Welcome back, friends! I'm so excited to share some of my favorite tips for helping you become a runDisney expert!
I recently reached out via my Instagram story (@fitfabdisney) to ask my followers which questions they'd like to see answered in this blog post. I figured instead of listing my answers, I'll combine them all into one easy-to-read article. Hopefully my various tips and tricks will allow even the biggest runDisney novice to reach out and run their happily ever after. Shall we begin?
What to Know Before You Go
Before you head off to WDW for your runDisney race, it's important to make a list of all you want to accomplish while you're on your racecation. This is crucial because it will determine where you stay, your number of park tickets, and your ultimate agenda. If you are totally new to runDisney, then you'll need to know registration dates, expo dates/hours, race weekends, race themes, training plans, spectator info, and additional park happenings for the weekend you'll be attending your first runDisney race(s).
What I Wish I Knew
There are three specific things I wish I knew before my first runDisney half marathon weekend.
I'm Injured, Should I still Sign Up?
Unfortunately, injuries can prevent us from living out our dreams to the fullest. All injuries are subjective to the individual athlete, but if you or your doctor are questioning the runDisney race, then perhaps its best to attempt a local race first. This gives you a chance to start small and see how your injury handles a simulation effort. Also, smaller and more convenient races are often less expensive (no refunds for a runDisney race), and provide good insight into how you may fare during a bigger race. If your injury is manageable and you can do physical therapy, then by all means give it a go. Above all, listen to your body and follow your training plan. I follow Jeff Galloway's runDisney training plans (available for free on the runDisney website), and he advocates a unique run, walk, run method to prevent injuries from happening. Most runners run into (no pun intended) a few hiccups here and there, but as long as you stay the course and DO NOT overtrain, you should be able to complete your runDisney race to the best of your abilities.
Post Race Recovery
One of the questions I get asked the most is "how do I recover after my race?" My top tips after any run are to stretch, foam roll, ice (if necessary), and elevate your feet. If you're doing multiple days of running back to back, then I highly suggest an epsom salt bath or a custom massage. Your body needs proper rest and recovery in order to perform at its best. I also suggest recovery items such as compression socks, oofos shoes, CBD balm, and electrolyte drinks. Make sure you are carrying water with you throughout the day, and that you're staying hydrated on the course. You'll also want to be mindful of what you eat, and try not to overdo it with how much active time you spend in the parks, especially if you're doing more than one race. If you're accustomed to taking a bath before or after a run, then I suggest making sure the resort you're staying at has the amenities you need. I was wrong to assume my room at Animal Kingdom Lodge had a bathtub, and upon arrival I was slightly upset at the sight of a rain head shower (under no other circumstances would that have been upsetting). If you're someone who knows they will need an icebath, then check with your resort to make sure your room is accomodating for your needs. It never hurts to ask. If you have a post-race recovery routine already in place, do what it takes to make that recovery time happen. Disney World will still be there after you rest up and take the proper steps to ensure your safety and wellbeing! If you're visiting the parks each day, then definitely make sure to book earlier fastpass times and get to bed early!
First Time Dopey
Yes, it's possible to run your first marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge. I wouldn't change my experience for the world, BUT I do think it's better to have the marathon be your first and ONLY race for a first time marathoner. My personal reason for this is because I'm a girl who loves spending time in the parks. I arrived to WDW two days before the races began and my feet were already tired because I love the hustle and bustle of a full park day. To me, that is when I get the most out of the Disney magic. Time spent in the parks is the absolute best. I would've loved to have stressed less and enjoyed more time riding rides, eating treats, and watching fireworks over sitting on multiple park benches, drinking water, and heading to bed at 8 PM. Doing Dopey is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever do...but it comes at a price. Know what you're in for, and just own it. Dopey is amazing because it is a culmination of your hard work over several months. If you're all in, be all in. Don't skimp on training, and plan your trip accordingly. If I could change one major thing, I would tack on a day or two after the races to just enjoy the parks without the worry of the impending marathon weighing on my mind. Again, I will never regret doing Dopey. I had the best experience I could possibly have. I just felt that I had to share my first marathon experience among the other races. I hope that makes sense, and I know you'll choose the race and/or races that best suit you!
Odds and Ends
Here's the section where I'm just going to answer some of the questions I have not yet touched on!
Until next time, xx