Now that you’ve checked out part one and part two (plus this registration announcement from Disney) of our Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend series and you’re ready to sign up, do not neglect your training.
It is never too early to start base building and a general fitness routine, if you do not have one already. RunDisney will release their official 18-29 week training plans (length depends on race distance) from Jeff Galloway. If you are not a fan of those plans, there is a wealth of other plans available. Hal Higdon is arguably the most popular training plan on the internet. I personally used the NYRR Virtual Trainer for my last marathon, and enjoyed it very much. Pete Pfitzinger, Jack Daniels and Hansons Marathon Method are three well known running experts, generally more geared to the more experienced runner. Coach to 5K is a wonderful place to start if you are brand new to running.
If you have very specific goals you would like to meet, hiring a personalized running coach is always a good choice as well. Regardless of what plan you choose, the most important thing to do is to choose one that works to both your ability and time management, and stick to your training as best as you possibly can.
Getting the Gear
If you are a brand new runner, getting proper running gear will also be critical to your training. The most important piece of equipment for any runner is a good pair of running shoes, of course! If you have never been fitted before, I highly recommend getting fitted for a pair by your friendly local running store. There is no end all, be all running shoe that works for every runner – it varies greatly based on your foot type, gait, foot shape etc. Go get fitted by a professional!
The second very important piece of equipment for the ladies is a great sports bra. Again, this is will vary depending on your body type, but I also suggest starting with your local running store. If you get both of these items right from the get go, it could potentially save you from a lot of pain and aggravation down the road.
Other worthwhile investments include: moisture-wicking “tech” clothes (I always joke that friends don’t let friends run in cotton!), a hydration system, GPS watch (more accurate and easier to use then a phone app), and a “tech” hat or visor. If you are running in the dark, please make sure you are very, very visible to motorists using safety lights.
Planning Your Race Weekend
Isn’t the best part of signing up for a Disney race that you get to go to Disney?! If it is possible within your budget, I do recommend staying on property. Disney runs special buses to all race activities throughout the weekend, which makes the planning less stressful.
As far as picking which Disney resort, I think they all have their pros and cons. Some factors to keep in mind are location (the races all start in the EPCOT parking lot), quiet and comfort (you will be getting up EARLY) and of course budget. I would recommend checking out RunDisney Travel Agents even if you register separately – often times they have blocks of rooms at certain resorts, and you could save some money. Destinations to Travel can get you all set up for next year’s marathon weekend. You can get started with them here. Either way, make your reservation as soon as possible! Race weekend is very popular, and the resort will book up sooner than later.
Dining reservations are another very important piece of the planning. Make sure you make your reservations (especially pre and post race meals!) as soon as your 180 day window opens up. All the usual suspects (Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, California Grill, etc) will book up as quickly as usual, but all the Italian meals (runners love their carb loading!) will book up quickly as well – especially those early time slots.
If you are planning on visiting the parks during your trip, make sure you have your park tickets purchased in advance so you can take advantage of the 60 day booking window for FastPass+. You will want to take advantage of booking your FastPasses even more so then a typical trip, because you will have to limit park time due to early wake up call(s), tired feet, time needed for race activities, etc.
Finally, when making your travel plans, please make sure you take into account a visit to the race expo. All runners MUST pick up their own bibs (no exceptions!) during the Expo hours. Do NOT plan on arriving to Walt Disney World an hour before the race expo closes. If you have to fly, keep winter weather in mind, as it can often cause airline delays. For example, I typically plan on arriving to the resort no later than Tuesday of marathon week, so if my flight is delayed, I still have plenty of time to make it the expo.
Excited to run? Check out the next post on what to expect on race day