – Week Aug 18: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 9 miles

9 – Week Aug 26: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Mission to Marathon: Preparing a Training Plan & July Schedule

We have a great new series here on RAD called Mission to Marathon!!  I’m happy to welcome Hannah Suhr as a new monthly contributor…you may remember her from her Lessons Learned from the Walt Disney World Marathon earlier this year.  Hannah will be sharing her training and travel tips as she preps for the 2015 Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge.  This is going to be an excellent resource for all of you getting ready for any races you may have coming up.  Hannah is super organized and has great ideas on how to stay on track!  I’m thrilled she is here…please join me in welcoming Hannah!  


runDisney makes putting together a training plan super easy. If you aren’t familiar, just check out and under the training tab you will find training plans for Jeff Galloway’s walk/run method. If you are a beginner, this a great program to follow because it is easy to understand and gives you step-by-step guides for what to do.

If you aren’t running Disney (hey, not ALL races are Disney races), you can find similar training programs online through Hal Higdon, Runners World and many other sources. Some plans cost money. I don’t pay for a plan since I feel comfortable enough making my own. But, if you feel like you need it, go for it. Just make sure its reputable before you shell out the dough.

Short post, right? Nope.

While the training plans you can find online can be followed point-by-point and help you achieve the goal you want to achieve, they are not customized for your needs, schedule, experience, etc. If you are okay with that, then by all means. But I like to make it my own.

Here is how I put together a training plan:

1 – Research. I look at all the different options out there and see what they have in common and what differs. For a marathon, training plans for beginners or amateur runners can vary quite a bit. Many take you up to 20 miles for your longest long run, while others go beyond the 26 mile marker. Some have three days a week of running, others have four or five. Some incorporate cross-training, others leave that up to you to figure out. And, very few discuss nutrition (but that’s another post, for sure).

Mission-to-Marathon-Training-Plan2 (1)

Mission-to-Marathon-Training-Plan3 (1)

For me, I either print out various plans or make a comparison chart on paper or in excel.

Mission-to-Marathon-Training-Plan1 (1)

2 – Consider your schedule. Do you work a 9 to 5 job? Work weekends? Gotta get up early? Take a look at what your normal weekly schedule is and then compare that to the different training plans. If you find one that works well with your schedule and you’re comfortable with the plan, then go for it, just follow it directly. I’m willing to bet that you won’t find one that fits perfectly and you’ll need to make some adjustments to suit your needs.

For me, I have the opportunity to train with my Team in Training team on Saturday mornings so I like to keep my long run on that day since I know I’ll have company. I also know my weeknight schedule is hectic so I need to keep my workouts as quick and effective as possible.  I also know that I really need to work on improving my strength (specifically my core) in order to improve my running and avoid injury.

Mission-to-Marathon-Training-Plan2 (2)

3 – Put it all together. This is where it gets fun. Most plans have you running 3 or 4 days a week and cross training 2 or 3 days. I start by scheduling my long runs. For me, Saturday and Sunday are best so I fit them in there. Then fill in your shorter, speed runs, to suit your schedule. If you’re doing 3 short runs, try to space them out so they aren’t three days in a row. Break things up to give your muscles a break and allow yourself some recovery time so that you won’t burn-out.


I am using the runDisney Goofy Challenge, Race and a Half training plan as my base for my overall plan and as guidance for my long run distances. What is nice is that my husband can modify the plan very simply by skipping the Saturday run (swapping for some strength training, yoga or a rest day) on weeks I am running four days and then do his long run on Sunday with me.

Mission-to-Marathon-Training-Plan1 (2)

My weeks will generally look like this:

Monday  – Cross training (strength –  I have been liking the Tone It Up routines lately, but also use the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises to put together my own routines).

Tuesday – Run 30-45 mins; Speed work/Interval training & 20 mins focused strength training

Wednesday – Cross training (strength)

Thursday – Run 30-34 mins; Speed work/interval training & 20 mins focused strength training

Friday – Cross training (yoga/stretch/light strength)

Saturday – Long Run & stretch

Sunday –  Long Run & stretch

Notice I added stretching into my schedule on several days. I need a reminder to stretch. It’s important. If you aren’t good at stretching, just add it to your schedule!

Here’s my July Run Schedule:

1 – Week of 6/30: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 3 miles

2 – Week of 7/7: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 4 miles

3 – Week of 7/14: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 3 miles

4 – Week of 7/21: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 5.5 miles

5 – Week of 7/28: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

How do you put together a training plan?


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

« Previous Page