Sunday, November 20, 2016

2017 WDW Marathon Training Plan

In just 50 short days (fingers crossed!), I will toe the line for my third 26.2 mile race, the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon! Though I've been detailing my progress each week on my Accountability Monday posts, I wanted to dedicate a whole post to my marathon training plan. Please note, I am not a doctor and anything written here is simply my opinion and what works for me. If you're considering training for a marathon, please consult with your physician before starting any new fitness program.




For my very first half marathon- and for every half and full marathon since- I have used Jeff Galloway's training plans. This training cycle is no different. On runDisney's website, you can find training plans for each of their races, based on fitness level and time goal. For the 2017 marathon, I chose the "Experienced Runner" plan with the goal to "Finish in the Upright Position." There is also a "Time Improvement" option but my goal for this marathon is simply to finish and have enough energy to enjoy the Disney cruise we are taking the day after the race! 😄

What I love about Galloway's training plans:
  • You only run three days a week. 
  • The two mid-week runs are by time; not distance, just 30 minutes of easy effort.
  • Weekend long runs are spaced out with two weeks of lighter mileage in between so your body has adequate time to rest and recover. 
  • Plan includes helpful hints about pacing, walk/run ratios, and race-day strategies.

What I don't love about Galloway's training plans:
  • Nada.

What I don't use in Galloway's training plans:
  • Magic Mile. This is a time trial designed to help you figure out what your pace will be on race day. I have never felt the need to use this tool to predict my finish times. 

A sample of the week-by-week mileage as part of the runDisney/Galloway training plan.

As you may know, this training cycle has been a little wonky for me due to some injuries- tendinitis behind my left knee and unexplained pain in my left foot. Luckily, this training plan is pretty flexible and it builds slowly. There are a total of 28 weeks in the plan- more than six months of training! Because of the slow build up, missing out on a few training runs isn't as big of a deal as it might be with shorter training plans or plans that don't allow for a lot of rest between long runs.

I have probably missed 20-30% of the scheduled training runs but still feel very solid about my training. On the advice of my Physical Therapist, I scaled back the first eight weeks of the plan by cutting off a mile or two of each long run until the tendinitis cleared up and I'd worked back up to that level. I still did the twice-weekly 30 minute conditioning runs though I walked some of them during the times my tendinitis was flaring up. 

In the last six weeks of training, I have not missed a long run and I'm hopeful I'll be able to get in the last two, 20+ mile long runs before the marathon. Though the 13 miler felt like absolute crap, the 15, 17, and 20 all felt pretty great. 

Garmin screenshot proof of said long runs 😊

After the 13 miler, I stepped up my strength training/PT rehab routine. I added more hip and core strengthening exercises and do those two to three times a week on the days I don't run. My post-run hip pain has significantly decreased since I've added in more strength training. 

Some folks add other cardio in during marathon training. I typically do not. I prefer to add things like strength training, yoga, and extra stretching to my weekly running. Since I am injury-prone and already have weak, wonky feet, I try to be good to them and only do low-impact activities when I'm not running. I could probably add swimming to this training plan but it's not something I really enjoy so I find it hard to motivate myself to actually get to a pool to train. 

Looking forward to earning a Mickey medal.

Besides just the weekly mileage, there are two other key parts of my marathon training plan: fueling and sleeping! My nutrition plan for the marathon is pretty consistent with my non-marathon training diet; eat healthy, balanced meals the majority of the time. The only real difference is the last two weeks before the race. In those 14 days, I will drink an obscene amount of water; limit alcoholic drinks, and avoid fried and overly salty foods. I like to head into a race week without feeling bloated.

So far this cycle, I have actually lost weight. During Dopey Challenge training in 2013, I gained about five pounds, mainly because I used my long runs as an excuse to eat absolute junk on the weekends. Now, I try to refuel with lean protein, high fiber foods within a half hour of my long run. I also feel like I have a better idea of how much I need to eat during the long run and no longer over-fuel.

Quality sleep is also important for me during training. Both before and after long runs, I try to get as much sleep as possible, usually about eight hours pre-run. Even outside of training, sleep is really the key to healthy living for me- I make better choices when I'm well rested. The older I get, the more sleep I need! Anyone else?!

All of the above. 

The last part of my marathon training plan this round is self-care. As it becomes evident that I can no longer train without some kind of setback (usually in the form of an injury), taking care of myself mentally and physically is paramount. If I need to take a short break from running because I'm not mentally into it or something is hurting, I do it. If I need to take a bubble bath and relax with a good book instead of sneaking in an extra workout, so be it. In all my years of training, I think I've gotten much better at making sure that marathon training doesn't become priority over my mental or physical health. It is a significant part of my life, yes, but not so much that it takes over and adds another source of stress in my life. Marathon training should be fun. It should be challenging. But for me, it shouldn't be stressful. Listening to my body/mind is a huge part of marathon training.


So there you have it- my current marathon training plan that will hopefully lead me to another 26.2 mile victory in January! Please feel free to leave any questions that you have in the comments below.


How do you train for long distances?

Do you have any questions about training for a marathon?


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