Winning Your Own Race

IIMG_6799t’s March 22, 2015. I cross the finish line of my very first full marathon. I’m overwhelmed with joy, and I feel an amazing sense of pride. No more than 45 minutes after I’ve crossed the finish line, a completely different thought comes to mind. There were a lot of really fast runners in that race. A lot of people I know finished in less than four hours. I ran too slow. I’m a personal trainer. I’m supposed to be good at these things. Why didn’t I run this faster?

WHAT! I had just finished a MARATHON. I ran 26.2 miles. I literally trained through blood, sweat, tears, ice, snow and torrential downpour. Why was I so quick to belittle my enormous achievement? I had allowed myself no more than 45 minutes of feeling proud before I started comparing myself to other people. I would never do that to one of my friends, so why was I doing that to myself?

The more I talk with friends, clients and fellow runners, the more I realize that I’m not alone in this. It’s an epidemic among all of us, and it doesn’t stop at just comparing finish times. There’s even a mean voice in our heads that sometimes tells us that we don’t “look” like runners. You don’t need the body of an Olympic athlete to finish a long distance race. In fact, I’ve seen every type of body cross the finish line. You know who looks like a runner? Anyone who is putting one foot in front of the other with the goal of finishing the race.

I’m not saying that we should settle for something that isn’t our best, or that we should only give 50% then tell ourselves it’s good enough. We should recognize our goals and give it all we’ve got, but at the end of the day you’re the only one who can decide that you’re worth celebrating.

If you registered for a long distance race, you’ve made an incredible commitment to yourself. Maybe you’ve decided to do something that scares you. Maybe this is a big step you’ve made towards changing your life and living healthy. Maybe you have to wake up at 5AM to get your run in before work, or maybe you have to run at 10PM after your kids have gone to sleep. THAT IS AMAZING. YOU ARE AMAZING. I don’t care what you looked like or how fast you ran. Training for a long distance race involves constantly prioritizing your goals and your health. You have to make the decision again and again to lace up your shoes and hit the road. Every single time you make that decision there should be celebratory fireworks going off in your head.

Here are a few strategies I’ve been using to help me feel motivated, proud and awesome about my running.

  1. Set specific and achievable goals: It’s silly to feel upset about not running “fast enough” when you didn’t even have a specific pace goal in mind in the first place. Create a goal that is ambitious but achievable and make an action plan.
  2. Delete negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts: Every time you catch yourself saying something negative, literally visualize a giant red X over the words. Replace it with something positive like “I run fast and strong!”
  3. Remember how far you have come: There was a time when running 2 miles was challenging. Now I can run 26.2 miles. I put in a lot of work to get there, and that makes me proud.
  4. Be reasonable about your disappointment: So you made a goal and you didn’t quite get there. It’s OK to feel disappointed, but don’t obsess over it. Use that disappointment as a form of motivation for the next race, not as a way to bring yourself down.
  5. Create a mantra: Mine is based on one of my favorite Deepak Chopra meditations. I let it play over and over again in my head when I doubt myself as a runner or anywhere else in my life. “I am unlimited strength, I am blissful happiness, I am remarkable speed, I am exquisite well being, I am complete harmony, I am inner peace.” It’s pretty deep. It makes me feel good!

I’ll leave you with this awesome Nike commercial that gave me goose bumps. Finishing last doesn’t make you any less of a runner. All you have to do to be a runner is run.


Foam Rolling for Runners


Foam rolling is a great way to take care of your body during race training. I really believe it was the pixie dust that got me through my full marathon without any major aches and pains. The importance of using a foam roller is starting to make its way around the running world, but not everyone necessarily knows how or why we use it. If you are one of those people, fear not! Here are some FAQs regarding foam rolling along with some examples of how to foam roll those notoriously tight muscles.

What is foam rolling?
Put simply, foam rolling is a form of stretching. The fancy term for it is “Self-Myofascial Release” or “SMR” if you like acronyms. It’s a method that involves putting gentle pressure on a trigger point or a “knot” within the muscle to increase blood flow and release tension. This is similar to a massage.

What are the benefits of foam rolling? 
There are SO MANY. Foam rolling can improve your range of motion, relieve muscle soreness after a long run, prevent injury, improve gait, decrease joint pain, correct muscle imbalances and increase circulation. It basically makes you a better, faster, less injury-prone runner, and it can make running less painful in general.

When should I foam roll?
The great thing about foam rolling is that you don’t have to be warmed-up to do it. In fact, I would recommend doing it at the very beginning of your workout. This will make you more mobile and less injury prone when you move into the actual workout. It’s also a great way to cool down after a long run.

How do I foam roll?
Slowly roll over the targeted area until you find a pressure point. You will know when you are on a pressure point because it will feel really tender and you will experience some discomfort. Depending on how tight the area is, it could be A LOT of discomfort or just a little. Stay on that tender spot for 30-90 seconds and breathe slowly. Try to relax your body. It’s easy to tense up and clench your hands and face when you feel the pain, but try to avoid that. After the 30-90 seconds, you will start to feel the discomfort subside and the muscle will relax. You want to take the time to really explore the muscle and find multiple pressure points. Try slowly rolling forward and back or side to side and notice how just a slight change in your position can locate new pressure points. Here are a few more tips:

  • Move slow. It’s tempting to roll quickly over the muscle, especially when it’s really painful but this is ineffective. It takes time for the muscle to relax and rolling quickly over a tender spot won’t fix anything.
  • Choose the density of your foam roller. If foam rolling a certain area is too painful for you, start with a softer foam roller then build your way up. If you want to really get in there and apply a lot of pressure, try using a rumble roller or a lacrosse ball. Lacrosse balls are especially great for rolling out the bottoms of the feet.
  • Remember that everything in our body is connected. For example, if you’re feeling a lot of discomfort in your IT band, it could actually be your glutes and hips that are tight. If you’re feeling some discomfort in your lower back, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to foam roll your lower back. It could be that your hip flexors or lats are really tight. Just be diverse with what you foam roll.

Foam rolling suggestions for runners:

PicCollageIliotibial (IT) Band/Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL):  Lie on one side with the foam roller just in front of the hip. Cross the top leg over the lower leg, placing that foot on the floor. Slowly roll from the hip joint down toward the knee (but avoid rolling on the knee). You can also try slowly rocking forward and back to see if you locate a more sensitive area toward the front or back of the leg.


Piriformis: Sit on top of the foam roller. Cross one foot over the opposite knee. Lean into the hip of the crossed leg. This is really important. For some reason everyone always tries to lean toward the wrong leg. Slowly roll on the back hip area to find the tender spot. If you don’t feel any pressure points, try sitting on top of a tennis ball or lacrosse ball.


Calves: Place foam roller under the calf. Cross one leg over the other to increase pressure. If this creates too much pressure for you, try it without crossing the top leg over. Be sure to roll the entire length of the muscle.


Shins: This is the area that bothers me the most when I run. Place the foam roller under your shins and then put your hands on the floor in front of you. You can cross your legs at the ankles or roll both shins at once. It works best when you roll over either side of the shin bone. This is also a great one to do with a lacrosse ball.

Recommended products:

Happy foam rolling, runners!


Tips for Running in The Summer Heat


I absolutely love summer and the heat. Give me warm temps, a good book, a cold drink, and a patio, and I am good to go…until I have to run. Running in the summer can be pretty unmagical. When temps in Texas hit triple digits, I feel like a melted snowman.

Here are a few strategies I use to help make running in the heat bearable:


1. Run before the sun comes up: I’m usually an evening runner, so this is a tough one for me. I really enjoy going for a run to let off steam after a long work day. In the hottest parts of summer evening runs are not always possible. This past week the temps were still over 90 degrees at 9:00 pm. Morning runs are a much cooler option. Even though it can be hard to win the battle with the alarm clock, I know how great it will feel when I am properly prepped for my fall races. Temps are usually the coolest before 7:30 am, so I try to finish up before then.

2. Stay hydrated: Dehydration is not a good way to end a run. When temps are high, you will need more water than usual. The optimal amount of water needed can vary from person to person. I try to drink 6-8 oz of water every 30 minutes during a runs lasting 45 min or more. More importantly I try to maintain proper hydration before and after runs. That means I usually drink my weight in water (literally, that’s how many oz I drink during the day). I’m also more inclined to try a Gatorade type beverage after a run in the summer time.

3. Take it slow: There’s no way around it. You will run slower in the summer. How much slower will also vary from person to person. In Jeff Galloway’s training program on the RunDisney website he recommends slowing your pace by about a minute a mile for temps above 70 F and 2 minutes a mile for temps above 80 F.

4. Find a friend: This is a great tip for training any time of year. A training buddy can help keep you motivated when temps and early mornings are standing between you and your training plan. If you don’t have a friend who can join you for runs, consider joining some of the Facebook groups for runners. All of the Disney races have Facebook groups filled with other runners to help you stay motivated. A simple search for running groups on Facebook will give you loads of options for virtual pals.

5. Find some sprinklers: I know it sounds odd, but I love to run in my neighborhood on watering days. I strategically try to run close to the sprinklers to get little cool off from the water. Running through sprinklers also makes me happy because it makes me feel like a kid again.

6. Consider a treadmill: When all else fails, you can turn to a treadmill. I’m going to be completely honest here. I LOATHE treadmills. I never run on a treadmill. I think they are evil robots out to get me. Seriously. I hyperventilate just thinking about a treadmill. I realize that is a completely irrational fear that is likely not shared by our friendly readers. For that reason, I decided to include the treadmill as a strategy for summer runs. Use at your own risk, friends.

7. Wear proper attire: Breathable fabric is a must in the summer heat. Look for fabrics that are moisture wicking. You don’t have to go to an expensive store to find moisture wicking workout attire. Walmart and Target are great locations to find inexpensive clothing options for summer runs. Don’t forget to look for moisture wicking socks, too!

That’s all the tips for now. Hopefully a few of these will help you stay a happy snowman… IN SUMMER!!!




Our Favorite Fitness Classes for Cross-training


The three of us at Runs in Tutus have all started our training for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November! Amanda has been following a training plan she created to help reach a personal record at the race, while Melanie and Christine have been following the Jeff Galloway training plan posted by runDisney. Regardless of the training plan we are following, all of us have incorporated cross-training into our weekly workout routine. This helps keep us strong and makes us better, safer runners!

While it may not sound as exciting as running through Cinderella castle, you’d be surprised how many fun and exciting options there are out there! For example, by attending group exercise classes you can learn something new, have some fun, get in your cross-training AND meet new friends along the way. This is a HUGE perk. You won’t believe how motivated you are to make it to class when your new friend expects you to be there. No one wants to be the loser that didn’t show up!

Not sure which classes to try? Here are some Runs in Tutus personal favorites. Extra points if you show up to class in a tutu.

Princess Christine: I really enjoy dance fitness classes and ballet. I like ballet because it is mentally and physically challenging and it builds a strong core and improves flexibility.  I had the idea of trying ballet for cross-training a couple years ago. Ballet dancers seem to have pretty rockin’ bods, and the cute clothing and pinkness fit my number one criteria for starting a workout program. I have to say it has really changed my body and my core! The slow concentrated effort on the upper body, along with precise directive from a pro ballet teacher were exactly what I needed.  As for flexibility, I am pleased to say the stretching and barre work have been an excellent compliment for running. My hips feel so much better, and my stride has improved with my increase in flexibility. I take ballet and dance classes about 2-3x/week.


Christine danced in Don Quixote last June. Ballet is her favorite form of cross-training. She also danced in Swan Lake this summer. Photo credit: Dony Dawson

Princess Melanie: I like kickboxing, dance cardio, indoor cycling, and general weight training/conditioning classes. I feel like those are the classes where I burn the most calories, but also work out muscle groups that don’t get a lot of attention with running. I also enjoy an occasional yoga class for flexibility and strength. I use ClassPass which allows me to take a wide variety of classes and also makes it hard to pick a favorite. I’m really motivated by the welcoming and friendly environment in group fitness classes, and it’s especially great when you get a fun, high energy instructor! I take 3 classes a week.

Melanie having fun after class!

Princess Amanda: I absolutely love POUND classes. It’s a class that combines isometric movements with simulated drumming. You get to rock out to your favorite songs with a set of bright green drumsticks called ripstix. Aside from the fact that it’s really unique and fun, I also like it because it strengthens your legs and hips and improves balance which is really beneficial for runners. Since I started doing POUND regularly 2x/week, it’s become easier to run up hills and I’ve been able to run faster without fatiguing. If you’re in DC, you can find POUND at Balance Gym! If you’re in another city, you can find a class by searching here. I also love inventing Disney themed workouts and trying them out with my sisters for cross-training.


Squats are more fun with ripstix. Photo credit: Kori Kamradt

Do you love a fitness class that we didn’t mention here? Tweet us @runsintutus so that we can try it out!

Mike and Sulley’s Buddy Workout: Inspired by Monsters Inc.

photo copy 7

Calling all monsters! It’s time to get in ship shape for your upcoming races so that you can be the scariest, strongest and toughest monster around! This workout is inspired by the great Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan. It’s a conditioning workout that’s best performed with a buddy. It’s sure to keep your heart rate elevated and build your endurance, so grab your best buddy and let’s get to work!



Equipment: All you need for this workout is your best buddy, a sense of humor and a “kid.”

We drew a kid's face and stapled it to a stick for a real authentic monster workout.

We drew a kid’s face and stapled it to a stick for a real authentic monster workout.

The Workout: This buddy workout involves exercises from 5 different categories including scary feet, kids in a bunk bed, don’t let the kid touch you, monster crawls and the top scarer celebration. The exercises should be done in a circuit style. Depending on your fitness level, you’ll want to try each exercise for 20-45 seconds. One partner will be Mike and one will be Sulley. When you finish the first round, switch roles with your partner and repeat. How many rounds can you do?? Complete 4 rounds each and you’re on track to becoming top scarer! If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry – keep working on it. Before you know it, you’ll be making your way up the Scarer’s Leaderboard and leaving monsters like Randall in the dust!

Exercise #1: SCARY FEET

Monsters need to be able to move quickly and think fast during a scare mission. When your partner yells “scary feet,” run in place as fast as you can. When you hear “the kid’s awake,” get down onto the ground and stay low. If your partner yells “the kid’s asleep,” it’s your time to shine! Do a squat jump and get as high as you can. To keep the exercise safe for the joints, be sure to land as quietly as possible.


Exercise #2: KIDS IN A BUNK BED

Have your partner hold out the stick horizontally. Step over the stick and then duck under it. Switch directions halfway through so that you get both sides.



This skill is crucial for monsters because a single touch from a human child will kill you. That’s why we’ve offered two different exercises in this section. Watch out for the kid!

  1. Plank Taps: Start in a plank position on your hands. Your partner will simulate the child by going after one hand at a time. Quickly pick up the hand and touch it to the opposite shoulder! Keep the abs tight and try not to let the hips sway back and forth.
    • Beginner modification: Bring your plank down to the knees 
  2. Lateral Reaches: Reach your arms out to the side and bend your knees slightly. Move side to side, performing a side crunch movement to keep away from the kid.
    • Beginner modification: Put your hands on your hips
    • Advanced modification: Extend your arms up over head



You never know when a stealthy monster crawl will come in handy. There are two ways to perform a monster crawl, depending on your preference.

  1. The Sulley Crawl: Get down on your hands and feet. Bend the knees and soften the arms. Stay low and close to the ground. Start to crawl by moving your right hand and left foot, then your left hand and right foot.
  2. The Wazowski Shuffle: Take a seat on the ground and reach your hands behind you. Push the hips up then move your hands and feet to walk.

Advanced modification: Try crawling backwards or going up and down steps



Time to celebrate and show your workout buddy some love! Face your partner and squat low. Jump in the air and give each other a HIGH TEN at the top. Enthusiasm is strongly encouraged.

unnamed-3Nice work monsters. Keep trying the workout and see how much you improve!

You better give it 100%…


You can reference our video below to see these exercises in action. Special thanks to our dad for filming!

– Amanda & Melanie

8 Tips for New Runners: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running


When I started training for my first half marathon in 2011, I’ll admit I really had no idea what I was doing. I just walked outside and started running. I wore what I thought was suitable to run in, which included a really old pair of some generic sneakers that I had owned for probably close to 10 years and cotton t-shirts. Since then I’ve learned a lot, and I realized a couple of things that I wish I had known when I started.

Here are the top 8 things I wish I knew before I started running:

1. You need running clothes. 

  • When I first started running, I really thought running clothes were for “serious” runners trying to win races, and I didn’t need them. I learned quickly that you don’t buy running clothes because you’re trying to win, you buy running clothes because of chafing, heat tolerance, and cold tolerance. Why make running more difficult than it already is with uncomfortable clothing? There are a lot of places that sell breathable athletic clothing for reasonable prices. I’ve even found a few running tanks from Wal-mart.

2. You need running shoes. 

  • My explanation here is pretty much the same as what I stated for running clothing. You don’t buy running shoes because you’re trying to win, you buy running shoes because of blisters. I ran my first half marathon in a pair of really old sneakers and finished the race limping with a blister that went along the entire side of my foot (not even exaggerating there). I personally prefer to run in Mizunos, and I like to pair them with Wrightsock Coolmesh II socks. Ever since I started wearing that combo, I’ve been blister free! As a side note, be sure to test out running shoes during training to make sure they work for you before wearing them to a race.

3. Walking is okay! 

  • When I started running, I thought walking meant failure. This is very wrong. Taking walk breaks when needed is actually really helpful and can even give you a faster overall pace! I was really surprised when I beat my fastest mile during a run that included a walk break. Also, thanks to RunDisney, I learned about the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method, which has been extremely helpful for me with training. You can learn more about the Jeff Galloway method at As long as you are meeting the pace requirements for the race you are registered for, there is no reason to stress about how much you walk.

4. “Bad” days will happen, shake ‘em off! 

  • I remember being far along with my training, when suddenly one day my body refused to run. I didn’t understand what was happening since I had been making a lot of progress up until that point. I’ve learned now that with running, you’re going to have days where it feels fantastic and random days where it feels really difficult.  The important thing is to not let the “bad” days get to you. You have to realize there is no such thing as a “bad” run! Everything you do is progress. The best way to approach a difficult run, is to approach it with a positive attitude. Christine gave some great tips for this in her post “Building Mental Stamina: 4 Strategies for Runners.”

5. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.

  • I used to get really discouraged about my pace and corral placement because when I first started running, everyone I knew was faster than me. I’ve learned now that it doesn’t matter.  We all cross the same finish line and earn the same medal. Everyone’s body is different with different capabilities. As long as you are pushing yourself, be proud of yourself no matter your pace! You’re lapping everyone sitting on the couch.


6. Be mindful of what you eat before a run.

  • It is important to never try a new food before a race.  The threat of a restroom emergency is real. Learn which foods work best for you during training. My favorite pre-run food is a peanut butter sandwich (sometimes with honey) and a banana. Before a RunDisney race, the whole Runs In Tutus team grabs Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches and bananas from the grab-and-go cafes located in various Disney hotels as pre-race snacks.

7. Follow a training plan.

8. Cross-training is a great idea. 

  • While the best way to train for a race is to run, I’ve found that cross-training, especially strength training exercises, can really help with your overall running performance. Amanda’s previous post “5 Best Exercises for Long Distance Runners” provides some great ideas for cross training. Along with using the tips from my personal trainer/fitness instructor sister Amanda, I am personally a ClassPass member, and take a variety of different classes to help with overall strength. I think the best way to approach cross training is to find something you enjoy doing. Yoga, Pilates, barre, weight training, kickboxing, dancing – there are a lot of options out there. I’ve even tried a surf inspired class and a Bollywood class!

Surf class at City Surf in Austin, TX


Showing off my Bollywood moves

I hope these tips help some new runners out there!


Wine and Dine Half Marathon Training Plans

photoThe next runDisney race on the Runs in Tutus itinerary will be the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon on Saturday, November 7th. We are really excited to run another Wine and Dine, and I’m especially thrilled that the race now coincides with the beginning of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! I am so excited to experience this ultimate Christmas Disney magic for the first time ever!

With the race quickly approaching, our crew has already started discussing costume ideas, dining reservations and park plans. Sometimes I get so excited about costumes and Disney magic that I forget one of the most important things – TRAINING FOR THE RACE!

For me personally, I’ve run so many half marathons that I can get away with very minimal training. I can always count on being able to finish the race with my average time as long as I do a couple of long runs a month or so before the race. I’ve decided that this year I want to avoid that trend and instead really challenge myself to break through new barriers. This year I will be shooting for a personal record at the Wine and Dine! My ultimate goal is to finish the race in less than two hours (this goal feels so much more attainable after finishing my first full marathon in March).

To hit this personal record, I’ve developed a 16 week training plan that begins the week of July 19th. From now until the first week of training, I’ll be continuing with my regular cross-training, and I’ll be running at least 5 miles a week. Once the plan begins, I will increase my mileage week by week. I plan to run 4 times a week with two days of cross-training and one day of rest.

I’ll be including my typical short runs throughout the week, but to really help with my PR goal, I’ve decided to incorporate some speed-play. I’m going to try a few Fartleks throughout my training to help increase my pace. If you’ve never heard of these, they’re just interval runs where you alternate back and forth between a faster, challenging pace and a slower, easy pace. I plan to alternate between 3 minutes of fast paced running and 2 minutes of slower paced running for my Fartlek runs.

Along with the speed work, I’ve also added a little extra mileage to my training plan to help with my PR. For a half marathon, I usually only run up to 11 or 12 miles before the race. This time, I’m going to try a couple of 14 mile runs to really push my endurance and make the race feel a little easier. I’ll hit the peak of my training the week of October 11th, then I’ll start tapering off the mileage up until the race.

If you’d like to follow along with me to train for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, you can find My Training Plan here. I realize that not everyone has the goal of hitting a personal record, so I’ve also included a Beginner Training Plan. This is more or less the plan I followed for my very first half marathon. With the Beginner Training Plan, I’d just recommend that you keep at least a 15 minute pace for all of your walks or runs. This will help you feel confident on race day, and you’ll be guaranteed to finish without the dreaded balloon ladies sweeping you off the course. Remember, the only thing that will prevent you from finishing that race is skipping your training runs!

Lastly, I just want to touch briefly on the cross-training days. There are so many fun things that you can do for cross-training: ballet, Zumba, weight-lifting, Spin, kayaking, Disney Inspired Workouts, Yoga, etc. Seriously, the wonderful world of cross-training is limitless. During our training journey to the Wine and Dine, our Runs in Tutus crew will definitely be posting about our cross-training adventures. I will also be posting many more Disney themed workouts. We’d love to hear about some of the crazy workouts you try as well!

Alright, Wine-os. Let the training begin! Do you have any specific training plans? Post your comments or questions below.

Hit the running trail and good luck!



Disney Inspired Magical Workout

We all know that cross training is crucial for long distance runners. Unfortunately, between the costume making, training runs and planning the ultimate Disney vacation, we don’t always have time to get in those workouts. They also feel very unmagical when compared to running through the happiest place on Earth. Well princesses and princes, all you need to do is add a little pixie dust to those workouts. Follow along with me below as we go through a quick strength and conditioning workout, all set to your favorite Disney tunes with no equipment required. You can find all the songs listed here on our Spotify account.

For the ultimate magic version of this workout, do all 6 songs. When you’re short on time, try the extra fast Lightning McQueen version with only songs #1 and #4.

  1. Warm-Up – Mickey Mouse March

Always be sure to warm up before your workout. I’m keeping it simple here. Just march along through the entire Mickey Mouse March. You can start with an easy march in place, and then start to lift the knees a little higher, maybe finishing with more of a run in place. You can also try butt kicks, kicking the heels all the way back. Try to stay light on your feet here. M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

  1. Planks – Daughters of Triton OR Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People

The goal here is to hold a plank for the entire song, and the song option depends on your level. “Daughters of Triton” is about 40 seconds, and “Reindeers” is 50 seconds. If you’re new to this exercise, you may even need to start with half of a song and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can also come down onto your knees to make it less challenging. For a more difficult option, try some fun variations like lifting one leg up at a time!


  1. Side Lying Leg Lifts and Clamshells – Under the Sea

Get it? Clamshells to Under the Sea? These exercises are awesome for runners because they strengthen the hips. They’re also good for toning the booty. You’re going to do half of the song lying on one side, and half the song lying on the other. I switch sides around when Sebastian says “LIFE IS DE BUBBLES!” There are three exercises for each side:

  • 30 Side Lying Leg Lifts – Lie on one side with your head resting on your hand. You can have your opposite hand in front for support. Bring your hip slightly forward and then move the top leg slightly back. You want to have your leg slightly behind your hip. Lift the top leg up and down 30 times. These should be pretty small movements.


  • 10 Clamshells – Bring both legs out in front so that your knees are at a right angle. Lift the top leg up and down 10 times, keeping the hips stacked and the legs in that 90 degree angle


  • 10 Toe Taps – Extend the top leg out in front. Turn your toes so they’re facing the floor. Bring the leg up and down 10 times, tapping the floor with your toes each time.


  1. Tabata Interval – True to Your Heart

This song is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout called a Tabata interval. Tabata intervals are great for improving cardiovascular health and endurance. Studies have also shown that they improve your metabolism and promote fat burning. Yay fat burning! The Tabata interval includes 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes. This song is just over 4 minutes, so it’s a good pick. I would also recommend using a timer or downloading an interval app that will buzz for each interval. I use one called “Interval Timer.”

You can do just about any exercise in a Tabata interval. Stair runs, side shuffles, burpees, jumping jacks – if it gets your heart rate up, it works. You can do the same exercise for the entire 4 minutes or you can alternate exercises. My favorite combo is alternating sets of speed skaters and mountain climbers.






  1. Legs and Booty – I’ll Make a Man Out of You

This one is definitely a challenge, but Mulan didn’t become a war hero by sitting around on the couch doing nothing! WE CAN DO IT. This one should really burn the legs and booty. Here’s how it works:

  • photo 1”Let’s get down to business!” When Li Shang starts singing, sit back into a wall sit. The goal is to make it for one minute, which is how long he sings here. You can always start shorter and work up to it!




  • “I’m never gonna catch my breath!” When the goofy soldiers start singing, do a set of lunges, alternating legs with each rep. You can either step backwards or forwards into each lunge.

photo 2

  • “BE A MAN!” When you get to this part of the song, do a squat jump every time they sing “be a man!” In between the jumps, try holding the squat low. Remember to land as quietly as possible. I also recommend doing your best karate kick when he sings “mysterious as the dark side of the moon!”
  • “Time is racing toward us!” Through this last verse, try one more set of alternating lunges
  • “BE A MAN!” Finish it off with those “be a man” squat jumps!
  1. Burpees – Bibbiddi-Bobbidi-Boo

Every time you hear the phrase “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” do one burpee. If you’re really feeling ambitious, try two burpees every time you hear it. (show off!)



Good luck everyone! May the pixie dust be with you!


5 Best Exercises for Long Distance Runners

Magical races and sparkly tutus are indeed two of my favorite things in life. Today however, I’m going to put on my personal trainer hat and talk about something a little less magical yet equally important: exercises that you can do in the gym to make you a safer and stronger runner.

I’ve seen so many posts on social media and message boards about runner injuries and it really bums me out. I also sometimes see a runner go by and I can instantly tell they’re prone to injury based on the movement patterns in their knees or ankles.  I am not saying that all injuries can be avoided. There will always be somethings we can’t control, like a spectator dropping their Mickey ice cream pop on the course and creating a death trap. What I’m saying is that there are several things we can do to make ourselves stronger and safer runners. Below you will find my list of the 5 best exercises for a safe and strong race day.

1. Toe touch to calf raise 

Balance exercises are super important for runners. They strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles making you less prone to things like ankle sprains. You’re also less likely to fall in general if your balance improves. I like to perform this exercise barefoot to get the muscles in my feet and toes more involved, but this isn’t required. You may want to start with a supportive shoe if you’re a beginner. If you’re more advanced, you can stand on an unstable surface like a balance pad.

  • Step 1: Start to bend your standing leg and reach down for your foot. You want to reach for your foot by really bending your leg and squatting down – not by just dropping your chest forward.
  • Step 2: Still on one leg, stand back up and lift your knee high
  • Step 3: Lift up onto your tippy toes for a calf raise

Try 8 or so of these in a row on one leg and then switch. 


2. Lateral Band Walk

This exercise is great for strengthening your hips and glutes. Anything you can do to strengthen your hips is going to make you more stable. Everything in our body is connected, so strong hips means stronger and safer knees and ankles. Runners with weak hips and glutes will often run with their knees caving in. This makes you more prone to ACL injuries and knee pain.

knees cave in1 360

See how the knees go inward? This is bad.

The lateral band walk is a great way to prevent or correct this movement pattern and strengthen those often neglected muscles!

  • Step 1: Hook the mini band on your ankles. (You can get a set of mini bands here . Start with the yellow band for the least resistance then work your way up as you get stronger.)
  • Step 2: Staying in a straight line pattern, take a big step to the side with your right leg
  • Step 3: Bring your left leg in to meet the right, but don’t step your feet all the way together. There should be resistance in the band throughout the entire exercise.
  • Step 4: Continue stepping to your right for several steps, then switch directionsunnamed-3

3. Deadlift 

It’s always a good idea to pair long distance running with strength exercises. If you run long distances without doing any strength training, you could start to lose muscle mass. We want muscles! They make us awesome and healthy! On top of that, being stronger will make you run faster.

My number one recommended strength exercise for runners is a deadlift. I completely realize that this exercise may be intimidating, but I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. Deadlifts strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and back and can even help lengthen the hammies. In the pictures, I’m performing a deadlift with a barbell, but this can also be done with dumbbells. While I’ve included a picture, I’ve also linked an excellent instructional video by Jim Bathurst, the CrossFit Director at Balance Gym Foggy Bottom. (To be extra sure you’re doing this one correctly, talk to a trainer)


4. Box Step Off

This may seem really simple, but being able to land safely from impact is crucial for everyone and especially runners. I would recommend starting just a few inches off the ground then graduating to a higher step.

  • Step 1: Stand on a box or step
  • Step 2: Slowly step off with one leg (just a step, not a jump)
  • Step 3: Land as quietly as possible in a proper squat

box landing

5. Kneeling Lunge Matrix

I love this exercise because it can both diagnose and correct stability problems in a person’s gait. If you’re unstable during this exercise, you are also unstable when you’re running or walking. Keep at it though and you won’t be as wobbly! It will both strengthen and loosen your hip flexors.

  • Step 1: Kneel down with a pad under your knee. You can start with your hands on your hips and then progress to reaching overhead
  • Step 2: Take a big step forward and plant your foot, leaning into it to stretch the hip
  • Step 3: Pick the foot up and step back to the start position

If you feel pretty stable during these steps, you can make it more challenging by stepping out to the diagonal or to the side, always returning back to that same start position.


And that’s it! I hope this post has been helpful. Remember to consult a physician before starting a new exercise program, and if you are unsure about any of these exercises you may want to meet with a trainer for feedback. Feel free to email or tweet us and let us know how it goes! Now here’s an exit song for motivation. You’ll bring honor to us all!

*Special thank you to fellow trainers Robert Newcomb and Brian Dunlap for helping me brainstorm exercises!


Introducing Amanda…

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda! After several years living in Washington, DC, I recently moved to beautiful Southern California. I’m lucky enough to have two amazing big sisters (Melanie and Christine) who run races with me multiple times a year. These mostly take place in Disney World or Disneyland because we LOVE magic and happiness. RunDisney has been a huge blessing in my life. These races help me stay active and healthy, but most importantly they make me feel closer to my sisters. Since we started doing runDisney races together several years ago, we see each other more often, we talk on the phone almost everyday, and we get to celebrate each other at every finish line.

I get to use these cool bright green drum sticks to teach POUND – a workout inspired by drumming. 🙂

Outside of my runDisney life, I’ve worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for almost a decade. In 2017, I opened my own company called Soul Lift to help people improve their health, nutrition and fitness. I also teach classes like Barre, Zumba and POUND. A couple years ago, I was selected to be a Master Instructor for POUND, which means I get to travel all over the country training new instructors.

Since my main expertise is fitness (I’m getting better at crafts and costume making but Melanie and Christine are the real experts in that), I hope to offer as many tips as I can to help with race training and staying strong and healthy as a long distance runner! I hope we can all still be running races in Disney World when we’re in our 70s!!


Main benefit to having a childhood filled with gymnastics classes: adulthood handstands on the beach.

So what is it about running that keeps me signing up for races? I’ve been active my entire life. My childhood was filled with gymnastics competitions, figure skating competitions, cheerleading and just general hyperactivity. Then, I grew up, went to graduate school, studied a lot and stopped moving. I loved my graduate program, but during this time I became very unhealthy and fell into a deep depression. Unfortunately, my depression went untreated for a couple years and resulted in a suicide attempt.

That’s when I started running. I found that the only time I felt sane was when I was moving. I didn’t want to stop moving and I didn’t want to lose that feeling, so I ran 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 4 miles, then in 2011 I ran my first half marathon with my big sister Christine. For all of you who have completed a race, you don’t even need me to describe the feeling I had at that finish line. For those of you who haven’t, here it is: sheer bliss. I run because it makes me love to be alive. Getting to share that experience with my sisters is just the cherry on top of the cake.



The feeling you get at your first finish line.