Make me the princess half marathon runner of my dreams
January 28, 2017 5:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm dreaming about running the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2018. Help me to worry less about winter training, traveling to a marathon, and being a first time half marathon runner in general!

I have no wish to hit any specific time; I just want to finish without dying.

I've been running for a couple of years. I've completed several 5K races and one 8K race, and I am currently running 2-3 miles 1-2 times a week.

The 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon is Feb 23-26, so I'm assuming the next one will be in (late?) February 2018. Through someone else's AskMefi question I found the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Guide (Novice 1 Program). The programme is 12 weeks, so I'd follow it from late November 2017 to February 2018.

I'm an overthinker, so I have some worries and questions that I'd like your take on:

1. I live in Copenhagen, Denmark. The race is in Walt Disney World, Florida - that's a 6 hour time difference. How do I factor in the travel and the possibility of jetlag to the 12 weeks training plan?

2. Copenhagen is cold and dark in Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb - which is ok, I can run in the cold and dark. But it may also be snowy and icy, and I don't run outdoors under those conditions. Can I run indoors on a treadmill for an outdoor half marathon, or should I make sure to train outdoors?

3. If I start the training plan in November 2017, what specifically should I do until then? I feel that I'm not quite at the recommended starting point for the training plan yet ("the ability to run 3 miles, three to four times a week"), so I should definitely increase my runs to 3-4 times a week and longer distances. Technically, I guess I could start and complete the training plan several times - but is that a good idea?

4. Bonus question: costume ideas! I'll abide by the safety rules, of course.

If you have any tips for a half marathon first timer, or if you have participated in one of the Disney runs, I appreciate your input! Thank you in advance.
posted by rawrberry to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. Get to Disney a few days early. Maybe the Tuesday or Wednesday before the race.

2. Yes, you can train 100% on a treadmill. Lots of folks do it. The Princess course is pretty flat, so you don't need to worry that much about hills.

3. Base building. Keep running 3-4 times a week, with a long run on the weekend. To be honest, you don't need a year to prepare for a half marathon, but it'll certainly do your body a lot of good to slowly build your mileage. If you get bored, add a day of speedwork to what you're doing. There are lots of different kinds.

Other tips:

Don't have a time goal for your first half, and especially at Disney. There are SO many cool photo opportunities, and the weather down there can be anything from 20 and snowing to 80 and sunny. Just prepare for anything. Bring a summer running and a winter running outfit to Disney. And enjoy every minute. You never get a second chance at your first half.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:06 AM on January 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I haven't done this specific half marathon, but in my experience the following would apply:

1. Sleep is always messed up with a big race. You generally have to be there so early, and some find it hard to sleep the night before such an exciting event. Make sure you sleep well the weeks leading up to and the week of the race. Pre-race sleep will not matter as much if you are in adequate shape and rested - race day adrenaline should take care of the rest. Basically - don't worry about it.

2. You can absolutely train on a treadmill. The mileage is the most important factor. Get outside as much as you can safely to make sure you get used to running on asphalt. The best advice i've ever received and can give is 'Nothing new on race day.'

3. See above answer, they are spot on. Basically get used to running more miles per week in a low stress situation. Be careful not add too many miles all at once. A conservative figure is to not increase weekly mileage more than 15%. So if you do 20 miles one week don't do more than 23 the next week. Find people to run with! Its much easier to get more miles in with company.

4. Sorry, no brilliant costume ideas, BUT definitely do at least one longish run in the costume you want to run in. Again, 'Nothing new on race day' includes clothing, shoes, nutrition, water/gatorade, pace etc.

Best of luck!
posted by alhadro at 5:42 PM on January 28, 2017

You may think Florida is warm but the bus from the disney resorts leaves very early, 3:30am or something ridiculous like that, and the race doesn't start for 2 hours after that so be prepared to stand around in the cold with tens of thousands of other people with thumping music playing before the race. You may have an awesome skimpy princess costume like I did but do yourself a favor and bring an old sweater to wear and then throw away before the race starts.
posted by Joe Chip at 9:16 PM on January 28, 2017

The more base you build, the easier training will be. And the harder you train, the easier race day will be! Here are some notes about base building. You might even go through the Hal Higdon program during the nice summer months and run a half in Denmark as a warm-up for Disney.

You can definitely train for a half marathon on a treadmill! It's most important to get used to being on your feet for so long. I also live somewhere icy and cold but love to run :(
posted by thewestinggame at 8:22 AM on January 29, 2017

1. Don't worry so much about the time difference - you'll actually be at a bit of an advantage since you need to be at the race location at about 4:15 am if I remember correctly.

2. I agree with others about the treadmill, but I did find it a bit harder to motivate myself for long treadmill runs.

3. There are a lot of training plans available, including some that you feed in your current level, your race date and length and they provide a training plan. The one I used no longer works but I'm sure you can find one.

4. For costumes, I just wore a tiara but I kind of wished I had done more.

It's a great race and I loved it, but there's so much going on that no one is going to hit their best time. I would recommend racing a sanctioned run of at least 10km beforehand since they will use that time to place you in a corral. I had a slow time in a 10-mile race and it was enough to get me in the 3rd corral, ahead of those that had almost no running experience or those that are planning on walking the whole thing.

Also for weather, I was totally prepared for colder than expected but got unseasonably hot and muggy. At the end of the day though it was still awesome even though I didn't come anywhere near my personal time goals. It's also worth noting that everyone wears their medal around the parks that day and the staff all tell you how amazing you are. It's pretty awesome.
posted by scrute at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2017

1. Agreed with the others that you should be fine if you plan to arrive a couple days early, and the change in schedule will likely help you when it's time to get up super early on the day of the race.

2. Running on a treadmill is better than not running at all, but in my experience you'll find the running outdoors to be noticeably more beneficial than treadmill running. It just seems to work my muscles a bit differently, and I notice the additional effort it takes to run without a moving base below me. I'd try to get as much outdoor running, or indoor running on a track, as possible into your training plan leading up to the race.

3. Another vote in agreement with roomthreeseventeen's answer above. You have so much time to train for this, so long as you're consistent you will be in great shape for finishing the race.

More general tips:

- Like alhadro said, nothing new on race day - make sure your shoes are broken in, you're comfortable with (and have used multiple times) every piece of gear and clothing you'll be wearing, you have a method down for hydration and fuel that you've tested already, etc.

- There will be a lot of energy floating around at the race, so make sure to dial in your pace and stick to it. I used my phone with an app called Runkeeper to keep track of my pace, it announces in your headphones when you hit certain markers like time spent, or distance traveled, etc. and that was very helpful to keep my pace consistent. There are a number of apps that will do this or similar things for you. I was using Runkeeper during my training - if you haven't already looked into running apps then it would be useful to check them out.

- Listen to your body while training. If you're getting persistent pains, don't ignore them. You have so much time to train, so don't beat yourself up if you develop shin splints or something and need to take it easy for a bit. Make sure to stretch properly after your runs, it makes a big difference.

- I found it useful to keep a record of my runs, to help chart my progress and not overdo it. I just kept a simple spreadsheet with date, distance, time, and notes about the route/how I did/how I felt. It will also help you feel good about your progress to look back and see how far you've come while training.

Good luck!
posted by hootenatty at 8:48 AM on January 30, 2017

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