So, every runner has a different experience. Everyone is different, we’re all special snowflakes, blah blah blah. But if you’re thinking about signing up for Dopey, you might be wondering about the commitment level. Here’s a basic overview of how I trained for Dopey (and I didn’t PR anything but I did manage to finish even with bad IT band pain during the marathon so there’s that).
The Fall Marathon
I did the Marine Corps Marathon in October and I considered it a part of my Dopey training but this was the marathon I was running to improve my time.
In July, I started Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 marathon training plan. I picked it because it had one mid-distance run on the weekends in addition to my long run (in July/August I planned the runs on weather so the longer non-long-run runs were on the coolest possible days and I didn’t run on Sundays because I needed one sleep in day and during the summer long runs had to be started early). The biggest difference here is that if you’re just starting with the WDW marathon as your date, you’ll probably start marathon training in September so you kinda skip over the really hot months and disgusting runs. I’m doing another fall marathon, so I guess I didn’t hate it too much.
I definitely coasted after Marine Corps. In theory, Hal Higdon’s Dopey plan was up on my fridge but to say I was following it is kind of misleading because I wasn’t. The thing to keep in mind is that after a marathon you may not really feel like running a lot. It’s a lot to bounce back from, so keep that in mind while you’re planning. I also run alone, so in terms of getting out there to do Dopey runs I was kinda meh about the whole thing, and by that point the really long runs where incredibly boring. Plus, unlike during the weeks leading up to the Marine Corps Marathon, there weren’t tons of people out everywhere running. It was like everyone had vanished and the balloon of marathon excitement had completely deflated, so I wasn’t as excited about getting out to run.
Having said all that, I did a couple of 15+ mile runs between MCM and Dopey. Two weekends before Dopey I did my first and only Dopey simulation, (so I kinda skipped over the taper for this one) which included a 20 miler where my IT band killed me most of the way so I ran/hobbled it. Honestly, nothing prepared me better for the marathon than this 20 miler from hell which ended up being basically my marathon experience. My IT band was also the reason I wasn’t logging as many miles and why my Dopey simulation kept getting put off and basically dictated how I spent marathon weekend running as conservatively as possible.
Overall Time Investment
For me personally, it wasn’t that much more of a time investment than, say, just the marathon, for me, anyway. Dopey ended up including my third marathon and while I would normally be in the camp of don’t-make-the-challenge-your-first-marathon, I’d also say it’s kinda great in a way. This might sound weird, but by the time you get to Sunday, you’re so tired from getting up before the ass crack of dawn that you’re actually in a mindset of “let’s just get this fucking shit over with already” instead of being scared/nervous.
By mile 20, and this is going to sound even crazier, I was so excited to be almost done with the challenge and the idea that I could sleep past 3am tomorrow that it basically made the last 6.2 miles feel not as bad and I started legitimately speeding up my hobble. I ran through Hollywood Studios screaming at other Dopey people, “WE’RE ALMOST DONE!! CAN YOU BELIEVE WE’RE REALLY ALMOST DONE?!” I actually ended up picking up a few Dopey runners who had been walking/slowed down because they were like, “fuck yeah! ALMOST DONE!” One of them told me, “I’m going to follow you because I need something to drag me through this finish!” I also sang Laverne and Shirley’s theme song to them as we passed the ABC Commissary. It was playing so I just started scream-singing, “WE’RE GONNA DO IT OUR WAY!”
In my next life, I’d like to be a pacer/cheerleader.
So that was my Dopey training experience. It was what it was, better or worse, but I got through it. Well, you know, yeah.
How do other people train for these kinds of things?