The Dopey Training Plan

Dopey gI mentioned in the last post that the runDisney races have their own magic and pixie dust, and they do. BUT and it’s a big but, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to train for them. You absolutely do. The Dopey Challenge is a serious challenge and the marathon is no joke. runDisney races are there to be enjoyed and if you are not properly trained then they are just not fun so why bother. So the runDinsey pixie dust isn’t that kind that somehow magics away the lack of training and gets you round happy and smiling. It’s the sort of pixie dust that makes the training worthwhile! We are broadly sticking to what worked last time and are using the Jeff Galloway programme on the runDisney website. There are a few modifications though – we are adding some hill and some speed work to the plan – doing that where the 2 weekly 45 minute runs are scheduled – probably roughly in alternate weeks. We also don’t really bother with the magic mile in any systematic way. As his entire plan is based on run/walk it it was a lovely confidence builder last time. This time I feel far fitter than I was when we started last time so I am continuing to run rather than run/walk the shorter runs and will also run/walk some of the walks listed

So here’s how it shapes up:

We are just at the end of week 7 now and today is actually meant to be a 3 mile run. We have changed that to 9 miles and it fits in better tomorrow – the 9 miles is part of the Great North Run prep. The rest of the training plan then looks like this

So far I feel quite positive about this. I like the 2 weekly 45 minute runs and the numbers on the long runs are not yet scaring me. I still have fond memories of the Toronto Half Marathon in the memory bank so hope that they can carry me through the next few training runs and the Great North Run after which we will have to submit our proof of time for Dopey corral placement. All the strength work we’ve been doing should help too!

Happy Training!

I don’t remember the beginning

I have had several conversations (face to face or virtual) recently about starting running and about my running journey and about how the hell I got to be someone who can run several miles without walking and who isn’t scared of taking on distance. I hadn’t really realised I was no longer scared of distance. I noticed at Endure24 that I felt like I had a right to be there whereas at a 5k or 10k road race I’d feel like an impostor and I’d feel apologetic for my lack of speed. At some point on this journey I must have realised I can do distance – it may involve lots of walking and it will never be fast but I will get there.

But how did I get here? I can trot out advice about starting running that is sort of based on my experience but only sort of because to be honest, I don’t really remember. I remember starting (at various points in my life but particularly around January 2015) a fairly typical couch to 5k programme. I’ve never finished one. The last iteration I hated. I felt miserable before a run, during a run and mostly also after a run. I wanted to do it to get fitter and shift the substantial extra weight but I hated it. Instead of giving up I looked for something else. I tried Jeff Galloway’s method of run/walk. Somehow this really helped. I don’t know what my first intervals were – I want to say 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking but from nothing that actually sounds like quite a lot of running. I think if you’re going from no running at all even 10 seconds and then walking the rest of the minute is great.

So why did this work for me? Less pressure I guess. There wasn’t this constant ‘next time you’ve got to run for longer’ feeling. It was always – ‘you’re going out for 30 minutes and doing your thing’. I soon found that I was running faster, walking faster and overall going further in the 30 minutes. At some point I must have upped the running and played with intervals but I don’t remember how incremental this was or what we did – some of this may of course be in the early blog posts (haven’t gone back to look – I’m interested in me not really remembering). I remember for quite a while working with 3 minute running and either 30 seconds or 1 minute walking but then beginning to struggle with that as the distances increased and settling on what became my favourite of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking. It’s what I come back to now when I am struggling – whether mentally or physically.

More recently, and I think this is a strange and tentative new found running confidence, I have wanted to run more consistently without walk breaks. It’s not that I don’t like run/walk or think it’s cheating – it’s not and I’m often faster doing run/walk than running consistently – it’s just that it feels like that’s next in my journey. I also feel like I want to be less regimented. I do often still walk a bit even on shorter runs but I run more by feel now. I use landmarks to determine my intervals and somehow that feels more relaxed than being ruled by the beep of a watch.

So do I have advice for anyone starting out? Yeah I do – it’s bloody hard and you have to try and enjoy it and the way to enjoy it is to rid your head of unrealistic expectations. Running for 30 seconds or even 20 or 10 sounds like nothing but it isn’t nothing. It’s a very very big something. Go out for 30 minutes and take each minute as it comes. Depending on your level of general fitness try running 10 seconds, 20, 30 or even 40 and then walk the rest of the minute. If you can do that comfortably for each of the 30 minutes, try upping the running bit next time. See how you go. Don’t feel like you have to keep increasing the running portion. Settle in at an interval you like and go with that for a bit. Don’t get too competitive,enjoy being outside, learn to look around, learn to smile while you’re running, give yourself permission to stop to look at something interesting. It’s not about getting through it or getting to the end of your 30 minutes having covered as much distance as possible – it’s about learning to love running and doing it for you. The rest will follow if you want it to – but it’s taken me this long to figure out that maybe I don’t care if it doesn’t. I like stopping and watching a heron on the canal bank and I like it far more than seeing a fast time on my garmin at the end of my run.

Planning different running

I walked the 2 mile roundtrip to the sheep this evening without a toilet incident so we’re getting closer to being able to run again. Kath went out on a 5.5 mile reconnaissance run to try out a new route. It is lovely apparently but has a steep and uneven downhill which I won’t like. Well, if current form is anything to go by I can always stand at the top and cry until she comes and gets me! We’ve been catching up on various running magazines today and thinking about what sort of runs we’d both like to do. I think we’re getting to the point where we do want to and need to do our own thing a bit more. That’s no bad thing and we both still like running with each other but we also want to do our own thing.

Anyway, here’s a list of some of the things we like the look of as well as some ideas for joint but separate runs that we’ve talked about. I’ll report back as we try them.

  1. 20 Minute refresher by Jeff Galloway (from Runner’s World)

Walk for 1 minute, then run walk 30secs/30secs for 3 minutes, then 6 minutes at any ratio you like. At 10 minutes turn round and run/walk 9 minutes back but pick up the pace during the runs. Cool down for a minute.

2. 100 strides Fartlek (Runners World)

10 min warm up, 10 strides fast, then 10 strides slow, then 20 strides fast and 20 strides slow, keep increasing strides until you reach 100. Cool down for 5 minutes (or go back down in 10 stride increments and then cool down)

3. Surges

On longer runs build in a 1 minute surge every 10 minutes or so (careful with this – increase the speed a bit but don’t, as I once did, just try and go faster and faster and faster for a minute – I didn’t mean to, it just sort of happened)

4. One on/One off (Runner’s World)

After a warm up, run 1 minute on (fast) and 1 minute off (slow) for 20 minutes. Try and increase the pace of each ‘on’ section. Increase the duration of the on/off intervals to increase the challenge

5. 30-20-10 (Runner’s World)

This made my head go weird when I read it the first time but I think I’ve got it now: 10 minute warm up; 30 second slow jog, 20 seconds steady, 10 seconds fast, repeat that 60 second sequence 5 times and then jog slowly for 2 minutes – then have another go – 3-4 times

6. Half mile repeats

Ok so I hate half mile repeats but the thing is they work, they really work. After a couple of sessions doing them I ran my fastest ever mile, so they are back on the list. Run half a mile, walk 3 minutes, repeat – start with 2 and celebrate, do 3, do 4, maybe one day not cry when I get to 5, some day I’ll do 6. Yes let’s aim for 6.

7. Hills

Not just any hills but bastarding West Yorkshire hills. There are several options here

a) Ilkley Road repeat – this sounds crazy even as I type it and it’s not your usual short sharp hill repeat but I think this might work – bottom of Ilkley Road, to our road and back down and then back up…

b) Up to Keighley Gate – One day I will run from our house to the top but let’s not get carried away. So for now let’s go with walking up to the ‘top road’ and then running from there. If feeling ambitious, we can walk to where the road levels out before that and start from there, if I ever get really fit, we can start from home and if I ever lo
se my mind completely we can start right at the bottom

Unity street
Unity Street

c) Proper hill repeats – it’s not like we don’t have options round here! Unity Street looks
like it might work for hill repeats for insane people! You can nicely mark out segments by gates or use the lamppost. I’ve actually never done hill repeats because whenever they appeared on my training plan I always pretended they weren’t really there and did something else instead.

Running together doing our own thing: Kath has got fitter and speedier and I have lost fitness and got slower so the difference in fitness levels and speed is now really quite marked. We’re also both really valuing the headspace time we get from running so we’re going to try doing our own thing a little more but without forgetting that we’re in this together. So options for joint but separate running:

a) Parkrun – yep. We’ve never yet been even though we signed up ages and ages ago. We’re going. This coming Saturday. Skipton or Bradford, not yet sure which but we’re going. We’ll stick together on the first one but after that we don’t need to. We can each go at our own pace and Kath can get me coffee while she waits for me (See being slow has perks!)

b) Bolton Abbey loop – I take the aqueduct to cross the river whereas Kath goes on to Barden Bridge, so she extends her loop . We’d run the first mile and a bit together and then part ways – she can then pick up the pace and try and catch me and I can try and pick up the pace and try not to get caught!

c) We set off together on a loop/route involving canal and I drop off and stop for coffee at Mum’s while Kath goes on (more perks).

d) We set off from home or anywhere and run the same loop but in opposite directions so we can say hi to each other on the route

e) Training for the Endure24 we might also go somewhere to run 5 mile loops while the other one waits – that should help us work out fuelling etc for the event.

I’m sure there are lots more options but that’s all I have for now. Do share your suggestions and I’ll try and try them and report back!




Trying to go faster – sort of

I have been trying to get back in the game ever since we got back from Florida. The last run was hard but done but that was Tuesday, the rest of the week was a bit of a write off. I’ve been tired. Probably because I went back to work and put a lot of effort into not getting caught up in work stuff and just letting it go (oh look Frozen’s Let it go on a loop in my head). We were supposed to run Thursday, we didn’t. I meant to go to the gym at the hotel I was staying at Friday, I didn’t (ok so I freaked out over trendy London types spilling over into the lobby area from the bar and the idea of having to walk past them all in my gym stuff – totally pathetic but at the time a real issue) and then I meant to go again on Saturday, I didn’t (didn’t get up in time).

So Sunday came. With some trepidation I looked at the training plan we are now using although I knew what it said anyway: 4 X 1 mile. That means running a mile at about 30 seconds faster than race pace and doing that 4 times with 5 minutes walking in between. I don’t do fast. This is part of a Jeff Galloway plan so it’s all still about run/walk and really shouldn’t be a drama. To help me build mental strength and stamina to keep running for longer we agreed that we would run each of the miles without walking. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Mile 1: We were both off like coiled springs in spite of having agreed to go out slow. We ran down the road stretching our legs nicely, turned right and started the hill, still felt fine. I took a deep breath as we levelled out for a few steps and then pushed hard up the last bit of the hill. Then there was downhill, a bit of flat and more downhill and then I suddenly started really feeling it. The last quarter of a mile (ish) was hard, really hard and I could feel my lungs like I haven’t for ages. On the slow long distance plods it’s my legs that give in eventually, here it felt like my lungs were about to explode. The walk break came. Time – 10.22

Mile 2: we started just as we come out of the wood and onto the golf course so this mile included the dreaded downhill section. I made it safely and then felt OK for about half a minute. Half a mile in my lungs reminded me they were there and working far too hard and a bit after that my hips started protesting. Kath asked if I wanted to take a walk but as much as every bit of me was screaming to walk I said no. I’d set out to run this bloody thing so that was what I was bloody well going to do. It was awful and then over. Time – 11.21

Mile 3: I felt good for a quarter of a mile. I was running in a nice rhythm and running seemed to make sense. My breathing was working with rather than against me and it felt easy… And then it didn’t. Then it got hard again, so hard I muttered something about just giving it all up and then swore. I was really trying to focus on positives and tap into that memory bank. I wanted to think about that amazing feeling of jogging gently through Epcot on 5 k day but my mind kept dragging me back  to the endlessness and pain of the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex on marathon day. But this mile did end. Time- 11.29

Mile 4: Last one. I was done with this running thing. My brain was not helping at all. It seemed to have come to the conclusion that because I ran Dopey, this should be easy. I was questioning why it was so hard. I mean I did Dopey FFS. But  I forget that Dopey was bloody hard, that the training up to Dopey was hard and that running is almost never easy. And then it was over and within seconds I was thrilled to have done the 4 miles even if I did hate almost every step of the way. Time- 11.31

So the pace is probably a little faster than I do when I go out normally but then I usually run/walk so it would be. After the first mile I wasn’t really thinking about pushing the pace I was just focussed on running the whole mile without walking. I counted in my head a lot today and that seemed to help.

Then we met my friend for her first run. We did the first run in a Jeff Galloway 5K programme which was 30 minutes of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds. She did really well, much better than I did when I went out for the first time! I remember not being able to do it so it was really nice to see her complete it with relative ease and it was nice to see how easy it was for me to do it while chatting. It was a little reminder that I have made real progress.

We just missed a bus home and it being Sunday there was a big gap between busses so we walked the 3 ish miles back home. Once there I reluctantly got on the scales for the first time since the 29th December. I weigh exactly the same as I did then. I’m happy with that and I feel like I am back in the game. I went fast- ish today for a bit and spent a good chunk of the day outside and moving. I feel a good sort of tired now, a physically tired rather than just mentally drained. Happy.

6 miles on a week night

So, final page of the training plan. Here we go


Well I was in panic mode, possibly due to not having done the long run last weekend. I feel like we need to get some miles in. I don’t feel prepared at all. So we decided that we could get some additional miles in and some confidence back by upping at least one of the maintenance runs to 6 miles rather than the 45 minutes.

So off we went for 6 miles today. We did ‘cheat’ a little because we had to feed the sheep. We ran there (9.5 minutes), stopped the watch, fed the sheep and then set off again. I hated going down the golf course, walked most of it. It was wet, muddy and slippery and I am rather embarrassed to say that I let out a proper girlie shriek at one point. We went our usual route but then kept going along the canal.

I was fine running to the sheep, then fine once I got onto the flat and then we took a walk break because Kath was struggling with a stitch. After the walk break I couldn’t get going again. I took the next walk break too and then managed a bit longer. At 3.5 miles I wanted to cry. At 4.5 miles I felt ok. At 5 miles I took a couple of walk breaks and then we ran to the end. I did find it tough but a sort of manageable tough. A sort of ‘not a big deal’ tough. The pace ended up 12.40 minutes per mile which I think is pretty good given my complete downhill incompetence early on.

I like looking at the last page but I do need to confess- we still need to do the 20-23 miles we didn’t do last weekend. Hm