Whether your goal is to lose weight or get in shape for your Disney vacation, or prepare yourself to run in the Walt Disney World Marathon, you need a fitness plan. If you’re a bit unsure of where to start with your Disney World fitness plan, fear not, as you aren’t alone. We made this plan in preparation for our first runDisney event, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler (update: click that link for our review of the race and to read how we did!) at Walt Disney World Resort.
At first, we had no idea how to get fit for running. We both used to be pretty fit, and I’ve gone running for short distances before, so I have a basic idea, but that’s about it. However, with a little research and after talking to some friends who run and re-listening to WDW Today Podcast episodes devoted to the topic of Disney marathons, we think we’ve developed a pretty good plan of attack that will have us first getting in shape, in general, and then start us training for the race. Not a bad plan for us to get in shape, in general, as we plan on spending some serious time at Stormalong Bay and Typhoon Lagoon this spring and summer!
Obviously, there are a myriad of ways to approach fitness, but I’m going to detail ours. I’m not a fitness expert, but the methods described here have worked for me and others (so they’re proven!), so your mileage may vary. I’m not going to weigh this down with countless legal disclaimers, so here’s the important one: don’t be an idiot. If following any of the advice here isn’t reasonable for you for whatever reason (pre-existing health conditions, pregnancy, etc.) don’t follow said advice. We aren’t responsible for your stupid decisions
With that said, let’s get in shape!
There is no one single “fitness panacea.” Getting in shape requires dedication to exercise and healthy living, not one or the other. You may want to reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and eating foods from 7-11 when attempting to get fit.
Proper diet is an integral element of getting fit or losing weight for a Disney trip. If you plan on going on the Big Mac diet while running a mile per day, you probably won’t see much in the way of positive results.
My aim is primarily to eat healthier and get tone. Because of this, I plan on eating more proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This means a lot of poultry, fish (tuna for lunch, wild salmon at least a couple days per week), oatmeal, avocado, nuts, sweet potatoes, asparagus, quinoa, and chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is not here as a joke–it makes a great post-workout recovery drink! We’ll also eat whatever random healthy foods Sarah finds at the store after consulting her healthy recipe resources. Some of these foods don’t taste that great (quinoa, I’m looking at you!), but if it means getting fit, I’ll get used to them.
If you don’t want to eat foods you find disgusting, you should still improve your diet. We’re big fans of “Eat This, Not That.” Their book: Eat This, Not That! 2012: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution is really helpful as it gives you some autonomy in determining what “level” of dieting you want to utilize. It could be as little as swapping out one type of fast food for another to save calories and saturated fat, or it could be as extreme as buying different items in the grocery store for more substantial health benefits. We consider “Eat This, Not That” to be a healthier guide to living for all seasons. Even if we’re not trying to lose weight, it’s not a bad idea to consult with them before making a decision about what to order when eating out!
There is a common misconception that eating healthy is more expensive. This certainly can be true if all you buy is organic items from Whole Foods, but you can also get healthy and cheap items from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can make tuna sandwiches for only the cost of tuna, bread, celery, onion, and relish. We actually save quite a bit of money when we eat healthy. All of this money we save goes right into a Disney Dining fund. Not only are we eating healthier, but we have that carrot to chase as we attempt to get into shape!
Since Sarah and I each have different goals, our exercise plans are starkly different. Neither of our plans require a gym membership–mostly because we’re cheap and the time it would take us to get to a gym would eat into a decent amount of the time we’ve allocated for working out. Each of our initial plans are as follows:
Sarah is primarily concerned with cardio and toning, and since we don’t have membership to a gym, she turns our living room into her fitness center. She uses Just Dance 2 for the Wii (the newer version is Just Dance 3), Dance Central for the Xbox 360 Kinect (newer version: Dance Central 2), and Your Shape Fitness Evolved (newer version: Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012). Based upon the parentheticals, it looks like our game library is out of date. I’d hazard a guess that dancing and fitness haven’t changed much fundamentally since the earlier versions of all those games, so I might consider saving the money and buying the older titles unless you really want newer music.
Personally, I can’t stand the dance titles she uses. (Disclaimer: I hate dancing.) I’ve tried them before, and I always do terribly. Apparently my feet-eye coordination is pretty atrocious. If you’re not good at dancing, you might steer clear of these titles. Doing poorly is the quickest way to get dissuaded from working out.
Sarah also uses light weights for working out, and does a few other things. Before you say, “that’s it,” give one of those games a try. They’re ridiculously challenging on their highest levels. (Fortunately they don’t start out that way.) I made the foolish assumption of thinking I could go toe-to-toe with her in one of these games once (my first time “playing it”) after she had been using it for a few weeks and I about collapsed after 10 minutes. In 2012, literally all you need to get in shape is a TV and a Kinect or Wii! (Well, plus good diet, as mentioned above.)
My workout regime is much more traditional. I get up at 5:30 am every morning before work, fire up the Playstation 3 to listen to some Disney tunes or the Top 7 Must Sees with Stacy (go to Mousebits.com to get a cleaner copy that you can put on your computer or Playstation; only amateurs watch the new “Must Dos” on their home TV) and do weight training. You can purchase cheap weights at Wal-Mart, but I made the investment in Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) so that my weights wouldn’t take up so much room. (These go on sale about twice a year for ~$250; $350 is not a bad price, but I can’t say I’d pay that for them. I’d probably just get multiple dumbbells from Wal-Mart instead.) I do a once every three days rotation, with arms (primarily biceps and triceps) the first day; chest and back the second day; and abs and lower body the third day.
In the evening when I get home from work, I go running around the neighborhood. Probably not something that needs any more explanation. As further “Disney motivation,” I listen to a selection of some of my favorite Disney podcasts. Although my podcast preferences change, right now the ones to which I primarily listen are WDW Today, WDW Radio, WEDWay Radio, Be Our Guest Podcast, and Mousetalgia. There are a lot of Disney podcasts out there (I’m planning on adding 2-3 more into my rotation as I ramp up my exercise regime–any suggestions?), so figure out which podcasts appeal to you, and listen to those while you run!
Speaking of iPhones, we both use the MyFitnessPal app for our iPhones. Great for “keeping us honest” while we workout!
Pretty simple, right?
When we told our friends who have participated in runDisney events (like the Walt Disney World Marathon) in the past, the immediate and unanimous advice we received was “check out Jeff Galloway’s training.” Seriously, that is what every single person told us. Given that, and since I’m not yet a marathon-running expert, I’ll defer to his advice. Check out his suggestions for beginners and also his tips for marathon training. After that, definitely peruse his site, as he is a wealth of knowledge on the topic.
The only other advice I’ll interject is to make sure your shoes are right for your foot. When I’ve run in the past, I’ve sworn by Saucony running shoes, as I feel they put more attention into the product and less into marketing and endorsement deals like some of the big names (cough*Nike*cough). Brooks is another shoe company I’ve heard great things about. To determine what brand is right for you, head to a local running store (no, not Dick’s Sporting Goods). The prices may be a little higher, but these stores employ experts who keep apprised of all the latest developments in shoe technology and can fit your feet for the shoes that will work best for you. You may pay $50 more or so by going this route, but that’s a lot cheaper than knee surgery down the road. Small price to pay!
As a bit of an aside, after hearing from a couple friends who own the ridiculous-looking things, and reading a few studies about running, my interest has been piqued in FiveFingers by Vibram. These are typically not considered to be a shoe for beginners, so keep that in mind before even considering buying a pair. I plan on doing some more research and consulting with some experts and possibly ordering a pair of FiveFingers (update: I ordered these and LOVE them) at some point in the near future. If you’re considering doing the same, you’d be well advised to read the comments below, which discuss these shoes. The things may look crazy, but hey, at least they’re not as bad as Crocs!
As we progress in our race training, I’ll update this with what we’ve found works and doesn’t work. We plan on doing some serious reading about nutrition and running plans, so hopefully we can offer some more of our insight.
Getting fight for Disney can seem daunting, but if you have a plan and stick with it, support from friends (check out Twitter, Disboards.com, or WDWMagic.com for Disney fitness “groups”), and a carrot to keep you motivated (and what better carrot than being in great shape for a runDisney event or even a Disney trip in general?!), you can do it!
What are some of your top fitness tips? Planning on getting in shape this year for Disney? Share your thoughts and plans in the comments to help other readers!