Ultimate Guide of runDisney Marathon Tips
Have you ever thought about participating in a runDisney marathon? While I’ve never been so brave, I recently vacationed with a heartier sort, a woman who fearlessly signed up for multiple races. She was kind enough to detail the experience with me. Here are several invaluable tips about planning for a runDisney event.
You shouldn’t expect to show up at a Disney theme park and run a 5k/10k event. It’s impractical for several reasons, not the least of which that the events regularly sell out. Instead, you should prepare for a race for ahead of time. Heather, our racer, suggests three main tactics. They are:
1) Do Your Research
You can’t fathom the complexity of runDisney preparation until you’ve spoken with others who have run in the race. Several social media groups and Disney/racing communities share information about the event. Heather suggests that you should join one of these groups and read about the experiences and opinions of others.
She actually joined a Facebook runDisney group two years before her actual event participation. You don’t need to think that far ahead, but you should participate in an online community at least a few months before your race.
2) Research the Rules and Policies
Some of the rules in place at runDisney events are severe. Should you make a mistake, you risk getting banned from the current AND future events. For example, Disney has precise rules about bibs. These items are personalized and require a waiver to acquire. The waiver isn’t available online until roughly two weeks before the race. When you pick up the bib, you must show a photo ID.
Most importantly, you cannot pick up a bib for another adult race participant. Also, you cannot transfer your bib to another runner. Should Disney catch you transferring bibs, you’ll get banned from runDisney for life! The safest thing to do is carefully read the runDisney rules at this link
3) Plan and Purchase Early!
During the runDisney events, several races are held. They are of varying distances such as 5k, 10k, and half-marathon. The individual races will sell out. Should you wait too long, you’ll get shut out of participating. Heather notes that she didn’t plan ahead for the recent Wine and Dine Half Marathon. It happened to line up with her family’s relatively spontaneous Walt Disney World vacation.
While she did get a spot in multiple runDisney events, she had a secondary problem. There was no wiggle room on the Disney dates, and she’d previously committed to run a marathon the weekend before her vacation. As we all know, a Disney vacation requires a lot of walking anyway. So, my overachieving friend ran a marathon, spent several days at Walt Disney World, and participated in multiple runDisney events.
I’ll let her describe the remarkable turn of events: “On Sunday, I did a marathon. On Wednesday, we left for Disney World early in the morning. The 10K was on the following Saturday, and the half marathon was on Sunday. Between Wednesday and Friday, I had walked approximately 56,000 steps plus standing in line – lots of wear and tear on my legs. “
I don’t know about you, but I got tired just reading that. By planning ahead, you can avoid committing to a prolonged race just before your Disney trip. You’ll be thankful for this when you don’t feel like the walking dead during your vacation.
The other preparation that you can do is wake up earlier. The start-times for runDisney events are, well, crazy to an outsider. Disney expects participants to board buses as early as 3 a.m. and generally by 4 a.m. We experienced this as we boarded the Tragical Express for our flight home. At 3:30 a.m., we were the only family boarding the airport bus. Roughly half a dozen other guests were awaiting buses to the runDisney race.
You should plan for the early mornings via pre-trip training. Get up earlier so that you won’t feel lethargic the morning of the race. Also, please understand that you’ll need fuel for your run. Then, you’ll be ready for a hearty meal afterward at a time others are just thinking about a modest breakfast.
The problem with the early start, other than the hunger, is that you’ll be worn out before you even think about spending time at the parks. Heather indicates that she skipped a lot of fun park activities this trip such as character interactions that required standing in line. She lacked the energy for it.
Her plan for future Disney vacations involving runDisney is to add several extra hotel nights after the marathon. The idea is that she’d run the races on day two or three or her trip. Then, days five and beyond would be the ones where is active at the parks. It’s something to consider as you plan your trip.
Heather even had an issue during the event. She had hoped to participate in some of the character meetings during the race. Since she felt a bit tired during the run, she worried about her time. Rather than spend precious minutes interacting with characters, she kept racing, thereby missing out on an unforgettable part of the runDisney experience.
Of course, the other thing you need to do while planning a runDisney event is TRAIN. You don’t want to show up unprepared for the race. That’s how you pull a hamstring or get some other aggravating injury. Once you decide to run at the event, you should make a concerted effort to get in your daily steps.
While the number is up for some debate, the general rule of thumb is that a healthy person takes 10,000 steps per day. Presuming that you have a smartwatch or wearable like Fitbit, you can easily track this. A good, old-fashioned pedometer works, too! If you haven’t exercised much lately, don’t start at 10,000 steps. Pick a smaller number and work your way up for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, you run the same risk of injury at home as you would at runDisney.
In the weeks leading up to the race, try to become even more active. Walk, jog, or run more quickly. Also, extend the number of steps that you take daily to build muscle power and stamina. Even a 5k event is no easy task. You must train your body to tolerate this amount of effort.
For a half-marathon, you should develop a precise training routine. And anyone hardcore enough to run a full marathon already understands the preparations necessary to finish such an event. If you’ve done this, you have achieved something remarkable and deserve a great deal of admiration. For that matter, anyone who has completed a runDisney event has earned my full respect.
Okay, that’s everything you need to know about planning for runDisney. In part two, we’ll discuss how race day works for runDisney events.