DisneyLand Half Marathon Weekend Fun Facts (source)I’m Going to Disneyland!

Categories: General Running
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Published on: August 30, 2014

As I’ve mentioned over and over, (and over and over, again), I’m running the DisneyLand Half-Marathon at the end of August. I ran the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge last January, and I decided this was my year to complete the Coast-to-Coast ChallengeI’m looking forward to it with some trepidation. As is usual for my races, I’m pouring over all available information and soaking up any information I can about the race and course, in particular ChatterRunGirl’s race report of last year’s Disneyland half marathon!

This will be my first race since the Mississauga Half-Marathon. That’s a very long time between races for me, but I was trying to stay disciplined about training. I plan to treat this as a strictly fun race, with no goal time in mind. And I plan to take lots of pictures!

DisneyLand Half Marathon Weekend Fun Facts (source)
DisneyLand Half Marathon Weekend Fun Facts (source)

There was a post on RunDisney’s facebook about wanting to hear the story from runner’s and their journey to the DisneyLand half Marathon Weekend. I had quite a journey to get here.

They chose not to publish my entry because there were other stories. I totally understand that RunDisney would chose to highlight runners that went through significant financial, personal, emotional or other obstacles to get to the DisneyLand Half Marathon Race weekend. But, since they won’t publish it, it gives me a great opportunity to publish it on my own blog!

It’s a nice summary of my running journey, and could be a fairly accurate “About Me” piece.

My name is Paul Radcliffe, I’m a 29 year-old runner from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, near  and I often talk about running on my blog: paulradcliffe.ca. I saw a posting on RunDisney’s facebook page about overcoming obstacles to get to the DisneyLand half. Although I suspect some people had enormous emotional, physical, and/or financial obstacles to overcome to get to the DisneyLand Half-Marathon, I still felt compelled to share my story.

Like many runners, I am an “adult-onset” athlete. I was not really involved in sports or fitness as a child or in University. It showed! Finishing school I was badly out of shape, overweight, and generally unhealthy. My life changed when I joined some co-workers to climb the CN Tower (a Toronto landmark) as a fundraiser. I struggled so badly that I realized I something had to change if I wanted to survive.

After that, I started eating better, going to the gym, and running. I was very proud of myself when I ran my first half-marathon, and have run many half and full-marathons since then, including multiple Goofy Challenges at Walt Disney World. I’ve even occasionally been a clinic instructor at my local Running Room. I’m certainly not very fit yet, but I’m working on it.

I like running. It’s liberating. There’s no fancy equipment or mechanical advantage you can buy, it’s just you and your legs. I feel like running lets you reclaim your body, neighbourhood, and control. And I like the recreational running community. I find team sports a bit too antagonistic for my taste. The recreational runners I know are absolutely respectful and supportive. Doesn’t matter how good or bad you are; you’re one of us!

I feel like running has made me a better person. It’s brought more structure and order to my life, but also given me freedom. I’ve made many friends through running, and most of us share the same joy of running.

However, I encountered an obstacle in the spring of 2013. I developed a painful and debilitating tingling in feet when running. My doctor simply told me to stop running. That hurt. That hurt almost more than the injury. It was like losing a part of my identity. But, I was worried running was killing me, so I complied and missed many races and many months of training. I gained weight, and I lost confidence in myself.

I subjected myself to a battery of tests and saw a lot of doctors. Eventually, a chiropractor suggested I might have a form of posterior tibial impingement. Supposedly, my calves were swelling when I ran cutting off the blood supply to my legs and putting pressure on my nerves.

It took months and months, but I was able to change my running form, and the way I trained so that I could run again. I became much more diligent about stretching, foam rolling and other post-run care activities.  My feet still tingle now and then, but that’s just the reminder I need to take care of myself better when I slack off.

I’m glad to be back. I completed my 3rd Goofy Challenge in January this year (I actually did the whole Dopey). I’m looking forward to a new experience and continuing to enjoy running as I run the DisneyLand half-marathon soon.


Accidental cheat weekCheat Week(s)

Categories: General Running
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Published on: August 26, 2014

I’d like to think I’ve been training pretty hard. This Jack Daniels’ inspired training program is a big step up from my usual training scheme, and I like it! I’m glad that I had a break from weight training and Tai Chi during the Phase III: Transition Quality period. I may have also accidentally stumbled upon another possible secret to success: The Cheat Week.

I bemoan and regret when my training lags. It’s an amazing feeling to look at my dailymile stats and see the mileage and effort constantly increasing. But after pushing hard for a while, I tend to crash: After a while my motivation lags, my body hurts, and I’m irritable. These are typical symptoms of overtraining, and it sucks.

Accidental cheat week
Accidental cheat week during week 30

So, I inevitably reduce mileage and intensity, recover a bit, and then come back at it better than before. In fact, this two weeks ago was a prime example: I was very proud that I dragged myself through a grueling 55km week, but it left me sore, tired, and unmotivated. In short, I was done! Fortunately, last week was a planned “plateau” or cheat week anyways. I focused on rest, avoided the planned interval work, and worked on getting better. It helped a lot!!

In his book, The Jack Daniels’ Running Formula, Dr. Daniels says such weeks happen and they should be embraced rather than regretted. Daniels writes that you can continue to be ‘scheduled’ and plan social events, rest, and chores as If they were workouts. I like that, but recently I discovered a new way to look at it.

I mentioned in my half-year resolutions that I want to do a triathlon next spring, so I’ve started peeking at Triathlon training programs. A couple of them recommend or require scheduling a ‘rest week each month. It’s roughly defined as a week where you reduce mileage and effort to let the body recover and adapt. It’s a great idea, that I’ve been doing by accident for a while!

Looking back, even the Running Room‘s programs have cheat weeks. There are weeks where the weekly mileage actually decreases, or plateaus.

I read up a bit more about ‘rest weeks’ or ‘cheat weeks’, and there’s a surprising amount of negative opinion. One blogger said it’s like giving drugs to a drug addict. Others say that ‘cheat days’ can easily become ‘cheat weeks’ or months! I can definitely see their point! But, I think scheduling the downtime and being rigorous about getting ‘back on the wagon’ is a key to overall success (like running at the second beep).

It is very possible to follow the 10% rule religiously, even with cheat weeks. In fact, cheat weeks may help! The 10% rule is that your weekly mileage should not increase more than 10% each week. So, if you ran 30km on week 5 of your program, you shouldn’t do more than 33km on week 6. But, if you continued increasing by 10% each week, you’d be at more than 90km a week by the end of an 18 week cycle, and that’s absolutely nuts!

So, from now on I’m going to schedule ‘cheat weeks’ into my training schedule while still following the 10% rule. And I recommend everyone try it too!

The Final Quality phase for my summer 2014 TrainningDaniels’ Training Phase IV: Final Quality

Categories: General Running
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Published on: August 20, 2014

It’s amazing how quickly time flies. If feels like only yesterday that I picked up Jack Daniels’ book and started drafting my  Jack Daniels Inspired Summer Training Program. Now I’m almost done Phase III: Transition Quality and moving into the final stretch, Phase IV: Final Quality.


The Final Quality phase for my summer 2014 Trainning

This last phase is normally when I would be tapering, but Dr. Daniels’ takes a different approach. The last week feels almost like an anti-taper with a significant amount of easy miles. I’ve trusted the plan so far, so I’ll trust this too.

The last week of this is the strangest. I’m used to taking it very easy in the last week of training. Jack Daniels’ book is very specific of what the last week should look like. I’ve read about not tapering, but this is the first time I’m really going to try it.

And there are two races in there: My goal race the Ottawa Army Run Half-Marathon, and  the DisneyLand Half-Marathon. I hope to finish the Army Run in less than 2 hours. We’ll see how it goes… 


Review of Phase III

I won’t mince words: This section was hard!

The mileage was high. In fact, many weeks of this half-marathon training program exceeded the mileage I used to do for full-marathon training!

I‘m actually kind of glad that I didn’t do much weight training or tai chi on August; I just didn’t have time!


My summer 2014 Training so far; note the unfortunate dips during Phase III
My summer 2014 Training so far; note the unfortunate dips during Phase III

As you can see in the above graphic, I had great ramps up to big weekly mileages. And there are some obvious dips. I had a couple setbacks during this period: July didn’t go completely as planned. I finished phase II during vacation, so adjusting back to reality while training was hard, and I missed a few runs. In fact, I had to re-work the whole Phase III plan so that I didn’t ramp the mileage too fast. But, I’m glad I reached my peak of 55km/week.

I am finally starting to feel the benefits of this style of training. I surprised myself by comfortably holding race pace a couple times during runs. According to my VDOT, that should have been my interval pace! Maybe I have actually adapted and improved…


#2 on Runner's World's "25 Worst Questions to ask a runner"In Praise of the #5amRunClub

Categories: General Running
Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: August 18, 2014

I posted some motivational images about running early in the morning on this post, but this post will talk about it in detail.

One of the biggest challenges of my current Jack Daniels inspired training program was finding time to do five runs each week. I constantly saw dailymile posts by Nicole, Sam, Emma, Patty and others featuring the hastag #5amRunClub, so I decided to join in. I wasn’t disappointed.

(To be fair, the idea of running early in the morning wasn’t entirely foreign to me; I ran early in the morning during my Dopey Training last fall)

It is tricky to find time to exercise. It feels like we’re always so busy that we don’t even have time to breathe. And the thought of securing 5 nights a week for running was ridiculous; I have other things to do with me time (like tai chi and weight training). So, I had to find time!

Normally, I have to be at work around 8am. It takes me about an hour to commute. Add in time to shower after the workout and have breakfast, and I need to be done my workout shortly after 6am. So, I’m running at 5am is out of necessity, not novelty.

In all honestly, I’m not a morning person. In university, my best studying and working hours were from 10pm until about 2am. I can remember still being awake when the morning shows started on the radios at 5am.

And no, I don’t drink coffee. I’ve barely touched the stuff in 4 years. I fee like many people are overly addicted to coffee. And the last thing I need is to be dehydrated.


#2 on <a href=
#2 on Runner’s World’s “25 Worst Questions to ask a runner


CONS of RUNNING at 5am

  • It’s an absolute necessity to go to bed early. Getting ready for bed around 8:30pm seems ridiculous, but you get used to it
  • It’s dark: Usual tips for running at night apply
  • It’s hard to go high-intensity intervals while still half-asleep
  • I feel a little rushed to finish because I need to get ready for work
  • I have to go to bed very early*

*This going to bed early business is the weirdest. In my New Year and Half-Year Resolutions, I resolved to sleep at least 8 hours a night. So, to get on the road by 5am, I’d have to be in bed before 9pm. Ouch!

But, it didn’t take me long to realize that a lot of things I do at night are easy to cut out. I don’t have an active social life, so I’m not missing out on that. I watch few TV shows. I found the only thing I missed by going to bed early was wasting time. It’s amazing how much time I wasted in the evenings when I could have been sleeping.


PROS of RUNNING at 5am

  • It wakes me up and I feel more energized all day! Better than coffee (not that I would know…)
  • I have a sense of accomplishment all day
  • It’s quiet, there aren’t any cars
  • Beautiful sunrises
  • Afternoons are free for whatever: more workouts, housework and chores, or social calls.



One other things about #5amRunClub is that it makes for great selfies:

Running during the "supermoon"
Running during the “supermoon”

Being a goofball of a runner early in the morning
Being a goofball of a runner early in the morning




And you don’t have to run alone

Forced smiles around 5am
Forced smiles around 5am

#5amRunClub growing... apparently I'm contagious
#5amRunClub growing… apparently I’m contagious



I’m not the only one who thinks morning exercise rocks!



I will continue my membership in the #5amRunClub past the end of this season and plan to continue running early in the morning. It will definitely be darker, so I’ll have to rely on my Knuckle LightsAs it gets icy, I may wuss out and find an indoor track 

Further, since I resolved to do a triathlon next spring, I plan to join the #530amSwimClub that Mari and Sam talk about on dailymile.



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