Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Disneyland Double Dare Training Plan

It's coming up quickly: the 2017 Disneyland Double Dare (you know, that race we used to call Dumbo...). I just ran the Tink half poorly trained, so I knew that I wanted to put a little more time into my next runDisney race.

Since Robby's been born, I have not had much success sticking to a structured training plan. I used to be SO good. Color coded calendars. Journaling my progress. I did it all. Then, well, baby and life and home and work (but let's be honest, it's mostly baby). 

2016 Dumbo Double Dare!
I have been able to really think about the challenges that are holding me back from a highly structured plan. First, my neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks. Not a big deal when you run solo, but I don't feel comfortable on country roads with lots of turns and hills with a big stroller. Second, the weather. Okay, I know most people have to deal with weather, but my Vegas self isn't used to it. I also feel pretty guilty dragging my toddler out in the rain so I can run. Finally, our schedule, which is probably the most prohibitive. For those of you who don't know, Bill travels for work, which means most of the time is just me and Robby. That means no early morning runs while he sleeps; no late nights after dinner. This also means no runs over about 4-5 miles with a stroller.

After thinking about my individual challenges, my current plan is a little nontraditional, at least for me. I came up with a weekly plan with 4 runs each week. Instead of putting them on specific days, I have put them in order of importance: long run, short run, speed work, short run. I have to say, in the few weeks since starting, I haven't been able to get these all in. What has worked, though, is I'm getting in my long runs, regardless of the day of the week. I'm getting at least one more run, and this week I actually got a track speed session in.

Obviously I still have many weeks to go (thankfully) and I still am not completely sold on this training plan. I like to be a bit more committed, but hey, life, right? Anyone else have a nontraditional training plan? What's it look like?

Disclaimer: This post is all about my personal plan, as an intermediate, middle of the pack runner. As a coach, I personalize plans for clients based on individual goals, running levels, and other factors. This post is not intended to provide direct coaching advice. If you would like more information on coaching or have a specific question, please email

Friday, June 30, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Tink 5k

Perfect Start!
Recycled Costume!
Time to start recapping those races I ran a month ago! HA! In all honesty, this past vacation to Disneyland was WAY more about vacation than races, but nonetheless, we ran. It was a family trip, and the 5k was about family! I had the pleasure of running with Katie and Chris. This was our first time running the 5k and our main reason was the start--I mean, really, it doesn't get better than a Main Street USA start with Tinkerbell!

We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel, so luckily we didn't need to wake up TOO early. We got into our costumes and headed to Disneyland for the start. We lined up in corral B (note: everyone was in corral "A" then they corral you based on when you arrive, so if you are dying to be in the front, get there early). As we looked up, we realized that we had a big old tree in view of the Tink flight path. Meh! Then, smart me moved us back to corral C with a little, "Excuse me, we need to use the restroom" tactic. Now we were in the middle of Main Street with a perfect view! So, word to the wise, if you arrive later, stay back and start in corral C.
Corral C, please!

Always fun in DCA!
It took a bit to get going since we started in the back, but hey, we were there for the fun. We started right in front of the Matterhorn with a small start line. The course had tons of park time, and we did some run/walk intervals and took a few selfies. It was a beautiful day, perfect running weather, and since we weren't running for time, it was no pressure.
Always time for a bathroom mirror selfie!

The finisher's medal was beautiful! This was the first "medal medal" I earned (the non-rubber ones) for a 5k. Of course I also got the infamous snack box...yum!

Here was your character stop...
Okay, but let's get to the proverbial "Dumbo" in the room--characters on the course. Everyone was talking about it all weekend. You might have thought they made us run on a treadmill instead of even having a race. There were no character stops. Yes, that was true. There was a place to take a selfie, but that was it. I totally get why people were upset. Had my goal been to stop and take pictures, I would have been upset too. Had this been my first and only runDisney event, I would have been really upset. Yes, I'm planning on getting more thoughts out about why I think they tried this.

Even with the big character snafu, I still think this race was totally worth it! Main Street USA alone was worth the price! I'm not sure when we'll make it out for this race weekend again, but if we ever do, the 5k will be a must do for me!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week In Review: 4/30/17

Whoops! Missed out on a few weeks since it was Easter and Hope you all had a great holiday!

I've been sticking mostly to my plan, eating better, and getting in long runs (no, the short ones have not been happening like they should). As one would expect when you stupidly ramp up mileage too quickly, I found myself injured and needing extra rest.

Sunday: Taugh HIIT (kind of--I really rested more than taught)
Monday: taught Fit Fun Kids and gave the knee a rest!
Tuesday: Insanity Max 30
Wednesday: Insanity Max 30, taught FFK, Pump & Foam Roll and Stretch
Thursday: Insanity Max 30
Friday: Insanity Max 30
Saturday: Insanity Max 30 (had to make-up from Monday), 9 mile walk/run

One more week of training hard, then I'm going to start really taking it easy and focusing on getting race day ready. We're hitting the parks before the half marathon (which is not preferred, but it works). I'm going to plan on a Wednesday workout while we're at Disneyland, plus I'll be running the 5k on Friday. This in additional to all the walking, and of course, the half, will be plenty of exercise for the week.

If I can, I'm totally going to brag on myself! I really focused and used this trip as motivation to get myself back to pre-pregnancy weight. I am, and I'm probably in even better shape. For once, I am not worried about family pictures, wearing shorts, or buying a new bathing suit. I'm excited! It's seriously the BEST feeling ever. No, this half marathon is NOT going to be pretty, but the rest of the trip is going to be awesome! The best part is I earned it!!!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

So You Want To Run Disney--Part 5: Your Costume


We are getting closer and closer to race day.  Now, it’s time for some of the final considerations when running Disney.  This post might not be for everyone, but many (if not most) people wear costumes to a runDisney race.  I always have, and I have never regretted it!  I even can get my family to wear costumes, and sometimes we theme it out together. 

You will want to start planning your costumes at least a month in advance (or if you’re like me, you’ve got the next year planned and then sometimes end up executing the morning of...yes, true story!).  You can get many accessories for race day at the expo, but I try to be 100% sure I have everything before I arrive.  You never know if they will run out of a size or not have the right color.  I have done it, so it’s most definitely not impossible, but if you’re a worry-wart like me, it’s best to plan ahead.  If you are really planned, you can purchase your next “set” of costume accessories at a previous race’s expo! Also, check your favorite retailers (like some I give a shout out to below). More and more they are allowing you to pre-purchase products and choose 'expo pickup' to save on shipping. Then there is no guess-work or risk!

My costume planning always starts with a trip to Google Images to get inspiration.  I often will use the theme of the race to inspire me as well.  I know, I know, it’s not the most creative, but hey, I like it, so who cares!  There really are no rules.  If you want to be unique, veer away from the theme.  Mickey and Minnie are always popular.  And yes, I do recycle costumes. 

From the Halloween Store
Mickey & Minnie--classic!
I have a few rules of thumb:  First, my “base” of the costume is ALWAYS running gear!  I have my favorites, but that is for another post.  This has worked for me, especially in terms of comfort and reliability.  I will purchase specific colors to work with my costumes, but I stick with tried and true brands and styles.  Second, I scour the sales at craft stores to try and get the best price.  You can make a tutu EASILY, and if you have any sewing skills, costumes can be a breeze.  I have little, but have managed to make many costumes without touching a sewing machine.  Third, shop the clearance costumes after Halloween, if it fits in your schedule.  Yes, I have flat out purchased costumes too.  This is also great for some simple accessories.  Fourth, make it cheap—which is an extension of 2 & 3.  Why?  Yes, I would rather spend money on other things, but more importantly, if a costume piece isn’t working, I want to feel no guilt in tossing it in the trash if it starts to annoy me.  Finally, I base the complexity of the costume off what my goals are and the distance of the race.  My Figment tail would have driven me NUTS over 26.2 miles, but it was fine for the 5k. 

Yep, the blue shirt chaffed BAD
A few more thoughts:  Try it out before race day.  I will admit, I don’t do this for every piece, but for anything touching your body/skin, you have to give it a trial run.  This is why I suggest at least a month lead time.  I learned this the hard way at the WDW Marathon.  I waited too long to purchase my shirts and ended up with chaffing that was KILLER.  It took months to heal (I started to think I would always have this permanent reminder of the Dopey Challenge and my poor planning).  Yes, I tried it for a few miles, but after getting sweaty over close to 5 hours, my 4 mile trial was useless.  Head gear is another thing you have to be willing to try, especially if you spent good money on it. 

I will not compromise my favorite shoes to match a costume.  Some people will, but my shoes are the most important part.  I will, though, get socks to match my costume. 

Always pack your costume in your carry-on.  I’ll get into this more during the packing post, but it’s so important, I’ll tell you twice! 

And last but not least—HAVE FUN!  Don’t be shy.  No one will judge you for wearing a costume, especially at a runDisney event.  It doesn’t have to be the most extensive costume ever, even just a sparkly skirt and some ears will do. 

Not the best pic, but LOVED the costume!
Here are some of my favorite brands for pieces of costumes (and no, I get no incentives for writing about them, I just genuinely love their products and use them often to make costumes):

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

So You Want To Run Disney--Part 4: Planning Your Race-Cation


Now we are rockin’ and rollin’ toward our next runDisney race!  You’ve decided on a race, got registered, and have a training plan in place to make all your running dreams come true.  So, what’s next?  Well, unless you are lucky enough to be Mickey’s neighbor, a runDisney event is usually coupled with a race-cation!  This means it’s time to sit down and get planning! 

First, a shout out to all the vacation planners out there!  I know a lot of people use vacation planners/travel agents when planning their trips.  I know a lot of travel planners who have helped me get tickets and vacation packages myself. There are more and more sprouting up, too, that know a ton about planning a Disney vacation during a race weekend.  If that is how you choose to go, by all means, find one you are comfortable with and let them take the “stress” of planning out of your hands!

That being said, I LOVE planning my Disney vacations!  It’s not stressful to me at all!  I really think planning itself is half the fun.  My parents trained me well; they were expert Disney travelers and taught me everything I needed to know.  I’m going to try and break it down into steps to be sure you cover all your bases.  There are some big differences between the World and the Land, but I’ll try to keep it brief.  This blog post will also serve as an introduction to many, many more we have planned on race-cations: hotel reviews, restaurant reviews, etc.  Enjoy, and feel free to ask questions!  I’m sure I’ve missed something along the way!

Step One:  Set your budget.  Is this going to be your one big vacation for the year or just a long weekend?  Many times the budget makes that decision for you.  Keep in mind you will want to set aside some extra cash for spending at the expo, in addition to flight, hotel, theme park tickets, food, and souvenirs.

Step Two:  Set your dates.  Check out when the expo opens and how far in advance you want to arrive.  I personally choose to put my run at the start of the vacation, and I would recommend that for most people.  I do not want a week of park hopping to wreak havoc on my legs before the race.  I also love to go to the parks to show off my bling when I’m done, so I have to plan at least one park day post-race.  The final consideration is time changes.  Whether it's east to west coast or reversed (I've now done both since I lived in Vegas and now live in New York), I sometimes give myself an extra day to adjust. 

French Quarter
Step Three:  Book your flight & hotel.  Personally, at Walt Disney World we tend to stay on property while at Disneyland we tend to stay off property.  Here at Disney Runs in the Family, we have many reviews of hotels to help you find your perfect fit for your race-cation (and have more to come).  Stay tuned!  Couple of notes of importance, especially for the World—be sure to check out for the host hotels and discounts.  For the smaller race weekends, you will only get transportation to/from the races from the host hotels.  Certain weekends also offer great discounts if you book through runDisney.  Disney will require a $200 deposit, but it’s fully refundable if you find a better deal.  At the Land, there is something to be said about the whole wake up, roll out of bed, and stroll to the start line just a few strides from your hotel room, though.

For flights, we also always try and book direct flights to cut down on travel time.  For the World, you’ll want to fly into Orlando.  For the Land, either Orange County or LAX will do, but OC is a lot easier to navigate. It just may also mean a higher ticket price, unfortunately. 

Step Four: Book your tickets.  Again, with our on/off property preferences, at the World, we usually package the tickets with the room.  Check for discounted tickets for runners.  GET Travel is the preferred travel agency for Disneyland, and they offer great discounts during race weekends.  For Disneyland, I always recommend the park hopper option.  It’s very easy to go from one to the other.  Disney World is a little trickier.  If you are not planning jam-packed days, a single park ticket might be the best option, as it will save some cash.  Also, never forget the option of annual passes.  If cost effective, these can be a great option, and you get the benefit of early registration for runDisney events! There are a bunch of different types of passes, so check blackout dates (which often occur during race weekends) and do some runDisney math!
Always plan a celebration!

Step Five: Start planning your days.  This applies a little more to the World than the Land, especially if you plan on making “ADRs” (advance dining reservations).  I’m not one who thrives on spontaneity, so I plan, plan, plan!  I like to know where I’m going on what day, so get out a calendar and start mapping it out.  Don’t forget about the expo and early nights before your race.  If things like the fireworks are a must, that is something that you will not want to do right before the race.  Also, you’ll want to plan the day(s) prior to race day as “easy” park days to save your legs.  Planning your activities for a race-cation can require just a little more thought.  All that said, Disneyland can be planned a little looser, even for me J

Carb-Loading at Mama Melrose
Step Six: Book your dining reservations.  This is my favorite part!  If you are going to the World, you will be able to book dining 180 days in advance.  The Land is 60 days in advance.  I love to eat at Disney.  I love to eat at Disney even more than I love to run at Disney.  We are have many food reviews on this blog to get into specific eats we love.  For now, just please take advantage of all the great restaurants available.  And make reservations early, because you want to have control over your pre- and post-race nutrition even more when you run.   The last thing you will want to do the day before your big race is walk from restaurant to restaurant trying to find an available table. Personally, I always plan a table service meal for lunch the day before a half or longer, then keep it light the rest of the evening. This is usually the first meal I plan out.

On the Magical Express!
Step Seven: Book your transportation to your hotel.  If you are flying, you will have to figure out how to get to Mickey’s house.  If you’re at Walt Disney World and you’re staying on property, book your tickets for the Magical Express.  They take care of everything!!!  They will pick up your bags from the airport for you and transport you to your resort.  A few hours later, you bags magically are delivered to your room.  The best is it’s all for free with your resort stay.  In Disneyland, you’ll have to get more creative.  There are many reliable shuttle services that can take you to your resort.  We've done the "not so magical" express from Orange County airport (no, that's not REALLY the name, it just isn't quite like WDW), have taken a cab, an Uber, even Super Shuttle.  Now that we have Robby, we have to be a little more pre-planned to deal with car seats. Bottom line: unless you have other things in your plans, I personally don’t think you need a car at Disney.  Others may disagree, and have valid reasons, but I’d rather let someone else do the driving!

And there you go, a perfectly planned race-cation!  As you approach race day, there is some more planning, but we’ll leave that for future posts.  Do all this, keep up with your training, and I guarantee you’ll have an amazing runDisney experience. 

Did I miss anything?  Do you have any other planning tips?  Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment here!  We’d love to hear from you!
If you missed parts 1-3, check them out HERE

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week In Review: 4/9/17

Another week of training in the books, and one more week closer to the Tink Half. EEK! I have to say I haven't been thrilled with my running progress. I think I'm being slightly unreasonable in my expectations of how easy (or...more like hard) getting back into running was going to be. I have no base and I'm trying to ramp up mileage really quickly. It's really a recipe for disaster, but here I am, plugging away anyway. Here's my workout progress from this past week:

Sunday: Taught HIIT
Monday: Insanity Max 30, Taught Fit Fun Kids
Tuesday: Insanity Max 30, Taught BodyPump
Wednesday: Insanity Max 30, Taught Fit Fun Kids, Pump Express, and Roll & Stretch
Thursday: Taught BodyPump TWICE (ouch!)
Friday: Insanity Max 30
Saturday: 6 mile run

I did some extra rolling and stretching in there as well. I'm still needing to focus on recovery. This week marks the end of the first month of Insanity Max 30. Next week I start on the second calendar, and I'm a little scared. These workouts are really challenging so I can only assume it's going to get harder. I also am teaching a lot next week because it's Spring Break here, which means lots of vacations.

On the Tink vacation planning side, we FINALLY got our reservations squared away, got all the race fees paid, and started to plan more of the details of the trip. I really can't wait for this vacation. Robby is a little toddler now and I can't wait to see how he does at Disneyland! He loved it as an infant (especially the characters) so I can only imagine his love is going to grow as he 'gets it' a bit more. I also can't wait to see my fellow runDisney nutty friends! Is it too early to start packing?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

So You Want To Run Disney--Part 3: Training

UPDATED: April, 2017

I struggled with the next step; do you start training or do you plan your race-cation?  I finally settled on training, because it would just be much easier to write than planning your race-cation :)  If you missed Part 1 (choosing a race) or Part 2 (registration), check them out HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2).  Now, onto the really hard part: training.

First, let's get serious: you need to train!  Obvious, right?  Not as obvious as you might think, if you judged this statement by what you hear before, during, and after races in Disney.  I love runDisney because they are so open and welcoming to new runners and runners of all levels.  I love it because these races are focused on FUN.  I think, though, that with that acceptance and fun comes a "nonchalant attitude" toward the training part.  THAT, I have issues with for many reasons.  So, before you come after me with pitchforks and fireballs, hear me out :)

Couple of reasons to train:  First, your body is not meant to wake up and run a marathon.  I don't care how many Zumba classes you take (and I'm an instructor, so yes, I do know that those classes are a great workout), it's not the same as pounding the pavement.  In order to run safely, you need to put in the training miles and gradually work up to longer distances.  There are many benefits, cardiovascularly, muscularly, etc. that occur during this gradual build.  Second, you want to have FUN, remember?  Isn't that a main reason why you plunked down the big bucks to run at Disney?  I promise, the race will be so much more fun when you are properly trained and not in misery every step.  Third, remember that Disney part?  I find no greater joy than celebrating with your medals in the parks after the race!  You will want to train so that you are not miserable getting in and out of Space Mountain with your friends and family.  Finally, the sense of accomplishment is so much greater when you have really put forth effort to get there.  Finishing any race is a huge accomplishment, but the journey to the start line is as well.  That victory is so sweet when it's paired with the memory of those mornings you didn't hit the snooze, those bad runs that made you doubt yourself, those great runs that gave you confidence, and each and every mile you logged to make it to the finish. 

<Stepping Down From My Soapbox>  Okay, I hope I have you convinced that training is important. 
Here are some things to get you started.
1.  Take Inventory.  Where are you starting from?  Have you never run before?  Are you coming off another race?  Are you attempting a new, longer distance?  Will this race be a challenging distance?  What is your goal?
2.  Set your goals (and yes, I mean goals).  Is your goal to finish?  Are you aiming for a PR (personal record)?  I like to set 3 goals; I got this idea from an article in Runner's World a while back: one I absolutely will accomplish (finish the race), a second that is fairly reasonable but still a challenge (run negative splits), and a third that is the "perfect" goal, the big one (run a half in under 2 hours).  This helps so that I have a few focuses for the race.  For example, during the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon, the temps were HIGH!  I knew a PR was out of the question--it just wasn't safe.  Instead, I focused on my first two: finish, negative splits.  I still felt like I accomplished a lot of what I had set out to do.
3.  Find a training plan that fits into your goals.  Some of my favorites are Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway.  I have used them both in the past with great success.  This year, I am thinking of adding Hansons Running as well.  Couch to 5k is awesome for beginners getting ready for the 5k races.  These plans will work well for most runners. 
4.  Map it out!  Get out your calendars!  Put in your race day(s) and start counting backwards.  Do you know of any major plans mid-training?  Account for those too.  I've run enough that I even sometimes mash up some training plans to come up with my own.  If you do that, some general rules of thumb: increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10%, be sure to give yourself rest days, don't try to load up your calendar.  You always also have the option of hiring a coach.  They will create a tailored plan based on your current fitness and goals, and help you stick to that plan.
5.  Train!!!  Then train some more!!!  Do what is on your plan!!!  It sounds easier than it actually is.  Life gets in the way sometimes, and that's okay.  Try to get in 80-90% of your scheduled runs.  If you need to skip one here and there, try to at least get in all your long runs.  Those short runs are important too. Personally, I like to keep a log.  It keeps me honest and keeps me motivated.  Also, don't keep wavering between plans. I only learned of people doing this since I started coaching others. Who knew? Lots of runners spend hours researching, reading, and then, to their disadvantage, flip flopping between a bunch of plans. The best plan is the one you stick with, so pick it and stick to it. Yes, you can get tips and make modifications, but don't be tempted by every blog post or pinned article to find.
6.  Rest.  What?  Didn't you just say to run?  YES, but remember this golden rule: your body gets stronger during rest.  That is when your muscles rebuild.  Here a little anatomy lesson for you--when you exercise, you create little tears in your muscles.  When you rest, these tears repair stronger.  Rest makes you stronger--but you still have to run first :)
7.  Train everything, from your head to your toes!  This is an essential part of training.  You are not just training your legs, but you are also doing a dress rehearsal for everything else.  What kind of fuel will you use?  What will you wear?  When do you need to replace your sneakers--and at what point in training will you do so?  Try everything you can so there are no surprises on race day.
8.  Strength train, too.  Yes, many people will say this is not necessary, and it might not be.  I, however, have had some injuries in the past, and I notice a significant difference in my pain levels when I do focused strength training.  This needs to be individualized, so if you are not confident in your knowledge, do some research.  You may even consider hiring a personal trainer or consulting with a physical therapist.  While strength training isn't likely to "improve" your running speed/skills, it will do wonders to correct imbalances or weaknesses.  Those imbalances and weaknesses can come back to haunt you in the form of injuries as you ramp up mileage.
9.  Stretch.  Yes, I even put this in my training plan.  Pick your poison: The Stick, a foam roller, just good old-fashioned stretching.  This with help reduce soreness and helps to break up adhesions in your muscles and fascia. 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a clean 10-item list?  Well, it would, but this is all I've got for now :). BUT HERE'S THE EDIT! Now I have a 10th item!

10. Hire a Coach or Find an Accountability Partner. This is a lessen I learned both as a running coach and as an online health & fitness coach. Accountability works! You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don't stick with it, you will fail. It's important to have someone who you can ask questions to, get help from, and keep you on track when you want to falter. If you are interested in a coach, please reach out! I'd be happy to help, either by coaching you directly or, if it's not within what I feel I can do, refer you to another trusted coach.

I hope this helped guide you in starting to train.  Comment below with any questions or training tips you might have.  We'd love to hear from you!

Here are some links to training plans:

Disclaimer:  I'm giving this advice as one runner to another.  I am an RRCA certified running coach, a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor.  When I wear those hats, however, I design plans specific to the client. I am not a doctor...and won't be anytime soon.  If you have any high risk needs, please work with medical professionals to be sure you are safe in your approach to training. You should consult a doctor before beginning any exercise/training program.

Up next--Part 4: Planning Your Race-Cation
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