So you’ve trained and you’re ready to go the distance – here are some other helpful tips and tricks to get you through your first Disney Marathon (or any RunDisney Race):
Pack all race essentials in carry-on
There is nothing worse than arriving in Orlando to find out the airline has delayed or misplaced your luggage. I always pack my more expensive-to-replace race gear in my carry-on such as my shoes, running costume and Garmin. That way, if my luggage is lost I can at least still run the race and worry about the rest of the stuff later. This totally does happen – I once knew a woman who lost had her luggage lost on a race weekend where she was running a challenge (10k + Half). She had to replace not one but two running outfits, compression socks, and shoes at the expo – an expensive trip indeed!
Nothing new on race day
I never eat or wear anything new on race day that I haven’t tested out during one or more training runs. Some runners have a sensitive stomach when it comes to fueling so it’s always best to try out that gel or snack before race day. There is nothing worse than a bathroom emergency when your running down World Drive without a bathroom in sight. Same goes for that awesome new running tank you bought at the expo. The medical tent does keep lube and Vaseline on hand for chaffing emergencies but it can be mile or two before you get to one – and those miles will feel like the longest of your life.
Don’t just train for the distance; train for the lack of sleep
I think this goes for all RunDisney weekends, not just marathon weekend, where you’re running more than one event. The races start pretty early and you have to be in your corrals even earlier. This can be even worse for those (like me) who are running in Florida while still on West Coast/Mountain Time. That 3 am alarm felt like 1 am to me and felt like I should be just going to sleep not waking up to go for a run. If you can try and adjust to the time or practice waking up early a few days or even a week before race weekend, do it. Your body will thank you.
Prepare for any type of running conditions/weather
Before any runcation I meticulously check the weather forecasts but anyone who’s been to Florida knows the weather can change on a dime. In 2015 I ran the WDW Half Marathon and only packed a t-shirt and sparkle skirt since the weather was supposed to be fantastic – then the day before the Half the temperature plummeted and I was left scrounging up hotel towels and trash bags to keep myself warm in the corrals. Now I try and come prepared. I always pack extra ponchos or trash bags for warmth and in case of rain. It also doesn’t hurt to pack some warm layers that you can easily shed during the race. So take a quick trip to Walmart or Goodwill and pack some layers in case – you just never know! Fun fact: anything shed or left on the side of the road, clothing wise, is donated to charity.
Account for more breaks on race day while training
One mistake I made was not accounting for more breaks while I was on my long training runs. Most of my runs were done indoors on a treadmill (thank you Canadian winters). I had plenty of water and fuel but was only stopping once during a 20 miler for a bathroom break. I was running indoors in a weather controlled environment and hydrating as such. On Marathon day the humidity was something like 90% – a running condition I wasn’t used to and I was hydrating a lot more than normal. I ended up taking 3 bathroom breaks during the Full – each one cost me anywhere from 3-6 minutes depending on how long the lines were. That, combined with stops at the medical tent and photo ops, my time ended up being a lot longer than anticipated. This is important for slower runners to take into consideration especially with that 16 mm pace requirement. The RunDisney website suggests training at 15 mm pace but I would even suggest a 14 mm just to feel comfortable and to give yourself lots of cushion between you and the balloon ladies.
Marathon running is, at times, more mental than physical
Positive self-talk and words of affirmation can become critical in those last few miles of the marathon. You’ve been running for hours, your feet (and probably other random areas on your body) hurt like hell, and your exhausted. It can be really easy to let those negative thoughts take over and start doubting your abilities to finish. Trust me, at mile 22 all I wanted was to walk off the course and ride Star Tours over and over for the rest of the day. I didn’t need the medal that bad – crazy talk, I know. When you “hit the wall” the mind starts doing strange things. Just focus on the miles that are behind you. Look at how far you’ve come – “You’ve already run 15 miles? You’re doing awesome!” and break the remaining miles down into little chunks. I played little games like this in my mind for the latter part of the race. “Only another 2 miles until I have 5 km to go! That’s 20 ish minutes – I can run for 20 ish minutes.” Once those 2 miles passed I started again “Only 5km to go? That’s easy! That’s a short weekday training run – I do those all the time”. Focusing on those little accomplishments and keeping positive throughout training will really help come race day.
You’re a marathoner! Now celebrate like one!
Try and plan some fun activities for that evening or the day following the marathon. It could be a nice dinner, a visit to one of the spas on property (massage anyone?), or a visit to your favorite Disney park. Not only is it a great treat once you’re finished the race but it can also be a great motivator during the race too. For me, I chose a dinner at California Grill. When things were getting tough or I was getting tired during the race I just kept thinking of that delicious steak and that glass of wine that would be waiting for me once I finished.
Have you participated in the WDW Marathon weekend? What advice would you give new runners? Share your tips in the Comment Section below!