Q: “Can I Do The Goofy Challenge As My First Marathon?”

April 16, 2013


(More on that in a second.)

Someone came to my blog by asking this. If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers (or at least my opinions). I thought with Goofy registration happening now, this was a good time to talk about this.

You can do whatever you want as your first anything. Some people think you should start with a 5k or 10k and keep working up. I think it’s not necessarily about which races you do, but the training that gets you there.

Goofy could certainly be your first marathon. You just have to make sure to give yourself enough time to train.

How much time is enough time to train for the Goofy Challenge?

Well, that kind of all depends on where you’re starting. It took me about 4 – 5 months to go from pretty much a couch potato to being able to jog 13.1 miles without stopping. (13.1 miles is the first day/first third of the Goofy challenge.)

Also, there’s a general rule of thumb that you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. So, think about where you are now mileage-wise and do the math on that.

Getting back to the point at hand, my general feeling on whether it could be your first is it absolutely could. You could start with a hundred-miler if that’s what you wanted to do. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but you could. As long as you train for the distance your aiming for, you can start at any distance.

I’ll admit I was scared of the big, bad m-word – marathon. That’s why I started with a half. (Back in 2009, and my first marathon didn’t end up being until 2012. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

Now, having done marathons, I know they’re not really that scary.

I will say, though, that personally, I wouldn’t recommend doing a Disney race as your first race.

Sure, they’re silly and fun, and can be a little break from other races. But, the best way I can describe Disney running events is that they are Disney events that happen to involve running, instead of running events that happen to involve Disney.

Yes, you cover the distance. You get a medal. You’ll be a marathoner just as sure as anyone else is. But, I don’t think it really shows you a true picture of what the sport of running is like.

Many people in Disney races don’t follow any running etiquette. They don’t move to the right to walk. They don’t get out of the way (making room for you to go to the table) once they’ve gotten water or Gatorade. They come to a dead stop outside of Cinderella’s castle (on a narrow bridge) to try to get a couple of good pictures.

Not to hate on Disney runners. Trust me, I’m not trying to insinuate that I’m perfect (or even close). I’m sure that sometimes without meaning to/realizing it, I’ve probably done some inconsiderate things. (Huge apologies to any runners if I’ve gotten in your way.)

But, at Disney races, it’s not a few fluke etiquette mistakes made out of delirium, or a couple of people who don’t know yet. It seems like the culture there.

I was slightly annoyed in my first Disney half. But once I grew to accept it, I embraced it. I’m stopped when I’m stopped, and it is what it is. I’m totally fine and patient about it.

(I’m slow, anyway. So, it’s not like it matter all that much to me ( – even though slow people still like to move and sometimes set PRs). (Though I don’t think you should ever have a goal to PR at Disney.))

Aurora in her favorite tired post race pic

I appreciate Disney races for what they are. But I think it’s important everyone knows what they are before entering the races. So, should it be your first? I wouldn’t make it mine – not because of the distance, but because of the atmosphere.

Can it be your first? Absolutely. You can conquer the mileage in training. And during the race, you can be in a low-stress (depending on who you are/how you look at it) environment surrounded by tons of other new people.

What would I recommend as a first marathon? Well, I’ve only done two – one crazy one through a trail (mainly so that Disney wouldn’t be my first…), and Disney.

So, I don’t know that I can really say. I hear New York is spectacular. I hear LA’s actually pretty fun. Judging by my half marathon experiences, I’d say do some humongous race as your first everything.

Feel free to add comments if Disney was your first, or if you have a great first marathon you have to talk about!

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?