Tales of a Reluctant Runner: One Person’s Voyage to Prepare for the Disney Half Marathon, Part 2

by Michelle Scribner-MacLean, AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 2, 2008 Issue #480 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

A few months ago I wrote a column explaining that, although I was a reluctant runner, I had signed up to run the Disney Half Marathon in January (AllEars® Issue #463, August 5, 2008 http://allears.net/ae/issue463.htm). I've got some news for you: I'm still running.

OK, I know you've probably fainted so pick yourself up off the floor. Yes, I'm still training and, in fact, recently I've hit the nine-mile mark. We're not talking about a very fast nine miles, I'm certainly not headed for the Olympics, but each week I'm running at least nine miles… in a row… on the same day. What I have come to realize is that for myself, it's all about self-motivation. No one can do the training for me. I've got to get myself out there and do it myself.

"How are you doing this?" I get this question over and over again from family and friends who know my busy schedule and who also know that running has never been "my thing." My initial reaction is always, "I don't really know," but upon further reflection, I can really pinpoint several things that are moving me toward that final goal: to be able to safely finish the 2009 Half Marathon.

The biggest lesson that I've learned is that training for a half marathon is a long process. There are many, many days when it is quite an effort to drag my bottom out of bed to get myself out there on the road. A little voice in my head always asks, "Awww, don't you want to sleep for an extra hour instead?" or says, "You really should be doing work, cleaning the house, or writing an All Ears article." It is very hard to overcome the desire to just stay put, but most days I creep out of bed and, honestly, by the time I have my sneakers on and my iPod tuned to my Disney running playlist, I'm very happy to be out there. When I return I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, regardless if I've run two, four, or nine miles.

Rather than keeping it to myself (in case I were to chicken out), instead have found it helpful to tell people about my plans to run in January. When people check in with me to see how I'm doing it holds me accountable, but also provides a lot of support. I know that I have a crew on the sidelines cheering me on: friends and family have been checking in with me, seeing how I'm doing, and offering suggestions. Many people have told me that it helps to find a running mate because when you're not motivated, you and running buddy can give each other a nudge here and there, when necessary.

Although I run alone, I have found it helpful to have two virtual running buddies. My brother Mark is an experienced runner and will be joining me for the Disney Half Marathon (and, although he could run the half twice in the time it's going to take me, I know it we'll have a great time running the race together). My buddy Mike is a veteran of several Disney half marathons and I check in with him to report my progress. He's been able to help with many tips that have pushed my training to the next step. Keeping a running log, increasing my running time to build my stamina, and doing one "long run" are all things that I've learned can help me to be ready to run a safe race. One of my happiest moments recently was when I reported to my virtual coaches that I had completed my first nine mile run and they both sent me text messages saying, "You're ready!" So, if don't have running partners, having virtual running buddies can be a good solution.

If you're hoping to do the training necessary to run the Disney Half Marathon and have a busy schedule, I'd recommend pulling out your calendar and slotting in times that you can run each week. One thing that has really helped me a lot is to commit myself to three runs a week. I start off on Tuesday running two miles, on Thursday I do four miles, and on Saturday I run eight or nine miles. This is a time commitment, as the long runs take about an hour and forty-five minutes, however, I've noticed some changes during this long process of training. At the beginning, I was doing much more walking between spurts of running, but now I'm mostly running. I still find that I need to briskly walk up some of the very steep hills around where I live in New Hampshire, but I find that every time I run, I can go just a little further up those hills.

When you sign up for a race, Disney sends reminders about once a month to make sure that you've booked your room, that you've confirmed your race information, and to provide you with a schedule. A few weeks ago, I finally felt I was ready to follow the links to the Disney race maps and got a good look at the half marathon. We'll be starting at EPCOT, running to the Magic Kingdom, running around the castle, down Main Street, and back to EPCOT for the finish. When I began this process I never allowed myself to get a look at the map, but this time the hairs on the back of my neck stood up because I finally realized that I could indeed complete this race.

I know that when I finish the race in January it will be in large measure because of all the help and support everyone has given me, but in the end it all comes down to what I put into it. Every day I have to tell myself, "Yes, I can do this," and I know that with a lot of hard work and a lot of help from my virtual coaches, family, and friends, I can.


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.


Other articles by Michelle Scribner-MacLean: http://allears.net/btp/michelle.htm

Michelle occasionally contributes to the AllEars.Net Team Blog, too: http://land.allears.net/blogs/allearsteam/michelle_scribernmaclean_blogs/

Be sure to check out Michelle's blog on Running with Gadgets: http://land.allears.net/blogs/allearsteam/2008/11/running_disney_with_gadgets_1.html

And don't miss Mike Scopa's thoughts on Running at Walt Disney World: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa/walt_disney_world/running_with_mickey/


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.