Tales of a Reluctant Runner
One Person's Voyage to Prepare
for the Disney Half Marathon

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean, AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the August 5, 2008 Issue #463 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

A few months ago I made what some might consider a very silly decision: I signed up to run in the Disney 2009 half marathon. It's not that I don't like sporty things -- I've played tennis for years, I've done aerobics, like to hike, but running? Usually my first reaction when I even heard that particular word was, "Blech!"

However, the planets aligned and a few things fell into place that made me change my "blech" to "OK, I'll give it a shot." I am a reluctant runner and here is my tale.

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THE MOTIVATORS
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There are several things that got me moving in the first place and have kept me going so far. I'm a gal who needs a lot of motivators for running and I've amassed a pile of them.

First, I'd be telling a giant fib if I didn't count Disney as being one of my motivators. If one must run, running through the parks is the way to go, don't you agree? Many like-minded Disney pals venture to Orlando every January and they're a fun group of supportive people. Also, as I'm lacing up my sneakers, I picture running down Main Street, USA with Mickey on the side of the road giving me the big "thumbs up." Yup. That definitely works as a motivator for me.

Fund-raising is another motivator. I was aware that many of my buddies in the Disney community did fund-raising for all sorts of worthy causes. A few years ago my brother and I initiated a fund for nurses at a Boston hospital and the idea of raising money for that appealed to me. Another good motivator.

Finally, I wanted to do something to get myself in better shape and improve my energy level. I thought that adding running to my menu of activities might be something worth trying.

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WHAT'S KEEPING ME GOING
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Whenever anyone starts a new exercise regime, there are always going to be barriers. We've had a notoriously rainy spring and early summer here in New England and that has not helped my progress. However, there are several other things that have pushed me on...

First on the list would have to be my running buddies. I am lucky enough to have a cadre of people who are helping me move forward on those days when it's tricky to get going. My brother has mastered several marathons and had made the commitment to come to WDW with me in January (although in truth, these days 13 miles is just a warm-up for him). He's committed to helping me, so I'm trying to uphold my part of the bargain.

My husband, Andrew, has been getting up early with me to walk and run 3-4 times per week. Each day we're trying to increase our pace, distance, and time we walk by just five minutes. This has helped tremendously.

I also have two other buddies with whom I check in on a regular basis --- one of whom gives me a virtual pat on the back each time I report my progress (you have no idea how much a, "Wooohoo, good for you!" feels. It's very much appreciated).

The other buddy lives in the next town over from me and is a veteran of both running the New Hampshire landscape, as well as a score of Disney races. He gives me tips about how to increase my endurance, pick up my pace, and work through slumps. Also, I am greatly impressed with his perseverance -- he continues to get out there and do what he can to train every day, despite some past injuries. Thinking of him pushing forward helps me to keep going.

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WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR
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OK, I'll admit it: I've got one of those Type A personalities. The famous marathoner Bill Rodgers used to live in my hometown and it was common to see him running around the neighborhood when I was growing up. When I started I envisioned Bill and thought I would quickly be a great runner. Nope. It's been a long road so far (pun intended). One of my running buddies often says, "Training for a marathon is a marathon itself." That's very true. I've had to give myself the permission to go slowly and build up a bit more distance every day. I'm not going to be Bill Rodgers, but I'm OK with that.

Getting up early has also been a key factor for me. Once my day is in full-gear it is very tricky to fit running in. I'm tired and can come up with a kazillion excuses why it's not a good time. However, I've found if I just roll out of bed and into my running gear, I'm more likely to get the running in each day. Also, I feel really happy that I've fit it in when I'm finished and find that I have more energy and focus to start the rest of my day.

While some people like to focus on only the running and quiet concentration, I found that music really works for me to keep running. I've created a "running playlist" with a mixture of Disney music and other things that get me moving. It's amazing how a certain song can prompt me to pick up the pace and work a bit harder (the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is a particular motivator for me). I realize that during many races iPods are not permitted, but I'm anticipating being so excited by my surroundings, that this isn't going to be an issue.

I've also learned to appreciate my surroundings. I adore being outside and Southern New Hampshire is a pretty spectacular place in the summer -- and I've found myself really enjoying seeing different plants and animals along my running trail (however, I'm not really enjoying the sounds of nature, but that's OK -- see previous comment about the PoTC soundtrack).

Another thing that I learned is that it's OK to mix things up. I get bored if I do the same exercise over and over. Yes, I'm planning to run this half marathon, but I'm not training for the Olympics and have realized it's OK to do other sports I like, too. I play tennis two to three times per week, sometimes I hike, sometimes I'm in the mood for aerobics -- and that works for me because I'm still moving and keeping my motivation level up for running.

Diet has been another key factor. I've been paying much more attention to what I'm eating... and lo and behold, exercise and eating healthy foods has caused me to lose weight (what a revelation!). The best part is that with each pound that comes off, I've been better able to haul my bottom up those steep New Hampshire hills!

Finally, I have to mention again how important it's been for me to have the help of my buddies. They have served me well as running experts, my support system, and my accountability system on those days that I need it.

Getting prepared for the Disney half marathon is a difficult process and I'm not ready yet, but I've put things into place and learned some things... and I feel like I'm going to be successful.

Who knows? Perhaps I'll see you at the finish line?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Michelle Scribner-MacLean is a college professor by day and a Disney fanatic in every other bit of free time. She first visited WDW when she was a teenager and now is a DVC owner who visits Walt Disney World two or three times per year. Michelle lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two boys and loves roller coasters, the fantastic food at Disney, and always cries when she sees IllumiNations. She is also a Disney podcast addict and adores WDW Today.

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Related Links:

Other articles by Michelle Scribner-MacLean: http://allears.net/btp/michelle.htm
Blogs by Michelle: http://land.allears.net/blogs/allearsteam/michelle_scribernmaclean_blogs/


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.