Excitement is building as the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is set to kick off on Wednesday! Whether you just arrived at Walt Disney World or are still packing your bags, here are the 10 key things that made my marathon weekend truly magical, and my hope is they’ll set you up for the best possible runDisney weekend, whether you’re running the , the half-, the 10k, the 5k or all of them!
My Marathon runDisney Checklist:
1. Pack your race day bag carefully
Layout EVERYTHING you need for race day, go over it twice, and then again, and then pack it all in one sitting. If something is in the wash, or in your car, write it down on a sticky note and don’t close that bag until you put that last item with all of the others. If you are flying, you might consider this as a carry-on, just in case. If you wear earbuds like I do, don’t forget to pack the charger.
2. Do a practice run in your race day outfit
runDisney racers are known for our amazing running costumes! Some costumes are easier to run in than others. Prior to your race, put on your outfit and proudly go for a run around your neighborhood or on the treadmill at your local gym. Show your neighbors what they are missing as you go for practice run to be sure you can actually run in your costume. This will also allow you to make any adjustments you need to prevent chaffing (see next item). And help you figure out any adjustments needed in case it is hotter or colder than you expected on race day.
3. Body glide is your friend
If you’ve never used it, you don’t know what you are missing — Body Glide is your friend on race day. There are usually several sellers at the runDisney Expo offering this product or one like it to prevent chaffing or blisters.
If you’ve done your practice run you know where you felt some friction and can apply this balm to prevent pain following your race. Anywhere you feel a seam from your new running shirt — apply it. Socks sometimes slip and your shoes rub against your heel? Apply it there, too.
4. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes to the Expo
Speaking of the runDisney Expo, you’re about to run a race and the last thing you need is foot pain from racing through the Expo to get your race number and shirt. I speak from experience on this one. Wear comfortable shoes and plan your schedule to allow enough time to walk around and enjoy the Expo.
Whether a seasoned runner or novice, the runDisney Expo offers amazing 1:1 advice from Jeff Galloway, massages, shopping for your next race costume, making signs to cheer on family, even some runners yoga and wine tastings in the past. Check the schedule and make it a must-do, beyond racing to grab your number and shirt.
5. Race nutrition plan
For me, this includes a dash of salt and a packet of mustard — more on that in a moment. Most experts will tell you, including Carly Siceloff MS, RD, LDN, who writes on the runDisney blog that you should aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates approximately every 45 minutes. Whether that is in the form of gels, beans, blocks or whatever works for you. This will help fuel your energy to get you across the finish line.
Other tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way include stashing a salt packet and a packet of mustard in my race belt. Salt in case it is really hot and humid and I find I’m not sweating as much as I should, or mustard for that random calf cramp that can try to rear its ugly head at mile 23. No clue why the mustard works, it just does. Picked up that tip while on a training run around the Boardwalk two years ago and one of the “perfect” marathoners was also on a training run. He gave me that tip and the next one. And here are a few more great tips from Jeff Galloway for running in warm weather.
6. Keep your food routine on race day
When you’re at home, you wouldn’t eat a huge meal and then go for a run, you also likely wouldn’t go without anything before running. This is where planning ahead is critical. If you normally eat something before you run, bring it with you. There will be some things offered at your resort, but most restaurants or stores will be closed, so your selection will be limited. Bring whatever you need with you, or pick something up on your way to the resort, or at one of the stores on property or just off property—all a short Lyft ride away.
Most importantly, as runDisney blog on tips for race day agrees, avoid a heavy meal the evening before the race, and eat easily digestible snacks. I’d add, stay away from fibrous foods the morning of the race, as they bounce around in your intestines if you’re one of those lucky enough to start in a corral before the sun comes up.
My nephew, who runs for the U.S. Air Force, shared this tip with me and it has saved me from port-o-potty emergencies along the racecourse, or the second the race is over. And it goes without saying, or it should, but do hydrate. We might want to avoid that Expo beer, too, though it is delightful for your friends and family!
Many people have family in the resort or hotel room with them or are so excited it is hard to sleep on race night, not to mention the time your alarm has to be set to make it to the start line. Knowing you’ll have a shorter than usual night’s sleep, and might be shaking off some race nerves, focus on the night before the night before the race and get a really good 8 hours of sleep. Get what you can race night, but don’t fret if it isn’t a full night, you’re ready for this.
8. Pack the Epsom salts
It is easy to focus on getting to the race and the race itself, but don’t forget about post-race pampering. I always grab a small bag of Epsom salts for soaking post-race. The ice I can get from the medical tent at the end of the race, but the salt for soaking, you’ll want to bring with you.
You might want to throw in some Clorox wipes for an extra tub wipe down, and don’t forget to do that the night before the race, as you might not feel like bending over to do so after you’ve run your miles. And don’t forget some extra moleskin to cover any blisters you may have acquired so you can make it to the parks for the fireworks and to get that Castle and medal picture!
9. Trust your training
You’ve prepped, trained, and now you’re ready to race physically, so focus on getting ready mentally. Pack or write out some inspirational notes, things that motivate you, and put them up on your bathroom mirror, dresser, or by your bedside so they are the first things you see when you wake up race morning. Still need more? There are countless inspiring runDisney race stories of people who have overcome losing a limb, or who beat cancer, or lost a loved one and they did it, they ran it, they finished. You can do this.
“I’ve not found any experience which offers the high level of satisfaction, accomplishment and self-respect as one receives from finishing a marathon—at any speed.”
10. Have fun and thank your friends & family
Before you disregard this one as obvious, if you’re like me, it can be easy to be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the process. Each day you are here for this amazing weekend, take a moment to remember the magic that surrounds you and be grateful for the ability to run and to compete in this exciting race. And then thank your family and friends who have supported you along the way, especially if they are traveling with you and having to endure the early wake-up calls and walk many miles to cheer you on.
I love running the races and I love supporting those running. It is easy to forget how much our loved ones endure while we’re sprinting through the parks. Give them an extra special hug and thanks and then enjoy the most magical place on Earth together.
Tell us your favorite race to run, or are you Goofy, or maybe even Dopey and running them all?