Top 15 Tips for Navigating a runDisney Event
1. Expo – The expo will usually open the day before the first race event at about 10:00 am. It runs for three days except for the marathon weekend where it runs for four days. Make note, the expo closes early on the last day of the expo. The Expo is where you will pick up your race bibs and shirts for the various races. It’s also a great place to buy event merchandise along with other race gear and energy supplements.
- I would recommend getting to the expo sooner than later so you have the chance to buy any of the exclusive event merchandise. Many of the exclusive merchandise items will sell out within the first few hours of the expo opening up.
- Be sure to bring a photo ID along with your signed waiver with you when getting your bibs at the Expo. If you forget to bring your ID you will NOT be able to pick up your race bib. Make note that you are not allowed to pick up another runner’s bib! Parents can pick up the bibs of their children, but that is the only exception.
- The Expo is free to enter for everyone and you don’t have to use your park ticket to get in.
2. Stay Hydrated– During the 48 hours leading up to your race you should drink four to six ounces of water every hour you’re awake. Avoid dehydration elements such as alcohol, caffeine, salty foods and carbonated drinks.
3. What To Eat– Avoid eating large or heavy meals and eat low or non-fat snacks continually all day long the day before the race. It is recommended that you eat a high carb meal the night before (i.e. a pasta dish).
4. Go To Bed Early – Getting to bed early will allow your body to recover from the day, especially if you spent it in the parks. The early morning will come sooner than you think. Getting back to your resort a few hours before you plan to go to bed will allow you to wind down from the day and get focused on the race. During this time you can read, watch TV, listen to music, talk with friends, sit out by the pool, and lay out your running clothes & gear for the next day. Having everything organized the night before will make the morning go a lot smoother. Trying to get things ready when you’re half a sleep can create stress and increase the chance of forgetting something.
5. Relax While Enjoying the Parks– When you think about doing a day in the parks, relaxation is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. That being the case, while enjoying the parks, make sure to take the time to sit down whenever you can. A great way to do this is to enjoy the variety of shows and entertainment in the parts. It allows you to get off your feet, but still enjoy the magic of the parks. You may also want to make a dining reservation. This will give you more time to sit and relax than you would if you just went to a regular counter service meal. It may also give you a delicious way to carb load the evening before the race.
6. Bring Your Phone to the Race– There are MANY great photo opportunities during the races. There are PhotoPass cast members along the course ready to help you take pictures with several Disney characters & icons. However, having your own camera ensures you have a back up regardless of how the PhotoPass pictures turn out and there are some spots they do not have photographers.
7. Don’t Worry About Your PR (Personal Record)– You paid a little extra for the magic so take the time to ENJOY THE EXTRA MAGIC. How often can you run through the parks and not get in trouble with a cast member? There are so many fun experiences along the course you will want to enjoy but if you’re focused on getting a PR you might run right past all the extra fun things along the course.
8. Sports Gear– Wearing the right gear will either make or break your running experience.
- Shoes:Be sure to wear shoes that have been broken in but are not too worn out. Wearing brand new shoes will cause extra pain and discomfort on your feet. You are also more likely to get blisters or cuts on your feet with new shoes.If you buy shoes at the Expo, I would not recommend wearing them for the races.
- Compression Socks:Another thing I have come to really enjoy is wearing full-length compression socks. Wearing compression socks helps with blood flow and helps prevent muscle cramping. There are a lot of different compression socks out there, so be sure to get the correct kind. I bought mine a local sporting goods store, and they are specifically designed for running.
- KT Tape:KT Tap is an elastic sports tape that is designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments. I’ve used KT tape several times and it does make the difference for me in helping me get through my races. There are very specific ways to apply the tape and each area is applied slightly different from each other so be sure to watch the help demos online to make sure you put it on correctly.
9. Arrive Early– There are two main reasons runners arrive early to the various races: to see the Disney Characters and to be one of the first runners in the corral.
- Disney Characters: Typically before each of the main races, runDisney will have six different characters for runners to meet. They also have the same six characters at the end of the races to meet with your finisher medals. If you want to see the characters before the races, you will want to show up as early as you can as the lines get quite long. I would recommend catching the first bus from your resort to head over to the starting line at Epcot. The buses will start leaving the resorts at 3:00 am. If you are driving to the starting line, I would recommend leaving about ten minutes before the buses leave. Doing this will allow you to beat the hundreds of runners to the characters and you might even be able to see all six characters without much waiting.
- Corrals: The race corrals usually open for runners to enter about an hour before the races begin. Many runners will gather about an hour and half to two hours before race begins just outside of the corrals so they can be the first ones in their assigned corral.
- Being one of the first ones in the corral, allows you start the race off at a quicker pace. Most corrals will have over a thousand runners in them, so if you’re in the middle or the back of the corral you will start off the race walking verses running and you could be walking for a good mile or two.
- Those who are placed in the last corrals have a much harder time seeing the Disney characters along the course because the lines are fairly long by the time they get to characters. My recommendation for those in the later corrals would be to arrive early so you are one of the first in their corral and to try to see the characters before or after the races.
- Those in the last corral are more likely to be picked up for not keeping the 16-minute per mile. runDisney will not start the 16-minute mile requirement until the last corral goes. Meaning those in the earlier corrals will have a few more minutes to complete the race. runDisney has assigned two female runners with balloons (AKA “Balloon Ladies”) to help runners know when the cut off time is. If you’re passed by the “Balloon Ladies” you are in jeopardy of getting picked up, so be sure to run faster than they are.
- If you’re picked up for one reason or another, you will still get the race medal for that race. If you are doing the challenge, you will not get the challenge medal.
10. Bathroom Time– I would recommend going to the bathroom before getting into your corral.The corrals fill up fairly quickly and trying to get your spot back after leaving the corral can be quite difficult. Once the race has begun, I would also recommend not stopping at the first set of port-a-potties as the lines for these are pretty long and will add extra time to your running pace. If you can, I would recommend using the restrooms in the theme parks as they usually don’t have long lines, are cleaner, nicer and don’t smell all that bad.
11. Run Your Own Race – It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of running a Disney race and being with so many excited runners. Be sure to run your own race at your own pace. Only you know how you have trained and what your body can withstand. Running faster than what you have trained for could cause you to burn out quickly, get hurt and prevent you from finishing the race. And honestly don’t take the race too serious; you’re here for the extra magic of running with Disney.
12. Run–Walk–Run Method– The majority of runners use the run-walk-run method and most will use an app to help them be consistent in their pacing. When using this method early and regularly it will help restore resiliency to the main running muscles and extend their capacity towards the end of the race. It will also help with fatigue and help speed up recovery in the muscles.
- Allows those with some types of previous injuries to train without furthering an injury.
- Allows runner to improve their finish time compared to those who continuously run.
- Speedy recovery from each long run
- It nearly erases fatigue with each early walk break by keeping your pace and effort level conservative in the early stages.
- Extends the capacity of the running muscles at the end of the run because you are shifting the workload between the walking and running muscles.
13. Proper Running Form– Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultant, believes with proper running form, you can significantly reduce effort and give extra strength to you at the end of your race. Here are a couple tips he suggests for efficient running techniques.
- Keep your feet low to the ground without lifting the knees
- Maintain an upright running posture so that almost no muscle power is needed to keep the body in position.
- Stay light on your feet verses springing off of the ground and let your feet gently lift off in a reflex action as the body rolls forward.
- Concentrate on eliminating discomfort in the exercising muscles by adjusting your stride and leg motion to feel comfortable and smooth as you run.
14. After the Race– Your work is not done after you cross the finish line. There are a few extra steps you should take in order to help your body recover and prevent injury.
- You should continue to stretch your muscles and walk for about another half a mile or more.
- Drink plenty of fluids, it’s recommended to drink about 4-8oz.
- Within 30 minutes of finishing you should have a snack that is about 80% carbohydrates and 20% protein.
- Soak your legs in cool water for about 10-20 minutes within two hours of finishing the race.
- Be sure to take time to walk a few more times throughout the day for about 20-30 minutes.
- Foam rolling is a great way to release the lactic acids in your leg muscles.
15. Just Have Fun!– My last piece of advice for you is to just have fun. Truly take it all in and enjoy running through some of most iconic theme parks in the world. Dress up or don’t dress up, stop or don’t stop to take pictures, but just make this race one you will never forget and let the Magic of Disney shine through!
Woodbrey Family Travel is an official runDisney travel provider, so be sure to contact us to book your next runDisney adventure..