runDisney Training – Preparing for a Night Race

Welcome to our training series! Throughout these blog posts, we will cover all aspects of training from our own personal experience. Please note that we are not medical doctors, personal trainers, registered dietitians or in any way qualified to give individualized recommendations. If you have something you would like us to address, please send an email to info@runnersguidetowdw.com!

 

With the Tower of Terror 10-Miler and Wine & Dine Half Marathon coming quickly, it is very common for runners to ask – how do I prepare to run at night? (Not to mention, 10 PM at night!)

runDisney Night Race

The good news is, if you have put in the training, you should be fine. However, here are a few of our tips to help you for toeing the line late at night!

Have a trial run. While running around your neighborhood at 10 PM at night may cause your neighbors to stare, it will help prepare you for the nighttime event. Try to make the trial as “real” as possible, figuring out your fueling, and getting in a longer run if possible.  When running in the dark, remember safety first and wear reflective gear and lights so that you can be seen!

Try to fuel as best you can. A morning race is pretty cut and dry – get a solid meal at dinner the night before and eat your normal pre-run food before the race. However night races are a whole new scenario! After a little calculation, we found that an early lunch is the best time to have a “larger” meal, followed by a small (and easily digestible) meal around 5 PM. Bring along your normal pre-run food for while you are in your corral. And above all, try not to worry too much about it!

Take in an afternoon nap. A late race means a late bedtime. Not to mention, you may be enjoying the parks the morning before the race! It absolutely helps to get in an afternoon nap before the race. A few hours of sleep can help with the energy you will need to push through those late hours of running – and for the after party in the park! (Note: Be sure to set an alarm so you don’t miss your bus to the start line!)

Prepare for the dark. While this seems obvious, running in the dark isn’t an easy task. While runDisney does their best to lighten certain areas of the course, it still is dark overall. Do your best to watch your step and be even more aware of the runners around you. Although not necessary during the race, you can wear a headlamp or other lights to see your path more clearly.

Let the first few miles guide you. A night race brings a lot of variables – fueling, the late night and even weather changes. Take the first couple miles of the race to determine how you will handle the rest of the evening. If you are feeling strong, continue on as planned! If things seem a little wary, take advantage of the entertainment on the course and have some fun!

runDisney Night Race

While the night races tend to cause many runners to worry, they are some of the most memorable of the runDisney races! Do you best to take everything in stride, trying not to fret about the different aspects of a nighttime race. Make a few new friends along the course and enjoy running through Walt Disney World at night!

Would you rather run an early morning or late evening runDisney race? Let us know below!

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Behind-the Scenes-Tours at Walt Disney World

If you are a Disney enthusiast, a behind-the-scenes tour is a great way to celebrate your race achievement. Although it does mean more time on your feet, you will be able to experience the parks in a whole new way.

runDisney Tours

There are over 15 tours to choose from throughout the four theme parks. From the Behind the Seeds tour at The Land in Epcot to a VIP tour that covers all thrill rides, there is a tour for everyone. Most tours do have an age requirement (anywhere from 8 to 16 years of age), so your tour experience may be best with your spouse or friends.

 

A few unique tour options include:

Wild Africa Trek – Explore Harambe Reserve in a whole new way during this three-hour long tour. With the assistance of a harness, cross rope bridges and get up close and personal with a few exotic animals. A photographer will be there to capture the magical moments.

Keys to the Kingdom – Learn about the history of Walt Disney World Resort, along with Walt’s philosophies and more during this five-hour tour. Experience backstage access, including a sneak peek at the underground village of Magic Kingdom. (For a longer experience, check out the Backstage Magic tour. For a more family-friendly version, check out the Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour.)

Epcot DiveQuest – If you are a certified Scuba diver, this tour is for you. Dive into The Seas aquarium and swim with the tropical fish, sharks, stingrays and more. You may even be part of the entertainment for the Coral Reef restaurant goers!

Ultimate Day of Thrills – During race weekends, time is of the essence. During this tour, you will get to experience at least 10 of the major thrill rides at all four theme parks! The VIP treatment allows you to head to the front of the line.

VIP Tours – For the ultimate luxury experience, you can enjoy your very own VIP tour guide for a day in the parks. Not only will they offer information as you walk throughout the parks, they also will grant you FastPasses for most attractions! Your group can include up to 10 guests, making this pricey experience a little more reasonable. (Note: There is a 6-hour minimum for this tour and it needs to be booked in advance as it fills quickly.)

Behind-the-Scenes Tours

If you are planning an extra day or two in the parks after your runDisney race, a behind-the-scenes tour is a great way to experience Walt Disney World in a whole new way. There are even extra magical tours during certain special times of the year like the holidays or festivals.

A few pointers:

  • Most tours can be booked 180 days before arrival.
  • There is a large price range between each tour, so make sure to check current pricing. Discounts for Disney Visa cardholders, Annual Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members may be available, inquire when booking.
  • The majority of the tours occur in the morning and some require arrival to the park prior to park opening.
  • Be sure to bring along another pair of shoes as there is a lot of walking involved!

For a full list of behind-the-scenes tours, check Walt Disney World’s official website.

 

What behind-the-scenes tour would you love to experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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runDisney Training – Hydration and Running

Welcome to our training series! Throughout these blog posts, we will cover all aspects of training from our own personal experience. Please note that we are not medical doctors, personal trainers, registered dietitians or in any way qualified to give individualized recommendations. If you have something you would like us to address, please send an email to info@runnersguidetowdw.com!

 

It can’t be stated enough, when it comes to running, hydration is extremely important. Add in the heat and humidity during the summer months and the importance skyrockets even more!

Hydration

So how do you ensure that your body retains the right amount of hydration during a run? Here are a few tips we have learned along the way!

Hydrate early. When you have a long run on the training schedule, make sure you are hydrating well before the run. It doesn’t hurt to drink an extra glass or two of water on the days leading up to your run. If the forecast looks to be particularly hot or humid, you may want to add in an electrolyte drink such as Nuun or Gatorade as well. And don’t forget to drink some more water an hour or so prior to the run itself!

Always carry a water bottle. The last thing that you want as a runner is to be miles from home without hydration. Even if your route includes water fountains, it is extremely wise to have a source of hydration with you. There are various options including backpacks (like a Camelbak), belts or handhelds. Find one that works well for you and bring it along, no matter what the distance!

Don’t forget about electrolytes. On those humid days, you need to make sure that you replenish your sodium as well. If you have been sweating a lot, it helps to add an electrolyte drink to your hydration. Whether you add electrolyte tablets to your water bottles or bring along a sports drink, it helps give your body the extra hydration it needs.

Watch your urine. While it’s not exactly fun, your urine does tell you a lot about your hydration! Leading up to your run, take a look at the color of your urine. If you are well hydrated, it will be light yellow. If it is dark, then you are not hydrated enough.

Know the symptoms. Dehydration symptoms can come on quickly, so be sure you know what to look out for. Dizziness, dry skin, nausea and a headache are very common. If you feel any of these symptoms, stop, find shade and call someone immediately. Also be aware of over-hydration (or hyponatremia). Symptoms can be similar to those for dehydration.

Hydration

The amount of hydration needed really does depend on each individual. As you train, you will begin to learn how much you need during any given training run. However, it can change depending on the temperature, etc.

Looking for ideas on what to drink? runDisney nutritionist Tara Gidus offers some great options!

 

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To Park Hop or Not to Park Hop

A runDisney race weekend can be fast and furious. Between traveling, the Expo, the race and celebrating, there may not be a whole lot of time to hit the parks! So when determining your park plans, one question remains – to park hop or not to park hop?

runDisney Park Hop

Ultimately, this decision depends on many factors. Take a look!

 

Your Party

Each race weekend may be a little different depending on who is coming along with you. Going solo or as a couple? The ability to park hop will be easier as you have less to bring along. Going with the family? It may be best to stick to one park each day to avoid between park meltdowns. Going with a group? Talk with everyone to determine what their plans are.

 

Your Travel Dates

There are two ways to experience a runDisney race weekend – as just the weekend or an extended vacation. If your plan is to be at Disney for the days of the events, then park hopping may not be the best idea. With everything involved with a race weekend along with limited time, you will want to focus your time on hitting your favorite attractions or shows in one park per day.

If you are planning on adding some days to the race weekend (perhaps making it a week-long vacation), park hopping is definitely an option. It allows for flexibility when it comes to making dining reservation as well as enjoying the Extra Magic Hours (for those staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel).

 

Your Budget

It’s no secret that runDisney races are pricey. Add in travel, hotel, food and additional expenses, and the weekend can become quite expensive. If you are trying to save money, park hopping will only add to the expense. If your budget is a little more flexible, adding on a park hopper won’t break the bank. However, you will need to determine if that money is better spent elsewhere for your trip.

 

Your Race Plans

There is a lot to experience during a runDisney race weekend! The Health & Fitness Expo occurs multiple days and includes vendors and speakers. It is very easy to spend hours there. There are also various additional events such as pasta parties, post-race breakfasts, character meet and greets and much more. (Note: Some of these events are an additional cost.) Add in the races themselves, and your race weekend could be full without even going into the parks!

Take a look at your race weekend plans and everything you would like to see or do. And don’t forget to add in travel time between destinations! This will help determine if a park hopper is a must, or something you can do without.

Park Hop

A park hopper ticket is absolutely not necessary to enjoy a magical time in the parks. By taking a look at the above criteria, you can decide if that park hopper is needed during your runDisney race weekend or if it is better saved for another Disney vacation!

Do you usually add a park hopper to your Disney trip? Let us know below!

 

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Garden View Tea Room – A runDisney Celebration

Looking for a unique way to celebrate your race accomplishment?  Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian Garden View Tea Room is a perfect way to celebrate in true style!

Garden View Tea

The Garden View Tea room is located on the 1st floor just off the lobby.  This beautiful lounge is the location for the very elaborate My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party.  However, each afternoon from 2 – 4:30 pm this location hosts English Tea for everyone.   Reservations are recommended but not required.

Tea is served by the pot and comes with an authentic tea cozy to keep it warm.   You can choose to enjoy just one pot of tea or you can select an Afternoon Tea Offering which includes a variety of pastries, tea sandwiches, scones and jam tarts.  Those looking for a little added variety can choose a tea that includes pate, a variety of cheeses and champagne or port.

Garden View Tea Room

Accompanied by a princess or prince?  Choose Mrs. Potts Tea for the young tea lover in your party which includes sandwiches, and dark tea (aka chocolate milk served in a tea pot) with several pastries.

Garden View Tea Room

We recently had the opportunity to experience afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian and selected the Buckingham Palace Tea. This included tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, fresh strawberries and cream, and a selection of pastries. The tea was filling and delicious and could easily replace a meal!

Prices start at $5.95 for a pot of tea and afternoon tea offerings complete with a pot of tea and pastries range from $13.50-$25.50.   There are numerous a la carte offerings to accompany any tea selection you choose.

While this is a great celebration after any runDisney race, it is even more special during Princess Half Marathon Weekend!

 

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Top 10 Tips to Prepare for Race Day

No matter if it is your first or hundredth race, there are always a bit of race day nerves involved. Add in the excitement of a runDisney race and the butterflies are sure to be flying!

Tips for Race Day

Here are our tips to ensure that you are well prepared for your runDisney race day!

1. Train well. While it may go without saying, you definitely need to train for your race day! No matter what distance you are setting out to conquer, be sure to take a few months to train. Check with your doctor, then choose a training plan. (runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway offers plans for most runDisney races!) runDisney races do have a 16-minute per mile pace requirement, but it is suggested you train for a 14 or 15-minute per mile pace in order to take photos with characters. Remember that a solid training base means you can have even more fun on race day!

2. Plan what you will bring and wear. During your training, pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t. If you are training for a longer distance, what fuel and fluids work best? For a warmer month, what clothes offer the least amount of chafing? By knowing what works, you will have a plan on what to pack for your big race!

3. Take a spin in your race clothes. There is a saying when it comes to races, “Nothing new on race day!” While many choose to create a costume for their runDisney race, it is VERY wise to take your outfit or costume for a spin before race day. Sure, you may look a little funny running through your neighborhood, but at least your costume won’t fall apart or cause irritation while in Disney!

4. Prepare for all race conditions. While we all hope for perfect weather conditions on race day, but the reality is that is usually far from what happens. Take a look at the extended forecast and prepare accordingly. It doesn’t hurt to pack a few extra items in case it is cold, warm, rainy or sunny!

5. Anticipate a VERY early (or VERY late) race day. Since runDisney races include the magic of running through the parks, that also means the races occur very early or very late in the day. During your training and preparation, anticipate some early wake up calls (or late nights for the nighttime races). While a trial run may not work with your schedule, be sure to adjust your activities before race day so you can get the sleep you need!

6. Take a look at the course map. There is something truly exciting about looking at where you will be running during your runDisney race! Be sure to take a peek at the course map so you can prepare for what you will encounter on race day. While the courses are quite flat (with the exception of a few possible overpasses), it does help to know what parks you will be experiencing. This is also a great way to choose where your family and friends can cheer you on from!

7. Expect a lot of fellow runners on the race course. It is possible to be running alongside 25,000 fellow runners during a runDisney race. In other words, these races can be quite crowded. There are many areas (specifically near and inside the theme parks) where the course bottlenecks, causing the pace to slow down and crowding to occur. While the corral placement will put you around others with a similar pace, the crowding still occurs. Knowing this ahead of time may help you prepare mentally.

8. Determine your race plan. There are two ways to experience a runDisney race – to try to set a new personal record or for fun. The majority of runners in the race are in the latter group, they just want to have fun! While it is absolutely possible to get a personal record during a runDisney race (Megan has done so multiple times), the crowding alone can make it a little more difficult. runDisney races are great races to enjoy yourself by taking in the entertainment, taking photos with characters, meeting new runners and enjoying the atmosphere!

9. Remember safety first. As usual, runDisney has many policies in place to ensure runner and spectator safety. However, there are a few things you can do as a runner to help with safety on the course. First of all, fill out the back of your bib. If anything happens, they will know who to contact in case of an emergency. Second, be aware of runners around you. If you need to stop to walk, go to the far side of the course and signal by waving your hand.  And always, listen to your body! You know if things aren’t right, meaning you need to slow down or stop.

10. Enjoy every mile! It doesn’t matter what race you are participating in, there is sure to be a smile on your face! Trust your training and enjoy every magical mile. With fantastic entertainment, the thrill of running through the parks, photo opportunities with your favorite characters and the excitement of the runners around you, your runDisney race experience is sure to be a fun one!

Magic Kingdom runDisney

With proper training and planning ahead, your runDisney race will be full of magical miles!

 

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