Category: Training

Mission to Marathon: Getting Through The Holiday Season

It seems like every year the holidays arrive faster and faster!  The food, the parties, the shopping…it’s SO easy to get off track in the next few months.  This can be hard for so many people to manage and since there are so many races coming up (WDW Marathon Weekend in January!), it’s important to do your best to stay on track.  Hannah is back with more GREAT tips and this month they are on how to survive the upcoming holidays.  


Every single time I am training for something far away I feel like I start training at the beginning and have amazing intentions to get every training run in and be so strong for the race. Then before I know it, training is half (or entirely) over and I’ve been terrible about keeping on track and am nowhere near ready for my race. Guess this time isn’t any different. At least I’m realizing it now and can make some improvements to get myself back on track. If you are having trouble keeping on track with your training feel free to leave a comment to reach out to me and maybe we can work on things together.

This post is about all the crazy temptations that might interfere with your training as you venture through the holiday season and some tips on how to muscle through them and still get done what you need done to finish your race.

PROBLEM #1: A Full Schedule

This is probably the hardest one for me. Year-round I feel like I will look at my calendar and say “I have something the next two weekends, but then I’m wide-open for X number of weeks.” Then I go to bed and wake up the next day and I’m booked solid for 6 months. Does this happen to anyone else?


Here’s how I’m handling it this year…

– Block off your training on your schedule WELL in advance (mine has been on my calendar since summer and I sit down and look at my calendar once a week to keep myself on track and adjust training days/mileage as needed so I am at least getting on my feet and getting runs in, even if they aren’t “full” runs).

– Tell your family and friends. Tell them you are training for a race and send them your training schedule. Let them know well in advance the dates that you are NOT available because you have to get your run in. They will understand if you are open and honest. And if they don’t, well its their problem.

PROBLEM #2: A Full Belly

Actually its the temptation of all the delicious holiday foods that is really the problem. Avoiding a belly full of junk food and foods that make you slumpy and irritable.


Here’s how I’m handling it this year …

– Eat healthier on days/meals when you have control over what’s on your plate. For me this means we’ll be eating VERY clean and healthy on weekdays and for meals we control on the weekends. That means for weeknights we are cutting out as much processed food as possible, dropping refined breads, cutting back on starches for breakfast and dinner, and adding in TONS of veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats.

– Add to the meal. When you are going to a party or dinner with family or friends, offer to bring a dish and then bring one that is healthy and within the confines of what you like to eat. A vegetable tray or roasted vegetable salad is a great option to add to the mix for almost ANY meal. Just be sure to check with your host and if necessary explain your situation. Also, try to let the host know as far in advance as you are able to. As a frequent host of dinner parties, getting a call three hours before dinner is NOT enough time for me to accommodate a meal addition. I will kindly, gently, politely, accept and pretend like I understand, but my poor husband will have to deal with my rant about how my DETAILED DINNER PLAN has been ruined…just saying.

PROBLEM #3: Weather issues

I have mentioned this previously in posts about getting the right gear for all weather running and about dealing with excuses, but if had a winter like we did last year, you’ll know that even some things are outside of your control.


Here’s how I’m dealing with it this year …

– Have a flexible training schedule. You don’t need to stick to your training schedule exactly. If you are following the Jeff Galloway plan provided by Disney you are doing 3-4 runs a week. The longest run of the week is probably the most important, and if you are doing a back-to-back race like Goofy or Dopey, then getting a few back to back training runs in, is probably the second most important. Your weeknight runs are ones that COULD be moved or removed, if necessary due to weather issues. I’m not suggesting you cut them out all the time, but missing one or two weeknight runs will not ruin your overall training.

– Get creative with your workouts. If you are going to miss a training run, for whatever reason, try to do some other beneficial work-out to fill in. If you can’t make it to the gym for the treadmill or don’t have ice running shoes, then you probably aren’t headed out for a 45 min weeknight run. Instead, do a strength workout or spend a LOOONG time rolling out your muscles with a foam roller and stretching with some yoga. At least you are doing something beneficial for your overall training.

PROBLEM #4: Guilt

No matter how much you do with planning ahead and making sure you have everything in order, things do not work out as planned…ever. Then you feel bad that you haven’t done the training, or eat a HUGE meal an feel terrible, or indulge in the alcohol a bit too much.


Here’s how I’m dealing with it this year …

Let the guilt go. Things won’t go as planned and that’s just life. I’m just letting it all go. I’ll do what I can and do my best. My old boss used to say “sometimes you have to redefine what a win is” and that’s the truth.

Here’s my November 2014 Run Training Plan!

19 – Week Nov 3: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 8.5 miles; Sunday 20 miles

20 – Week Nov 10: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 6 miles

21 – Week Nov 17: Tuesday and Thursday 1 hour; Saturday 7 miles

22 – Week Nov 24: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 10 miles; Sunday 23 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.

Prepping for a Night Race vs. a Morning Race

Most of us train and run during the day, so the night races that runDisney holds can be a challenge.  There are so many different things that come into play that you might not immediately think about when you are preparing.  Jenn is a veteran Disney runner, but had never run a night race before this year’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  She’s here today with some great tips on how to prepare for a night race and some of the differences you can expect if you are used to morning races.


There is absolutely nothing like a Disney Race! The atmosphere, the fun, the characters – everything is impeccably planned and executed. In fact, Disney races are the entire reason I got into distance running. The thought of running through my favorite place, seeing things that are behind the scenes, and being part of the fun and excitement were all huge draws. The icing on the cake is that I get to take a vacation while I’m down there!

Up to this point, my husband and I have only participated in morning races on the WDW Marathon Weekends. So this year, we decided to try something new – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler! The Tower of Terror is our favorite attraction, so we decided that this was the perfect race with which to “branch out”.


I have to tell you, I was so excited that this race was at night versus in the morning. Being a “night owl” by nature, the 10:00pm start time really appealed to me. I mean, waking up at 2:00am to catch a bus is rough – worth it, but rough!

But as the race date approached, I began to realize that I had never prepped myself for a night race – and it is a whole different ballgame than prepping for the morning races.

So, let’s start with the morning races. As every runner knows, it is important to learn how your body handles long runs. It is always a process knowing what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it for maximum benefit. Too much food makes me sluggish, too little makes me feel sick. Over time, I have learned that for my morning races and long training runs, I need a nice balance of protein and carbs – nothing that weighs me down, but something that will stick with me. I usually opt for a meal replacement shake with lots of protein and some breakfast biscuits to munch on.   The slow burning carbs sustain me through the morning hours and the run ahead.

When I do morning Disney races, there is the added element of not tiring out your body. Disney has so many wonderful things to do; it can be easy to get caught up in the magic of the parks and overdo it before a race. I am always careful to take it easy in the parks the day before, have a nice dinner, then head back to the room to prep my gear and grab some sleep for the next day. Of course, the alarm going off at 2am is never a great sound, but it is amazing how the adrenaline begins to flow, waking me up more quickly than usual. By the time I’ve had my shake, I’m feeling ready to go. I bring my breakfast biscuits in my go bag to munch on since there are always a couple of hours before the corrals release.

So, this has been the perfect formula for my morning Disney runs. The excitement at the finish line keeps me going, as does the snack box the wonderful volunteers pass out. I even have enough energy to head into the parks for a few hours before the need for a nap overwhelms me.

Of course, this formula was of no help to me for the 10-Miler. I totally had to change my preparations. First up, it was more challenging to “take it easy” before the race. We had tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on Friday night, and so we were up late. Add to that the fact that we walked more than anticipated on Friday, and we woke up on Saturday a bit more tired than we had hoped.


We had planned to go to Epcot that day; as we stayed at the Boardwalk, it was just a short walk to get there. We planned to stay just long enough to see the booths at the Food & Wine Festival and ride our favorite rides, then head back to the room for a nap. We pretty well kept to the plan, but as you know, Epcot is quite a large park. We did more walking than we should have, but after a nap, we were feeling good.


Next came the tricky part. What on earth should we eat? We planned to walk over to the Studios at around 7:15 to experience the pre-race festivities, and so just a protein shake wasn’t going to work. By the time the corrals launched, I knew I would be starving. My husband and I debated back and forth. Finally, we grabbed a room service menu at around 6pm. There was a great looking salad – nice and light – but then I realized that there is nothing worse than being hungry in the middle of a run, so I didn’t want to eat something small. I decided that I had plenty of time to digest, so I settled on the pulled pork sandwich with homemade chips; my hubby opted for the grilled chicken sandwich (side note: both were fantastic!) with chips. We had water only to drink in anticipation of the race.

We sat down to dinner at 6:40pm, and then we finished our race preparations and walked over to the Studios via the walkway along the lake. I was pleased that the sandwich had been filling but not heavy. The salt in the chips was helpful pre-run, but I realized halfway over that I forgot a bottle of water in my race bag. Thank goodness for the water stations near the corrals!



So, I’m sure you are wondering how things turned out. I have to say that overall, I was successful in my first nighttime race. I did notice that my feet were definitely sore by mile 3 – I attribute this to the fact that I did more walking than I should have during my park visits. This did not impair my speed too much, but I know that had I rested a bit more, I would have been more comfortable during the latter half of the 10-Miler. Food-wise, I was pleased. The balance of protein and carbs was still good, and the food stuck with me throughout the race. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready for a snack after, but I never felt hungry during the run. I was also able to enjoy the pre- and post-festivities due to my afternoon nap.




I would say that if you have never done a night race, don’t avoid it! Be careful not to overdo it in the parks, and try to find a meal that combines the same elements you eat for your morning runs. They will take a different form, but the combination will work like a charm. I am definitely looking forward to more Disney races, whether night or morning!



Jenn has been a lifelong Disney fan. Her passion for the Mouse has only increased throughout the years. She visits Disney Parks 2-3 times per year, often in conjunction with Disney Races. In addition to being a fan, she plans Disney travel for others, hoping to share the Magic with everyone. Through Disney-themed blog & Facebook pages, she regularly tracks new and exciting changes to the Disney parks so she can share them with others.  Check out Jenn’s blog DISining Memories and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

A runDisney Christmas Surprise

I am so excited to welcome Matt Norris to Running at Disney!  Matt is a RAD Dad of 4 kids who has recently started running with his daughter.  He will be a regular here sharing his training experience with her and how fun running with your kids can be.  He has a great sense of humor and I know your going to love his posts as much as I do!  Take it away Matt!

When a man looks in to the mirror and sees a 38 year old man staring back at him, he usually does a quick inventory of his life. This was me almost 2 years ago. One thing I didn’t like was the shape I was in. I also missed the competition of sports. At this point, my wife, Bethany, suggested we start running and that’s what we did. I’m not the fastest runner but I appreciate the art of competing against oneself. We ran several local 5Ks and the Tower of Terror 10 Miler twice. I can’t compete with my wife because she totally smokes me. My ego will allow this since I’m 8 years older than her. Yeah that’s the only reason.

Ready for Warrior Dash!

Ready for Warrior Dash!

Along the way our 4 children (Allie-14, Lindsay-10, Audrey-5, and Garrett-3.) have cheered us on. Allie is a wonderful child but athletics aren’t her thing. The two babies love cheering us on but are obviously too young to join us on our races. Lindsay, however, began showing interest in running a few months ago. She started coming with me on practice runs and asking me questions. Bethany is far too fast for me to run with daily. She would have to slow down too much or I would have to die. Tough choice.

For the past two years, I’ve been perfectly fine running on my own.  In a family of six, you learn to relish your moments of solitude.  Yet despite my enjoyment of solo running, I loved that Lindsay wanted to be out there with me. Running alone was fine but even better with your child. Lindsay has always been the one who wanted to do things just because I was doing it. First it was collecting Vinylmations. Then it was us working on puzzles together. Now it’s running. One day she said she wanted to run a 5K with me. We signed up for a local run and in her first 5K ever, she finished it in 30 minutes.A few minutes faster than me but hey, my ego is cool with it.


At the end of the run, I heard her make a comment to her mom that one day she wanted to run a Disney race with us. I made a mental note that I would be certain to make that happen.


Christmas time started approaching and when I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas, she had a hard time coming up with a list. That’s how she’s always been. I decided that I would get her things she asked for but also a little surprise just for the two of us.  Like I mentioned earlier,  we have 4 kids. Two toddlers (and one being Autistic) take up a lot of our time. They are amazing children. They don’t whine. They don’t talk back. They love their little brother and sister. They never get mad that Audrey and Garrett demand a lot of our attention. Because they are so sweet and helpful, My wife and I wanted to start a new tradition of doing “one on one” trips with our oldest daughters Allie and Lindsay. We would each take Allie and Lindsay on a solo trip while the rest of the family was back at home. My wife wanted to take Allie to St. Augustine again so they could go on a few ghost tours and soak up the history of the city. I knew immediately what I wanted to do with Lindsay.

So on Christmas Eve, my wife and I grabbed the calendars we had bought for Allie and Lindsay and inserted the two trips into each calendar. Bethany would be taking Allie to St. Augustine and Lindsay to the Great Smoky Mountains.  I would be taking Allie to Savannah, Georgia and Lindsay to Walt Disney World for the Expedition Everest Challenge in May. Both girls were so excited at the idea of going on trips by themselves. When Lindsay saw she was signed up to run a race at Disney, she immediately looked at me and said “We’re running tomorrow.”  That’s my girl.

We woke up the next day and it was cold and raining but that didn’t stop us. We put in a quick two mile run and  were happy with our 10 minute average. So nice of Lindsay to slow down a bit to stay with her Dad.


Over the next few months, I will be documenting our training here at Running at Disney for the Expedition Everest Challenge but more importantly sharing with you the sheer joy of setting a goal and training for it with your child. I hope you enjoy!

matt-norris-avatarMatt Norris is the owner of Vinylmation Kingdom and Pop Vinyls. Besides wasting far too much time on little toys, he enjoys trying to become a better runner despite his 40th birthday just a few months away.
Find Matt here:  Facebook   Twitter   Instagram



For All The Slow Pokes Out There

With runDisney race season fast approaching, so many of us are kicking our training into high gear.  Whether you are a newbie with your first race coming up or a seasoned veteran, we all worry about pace.  Some are trying to be the fastest, some are trying to beat their last time and some are just trying to finish without getting swept.  Whatever your goal, if you don’t have the slightest bit of anxiety about pace when going into a race you are either a machine or you’re lying.  It’s always somewhere in the back of your mind.

030 LB Half_Time

Me, I’m slow.  My pace ranges between 12:30 and 14:00.  I am a run-walker and I find it’s the best way to keep my endurance up for a long race…it works for me.  I’m not built like a runner, but I like the challenge so I do what works best for me.  So imagine my feelings when I read this article from 2009 that has been recircling the interwebs lately.  Basically, the author and other elite (i.e. fast) runners are questioning whether the act of simply finishing a marathon is worth the title of “marathoner.” This paragraph pretty much sums it up:

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”  

That makes me sad.  Just because there are those of us who can’t complete a marathon in 4 hours, doesn’t mean our accomplishment is worth less.  We still traveled that same distance on our feet, don’t we deserve a medal too?  We’re not trying to win, we just want to finish and be able to celebrate that finish without being judged.  Completing a marathon is HARD.  Hell, just having the guts to even attempt a marathon is HARD.  That hard work should be rewarded, no?

And really, what does our slowness matter to those speedy runners?  They start way before us and finish way before us.  We are in no way inhibiting them from running their best race possible.  Just because we are taking 2 more hours to finish, doesn’t make their accomplishment any less valuable.  Are they annoyed that the roads are still closed when they are trying to leave and they get stuck in crazy traffic jams?  That MUST be it!  Because otherwise why would they even care?!?!

To finish a marathon in 4 hours takes an insane amount of training.  Those people are serious rock stars in my eyes and I am in awe of the dedication they put in, and I recognize I will never be among them.  I just don’t have that dedication to training, but I do love to push myself and run races.  Maybe that’s why I like runDisney so much.  There’s no pressure.  The elite runners take off in corral A and then the rest of us are there to have fun!

While this article was saddening, I was glad to find a reaction to it by Jeff Galloway who basically negated everything stated there.  He works with thousands of runners every year and confirmed that Ms. Wald is in the minority of how most runners feel about long marathon times.  Most runners have respect for those who even attempt a marathon because they know how difficult it can be.  Jeff goes on to say:

The finishing of a marathon bestows a unique sense of worth that can last for a lifetime – regardless of finish time.  We need to salute the efforts of those at the back who did not inherit the genetic material to run on a collegiate cross country team, but who inserted training into busy career and family schedules, improved their health and inspire others.

To me, running is personal.  You run as fast or as slow as you can or want to.  You are competing against yourself and proving to yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind to.  Just get out there…get moving…walk if you have to. But just remember to NEVER listen to anyone who says that you are too slow and not a “real runner” because no matter what they say, they can’t take that medal or sense of pride away from you!


I’m a Marathoner Bitches!

Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch Product Review: Get ALL the Data!

Disclosure: The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Polar.

Lately I’ve been curious about my heart rate and if I’ve been exercising at peak efficiency.  You always hear that you should be able to carry on a conversation while running to know you’re within your target heart rate.  Well I can very rarely carry on a conversation while running, so I had the feeling that I have been pushing it too hard…looks like I was right.


I was recently given the opportunity through FitFluential to try out the new Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch with Heart Rate Monitoring and I jumped at that chance. I’ve actually been looking at Polar heart rate monitors lately and had been considering getting one not only to track my heart rate, but to track my calorie burn at CrossFit, so this was a great opportunity.

Here are some of the features of the watch from Polar’s website:

  • Tracks your route, speed and distance using built-in GPS
  • Shows GPS based altitude during and after training
  • Training Benefit gives you instant feedback after your session
  • Running Index scores your performance
  • Improves performance with endurance training programs, downloadable for free from
  • Compatible with Polar running and cycling sensors
  • Rechargeable battery, 12h in continuous use with GPS on

That’s a lot for a sports watch!  I was really impressed by the 12 hours of continuous use and my first thought was “Why didn’t I have this for the WDW Marathon when my Garmin battery died after 6 hours?!?”  But there are much more impressive features of this device that you’re probably interested in.

The first thing I did when I received the watch was set up my profile.  Age, height, weight, etc…  This is used to properly calculate your calorie burn and determine what your average and maximum heart rate should be.  This was super easy and only took a few minutes.  I wanted to have a full charge on the watch before using it for the first time, so I plugged it into my computer (it comes with a micro USB cable) and let it charge overnight.  The next day I strapped on the watch and the heart rate monitor and went out for a run.

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!

Two immediate observations.  1.  The watch is large.  I mean, I guess it needs to be for all the stats it shows, but it just felt a little bulky on my tiny wrists.  However, I do have abnormally small wrists.  2. The heart rate monitor is very comfortable.  The strap is soft and flexible and the monitor itself is very small.  I hardly noticed it was there.

There are eight different views you can choose from while using the watch.  They vary between focusing on time, heart rate, distance, elevation or a combination of all of those things.  Since I run walk, I like to have the time front and center so I can keep track of my intervals, so I chose the option that showed time, distance and heart rate (I think it was 4).  It was very interesting to see how my heart rate varied with each interval or with a difficult stretch of road.  Look at all these stats I got:


Get ALL the Data!

Clearly, my suspicion was right that my heart race is too high when I’m running.  My average rate was 174, which is at 93%.  Ideally you want to be at 50-85% during exercise.  This is definitely something I’m going to need to work on going forward.

I’ve also tried out the RC3 during a few different CrossFit WODs as well.  It really came in handy for the WODs that included running so I could keep track of my pace.  I always tend to go out way too strong in those WODs and the tank is completely drained by the end. The watch allowed me to keep more of a steady pace to stay strong through the whole workout.  The one gripe I have with it for CrossFit goes back to it’s large size as it tends to get in the way during some of the barbell movements.

CrossFit Calorie Burn

CrossFit Calorie Burn

So far, I have really enjoyed all of the features of this sports watch.  The GPS and heart rate monitor seem to be very accurate and it’s easy to use.  There are still a few features like the fitness test and the training plans that I haven’t checked out yet, but I plan on diving into them in the next few months.  Well that’s if B doesn’t steal it first…he’s had his eye on it!

Good news for YOU…the folks over at Polar are offering all RAD Readers a 25% discount on the RC3 GPS!  If you’d like to buy this great GPS Sports Watch, simply click ::here:: and use code: “fitfluential” during checkout to receive the discount! This is valid only on the RC3 GPS and will expire on this Saturday, August 31st…so get on it!

Do you have a heart rate monitor?  Do you use a GPS Sports Watch?  What is your average heart rate during exercise?

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