If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?
This thought occurred to me as I looked at my training plan for the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 13, 2013. The race comes exactly eight weeks after the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18, which I ran to a new personal best.
So every week, I’ll countdown to the Disney marathon with the Disney running profile of a different Disney character. Yes, in addition to being a running nerd, I am a Disney running nerd too. Drum roll please…
Sleeping Beauty: The Runner Who Needs Rest and Recovery
Let’s face it, no other Disney character could possibly own the time honored running tradition of rest and recovery quite like Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty is the runner who needs to take a few weeks off, even if she doesn’t want to, whether it’s to recover from a marathon or a more pernicious injury.
It’s not that Sleeping Beauty likes to sleep. Anyone familiar with the tale know that Briar Rose née Princess Aurora is forced to sleep under Maleficent’s evil spell.
For many runners that’s how rest and recovery can feel after so many months of hard training or while nursing an injury or anything else that keeps us from running. It can feel odd, or wrong, or depressing to go from the high of running a marathon to the low of sitting on the sofa. The post-marathon blues are an established phenomenon, after all. And anyone who’s been sidelined by an injury knows how frustrating that can be.
It can be difficult to kick our feet up and lay off of the running for a while, but we know we really have no choice—not if we want to run again. Those first few days after a race our quads are sore, our feet ache, and our joints might need a little icing. Same with an injury that needs nursing. So we make like Sleeping Beauty and take a week or two off, waiting for true love’s kiss to awaken us from our post-marathon or post-injury slumber.
But in the realm of running fairy tales, if Maleficent is anything that keeps us from running—injury, hectic schedules, or recovery from racing—and that nasty spindle on the spinning wheel is the point of injury, then true love is nothing other than running itself. Prince Phillip? He’s Aurora’s inner runner.
After we’ve gotten our beauty rest, we slay our dragon, the kiss of true love awakes us from our tormented sleep (if you watch ABC’s Once Upon A Time, you know what I’m talking about) and harkens the moment when it’s time to run again.
For me on my abbreviated training schedule between Philly and Disney, that was one week after the Philadelphia Marathon. After six days of self-imposed relaxation that included no more than easy 2-mile walks, one rather amazing massage, and one very long car ride to rural Quebec for Thanksgiving, it was time for the runner in me to be reawakened.
On the magical morning the spell was broken, the sun was shining, Snow Geese were honking (I was in Canada after all), and a Blue Jay perched within view of my breakfast for a few magical moments. I just knew it was going to be a good day, much like the day Briar Rose met Prince Phillip. She ran into a blue bird that day too.
I laced up my shoes and hit a local trail for an easy 3.5-mile run. Like Princess Aurora gazing into Prince Phillip’s heroic eyes after he slays Maleficent the Dragon, that first run back felt like a triumphant return home as I was reunited with the runner deep inside me. My legs felt strong, my lungs labored just a little, and my true love—running—welcomed me with wide-open arms.
For me, Princess Aurora is an apt Disney running metaphor. Her parents were childless for many years, and conceiving Aurora ushers in a new era of joy for the kingdom. I was unable to run for many years, and when I finally could, it opened up a whole new world for me. Like any Disney princess worth her mettle, Aurora loves to sing, having been literally blessed by the good fairies with the gift of song. What a coincidence! I love to sing too and moonlight as lead singer of an ‘80s cover band. And guess what? My husband’s name is Philip, just like Aurora’s Prince. My Philip has slayed a running dragon or two himself—like the Boston Marathon qualifying time for his age group. He owns a lean 3:03:36 marathon personal best.
Sleeping Beauty’s tale ends when she awakes from her slumber. But our fairy tales does not end here. With just 7 weeks until the Walt Disney World Marathon, I’ll take a look at how we runners are like a few other beloved Disney characters. What Disney running character will be next?
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Not “sadly” — I’m impressed with your lung capacity! Be proud of it
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