It’s that time once again. The 2019 runDisney race season is on its way. As long time runners, we know that race day can be tremendously fun. Especially when the course takes you through Disney Parks. That being said, you should never forget that these are long runs (and some are insanely long). Despite the Disney magic along the route, those miles can push you to your limit.
As veterans of many races, we’ve learned a few tips that can help make sure your run will be a happy one. We call them our “10 runDisney Race Day Commandments”. If you follow these rules, you’ll have a better chance of making sure that runDisney’s slogan “Every Mile is Magic” will be exactly what you experience.
Let’s get this started.
#1 – Thou Shalt Not Over-Imbibe
We all know the Disney Parks are ridiculously fun. There is so much to see, so much to eat and so much to drink. However, if you’re running a race that is a bit of a push distance for you the following day, you should take it easy on your body leading up to your run.
If you’re going to the parks, keep it a short trip. It’s really easy to rack up a ton of steps and a lot of wear on your legs. You want to have as much energy as possible for your race. Instead of going to the parks, do some resort exploration, go to the spa or relax by the pool.
If you’re going out for dinner the evening before the race and are someone who enjoys an adult beverage or two with your meal, avoid overdoing it. Make sure you drink no more than you would the night before any of your training runs. Better yet, drink less or not at all.
The bottom line is you should take it easy the day before the event. Your legs and body will thank you for it.
#2 – Thou Shalt Fuel Properly
We’ve all heard the theory that you should “carb load” the night before your race. That is true. However, fueling your body properly shouldn’t begin or end the night before your runDisney race. You need to eat properly before, during and after the big event.
In the week leading up to the race, start adding a few extra carbs to your diet. Your body will store this for use when you need it the most: Race Day.
The night before your run, make sure you have a few extra carbs. However, be sure to stay away from rich, heavy and creamy dishes like fettuccine alfredo that could weigh you down the next day. If you have issues with heartburn, you may also want to stay away from zesty or spicy tomato sauces that could stir things up in your tummy. Instead, choose something along the lines of a light pasta tossed with olive oil, some vegetables and maybe some grilled chicken or shrimp.
On the day of the event, have a little something to eat before you run. Make it’s something simple like a banana or maybe a half of an English muffin with peanut butter. Just something to give your body a little energy going in. While on the course, don’t forget to fuel as well. Bring something along with you that is easy to eat during the race and will provide you that little extra “umph” to get you to the finish line.
After your big day, celebrate with a great meal. All your hard work earned you some extra calories so take advantage of it at one of the fantastic restaurants around the resort. Just make sure your big reward meal includes protein to help your body rebound from the strenuous activity.
#3 – Thou Shalt Hydrate
We know this seems simple but it’s amazing how many people don’t hydrate properly before, during and after their event. Remember, your race is probably taking place in Florida. There’s a better than average chance you’ll already be sweating from the humidity long before you hit the course.
Start by drinking more water than your usual average days before your race. Then ramp that up even more when you have only one day to go. Our rule for the day prior to a big run is, “If you haven’t peed in the last 20 minutes and you don’t feel like you have to pee, you need to drink more water.”
On the big day, drink water early and often, especially if it’s extra warm or humid like it is almost every day in Orlando.
While on the course, alternate between water and sports drinks to help replenish electrolytes.
Continue to hydrate immediately after you cross the finish line and throughout the day to help your body recover the fluids it lost.
#4 – Thou Shalt Heed Thy Weather Reports
One of the worst things you can do on race day is wear something that’s not appropriate for the weather. This is especially tricky for runDisney races where many runners like to get their cosplay on for the event.
While most of the time, you’ll know what to expect weather-wise in Orlando (warm & humid), there can be some serious variance. For example, at the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon temperatures at the start of the race were in the low 40s. In 2017, believe it or not, it was even chillier; in the mid-30s. That may not be the best time to be breaking out Princess Leia’s Gold Bikini.
Meanwhile, at 2018 Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon (a race we took part in) it was in the low to mid 70s with 95% humidity. That full Chewbacca costume might be a bad idea.
So check the weather leading up to your race, be prepared and dress appropriately.
#5 – Thou Shalt Arrange Your Race Wear the Prior Evening
Let’s face it, runDisney events happen ridiculously early. I mean, “no person in their right mind should be up” early. Add the fact that you may have to hop on a bus to the starting line a full hour-and-a-half before the first starting gun, and it turns into “what am I? Freakin’ nuts!?” early. The last thing you want to do at that ridiculous time of the morning is be rummaging around your dark hotel room, disturbing your family, while trying to find that missing sock.
The evening before, collect everything you’re going to need for the day and place them together for easy morning access. It will save you time and a lot of frustration.
You should even pin your race bib to the top that you’re planning to wear ahead of time.
Also, be sure any electronics you’re planning on bringing with you are fully charged and ready to go. There’s nothing worse than hitting mile 10 of your half marathon and having nothing to push you the rest of the way but the sound of your own feet hitting the pavement.
#6 – Thou Shalt Warm Up Thy Body
As we just mentioned, runDisney races all take place early in the morning. However, that doesn’t mean you get up and get running. On the contrary. From the time you meet your transportation to the event to the time when your corral finally makes it to the starting line, it can often be anywhere from 2 ½ to 3 hours before you actually hit the course. With such a long wait, it’s even more important that you keep your body warm and ready to go.
You can do this by developing a stretching routine that works for you or by doing a little light running before you enter your corral. Keep your muscles as loose as possible until your time comes. It will help you take on the route much more easily and avoid injury.
#7 – Thou Shalt Keep An Appropriate Pace
We just talked about how long the wait can be before you actually hit the course. That wait can build a lot of excitement and anticipation. So, it’s easy to fall in the trap of bolting from the starting line once the fireworks finally fire signaling it’s your group’s time.
But don’t fall into that trap. Running too hard at the beginning will very likely cost you in the long run. (pun intended)
Establish a pace you want to run at prior to the big day. Adjust it according to the weather of the day. If it’s really warm and humid, you’ll want to slow down even more. While on the course, try and keep to that pace. Once you get well into your run, there is always the chance to increase your pace if you find you have the energy and are feeling good.
Keeping an eye on your pace also goes for those of you who may be taking a little more time on the course. Disney will offer you many photo opportunities with characters and locations throughout the parks. It’s one of the best things about a runDisney event! However, remember, they require you to keep a 16:00 per mile pace. If you’re moving a little slower, don’t get so caught up in the photos and the experience that they’re either pushing you to speed up or you’re actually taken off of the course.
#8 – Thou Shalt Pay Attention To Thy Surroundings
If there’s one thing that’s true about runDisney races, it’s that there are a lot of participants. I mean, more than you’ll likely see at any other race in your lifetime. With so many people taking part in the event, all moving at much different speeds, it’s important to always be paying attention to what’s going on around you.
If you’re adjusting your spot on the course or trying to pass someone, always take a peek to make sure you’re not cutting off someone moving swiftly behind you.
It’s always okay to slow down and walk during the race. When you decide it’s your time to take it down a notch, raise your hand to let runners behind you know you are slowing down.
Experiencing the event with a group of friends or family can be one of the most fun things to do on race day. However, many portions of the course can become relatively narrow. So be sure to only run no more than two abreast at any time to open more room for faster runners. You can always switch along the route and catch up on the conversation with your pals as the race progresses.
#9 – Thou Shalt Smile For Thy Photos
Running these races are definitely fun, however, they are not easy. You’ll be exhausted and sweaty through much of the course. Yet, somehow, when you see your friends’ pictures from their past events, they look as happy and full of energy as can be.
How do they do this?
Don’t they not know how much this hurts?
Do they never sweat?
Are they some kind of super hero?
None of those is true. These people are suffering as much as you. However, they have figured out one key factor of runDisney races. Exactly where to find the Disney photographers and how to muster up just enough energy to make it look like they’re having the best time of their lives.
Doing this is a bit of a learning process but here’s what you need to know so you can be prepared to break out that smile at all the right times.
The photographers are usually wearing neon green vests making them easy to pick out once you’re approaching them.
Most importantly, they are usually located near picturesque attractions and backgrounds (huh, imagine that) throughout the park. Think Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, etc.
Working up the energy to smile for the camera can be difficult but well worth it when you see your post-race pictures. The one place, however, where it will come easy for you is the finish line. Cross that line sporting your biggest smile and give a cheer. You’ve completed something amazing.
#10 – Thou Shalt Have Fun
We’ve discussed a lot of rules throughout this article and they’re all important. But the most important “runDisney Race Day Commandment” is to have fun. You’re at the parks and you’re running with thousands of Disney fans. Plus, as we just mentioned, you’re going to complete something amazing. Something you’ve spent weeks training for. Take it all in, enjoy it and wear your medal(s) (just like these for this week’s Wine & Dine Half Weekend) proudly both in and out of the parks. You’ve earned it!
Oh, and once you’re done, start planning your next runDisney event.
Those are our rules you need to know for your runDisney race day. What are yours? Are there any we forgot? Let us know in the comments.