So what IS a novice runner anyway? While I leave the final definition up to you a good rule of thumb that I use is to look at three criteria.
- How long have you been running?
- How much have you run in that time period?
- Do you consider yourself a novice? (mentality/attitude/applied knowledge)
If you’ve signed up for the Dopey Challenge then I hope you have at least one marathon under your belt as well as a half marathon and perhaps a couple lesser distance races, but if you’ve already paid the registration and you plan to go the 48.6 mile distance across four days then take a look below for a simple program to get you across those four finish lines. First, seriously consider using the Galloway method as described on Jeff Galloway’s website or on the runDisney training website. Next, start training now. My assumption is that you are not starting from zero and you can run a good 5-8 miles right now without worry, but don’t wait to start training. Use this extra time to build base miles and as a good friend of mine says, “Respect the distance!”
You may want to look at my previous blog post on the Dopey Training Program that I personally would use. I am not a novice runner as the upcoming Disney Marathon will be my 9th full marathon, but you can see the difference between the two programs. The program that follows is for a novice runner. It is severely scaled back and cut down in comparison to the first program I posted for more intermediate to advance athletes/runners. The following program is all about running and is based on the following assumptions.
- You are healthy and injury free.
- You’re doctor says it’s okay to do this.
- You may have been running only 6-12 months or are returning from a long-ish break from running. (Not returning from an injury)
- You may have minimal races under your belt (1 marathon and maybe only 1-2 other long distance races).
- You run less than 15 miles a week at present.
- You can go out and run 5-8 miles right now non-stop, no problems, no big deal…you would say, “Let’s do this!”
The novice program I have designed is 31 weeks in length meaning you would need to start this plan in mid-June (June 9th I believe, but check my math) to complete it for the week leading up to WDW Marathon Weekend. The first few weeks are fairly light, but then the program ramps up quickly at a rate that is designed to allow your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt to the work you are placing on them. A big component of this program is rest. Even if you feel great on a rest day do not run more or workout as the rest time is needed for adaptation.
Be sure to 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 and Core work follow the program table.
|30||Bike 30||2 miles||3 miles||Rest||Bike 30||5 miles||Core/stretch|
|29||Bike 30||2 miles||3 miles||Rest||Bike 30||5 miles||Core/stretch|
|28||Bike 30||2 miles||3 miles||Rest||Bike 30||6 miles||Core/stretch|
|27||Bike 30||2 miles||5K||Rest||Bike 30||8 miles||Core/stretch|
|26||Bike 30||2 miles||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core/stretch|
|25||Bike 30||2 miles||4 miles||2 miles||3 miles||4 miles||8 miles|
|24||Bike 30||3 miles||4 miles||Rest||Bike 30||13 miles||Core/stretch|
|23||Bike 30||3 miles||5 miles||Rest||Bike 30||15 miles||Core/stretch|
|22||Bike 30||4 miles||5 miles||Rest||Bike 30||10 miles||Core/stretch|
|21||Bike 30||3 miles||6 miles||Rest||Bike 30||17 miles||Core/stretch|
|20||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30min||Ellip 30||Core/stretch|
|19||Rest||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||5 miles||6 miles||12 miles|
|18||Bike 30||5K Easy||5 miles||Rest||Bike 30||15 miles||Core/stretch|
|17||Bike 30||5K Easy||6 miles||Rest||Bike 30||17 miles||Core/stretch|
|16||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Rest||Bike 30||12 miles||Core/stretch|
|15||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Rest||Bike 30||21 miles||Core/stretch|
|14||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core/stretch|
|13||Rest||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||10K||8 miles||16 miles|
|12||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||10K Easy||Bike 30||17 miles||Core/stretch|
|11||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||10K Easy||Bike 30||19 miles||Core/stretch|
|10||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||7 miles||Bike 30||14 miles||Core/stretch|
|9||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||7 miles||Bike 30||22.5 miles||Core/stretch|
|8||Bike 30||5K Easy||Rest||5K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core/stretch|
|7||Rest||Bike 30||Rest||5K Easy||10K Easy||10 miles||21 miles|
|6||Bike 30||5K Easy||10K Easy||Rest||Bike 30||19 miles||Core/stretch|
|5||Bike 30||5K Easy||10K Easy||Rest||Bike 30||21 miles||Core/stretch|
|4||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Rest||Bike 30||23 miles||Core/stretch|
|3||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Rest||Bike 30||15 miles||Core/stretch|
|2||Bike 30||5K Easy||7 miles||Core/stretch||Bike 30||20 miles||Core/stretch|
|1||Bike 30||15K Easy||Rest||10K Easy||Bike 30||Ellip 30||Core/stretch|
|0||Rest||Rest||Rest||WDW 5K||WDW 10K||WDW Half||WDW Full|
Dopey Practice Weeks:
Weeks 25, 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, 9, and 2 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 26, 20, 14, 8, and 1 are Alternative Training Weeks. These weeks mix things up with a break from the standard schedule, 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. Week one is an alternate training week, but also the start of your tapering off period for the 4-days of running you have approaching. 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.
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 during alternate workout weeks. Notice a Core workout follows these so as to give your legs a rest. If you don’t have access to an elliptical at a gym then just walk for 30 minutes at a brisk pace, but do not run.
Working your core is imperative for your training as a runner especially for the novice runner. As you run long distance your core stabilizes your entire body from your upper torso to your hips and more. As your core fatigues your running form begins to degrade and you must expend more energy to keep running or maintain pace. Worse yet, as your core stabilizers weaken across the long miles it is easier to become injured as your ability to recover from a quick side-step or a high curb lessens. DO NOT SKIP your core workouts! Ask me if you don’t know how to do these exercises. I’m happy to explain!
Oh, and forget sit-ups. Sit-ups are worthless. I almost didn’t add crunches as I don’t do them, but I know the standard crunch is a recognized exercise by many people. Try to move from one core exercise to the next with minimal rest between exercises and only 30-60 seconds of rest between sets. After you finish the core work stretch out the major muscle groups for 20-30 minutes holding for 15-20 seconds for each muscle and do 3 sets each. Hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles should all be stretched after your core work.
|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|
|Crunch with arms crossed on chest||30||3|
If you must do something on a rest day then opt for an additional core workout or just take 30 minutes and stretch out the running muscles, but stay off your feet as far as running, walking, elliptical, or anything else as much as possible. Try to get extra sleep whenever possible especially after long runs. Your body needs the extra rest to recover and adapt for the next session. Shut off the TV, close the laptop, get off Facebook, put away angry birds and go to sleep! Many times injury happens not because of the intensity of the training program, but because proper rest and recovery wasn’t taken on rest days. If in doubt, trade a bike or elliptical day for an additional rest day if you need it.
I’m here if you have questions. Don’t feel you have to know everything or tackle this alone. I’m happy to answer questions and respond to comments. If you connect with me on Facebook, just let me know that you’re a runDisney/Dopey-to-be runner!