Hey! Welcome to your race week! Your runDisney race is almost here and you are probably super excited. Maybe you’ve dreamed of doing a runDisney race for a long time. You’ve probably researched all about the event, but are possibly still wondering what you are getting yourself into. Perhaps you’re wondering about the race and running portion itself. Are you prepared? What types of things are you unaware of? There are probably so many runDisney race prep tips you wish you knew before your race!
First, things first, relax! You’re going to have a great time. Especially if this is your first race. RunDisney is a great place to kick things off. The race may be crowded (hey, runDisney events are super popular!), but it’s still your race and there is room for everyone to enjoy! Not freaking out is the most important piece of advice I could give you before a runDisney event, or any running event for that matter. Yet, if this is your first time, I’d like to shed a little more light on the ‘unknown’. Without further ado, here are some insider RunDisney race prep tips to help you enjoy your first race.
1. Hard Work
You’ve most likely spent weeks, if not months, preparing for your runDisney event. Don’t doubt your training and all the hard work you’ve put in over the training cycle. You are ready to run! Believe that you can make it to the finish line and you will. Keep this thought in your head throughout your race. It will help you keep taking one step in front of the other. Just keep swimming! Er, running!
2. Don’t Try New Foods
Don’t try anything new before the race or during the race. Before your race you should have been practiced consuming different foods before you went out for your runs. By trying out different things you are able to see how your body responds, positively or negatively. You’ll find what sits the best with your stomach and what makes you feel the strongest during a training run. If you are in Walt Disney World a few days before the race, try as hard as you can to not indulge in a bunch of new foods. Instead, when you are out and about, purchase a few treats to enjoy post race. A little motivation to get to and cross the finish line if you have lots of yummies waiting for you!
Please don’t try any new foods during the race either. RunDisney often hands out some type of energy supplement during their longer races. If the supplement is foreign to you, don’t try it! Trust me, it won’t go over well.
I made this mistake during my first full marathon. At mile 15 or 16 I grabbed a gel and sucked that puppy down. By mile 19 I wanted to curl up and lay on the side of the road. I had never used gels during training runs, let alone during a race before. The thought of following the gel down with some water never crossed my mind. Add in 80 degree temperatures plus a very dehydrated runner and you can probably guess where this going. It wasn’t pretty.
All I can say is thank goodness for the distracting characters along the course or I might have called it quits. Since then I have had the chance to practice consuming various types of fuel during runs. Now, I am a big fan of Cliff Shots, and often carry my own in case the flavors I like aren’t offered on the course.
Most runDisney races start well before dawn. This means you’ll be starting in the dark. The sun isn’t shinning in the dark and you probably aren’t thinking of it! Yet, 9/10 times during a runDisney event, there will be sunshine as soon as the sun rises up over the most magical place on earth. During those first few hours, you might not feel the sun’s rays too much, but as the morning progresses and turns into mid-day, you better believe that sun is going to get hot. If you’re running in a tank top and shorts, that means you have a lot of exposed skin that could get hit by the sun’s hot rays. Be prepared and layer on some sunscreen before you start your race. I’ve had good luck with sports sunscreen decently staying put, despite all the sweating during my run. Just watch around your eyes so it doesn’t run once you start sweating.
4. Test Run
Before you toe the line for your runDisney event, be sure to try out your running outfit clothing choice. You’re going to be spending a lot of miles in your attire and you don’t want to realize at mile 2 your tutu is driving you nuts. I’ve made the mistake of changing my running outfit a few hours before a race, only to realize a few miles in that an extra layer of tulle in the unforgiving Florida humidity makes for a very sticky and cranky Princess. Do yourself a favor and do a test run. You’ll be so grateful that you did. That gratefulness will shine through in those PhotoPass race photos! Check out this post for more details on planning your runDisney race costume.
5. Castle Sighting
If you are doing a runDisney event that goes through the Magic Kingdom, prepare yourself for seeing the castle. Especially if you are a Disney fan. There is just something about seeing it at dusk. Add in seeing it as you are completing a marathon or half marathon. It’s almost emotional overload and it might get to you. Just embrace it! Celebrate about how far you’ve made it! Congrats on all that hard work paying off!
6. Body Glide or Vaseline
Even if you don’t normally chafe during training runs, for some reason chafing during a race has the potential of occurring. It can be pretty painful! Plus, you might not discover it even happened until you jump in the shower post race. Ouch!
How then, could you possibly know where to put Body Glide or vaseline to help ease the chafing? Your best bet is to place it where a seam or edge of clothing hits your body. Also, you can place Body Glide or vaseline any place your body might rub against itself. For example, I always hit my knees together as I get more and more tired during a run, so I try to put some on the inside of my knees.
7. Run Your Race
RunDisney events are always pretty packed (and with good reason!). Runners of all abilities, speeds and sizes join in on the fun. They really are a blast. This also means there is so much potential and possibility of becoming swept up in someone else’s race. Meaning you run at a speed you definitely didn’t train for. Don’t let this happen. Stick to what you’ve practiced in training runs, you know what paces you are comfortable with. This is especially true in the beginning of the race. Don’t get caught up with everyone else around you. Unfortunately, most people do get caught up and then end up getting burned out before the race is over. I’ve been there, done that way too many times to count. It can be so hard to not go fast at the beginning. Trust me, don’t do it! Run your paces and then at the end, if you have anything left, go for it!!
8. Walk Around
Walt Disney World is the perfect post race recovery place! Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes! Okay, sorry, just felt like an appropriate Disney-inspired Beauty-and-the-Beast next line. Seriously though, Walt Disney World is a great place to recover from your race. Why? The opportunities to walk post race are endless. Walking post race helps you to fend off any of the post race soreness. I know it seems kinda backwards. Sitting, sleeping and resting seem like the logical choice after completing a long distance race. Those three definitely have a place in the recovery process! Trust me though, keeping those legs moving the first few days post race will help speed up your overall recovery.
9. Throw Away Shirt
Even in Florida, you can’t predict the temperature at the start of a runDisney event. One year I started and it was 70 degrees (at 5am!) and the year before, at the same race, it was 23 degrees at the start. While the 23 degree extreme isn’t as common in the sunshine state, cooler temperatures are possible. The problem is, the race might start cool, but it is likely to warm up quickly once the sun comes out. Temperatures can be extremely different from the start of the race to the middle of the race.
You’ve probably already thought of this temperature differentiation. If so, you probably plan to be prepared by dressing in layers. Yet, you may not have realized that your ‘throw away’ shirt can cover up your bib. Especially if you pin your bib to a shirt beneath it.
Why is this important? For pictures of course! If your bib is covered the PhotoPass photographers have no way to identify you in the race photos. At the character stops it is easy to lift your shirt to show your bib. However, there are also PhotoPass photographers out on the course. You might not see them until after they snap your photo. Most have the cameras with longer length lenses attached and grab your pictures from far away. The best way to keep your bib visible throughout the whole race is to attach the bib to your shorts or pants. This way you don’t have to worry about when you take off your throw away items. Truth be told, I have ran entire races wearing a shirt I fully intended on throwing away!
There are so many great signs along runDisney race courses. I’m a huge fan of those inspired by Disney, because, well, you’re in Disney! There is always one sign, no matter the race, that always drives me bananas. It’s the ‘You’re Almost There’ sign. The sign holder means well, I’m sure, but often the placement of the sign is way off. I don’t mean they are holding the sign so you can’t see it, no, that’s not the problem. What I mean is, this sign is often spotted around mile 10 of a half marathon, or mile 18 of a full marathon.
In my opinion, if you’re at mile 10 of a half marathon, or mile 18 of a full marathon, yes you are past the half way point of the race, but you are NOT almost there. In a half marathon, doesn’t matter that you’ve already run 10 or more miles, you still have three miles to go. Those three miles are most likely going to be some of the toughest.
Therefore, just be aware that these signs are coming, but know that you need to ignore them. When you see the signs, know that you are more than half way done, you are doing great and you need to stay strong. Then, when you hit mile 12.5 of your half marathon, know you are almost done and ready to crush it!!!!! Go get that medal!
11. Drink Up!
If you end up with a typical runDisney event, the temperatures are going to be high. If you, like me, don’t live in the sunshine state or any other state that is warm(er) year round, it might be a bit of a system shock when you hit those high temperatures. I made mention of a runDisney event I did that started in the 70s. That same race happened to be the first marathon I had ever completed. It was also the same race that ended with temps in the high 80s and that I had training for during a particularly cold Michigan winter. In order to help combat the high temps and the fact that my body wasn’t used to the heat, hydrating was essential.
Let me tell you a little secret, I wasn’t very good at hydrating. As a matter of fact, I was horrible. Hence my little dilemma of trying a an energy gel for the first time and not following it up with water. Don’t be like me.
RunDisney does a great job of having tons of water stations throughout the race, they know things get hot in Florida. The stops are normally stationed every 1.5 to 2 miles and include both water and sports drink. Try to drink at at least every other stop. Increase the frequency as the temps heat up and you near the end of the race. Practice at home drinking a lot of fluid, regardless of the weather, and you’ll be ready to consume and get enough hydration in during your runDisney event.
Go Get It!
There ya go! 11 Insider runDisney race tips to help you get the most out of your race. Now there is nothing left to do but to put one foot in front of the other. Go out there and crush it! If you want to learn even more about runDisney events be sure to check out my runDisney section of this blog. Specifically, be sure to check out what to expect at the runDisney start line and the runDisney finish line.
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