I’ve been busy designing a training program for The Dopey Challenge based on where I am in my training so let’s begin with some assumptions of your level of experience and current training level if you were to use this program to train for the inaugural Dopey Challenge. If you are a newbie runner of less than six months running experience then I would seriously consider doing something less than the Dopey Challenge as your body hasn’t the time to adapt to the kind of stress you will need to put it through across four days and 48.6 miles. Specifically, your tendons, ligaments, and muscles need time to adapt. This happens in months of training, not days and weeks.
- You have six months of long distance running experience at a bare minimum (12 months preferred)
- You have run at least one full marathon BEFORE starting this training program and in the last six months (2+ marathons in the last 12 months preferred)
- At present (today) you could go out and run at least 13 miles with no problem. You would say, “Yeah, no big deal, let’s do 13 for fun.” (15-18 miles preferred)
- You’ve run at least one 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon and can discuss your own pacing differences for each race distance.
- Your doctor has said it’s okay for you to do this.
If you meet all five of these assumptions and your physician gives you a green light then this may be the training plan for you. If you meet assumptions one, two, and three then you will probably be okay. If you meet only number one and two then you may want an easier plan, but that is for you to decide. If you meet just number 1 or none at all then I’d pass on this program and wait for me to post the novice plan in a few weeks. This plan is not for beginners. This plan is not for newbie runners. This is a mid-level plan that will help someone cross the finish line four days in a row and still be able to walk afterwards assuming they are healthy and injury free when they start the program. Of course if you meet all of these assumptions and then some I will be posting a more advanced plan after I finish the novice plan.
This is a complete program. If you delete or modify any part then you run the risk of not getting the overall benefits of the program. I’ve designed in cross training, lifting, rest, and three different types of running to prepare your body for four days of running that will double (or more) in length each day from one to the next.
The Dopey Challenge is quite unique. Some would say that it would be easier to just run 50-miles since you wouldn’t have to worry about having tight muscles, lactic acid build-up from one day to the next, and warming up day after day after day for what will most likely be longer periods of time to warm-up while running on limited rest. Compound this with the fact that you may foolishly go to the parks for more mileage after each race and the Dopey Challenge may prove to be more than some people trained for so with this in mind, read on, enjoy, ask me questions, and let’s get Dopey!
The program I have designed is 25 weeks in length meaning you would need to start this plan in July to complete it for the week leading up to WDW Marathon Weekend. Make sure you calculate your own program start date to ensure you have time to complete the plan in full. Details of what to do for the Bike, Intervals, Lifting, Tempo Runs, and Elliptical follow the program table.
|24||Bike 30min||2 miles||4 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30min||13 miles||Core|
|23||Bike 30||2 miles||5 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||15 miles||Core|
|22||Bike 30||3 miles||5 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30||10 miles||Core|
|21||Bike 30||3 miles||6 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||17 miles||Core|
|20||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core|
|19||Lift||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||5 miles||6 miles||12 miles|
|18||Bike 30||5K Easy||5 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30||15 miles||Core|
|17||Bike 30||5K Easy||6 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||17 miles||Core|
|16||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30||12 miles||Core|
|15||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||20 miles||Core|
|14||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core|
|13||Lift||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||5-mile||8 miles||16 miles|
|12||Bike 30||5K Tempo||10K Easy||Lift #1||Bike 30||17 miles||Core|
|11||Bike 30||Intervals 1||10K Easy||Lift #2||Bike 30||19 miles||Core|
|10||Bike 30||5K Tempo||7 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30||14 miles||Core|
|9||Bike 30||Intervals 2||7 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||22.5 miles||Core|
|8||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core|
|7||Lift||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||6 miles||10 miles||21 miles|
|6||Bike 30||5K Tempo||10K Easy||Lift #1||Bike 30||19 miles||Core|
|5||Bike 30||Intervals 1||10K Easy||Lift #2||Bike 30||21 miles||Core|
|4||Bike 30||5K Tempo||7 miles||Lift #1||Bike 30||23 miles||Core|
|3||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Lift #2||Bike 30||15 miles||Core|
|2||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Core||Bike 30||20 miles||Core|
|1||Bike 30||15K Easy||Rest||10K Easy||Bike 30||Core||Ellip 30|
|0||Rest||Rest||Rest||WDW 5K||WDW 10K||WDW Half||WDW Full|
Dopey Practice Weeks:
Weeks 19, 13, and 7 are designed to give you a little Dopey practice to prepare you to run four days in a row at distances that build across the 4 days.
Pull Back Weeks:
Weeks 22, 16, 10, and 3 are pull back weeks designed to give you extra rest from the long run in comparison to the two previous weeks. As the program progresses these are still fairly long runs, but less distance than the previous 2-3 weeks.
Weeks 21, 15, and 9 are Push Weeks which fall between the Pull Back Weeks and Alternative Training weeks. You will notice the Push Weeks come back strong with the long run pushing out a bit further than before the Pull Back week.
Alternative Training Weeks:
Weeks 20, 14, and 8 are alternative training weeks. These weeks mix things up with a break from lifting, a couple easier and shorter runs, and an elliptical session. These weeks will help you with the mental fortitude and motivation to keep training by giving you a break from the “same old same old” routine.
Weeks 1 and 0 are the days leading up to The Dopey Challenge. Follow the program, trust in your training, don’t add workouts, and if you must change anything opt to be over-rested rather than over-trained. Try to minimize time walking around the Disney parks on the 2-3 days before the 5K and across the 4-days of The Dopey Challenge. It would be a shame to train all this time to just throw it all away by being too tired. The average park guest walks 8 miles per day when visiting a Disney park. This is why I’m just doing the marathon this year and saving Dopey for 2015. I need park time!
Types of Workouts in the Program:
30 minute bike sessions should be on a cadence/rpm of 80-100. Add a resistance that will allow for you to have a “good effort”, but not so difficult as to make the next day’s run difficult. RPMs are more important than resistance on the bike. Push with the heel down, NOT the toe when pedaling.
As an alternative form of exercise that is less impactful on joints, but still works the running muscles I have added an occasional elliptical (Ellip) session. Notice a Core workout follows these so as to give your legs a rest.
All long runs on Saturday and Sunday are “LSDs” or Long Slow Distance runs. These should be done at a slow pace under the pace you plan for a marathon. The purpose of an LSD is NOT speed, but rather just going the prescribed distance.
A tempo run is paced fast enough to where you can maintain the pace for the desired distance, but cannot carry on a long conversation without taking breaks for breathing. Short bursts of conversation would be the most you could do if your pace is fast enough, but you should be able to do this for the entire distance. Most 5Ks at tempo pace can be described as a “Fast 5K” or a PR effort 5K.
|Interval #1 (4.25 mile)|
|Warm-up half mile (800m)|
|4x400m (400m R.I.)|
|2x800m (400m R.I.)|
|Cool-down half mile (800m)|
|Interval #2 (5.5 mile)|
|Warm-up half mile (800m)|
|1600m (400m R.I.)|
|3 x 800m (400m R.I.)|
|1600m (400m R.I.)|
|Cool-down half mile (800m)|
|R.I. = Rest Interval. You may slow your run pace significantly or even walk if you need to recover more.|
|Lift #1 = Legs & Back|
|Lift #2 = Legs & Chest/Shoulders|
|Leg Curl (lying preferred)||10||3|
|Assisted Pull-up Machine/Lat pull down||10||3|
|Seated Row Machine||10||3|
|Pull Over Machine||10||3|
|Chest Press Machine/bench||10||3|
|Shoulder Press Machine||10||3|
|Chest Fly Machine||10||3|
|Use a weight that you can comfortably lift for 10 reps. Rep number 9 and 10 should be the most challenging.|
|Standard Plank||60 sec||3|
|Low Plank with one leg off the ground: both legs||60sec||3/leg|
|High Plank position. Knee to elbow. Both legs||15/leg||3/side|
Rest, Skipping Workouts, and Fatigue
As I always say, if at ANY time you feel you need to rest more then REST MORE! Taking an extra rest day in the form of an easier run, slightly shorter run during the week, or skipping an “easy 5K day” in lieu of more sleep is okay if you need more rest and recovery. Try not to skip too many long runs (or any at all) as these will ensure you can cover the distance required on Saturday and Sunday of marathon weekend. Realize that you will start to feel the fatigue of marathon weekend about half way through the half marathon on Saturday. Keep to your fueling/nutrition plan and stay the course! You will do great!