Tag Archives: Disney Half-Marathon

Dopey Challenge Novice Training Program

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.

  1. How long have you been running?
  2. How much have you run in that time period?
  3. 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.


  1. You are healthy and injury free.
  2. You’re doctor says it’s okay to do this.
  3. You may have been running only 6-12 months or are returning from a long-ish break from running. (Not returning from an injury)
  4. You may have minimal races under your belt (1 marathon and maybe only 1-2 other long distance races).
  5. You run less than 15 miles a week at present.
  6. 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.

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
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

Special Weeks:

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.

Push 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.

Taper Weeks:

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
High Knees 50 3

Rest Days

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!

Happy Training!


2013 Goofy Challenge Recap – Part 1

Wait…what? Yes, you read correctly. I did the Goofy Challenge again…by accident this time. Like, whoops…you tripped and ran a half marathon last weekend too?  Pretty close, it all started Friday night when I met some friends at DHS. I was originally down in Florida to run the full marathon with my friend Lori as I had been coaching her throughout her Goofy training and knew it would be nice to have me along for the moral support for the last 26.2 miles.  I met Lori and a host of others at the 50s Diner as they were finishing dinner. Another friend of mine, Julie, was going to go watch Fantasmic. Her friend, Mitch, was down to run with Lori as well. Mitch’s wife, Mary, wasn’t able to come down but had signed up for the half marathon on Saturday…so, there this extra bib for the half marathon just lying around with no one to give it some love.  In steps Brian and the rest is 13.1 miles ago. On Saturday I was “Mary” for about three hours running along side Mitch and Lori and another friend Matt. Talk about good times! It was a non-stop running laugh fest across 13 miles of Disney property.

Before I recap the two days of running let’s chit chat about the weather.  It was hot. The Orlando area was experiencing temperatures 20 degrees higher than normal and increased humidity.  Saturday wasn’t as bad since we were finished mid-morning before the temperature had risen too high, but Saturday was smokin’!  At one point the temperature was 85 degrees with 80% humidity. The heat and humidity slowed everyone down. And now, back to the recap!

Hot Day

Luckily, I just happen to carry two of everything running related when I go to a race. Two pair of running socks, two pair of running shorts, two running shirts. I didn’t have two pair of shoes, but I was willing to go it on just one pair. If I had planned it I would have brought another pair so I could swap them for the two races.

Friday night I went to bed and then went to the meeting area Saturday morning with a good four hours of sleep! As always, runDisney had rolled out the red carpet for all of the runners.

runDisney always rolls out the red carpet for me!
runDisney always rolls out the red carpet for me!

Before long we were headed to the start line corrals. I was a little worried as the longest run I had completed was 15 miles.  I had become sick with the flu the week I was supposed to do my 20-miler for Disney and missed it plus I hadn’t done any back to back long runs since last summer.  I knew I could do 26.2, but adding another 13.1 was, well…Goofy. One thing I did learn on the way to the start corrals is that porta-potties are not in the most opportune places!

Tinkle Bell...when you gotta go!
Tinkle Bell…when you gotta go!

The next thing I knew we were ready to go for the first third of the journey!

And we're off!
And we’re off!

The 1st mile flew by even though we were taking it easy as a part of the strategy. We still had 38.3 miles to go.

1 down...38.3 to go!
1 down…38.3 to go!

For the most part the half marathon was as I mentioned before a 13 mile laugh fest across Disney property. Four of us were running and keeping each other entertained as we went. We sang Disney songs, quoted movies, did impressions and even stopped and did push-ups for Sarge from Toy Story.

Mitch, Lori and I hamming it up at the castle
Mitch, Lori and I hamming it up at the castle

Before long the last mile was whizzing by and we only had another 26.2 to go!

A welcome sign on the half marathon day.
A welcome sign on the half marathon day.

After crossing the finish line I collected my (or Mary’s rather) half marathon medal!

2013 Donald Duck Half Marathon Medal
2013 Donald Duck Half Marathon Medal

After snagging our medals we went over to get a picture taken.

Half Marathon Finish Photo
Half Marathon Finish Photo

The sun was out and shining bright by the time we finished. It was time to head to EPCOT for dinner and some well earned libations before retiring for a little sleep and doing all again on Sunday.  As my usual custom I did an ice bath before heading to EPCOT.

As an update I just received my (Mary’s) certificate recently! That’s Mary on the right…in the blue. She’s cute!

Hi my name is Bri...er I mean, Mary!
Hi my name is Bri…er I mean, Mary!

Stay tuned for Part II of the Goofy Challenge Recap!

Happy Training!


New Disney Marathon Course for 2013!

Ok, so there I was sitting at my desk and an email hits my inbox from a friend of mine who is a fellow “runner of the world”.  The subject line of the email…”new wdw marathon course!”  Really?  I mean REALLY?!?!!? First, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Disney marathon and now runDisney tempts us with a new course as well???  Oh, come on!

Sorry….my fit is over now.

See the video of the new course!

And here’s the 2013 map!

A couple of cool additions to the marathon course AND a 20th anniversary medal!

Happy Training!


The 2012 Goofy Challenge Recap

This is my first multi-page post (fancy I know). Please click the title of the post above if you don’t see the page numbers at the bottom of the first page.  🙂

The 2012 Goofy Challenge is over and I am happy to say I arrived on the other side of 39.3 miles (+3.1) unscathed!  Kate and I arrived at Disney World on Thursday this year and went straight to the Expo after dropping by the hotel to see if our room was ready (it wasn’t). We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacation near the Vineland Premium Outlets just a 5 minute drive from Disney property.  Why stay off property you ask?  Two words…Jacuzzi Tub, but more on that later!

While at the Expo I picked up a new wardrobe of running shirts as each of the three races came with a shirt and I also purchased Goofy Challenge memorabilia and two coast-to-coast challenge shirts as I’m doing the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. Be sure to register on January 18th, 2012 if you missed the registration at the Expo!

One of the best things about the Expo was getting to meet a long time twitter follower, Facebook friend, and Disney Mom’s Panelist…Deborah Bowen also known as @DisneyDeborah on Twitter!

I met Deborah for the first time Thursday!
Deborah after crossing the Marathon finish line!

Deborah is not only a fantastic person and friend, but also completed her first full marathon on Sunday!  So proud of her!

Monumentally Goofy Training Program

Happy July 4th to my US readers/runners and happy Monday to all the rest! Wow, has it really been mid-June since my last blog?!?!  Yikes! See, that’s what happens when you have a full-time job. It gets in the way of all the important things in life.  ;-D

Over the last few weeks I have made myself NOT RUN! I know, crazy right? I took this time to do the following:

  1. Rest & Recover from the last 20 months of training
  2. Cross Train & lift weights a bit
  3. Get a business trip out of the way
So now that I am all rested I am ready to start my new training program for the remainder of the summer. And speaking of new training programs, a few weeks ago I posted the basic Goofy Training Program (From Memory). Jeff Galloway and runDisney have the complete plan up again now so everyone can choose whether or not they want to use Jeff’s run-walk-run method since he includes all the details on the runDisney website.  Many people have a lot of great things to say about his run/walk plan and many more have cut there half and full marathon times by implementing his training methodology. Last January I even did a little of the run-walk-run during my 1st marathon at Walt Disney World.
2011 WDW Radio Running Team before the Marathon

I ran most of the race and even did a few miles with my fellow teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team. However, since it was my first full-marathon I decided to enjoy it and walk a few steps to get needed rest so I’d have something left in the fuel tank for walking around the park on Monday!

Like I said in January if you want to run with a great group of people then look up Lou Mongello and the WDW Radio Running Team on Facebook. We raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.  Our numbers have really grown since last January!  I believe we are up to 47 members on the team running a variety of races at Disney throughout the year. Running with this group makes a great event even more special since you help fulfill the wish of a terminally ill child. The team raised enough to do just that going into January and it was a fantastic feeling!

But I digress, so I had planned to tackle the Goofy next January, but as always nothing is simple. I went to a race expo in May before the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon and saw a flyer for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  Wanting to be prepared to “Go Goofy” I decided a pre-Goofy test was in order and signed up for the Indianapolis full-marathon which takes place November 5th, 2011. So now the dilemma. How to train for both the Monumental full-marathon AND the Goofy Challenge?  Thrown into the mix was the fact that I have implemented the FIRST Training Program (mentioned this in a previous post).  The answer is simple.  Use the blender method!  Throw it all together and hit puree! After a good blending what do you get? A Monumentally Goofy Training Program!

It’s not really all that bad, but I’m going to be working hard most days of the week. Glad I “rested” for 2 weeks!

Monday: Lift weights & Spin (Cross Training Workout #1 for FIRST)

Tuesday: FIRST Key Running Workout #1 (Intervals)

Wednesday: Lift Weights and Spin/Row (Cross Training Workout #2 for FIRST)

Thursday: FIRST Key Running Workout #2 (Tempo Run)

Friday: Lift Weights Only (Go Light)

Saturday: Long Run – The Goofy Training calls for some weekends of a long walk followed by a long run the next day

Sunday: Rest or Long Run on “Goofy” weekends

So that’s my training plan for the rest of the year. Seems pretty basic until you go back and look at what the FIRST Training plan entails (see previous posts). That regimen is rather intense! I’ll be on this plan for 8 weeks and then I’m taking a week off to go to Hawaii for vacation!  🙂 I’ll have a couple workouts there, but nothing serious since I’m on vacation! After Hawaii I’ll be back on my program for another 9 weeks until the Monumental Marathon on November 5th. After the Monumental it’ll be just 9 more weeks until The Goofy Challenge!

I’m so excited to get started!  Training begins tomorrow morning!

Happy Training!


I must be crazy errr…or Goofy in this case.

For all my running endeavors this past year I’ve been called crazy, insane, over zealous, “special” and been asked,”Whyyyy?” as people give me that side ways look that running this much just isn’t quite right. After all I’ve logged four 5Ks, four half-marathons, a 4.5 mile drumstick dash and one full-marathon (see my schedule) in my 2010 season as a newbie runner.  So what more is there?  Well come January 2012 I will be just plain Goofy….as in Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL!  Garsh!

What is this challenge you ask? Well it’s simple…

  • First, arrive in sunny (hopefully) Orlando, FL.
  • Second, travel to Disney World.
  • Third, run the Disney Half-Marathon on Saturday morning.
  • Next, wake up Sunday and double Saturday’s distance by running the Disney Full-Marathon.
  • Finally, go to EPCOT for Churros and Dos Equis (not required, but fun!)

The prize? Not one, not TWO, BUT THREE count ’em T-H-R-E-E, three medals….Mickey, Donald & finally Goofy. Holy Cow!!!  Or Holy Mouse, Duck and Dog in this case!! Now that is a lot of bling for two days of Disney fun!

So how does one train for something like this!?!? As luck would have it, Disney’s got you covered for this too! Former Olympian, world renown running coach and author, Jeff Galloway, has free training schedules (yep F-R-E-E, free) available for anyone on the runDisney.com website. There are separate training schedules for the half-marathon, full-marathon and Goofy Challenge…and a few other races at WDW as well!

The Goofy Challenge training schedule is a 28 week program and it is suggested that you’ve been running for six months prior to starting this program. I will finish my third half-marathon of 2011 on June 11th just a few weeks before I should start the 28 week program for the Goofy Challenge. I’m excited to start training for it! I used a Jeff Galloway program for the last half of my full-marathon training last year and had no trouble finishing my 1st full-marathon.

The major difference I see between a regular marathon training program and the Goofy Challenge training are back-to-back “long days” 6-8 weeks into the program. There are weekends where I will have a long run on Saturday followed by a long walk on Sunday. This prepares your body for two days of longer endurance bouts.

I like Jeff’s training program because unlike traditional running programs his training stresses the idea of recovery as a key component in training. Similar to a traditional program  Jeff’s program builds distance for 2-3 weeks and then there is an “easy” week to give your body time to adapt before building again. The difference for example is that Jeff’s recovery week includes just a 3 mile weekend run after a 15 miler the previous week where a more traditional program might just drop back to 10 miles for the “easy” week. Jeff’s program really allows for more rest and recovery. This program also allows for you to have a weekend where you aren’t running all morning on Saturday!  I might even be able to sleep in a little!

Like last year I will be running with the WDW Radio Running Team which raises money for the Make a Wish Foundation. We were able to raise enough money to grant a wish last year.  Hopefully, we will do the same this coming January!

So, will you join me for The Goofy Challenge? How about the Half-Marathon or just the Full-Marathon? I’d love some company!

Happy Training!