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Run Disney Marathon Weekend Dopey Challenge

I did it! Run Disney Dopey Challenge…48.6 Miles of fun and a strong marathon finish!  I came, I saw, and I conquered the Dopey Challenge in Disney!  I still am in shock of what an amazingly magical experience this was!  If you would have told me that I would run 48.6 miles in 4 days and run a half marathon the day before a marathon and in that marathon, I would run a sub 3 hour and 45-minute marathon (coming within 4 minutes of my Marathon PR), I would have told you that you were crazy or in this case Dopey!!

 

I am grateful for this marathon journey I have been on for the past two years, and it is unbelievable how training cycles build on one another like compound interest!

 

I have so many lessons to share with you so you can make your next marathon or Dopey challenge a rewarding experience like I did and that is why I am sharing my story with you!

 

In this detailed blog post, I share my deep dive reflection on how I was able to have fun, feel strong, and run a fast marathon letting my fitness and durability show all while stopping for some character stops, waking up at 2:00am for 4 days in a row, and having to deal with some unexpected weather and bus challenges.  

 

We at Spark Healthy Runner believe that a well-designed marathon training plan and race day strategy can be the key to unlocking your full potential as a runner.

 

Listen to the Podcast Episode during your next run!

 

 

For context in our Spark Healthy Runner how to grow as a runner framework. I am going to fill your race day bucket. 

 

Watch the LIVE video version of this episode below on YouTube!

 

Disney Dopey Challenge Recap- Background

 

For those that aren’t familiar the Dopey Challenge you run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon in 4 consecutive days for 48.6 miles in total and this was races 73, 74,75, and 76 for me in my 12-year adult onset running journey and it was my 33rd half marathon and 4th marathon.

 

1st marathon was 2017 and the experience was not very rewarding because I walked/ jogged through painful cramps for the last 6 miles (didn’t know about nutrition/ hydration/ electrolytes or race strategy).  Final time: 4:15:03

2nd marathon was 2022 and I suffered from pre-race anxiety with terrible sleep for the 3 days before the event and suffered from the worst GI cramps, bloating, and needing to use the porta potty 2x.  Frustrated to not be able to test my fitness that I had in training but proud of pushing through the struggle and finishing running the whole 26.2 miles and still miraculously getting a personal best. Final Time: 4:03:39 (Episode 146 on Healthy Runner Podcast)

3rd marathon was a breakthrough marathon in Cape Cod this past October exactly 12 weeks prior to this Dopey challenge in which I ran my first sub 4-hour marathon and was able to feel like I actually raced a marathon showing the fitness I had been accumulating in training the past 2 years.  Ended with a 23-minute PR.  Final Time: 3:40:38 (Episode 199 on Healthy Runner Podcast)

Therefore, my primary goal leading up to the runDisney Dopey challenge was to just to have fun, cover the distance, and come out healthy.  Matter of fact, my coach Stef and I didn’t even come up with specific outcome or time goals or even a race strategy because I was running it for fun to cover the 48.6 mile distance.

 

What did my training consist of?

 

Since I gained a ton of fitness in the fall, I just leaned into the structure of training that my coach had put together for me.  

 

I recovered really well from the Cape Cod marathon (no running x 14 days) and gradually built in a return to run program. 

 

My weekly running miles after my marathon were 0, 0, 11, 23, 25, 28, 32, 45, 35, 41, 50, 35, 55 (race week)

 

To learn more about post marathon recovery and 5 mistakes to avoid (Episode 201 on the Healthy Runner Podcast)

 

I really didn’t do any “serious” training until 1 month out from Dopey (40+ mpw) which really included getting my weekly volume back up to peak at 50 mpw for 1 week (which is where I peaked for 3 weeks during Cape Cod marathon training) and doing back-to-back long run days (which I have never done before).  

 

The goal of this was to simulate what I would feel with running the half marathon and then the marathon during Dopey.  Therefore, there really wasn’t any speedwork or hard long runs with spice or pace work in it during this shortened cycle leading up to Dopey.  I only did Strides 2x/ week and touched on some easier threshold paced intervals.  I did not run at tempo/ threshold pace longer than 6 minutes during any interval and only did 5k pace of 1 minute.  No faster interval type track training.  No longer tempo/ threshold work for 2-4 miles like I did for Cape Cod Marathon training, and no long runs with anything faster than easy pace only (no long runs with spice)

 

Disney Marathon Weekend 5K

 

Memorable day for my youngest daughter (14-year-old) Gabby and for our family as we all ran a race together for the first time ever!

 

Woke up at 2:15 and got the bus from our resort to the race to get there by 4:00 so we were there nice and early and got in our corral early (corral D).  Race starts at 5AM and our race started at 5:45am

Deb and I were Zurg and Bo Peep and the girls were Woody and Buzz!

We all had a blast at the 5K which was great costume spectating because people really go all out on the 5K day since it is a shorter race.

It was so much fun running through Epcot.  See the race footage I captured on my GoPro in this video!

Day 1 of 4 complete for me and 45 miles to go!

Family celebrated with lunch at Enzo’s Hideaway in Disney Springs which was empty and then had a nice photo shoot at the photo pass studio in Disney Springs all in our yellow 5K race finisher shirts.  Highly recommend this studio if you are going to Disney and you get the memory maker package.  We did because we spent Christmas week and new year’s there and wanted our race photos so we took advantage of the pics by the pro’s whenever possible.  

The rest of the day we laid low as my wife got sick and wasn’t feeling good, so we watched Frozen 2 as a family in our little log cabin at Fort Wilderness Campground.

 

Disney Marathon Weekend 10K Day

 

Disney 10K 🏃🏻‍♀️ was the first 10k race for my older daughter Olivia and she crushed it finishing strong 💪🏼  and 11th out of 126 runners in her 17 year old age group.  59:48 (9:38 pace)

 

Woke up a bit later (2:30AM) because we knew where to go and didn’t need to stand in the corral as long. 

 

Weather was cold on this day  so I decided to go with a last-minute morning outfit change to add leggings under my shorts, windbreaker under my tank (matched my Sully color) and run with my gloves!

 

Corral D again, the race started at 5:00am and we started running at 5:38 am so a little quicker than the 5K day to get to the start line for the 10K race day.

 

Mike & Sully (characters from Monsters Inc.) had a blast and ran a smart conservative strategy on a cold morning (50 deg) to finish strong with some negative splits! 10:05, 10:10, 9:35, 9:31, 9:13, 8:41, 7:40.  Super proud dad moment for my girl!

 

She was nervous to start and didn’t want me to push her too much so I told her for us to go out easy like we did the day before for the 5K and see how she feels and that I wouldn’t push her. 

 

The day before Olivia and Gabby really opened up their stride for a final sprint to the finish and my 44 year old body going at a nice easy pace for me wasn’t warmed up enough (or mentally ready) to keep up with them but because Olivia and I were in the back of our corral for the 10K we were able to get in 10 minutes of jogging prior to the race and do our Spark Healthy Runner 5 minute dynamic warm up and mentally I was ready for a final kick if she had it in her so that was fun basically doing some strides for me at the end of the 10k race!  See the race footage I captured on my GoPro in this video

 

 

Super cold waiting in line for an hour and 15 minutes for a picture with Chip and Dale after though! We learned our lesson the hard way and if the line was that long the next 2 days, I would not be waiting for that picture!

 

Day 2 of 4 completed for me with still 13.1 and 26.2 miles to go!

 

The rest of this day, the girls went to the spa, and I did our laundry (yes, Duane does laundry for all of you sexist runners out there) and then went in the jacuzzi at my resort, got a nice Mickey pretzel (perfect carbs before a marathon), and elevated my feet because I knew the hardest part of the Dopey Challenge was still in front of me.

 

Then I met up with my ladies at the Grand Floridian Café for Dinner at 5:30pm (which was later than we should have done) but it took a while to get the boat from Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom and then the boat from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian.  Just nice to know that you need extra planning time when you are staying at a resort with only boat or monorail access.

 

We got some great pictures with one of the photopass photographers in Grand Floridian to commemorate Olivia’s first 10K.

The big news this day was a warm front was coming through with a feels like of 67 degrees, humidity of 92%, and dewpoint of 66 degrees which I knew meant extra electrolytes and water pre half marathon especially given I was running the marathon the next day! Remember in our Spark Healthy Runner running in heat (episode 187 on the Healthy Runner Podcast) the interpretation of a 66 degree dew point is “moderately uncomfortable and expect hard efforts to feel more difficult)

 

At dinner is when the drama and the first major curve ball of the race week began!  I got a text from 2 of my clients if I heard the news…I checked my email, and nothing was there and tried to click the runDisney event guide but the website was down (I guess all the runners trying to access at the same time)

 

Stay tuned to see what adventure the Half Marathon brought us following this news…

 

Disney Half Marathon (7.1??) Day

 

The night before the half marathon, while at dinner (which was already later than we wanted to get to bed by 7-8pm) we found out that the half marathon course will be modified to 7.1 miles in order to get everyone off the course by 8am due to the impending rain/ lightning storm. 


So, this created some stress because it was my wife’s big race that she has been training for during the last 4 months and was ready to run her 3rd half marathon and then we find this out?!  She has overcome so much coming back from a partial proximal hamstring tear (the result of tax season and sitting on a hard dining room chair for long hours).  I was excited for her because she put in the work to rehab this hamstring (those elevated single leg bridges and Nordic curls are key runners!)

 

What did we do?  We had to think quickly and find out the best way to get in the full 13.1 without being kicked out of the race area and to do it continuously so there wasn’t a break between the runs. 

 

We both agreed that it was best for my wife to run the end of the race on the course with water support, motivation, and be able to finish her 13.1 miles through the real finish line so she can get her medal and celebrate the accomplishment.

 

This meant we had to start our 6 miles doing circles in the Epcot parking lot at 4:00am and then jumped right into our Corral C (the back of it) to keep doing some dynamic movements.  Thank you to the cheer squad who randomly motivated strangers doing ¼ mile circles for an hour!  It was awesome seeing so many runners doing what we were doing.  We saw a bunch also doing it after but then it was getting dangerous because they really were pushing people out and shut it down (no character photos after the race) and the buses were being sent out early and I don’t think most people finished their 6 miles in after the race. 

We spent the rest of the day going to have lunch at the Yacht Club, which was my last big meal before the marathon (saw many people getting 6 miles in which was not the best idea from my coaching standpoint) as the sun came out and it was hot!  80 degrees hot and people were running at 1pm/ 2pm to get in their full 13.1.  I just hope some of those runners weren’t doing Dopey because I couldn’t imagine doing that and then starting to run the marathon 14 hours later!

 

Then we walked over into Epcot to take some pics with our finisher shirts and medals and got pics with Daisy and then Donald in Mexico and got to meet up with Janice and Kaitlyn whom I mentioned earlier which was cool because I had worked with Janice for 8 months virtually, but we never met in person!

 

The only thing is it got hot real quick with the humidity and 81 degrees which we weren’t expecting as I was in pants and long sleeves so I was trying to seek out shade as much as possible and you need to be careful going into the parks if you are a Dopey runner because you can lose track of time real quick and spend way too many hours in the heat or on your feet the day before your marathon.

 

We then went back to our resort, got in a jacuzzi session, had kids’ turkey sandwich with chips as my pre marathon meal 2 hours before bedtime (or so I thought)

 

On the way back to our cabin, our golf cart broke down (2nd hiccup) so that further delayed us getting back and prepping for the next day which created a little pre marathon stress.

 

I wanted to go to bed at 7pm to get 7 hours of sleep before the marathon but didn’t get into bed until 8pm right when the fireworks at Magic Kingdom started so then that is all I could hear and didn’t go to sleep until 8:30 so unfortunately, I only got 5 and a half hours of sleep.  The days leading up to the marathon I only had 2 nights of sleep at 7 hours and all the others were in the 6 ½ hour range which is not ideal by any means and was quite different from what I described to you in my Cape Cod marathon recap in which I got a solid 7-8 hours of sleep for 4 straight days leading up to that race.  Good to know for you future runDisney peeps that if you stay in any of the Magic Kingdom resorts on the monorail line or in Fort Wilderness you will hear the fireworks!

 

Twas’ the night before marathon day and only 26.2 miles left of the Dopey challenge…

 

Disney Marathon Miles 1-6

 

Just when you think you have it all figured on day 4…

 

The weather forecast for marathon day… 59 degrees, 91% humidity, 56-degree dew point (comfortable, hard efforts not affected), cloudy (sounded like pretty perfect marathon conditions!) Grateful that the dewpoint and humidity went down from the half marathon day as I know that would have greatly affected how I felt during the marathon!

 

Then comes the race day bus debacle (3rd hiccup): Planned to not get there too early (4:00am because I knew where I was going and was going to meet an athlete of ours (Becca) at 4:30 which was 15 minutes before our Corral B closed at 4:45 (race started at 5AM)

 

I didn’t get there until 4:50 because the bus journey took an hour!!  A lot longer than previous days (30 minutes top).  Missed my corral closing for B so went out with the C group (just barely as D was being released). 

 

However, I was so happy I got to see 2 of our spark healthy runner athletes Sonya and Stephanie as my corral was passing so they gave me a bit of energy and excitement before the race, and I was relieved to be there and now getting ready to run a marathon!

 

Race Starts and I cross the start line at 5:29am in the back of corral group C and here is the affirmation I wrote in my journal that morning at 2:30am

 

“I feed my spirit, I train my body.  I focus my mind.  It’s my time.”

 

After 3 days of running a race at my easy zone pace, I was ready to put some of my fitness to the test while having fun!  I didn’t have a time goal in mind at all because I knew it wasn’t realistic to set a goal for this marathon without a traditional taper and running 13.1 miles the day before.

 

My goals were to:

 

  • Run every magical step with gratitude at the Disney Marathon
  • Trust my training (all those back-to-back long runs I did in 20 and 30 degree weather back in CT in December, the recovery steps I took and the sleep I prioritized during this shortened training cycle)
  • Trust my experience in running marathons (now that I have truly raced one at Cape Cod this past October)
  • Belief throughout the race that I am strong physically and mentally and I have put in consistent work and now it was my time to have fun doing what I love, doing what I get the opportunity to do and running a marathon effort in the most magical place on earth!

 

The race starts and I was well experienced with the start of these races and how to navigate them so I avoided ducking in and out wasting energy with the crowds and just stayed all the way to the left side and followed the pack and when someone was going a lot slower than I would like then I would run on the grass a bit to pass them trying not to use too much energy.  Goal was to relax, get in control of breathing, and go out conservative making it all feel easy. 

Originally, what I typed into my coach 2 weeks before the race in our online training calendar was…

 

“Planning to just cover the distance without a “real” race strategy besides starting conservatively around 8:45-9-minute pace for first half and then see how I am feeling and if I want to turn it on for the second half or just enjoy the jog and stroll through the parks and hopping on random rides????  Who knows how I will feel but I do know that I want to enjoy the experience and the challenge of finishing 48.6 miles in 4 straight days “

 

Stef Agreed and we didn’t have a traditional pace plan, nor did I have a marathon pace goal like I had at 8 minute mile pace for Cape Cod. 

 

Mile 1: 9:51

Mile 2: 8:43

Mile 3: 10:33

Mile 4: 8:59

Mile 5: 8:26

Mile 6: 8:15

 

Due to the crowds and getting squeezed down at certain portions especially the first 5 miles (which I knew because this was the same pathway we took for the half) you really can’t plan on a traditional pacing plan per mile anyway because there are variables outside your control.  So that is why you see some variability there in each mile.  My goal was just to not get stuck behind a pack of walkers for a long period of time and not sprain my ankle running on the grass trying to pass especially because it is dark during this time!

 

 

Disney Marathon Miles 7-20

 

Felt really good the first part of the marathon and it was so much fun (after the first 3 miles of having to run on the grass to pass people) I was feeling really good and enjoying it, so I just went for it and tried to stay around 8:15 pace starting at mile 6 because I remember from the disney half in 2020 how much you get squeezed leading into Magic Kingdom and I knew those miles would be a lot slower so my rhythm mantra at this phase came from my daughter Gabby because she mentioned this the day before that she was getting nervous about being away on vacation for so long and missing school and volleyball practice that when she got home she would have to “lock in” so that became a family joke the night before and stuck in my head.

 

So, I said “lock in” on marathon pace and see how you feel…

For me, this was a bit of a gamble because remember my plan was to do 9 min pace for the first half but if I was having to run 10-11 min pace due to the crowds for 2 miles going through Magic Kingdom, then I knew I would feel better about it having gone the speed I wanted to run at before that. 

 

Mile 7: 8:01

Mile 8: 8:08

Mile 9: 8:15 (Magic Kingdom)

 

To my surprise, unlike 2020 there really wasn’t much congestion beyond ¼ mile into Magic Kingdom and then once you ran down main street (magical by the way) it really opened throughout the park.

 

The highlight of this was seeing my wife right in front of Casey’s Corner which pumped me up and I flew through tomorrow, fantasy, and frontier land as we exited Magic Kingdom.  Running through the castle was pretty cool but I just wish they had more photo pass people in Magic Kingdom! 

 

Mile 10: 7:58

Mile 11: 8:21

Mile 12: 8:00

Mile 13: 8:14

Mile 14: 7:56 Started Raining

Mile 15: 8:14 Pouring!

Mile 16: 8:13 (Animal Kingdom)

Mile 17: 8:26 Pouring still! “Just keep running”…Thought of Dorey and then coach Cat!

Mile 18: 8:40

Mile 19: 8:49 (Blizzard Beach Parking lot)

Mile 20: 7:54

 

Now, I earned the right to race!  Stay tuned for Part 8 and the final section of my Disney Marathon and the final 6 miles of the 48.6 Dopey Challenge!

 

Disney Marathon Miles 21-26.2

 

There you are pain cave!

 

I really enjoyed the first 20 miles of this race feeling strong and having fun stopping for 4 different character stops during the middle miles of the race (30-60 sec wait at most)

 

Now the fun starts and the real race begins but given how good I felt up until this point without the full marathon training cycle during training and running the 3 days prior, I did expect some sort of shoe to drop and me hit some kind of wall…but that didn’t happen surprisingly!

 

The only thing I felt was my right hamstring start to get tight and thought it was about to cramp so what did I do?  Walked and took more of my BASE electrolyte salt as well as another gel (6th one) and even a full cup of Powerade (given it was so late in the race, I wasn’t worried about it bothering my stomach at all) and it never came back the rest of the way

 

Hollywood studios was fun (even though you only run through a quick second but the cast members were most lively there and I had fun with the large crowd outside of the park waiting to enter as I yelled at them and they all roared back which pumped me up.

 

 

Saw my wife again at the Boardwalk (which was quite slippery by the way) with all the rain so I was happy I had my Adidas Adios Pro 3’s as they have a bit more traction under them then my Saucony Pro 3 racing shoe.

That really gave a SPARK and I knew the end was in sight as I just had to go up one little hill to enter EPCOT then it was a victory lap around the world

 

I even took my extra gel, which was the 7th one (just in case you lose one or someone else needs one) during the last mile and a half as I knew I was about to enter the pain cave so I needed all the fuel and energy at that point!

 

Mile 21: 8:17

Mile 22: 7:48

Mile 23: 8:19 (Hollywood Studios)

Mile 24: 8:23 (Boardwalk)

Mile 25: 8:24 (Epcot)

Mile 26: 7:46

Mile 26.73: 7:16

Final Time- 3:44:30, 8:34

Freakin AMAZED at how awesome this felt!!!!

 

The fact that only the last 2 miles felt hard, and I was breathing heavy was so gratifying!!!  Training consistently works (even if you don’t have a full marathon training cycle leading up to your race)

 

This was only 4 minutes off my PR as Cape Cod was 3:40:38, 8:25!

 

Disney Dopey Challenge Recap 🏅 (Final and Last Part)…Lessons Learned

Proud of myself for utilizing my mental strategies of going fishing and using my “fight” mantras after mile 20 and being able to finish the Dopey challenge strong with 3 miles at a sub 8-minute pace during the hardest part of a marathon!

 

I even stopped for 4-character photos (30-60 sec each) felt strong the whole way and I was surprised at how great I felt.  Didn’t start breathing heavily until the last 2 miles in Epcot.

I was able to meet all my goals:

  • Have fun with my family and experience Gabby’s first road race, Olivia’s first 10K, and my wife’s 3rd half marathon comeback victory
  • Run each magical mile with gratitude.
  • Have fun running Disney and conquering 48.6 magical miles in 4 days.
  • Enjoy the Disney experience (talked to many runners on the course, complimented many costumes, thanked every person I took water from, and got in four character photo stops) …Sorry I was not going to go on Everest in the pouring rain (and I just went on it the week before so I was content)

 

Lessons Learned:

 

  1. Fitness doesn’t disappear with rest and recovery.  All it needs is a light kickstart with strides and a touch of threshold effort and we can maintain so much with an aerobic rebuild.  As my coach Stef said, I am proof of this and I remained 100% healthy during training, during the 4 days of doing Dopey, and felt phenomenal 3 days after my marathon at the time of this recording.

 

  1. Back-to-back long runs should be practiced in training if you are doing Dopey and I would argue is more important than adding in speedwork or doing a 20 miler in training to your weekly plan. (I did 14 & 9 milers, 16 & 12 milers, and 18 & 13 milers). 

 

  1. Get to the Disney Marathon earlier than you did for the first 3 days!  A lot more people and more road closures for buses.

 

Grateful for this opportunity and feeling healthy before, during, and after this Dopey challenge.

 

Thank you so much to my coach Stephanie Flippin for all you have done to prepare me for this challenge, and I am just loving this marathon journey we are on!

 

In the words of the great Walt Disney “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It” for me, I am grateful to have this magical 48.6 mile Disney Dopey challenge experience.

 

Stay tuned for continued marathon growth in 2024 in which I strive for another strong marathon at the Wineglass Marathon on October 6th!

 

If you are looking to unlock your greatest potential as an adult athlete to run a strong marathon or runDisney challenge like I did then you can learn more about our 1:1 personalized coaching program in which we provide the structured strength and run plan, support, and guidance to allow you to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running to make your running dreams a reality.  You can learn more here

 

Also be sure to check out next week’s episode in which I will share my top tips for you to crush your next runDisney Race!

 

Until then, let’s maintain a strong mind, strong body, and just keep running!

 

P.S- Checkout out these FREE resources to make your marathon experience a memorable one (click the images for the download)!

 

 

 

 

Connect with Dr. Duane:

Dr. Duane Scotti, DPT, PhD, OCS is a running physical therapist, run coach, host of the Healthy Runner podcast, and founder of Spark Healthy Runner and has been a leader in the rehab and running community for 20+ years.

 

Duane initially started running as an adult, wanting to add some cardio to his gym sessions. After having a hip surgery, his doctor advised him to get off the treadmill and run outside. Without having fully recovered, Duane suffered a running-related hamstring tendon injury and many others as a novice runner.

 

As a coach, he has guided thousands of athletes back to running, finishing their first marathon, crushing a personal best, and even the elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time.

 

He is truly living his passion educating the running community that they don’t need to stop running to get over a running injury.  Through his signature 1:1 coaching program, weekly videos, and podcast episodes, he empowers runners to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running.  Dr. Duane truly believes that anyone can run and that all runners should be treated differently when recovering from an injury.  He is on a mission to change the traditional thinking that running causes “overuse injuries” or “your body is just not meant to run” and you must “take a break” to get better.  Through strength and run specific training you can grow a strong mind, strong body, and just keep running!

 

Duane received his Bachelor of Health Science degree and Master of Physical Therapy degree from Quinnipiac University in 2001 and 2003. He then went on to receive a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2017. Duane is a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Certified Mulligan Practitioner, certified in dry needling and has advanced training in spinal manipulation and rehabilitation for runners.

 

As an athlete, Duane is an adult-onset runner, avid half marathoner, and enjoys challenging himself to learn and grow in his personal running journey!

 

A native New Yorker from Long Island, Duane currently lives in Cheshire, Connecticut with his wife Deb and his two teenage daughters who are competitive volleyball players.  They all love to explore new beaches along the east coast.

 

 

 

Get weekly running tips on the Healthy Runner Podcast…available wherever you get your podcasts!

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“I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude towards Duane Scotti and the Spark Healthy Runner program. When I started working with Duane, I had been dealing with chronic shin splints/posterior tibialis tendinitis for almost a year.

I had worked with multiple other coaches and physical therapists with little success and was at the point of almost giving up on my love for running. Duane is so kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable as both a physical therapist and running coach. Our first virtual meeting lasted two hours because he was so meticulous in his assessment. His strength and running program is progressive and created so that you can continue to build strength and mileage as you heal. His strength program is unique, effective, and fun.

Additionally, his warm-up routine is awesome and includes drills that over time have made me a more efficient runner. His training platform is easy to use, and he is always readily available to chat when problems or questions arise.

Over four months of working with Duane, I have built back to five days a week of running and am almost back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and long run distance. Whenever I have flare ups or setbacks, Duane reassures me and makes necessary adjustments so that I can continue to progress in my running journey. I have had so much success with him so far that I have signed on for four more months so that he can help me to continue getting stronger as I train for the Dopey challenge in Disney World.

If you are struggling with a running injury and are feeling hopeless, you have to reach out to Duane Scotti. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work, but with Duane by your side, you will be able to achieve your goals and more. Thank you Spark Healthy Runner for bringing the spark back to my running!”

Dipti Pandya

You can teach an old dog new tricks!!!  I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach.  I am soooo glad I made the investment in me!  I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier!  The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching.  I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong.  I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot!  The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally.  I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age.  Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!

Gina J.

My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.

I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.

I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!

Katja L.

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