All in all I’m really happy with how I executed my 2018 Dopey Challenge race weekend. I ran each race fairly conservatively, stopped for a few photos, and then managed to run my fastest 10K of the weekend in my final 10K of the marathon.
Running 48.6 miles over four days is no easy feat. While I perhaps didn’t feel as well trained for this challenge as I have for previous marathons, I think there were several factors that led to a successful Dopey Challenge.
- Mentally breaking the course up + positive thinking: In the past I viewed certain portions of the course negatively because they were boring (like the highway from Animal Kingdom to WWOS). The night before the marathon I reread through my old race reports to connect how I felt with different parts of the course. Then on race day I mentally broke the marathon course up into chunks. Instead of thinking about what I didn’t like about each part of the course I focused on what I had to look forward to along the course. That helped a lot!
- Mantras that connect: I had mantras that really resonated with me that also connected with my process goals for the day. For much of the race weekend my mantra was patience, until it was time to turn it on in the last 10K of the marathon. In many of my previous races at Disney World I would fade in the end, but this year I really connected with my process goals for the weekend. I really wanted that negative split.
- Tell yourself good things all the time: Anytime my legs started to feel tired I flipped it around and told myself that they still felt fresh and that I felt amazing. Luckily my brain believed it!
- The cool weather: While not everyone loves running in cool weather (and it was brutal standing around in before the race), the weather was a huge help this year. The 5K, 10K and half marathon were all pretty chilly, then the marathon started off quite cool and only warmed up a little bit. This was a huge benefit over the hot and humid weather I’ve experienced before.
- Training runs that helped me to fight fatigue: There were two kinds of runs that I believe really helped me to build mental strength to fight through fatigue. The first was splitting my long run into two runs on the same day. The second run would always feel slow, awkward and it would be tough to get into a groove. Eventually settling in and becoming comfortable with running while fatigued helped a lot. The second was running hard trail runs with a lot of climbing the day after a long run. I joined a group run where I was always the slowest runner. My legs were fatigued but I had to fight through it to not stray too far from the group. The other benefits of running trails were building strength and endurance with less pounding on the body.
photo via Vancouver Running Company
Have you run the Dopey Challenge before? What helped get you through four days of early wake up calls and running 48.6 miles?