Running is mentally tough and we are talking about ways to stay positive and motivated in times of uncertainty.
I am currently training for my 4th full marathon and my 13th or 14th half marathon. Since March, I have been prepping my body and training diligently for the 2021 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World.
In a nutshell, Dopey Challenge is a four-day event that consists of four races equaling 48.6 total miles. A 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. Only .5% of the US population has run a marathon. That’s a pretty exclusive club. There’s a reason for that. It’s hard. It’s physically challenging and mentally exhausting.
For some, they can roll out of bed, train once a while and run a 4:00 marathon. For others, like me, it’s a lot of sacrifice, planning, accessories, yoga, stretching and of course running. Everyone trains differently.
So, how does one stay motivated through this process? And even more so when you aren’t even sure if your training and hard work will come to fruition? What if you don’t even know for sure that the race will happen?
That’s what we are going to talk about today. I am going to talk about my own experiences and working to stay positive and motivated as well as what others have to say. We are all different. We think differently, we are motivated by different things and we react and respond differently. Hopefully, something in this post will speak to you and be the push you need to stay motivated in times of uncertainty.
I have been a runner for years. I ran crosscountry in middle school. I was overweight and my best friend was on the team and I wanted to try it too. I remember the crosscountry coach telling us we couldn’t, under any circumstances walk on this two mile run one day and I cried… literally cried during it. Oh, how far we’ve come.
I ran my first half marathon in college and my first full marathon was the Rock And Roll Marathon in Washington D.C. I now run almost every day, year round. I am not a fast runner, I am not a “good” runner but I do it and I do it often.
I have chronic pain. I tore my psoas several years back and it changed the way my body moves. In addition, I have arthritis and some other joint pain that is pretty severe. I’m not complaining, it is just something that affects my training and my daily life so it’s a part of my training.
Only you can motivate you. Other people can only suggest it.
A big motivation for me for the 2021 Dopey Challenge is that it will (most likely) be my final full. My body doesn’t work the way it used to and so in order to spend time with my remaining cartilage, I may do another half but not a full.
I love the challenge. Challenging myself to meet my weekly mileage, my daily mileage, get the long run done. I also challenge myself to do my mobility and accessories.
In addition to my running, I do Orange Theory for supplemental training and yoga for stretching and mobility.
This has been the hardest mentally and physically training program for me. Mentally tough because of the unertainty. There is no guarantee that Dopey Challenge 2021 is actually going to happen. All of these miles, all of this pain, all of this time, all of this could be for nothing.
Now, before you get up in arms about me saying this is for nothing. Although I run almost everyday for fun. I do not run 40 plus miles a week for fun. So, staying mentally motivated and excited to train has been a really tough thing for me.
I have pushed myself through by doing my best to stay in a positive headspace. This includes pushing thoughts out of my mind that the race could get canceled, that it isn’t going to happen.
I focus on my miles. I write them in my to do list everyday because what is on the list has to get done. I post my finished miles on my stories because I take pride in them and it helps me to stay accountable.
In addition, I have actually muted a number of the Disney running groups that I follow on social media. I typically find them very motivating. However, the endless scrolling through post after post after post asking if the race will be canceled or not, chastizing Disney for not making a decision yet, the “what are the chances it will happen” posts, all of it, it’s too much for me. I understand why people post them. I get it, I really do but it’s not helpful to me and it ends up frustrating me and keeping me in a negative headspace which is not where I need to be.
I am beyond excited to be taking on Dopey Challenge 2021. And I plan on doing my best to stay positive, with my mind and my feet running towards that finish line in January!
48.6 miles, 4 days and I am proud and honored to be running as a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) to honor my Mother-In-Law who is surviving and fighting M.S.
My goal is to raise $3,225 dollars for MSAA and I would appreciate your financial support. Please visit my fundraising page to read more about MSAA, why I’m running and to donate. Every dollar counts and makes a difference. You can make a difference for those suffering with M.S.
What Others Have to Say
As we talked about earlier, not everyone is motivated by the same things. Something someone else says or does might hit closer to home and spark something in you. Check out what other Disney runners have to say about what is keeping them going and how they stay motivated.
“I think hope is carrying me through. I have to believe that at some point life will resume. registration for dopey opened post-covid, so I’m hopeful that the safety provisions they’re creating will allow them to move forward in a new-normal. And regardless of whether we’re able to cross that finish line, I’m excited just for the idea of the challenge.”
“I’m not training for dopey and only started running this year (W&D virtual half will be my first race) but someone once told me that you may not always have the motivation but you always have the dedication and that helps me push through!”
“I ran Dopey this year and I was supposed to be getting on a plane in 12 days to run the Berlin Marathon. Two things that got me through Dopey was visualising the course. Each of the 4 runs. Every night before bed I ran in my mind. I ran strong and finished each race. I had it cemented in my mind crossing the marathon finish line. I also went into the weekend knowing I wasn’t there to park hop. I was in bed by 5 pm each night. My Garmin showed 7-8 hours of sleep a night. That was priceless. Now for Berlin being canceled. My coach asked me do I run for medals or because I love to run. Because if I’m doing it for the medals running and I will not grow old together. It was the kick in the arse I needed to snap out of the pity party.”
“Training for Dopey certainly doesn’t have to be more than training for a full. Dopey can be completed comfortably using a full marathon training plan, as long as it incorporates back to back running days.”
“I train as if the race weekend is unquestionably going to happen. If it ends up being cancelled, then I’m in better shape than I was before. Cancellation of the race doesn’t take away the health benefits of the training.”
“Not training for Dopey but training for a 24 hour ultra that was supposed to be in May and now pushed to October-hopefully! I am 37 weeks into a 20 week training plan. Happy to share my experiences thus far of it will help!”
“I’m training for just the Full (it will be my first) …someone told me the real marathon is all the training. That, combined with the fact that for me, this is about proving to myself that I can run a Full keeps me going. I use running as my outlet for my mental health so even if at the end of all this, I don’t get to race in Disney in Jan 2021, my mind & body will be better for having followed through with my training and ill keep going until I do finally have the chance to cross that finish line and be handed my Medal by a runDisney Volunteer even if that means waiting ’til 2022.”
“I am running 26.2 miles on Jan 10 whether its in Disney or in my neighborhood because I am my why when it comes to running, not the medals & races, but me.”
“I’m not training for anything, but cant really. I’m a stay at home mom, which has been helpful during the pandemic, but hard for running. My husband leaves for work at 5:45am and gets home at 6:00pm. Since I’m with my kids the whole day, especially with distance learning now, I can’t really go out and run. I normally would run while they’re in school. I could run before or after my husband’s schedule but I’d have to run super early or after dinner both times would be dark. I also could have my kids bike along side me, but they cant last long, and they stop too frequently. I’m hoping to sign up for LA marathon in march, but will have to see how things go. I hate not being able to run. I have a rowing machine to keep up strength and stamina… but hitting the pavement feels different.”
“As a new runner, & one who has had all of the Disney races she registered for cancelled, it’s all been hard. I can’t use the motivation others use (i.e., getting back to the courses). I try to remember why I started running – for my health – & why I registered for my first runDisney event (SW this past April) – because someone told me I couldn’t do it. With all of the craziness now, running also serves as my time to myself; to not answer the phone, emails, texts, or just interact in general. Just me & my music.” (Love this)
“The stories/posts of countless amazing people I’ve “met” on groups such as this help too. And I won’t lie, it’s a bucket list to do Dopey in a few years. Because someone jokingly asked me “well, why not just do it?” Whelp, I can’t aspire to Dopey if I don’t keep on keeping on! 😁”
“Joy in the journey!”
“It helps me to assume or just hope enough that the races are still happening. I’d rather train and it not happen than not train and it ends up happening. The training is where you earn the medal anyways, the finish line is just where you pick it up.”
“Train with a partner. Even if races don’t happen, relationships can go the distance!”
“I will actually be training longer than expected now due to all the cancellations. My plan was to run a half at Disney and be done with It. Was scheduled for wine and dine and it got canceled. Now registered for the starwars challenge. So the training continues. In the interim. it’s helping shape my flat butt some, so all is good.”
“Trust me I am not taking anything away from anyone doing Dopey or Full or half but remember there are people here terrified of a 5k and training. I’ve done 4 10ks and hope to do the Princess half. And I’m scared. I tell myself my race my pace and believe. Listen to your body.”
I hope you found some motivation in what these awesome Disney runners had to say about what keeps them going and what pushes them to be the best Disney (or non Disney) runner they can be even in uncertain circumstances.
The Fact of the Matter
The fact of the matter is, Disney hasn’t made a decision yet. Disney wants the race to happen. It means a lot of money for them. Money they need right now. It brings people to the parks, it brings people to property and it’s a lot of money for registrations that don’t have to be refunded. Disney doesn’t want to cancel this race.
I need to do my part and continue training and continue to keep those positive vives flowing that this race will happen.
Whatever motivates you and no matter if you are hitting a wall or just floating along, you have a community behind you. You have a lot of people in the same boat and there are people going through the same feelings and frustrations that you are.
You’ve got this.
I am so excited to be taking on my first Dopey Challenge. I am running for the Multiple Scelorsis Association of America in honor of my Mother In Law and all those who suffer from MS.
I am thrilled and proud to be running for her and would love your support. I am looking to raise $3,225 and every dollar counts towards finding a cure and showing our support.
To learn more about my “why” please visit my fundraising site HERE!