runDisney Training – Jumping to the Next Distance

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!


When your running journey begins, it usually starts small. You begin by training for a 5K. Then maybe you work toward a 10K. Next may be a 10-miler.

runDisney Training: Jumping to the Next Race Distance

But how do you know you are ready to tackle some of the longer distances? Here is a look at a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are ready to jump to the next race distance!

Has your training been consistent? While it is tempting to start training for a longer distance after catching the “running bug”, you need to make sure that your training has been consistent. It is recommended that runners have been running at least 6 months, with training of at least 3 runs per week in place prior to training for the longer distances. If you are thinking about a marathon, more running experience definitely helps as well. Make sure that your body is used to a consistent training plan before jumping to the bigger race distances!

Do you have the time to devote to longer distances? Training for a half marathon, marathon or even a runDisney challenge means a lot of time on the road! Make sure that you do a little research about how much time your long runs will take you during the weekends (along with your weekday runs) and see if your schedule can handle it. For those jumping to the marathon distance, not only will your long runs be 2, 3 or even 4 hours in length, your weekday runs may be over an hour as well.

Can your body handle the longer distances? One thing we all want to avoid is injury. If your body tends to have quite a few aches and pains during the shorter distances, definitely set up an appointment with your doctor to see if your body is ready for the longer distances. While training for a longer distance, pay even closer attention to your body, making sure you give it rest when it needs it. It will be taking quite the pounding as you increase the mileage!

Is your mindset ready for the training? While it may seem simple to add on mileage to reach your next race distance, you need to make sure that your mindset is in the right place. Think about the reasons WHY you want to take on the next distance (specifically the marathon distance). The right motivation is what will get you through those long runs for weeks on end! (Note: You have to WANT to train for the distance for the training and race to go well. Don’t do it just because everyone else is!)

Do you have a support system in place? When jumping to the next distance, you are headed into brand new territory. Hours on the road. Finding the right fuel. New aches and pains. Possibly even tears. Having a support system to encourage and motivate you is key! Whether it is a running buddy or group to help you through the long runs or even a family member to send you motivating texts, the support will keep you going when it gets tough.

2014 WDW Marathon Weekend

Working toward the next race distance can be tough yet extremely rewarding! In the words of Walt Disney, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Just remember to take everything at your OWN pace. Work toward a distance that is doable for you. Every accomplishment is wonderful, and even magical when it’s during a runDisney race!



All You Need to Know about the runDisney Dopey Challenge

In 2014, over 6100 runners participated in the greatest runDisney challenge yet – the Dopey Challenge. There may have been some blood, a few tears, a lot of sweat, but most importantly, there were most definitely smiles!

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know

So for those who are signed up for the 2015 Dopey Challenge, or are considering tackling this beast in upcoming years – you may have a few questions. Megan was one of those 6100 (Krista took on the spectating duties) and together they have compiled frequently asked questions, along with some advice to help you learn all you need to know about the Dopey Challenge!

What is the Dopey Challenge? The Dopey Challenge is the epitome of runDisney challenges. Occurring during the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, the Dopey Challenge consists of a 5K (3.1) miles on Thursday morning, a 10K (6.2 miles) on Friday morning, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday morning and a marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday morning. Complete this 48.6 mile challenge and not only will you get the individual race medals, but also the Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half medal and the Dopey Challenge medal. Yes, that’s 6 medals!

How much does it cost (and is it worth it)? While runDisney races are definitely among the most expensive, the Dopey Challenge registration is definitely steep. In 2014 it was $495 and for 2015 it came in at $530. With the price tag comes four races, six long-sleeve tech shirts, six medals and a whole lot of fun! However, the price is definitely high and not something the budget may allow for (especially since you also need to factor in travel, hotel, food, etc.)

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know
Is it really that different from the other runDisney challenges? runDisney offers four 19.3 mile (10K + half marathon) challenges. Jumping from these to the Dopey Challenge is quite the jump, especially with the main beast – the marathon addition. It is highly recommended you have a marathon under your belt before taking on the Dopey Challenge. As for those who have participated in Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half Challenge (half marathon + marathon), it may appear that adding an extra 9.3 miles is not that big of a deal. However, it also includes 2 more early mornings!

How many race bibs will I get? With the Dopey Challenge, you will get two race bibs. The first is for the 5K and 10K. The second is for the half marathon and marathon. Both bibs include a corral letter (same corral for the 5K/10K and half marathon/marathon) and timing chip.

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know
Do I need to do a “test” Dopey during my training? Along with the many back-to-back runs needed to train for the Dopey Challenge, it is also highly recommended that you have a “test” run of the Dopey Challenge. While it does NOT need to include the full mileage of the Dopey, it should include a majority of the miles. For example, many runners completed a 3 mile, 6 mile, 10 mile and 20 mile “mini-Dopey” during the peak of their training and stated that it was definitely a confidence-booster and helped ward off the post-Dopey soreness.

How many different pairs of shoes should I pack? At least two. Not only do your feet need a break from the same shoes, but you also need to be prepared for various weather conditions. No one likes to run in wet shoes, especially not multiple days in a row! Make sure you are training in multiple pairs as well.

If you are driving to the races (staying off property), what time do you suggest getting to the parking lot? The 5K has the latest start time, so that race will be a little different. It is recommended to be in the parking lot by 5:30 a.m. For the 10K, half marathon and marathon, you need to be in the parking lot no later than 4:30 a.m. When driving, always err on the side of caution and allow yourself extra time in case of any traffic backups. Remember that for the half marathon and marathon, there is quite a walk to the corrals.

Is the 5K timed? For Dopey Challenge runners, yes. Your bib has a timing chip, so your 5K time will be recorded for your overall Dopey Challenge time.

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know
Is there spectator areas for the 5K or 10K? For the 5K, the spectator locations are the start and finish lines. For the 10K, the start and finish line areas are available, as well as along the Epcot Resorts – along the Boardwalk and around Crescent Lake. (Note: if you spectate along the Epcot Resort area, you will not have enough time to make it to the finish line to watch your runner finish.)

What tips would you give spectators of the Dopey Challenge? Let your runner decide ahead of time what races are the most important for you to be at. If you are able to get up 4 mornings in a row to spectate – great! However, if there are kids involved, it may be wise to choose only a couple of the races. For the half marathon, spectating locations include: Ticket & Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom, behind the Grand Floridian/Polynesian resorts and the finish line in the Epcot parking lot. For the marathon, spectating locations include the same as above, along with outside Animal Kingdom, in ESPN Wide World of Sports and along the Epcot Resort area. (Note: if you spectate anywhere past mile 14, you may not have enough transportation time to make it back to the finish line in time to watch your runner finish.)

What sort of rest/stretching/compression gear is recommend between races? Rest is definitely the biggest key in between races. While it may not feel like you need it between the first three races, it is definitely a must after the half marathon. Keep with similar patterns to what you did during training. If you are used to an ice bath, jump in the pool or in the tub in your room. If compression gear keeps your legs fresh, be sure to pack those items along. The main thing is to make sure your legs and body are ready for another day (or three) of running!

Is going to the parks in between races out of the question? It isn’t necessarily out of the question, you just need to make sure you are getting enough rest in between races! The main “in between” to be mindful of is between the half marathon and marathon races. You have had three early mornings and still have your longest race to go! Going to the parks is absolutely fine, just take it easy and make sure you stay off your feet by a certain time of the day. During the Dopey Challenge is not the time to conquer all the attractions!

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know
What are the character situations along the courses? Are there any “must have” photo ops? As with any runDisney race, characters are all along the courses. As you are running four races, you will have plenty of photo opportunities! Since each race brings out different character experiences, the “must haves” will depend on you. Our advice is to save those moments in line for the characters you don’t normally see – or the ones that are your absolute favorite!

How should you fuel for the races? This is where the “mini-Dopey” during your training comes in handy! Throughout your training, do some trial and error to determine what fueling process works best for you. A carb-heavy meal the night before the longer runs definitely helps. Also learn what fuel works best during your run. Then use these during the Dopey Challenge. Be sure to bring EXTRA fuel as you most likely will find yourself even more hungry after all the running you’ve been doing!

What is the hardest part of the challenge? It’s probably safe to say this answer is two-fold. The training is definitely a feat in and of itself. The mileage logged while training for Dopey is no joke, especially around the holidays. (And those in the northern regions will be dealing with cold and snow.) Along with the training, one of the hardest aspects are those dreaded early mornings. For (at least) four days in a row, your alarm will go off around 2:30 a.m. Oof!

Do folks carry their medals with them during the full so they can have pictures with ALL OF THEM? That would be quite the sight! While some may choose to carry their 5K, 10K and half marathon medals in their running belt, most (we imagine) do not. Yes, bag check is an option, however we don’t advise putting something that valuable in there. Have your spectator hold them for you and meet you in the Family Reunion area. Or wait for that beautiful 6-medal moment until you are back in your room (or out in the parks!)

runDisney Dopey Challenge - All You Need to Know

Those who train and complete ANY race (including the Dopey Challenge) are rockstars in our book! For the runners wanting to take on a whole new level, the Dopey Challenge is definitely a way to do so. We would love to hear YOUR Dopey Challenge stories – so let us know in the comments below!


Magical Miles Buy Now 2


runDisney Training – Training While Traveling

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

A normal race training cycle can be anywhere from eight to 20+ weeks. That can be a long time! And you can anticipate many things to pop up in a training cycle – appointments, meetings, or even travel and vacation. So how do you keep up with your training schedule while traveling?

Training While Traveling - Westin and New Balance

Training while Traveling - Westin and New Balance Recently Megan enjoyed a vacation to Washington DC. Since she is currently training for the Walt Disney World Marathon (along with a few local races), she researched how she could keep up with her training while traveling. As she was not familiar with the area, she didn’t know local running paths, safe areas of town, etc. Thankfully, she found a hotel that welcomed runners with open arms!

Having heard that Westin hotels recently starting working with New Balance (which we obviously know well from a runDisney perspective), she decided to give it a try. Westin Arlington Gateway (along with many other Westin hotels across the country) offer the following for runners and fitness fanatics:


To help you pack light and stay fit, we offer New Balance® shoes and clothing for you to use during your stay for only $5.00. Simply dial Service Express® and request your shoe and clothing size, and they will be conveniently delivered to your guest room. Shoes come with socks that are brand new and yours to keep, and the clothing is provided fresh and clean. Upon departure, simply leave the items in your room in their mesh bag.

Training While Traveling - Westin and New Balance


Elevate your energy level on the treadmill, tone up with strength machines or grab a mat to stretch and let go of stress. The airy surroundings of WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studios feature the finest exercise equipment from world-class brands for all levels of performance. We provide everything you need for an exhilarating workout, so you can energize or de-stress day or night.

Training While Traveling - Westin and New Balance

Training while Traveling - Westin and New Balance RunWESTIN™

Combine your workout routine with fresh air and local scenery with our RunWESTIN™ program. We’ve teamed up with New Balance® to provide three- and five-mile routes through the city or into rural landscapes. Runners of all levels are welcome to join a group run or grab a running map and take off on their own. Either way, you’ll be welcomed back with a fresh towel and cold bottled water.

Training While Traveling - Westin and New Balance

With all of these resources at hand, it was easy to keep training even in the midst of a vacation. (Although, all of the walking while in Washington DC was a workout of its own!) The staff was quick to answer any questions, offer information regarding the running paths or fitness center and even give their experience with the runWESTIN™ program. In fact, the General Manager at the Westin Arlington Gateway is a runner himself!

While it can be easy to skip your training runs while traveling, a little planning can help keep that from happening. Find a hotel that offers multiple ways for you to get a run in, whether in the gym on the treadmill or along a local running route. It is a fun way to explore a new city while getting in the mileage needed for your upcoming runDisney race!

How do you fit in training while traveling? Let us know below!

Disclosure: Megan paid for her entire stay at the Westin Arlington Gateway and was not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own. We love the fact that hotels are becoming more and more accommodating to the running community, especially the Westin brand!


runDisney Training – What to Carry During a Long Run

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


When you first start your running journey, you are excited to get out on the road! Once you catch that running bug, your mileage becomes longer and longer. Suddenly just grabbing your running shoes isn’t quite enough, as you need to prepare for hours on the road. For those training for the longer runDisney distances, here’s a look at ideas on what to carry during a long run!

runDisney Training: What to carry on a long run

Water/Hydration – This is BY FAR the most important! When running for a long period of time, you need to make sure you stay hydrated – no matter if it is cold, sunny, hot, rainy or anything in between. Whether you bring your own hydration or stash it along the route, make sure you have enough for the whole run. The rule of thumb is approximately 4 oz every 2 miles, however you may find you need more based on the weather conditions. If it is particularly hot or humid, an electrolyte drink may be a better idea.

Fuel – Once the double digits begin, you may find that your pre-race food isn’t enough. That means finding out what to take along to snack on during your run. This truly is trial and error, as what works for one runner may not work for another. Great options are gels, chews or even dried fruit.

The key is to fuel before you’re hungry, which can be hard to figure out! If you aren’t sure, try fueling every 30-45 minutes. If you feel you need an extra boost, it doesn’t hurt to fuel a little more. Or if you feel like your stomach is too full, fuel a little less. If you do take chews or gels, be sure to chase them down with water!

Identification/Phone – Unfortunately, you never know what may happen on a run. We HIGHLY recommend Road ID bracelets. The bracelet includes important information about yourself, as well as who to contact if something should happen. There is also an app for your phone that will include those important numbers on the lock screen. And yes, we also recommend running with your phone! During a long run, you have the potential to be miles away from home or your vehicle. With your phone, you can call someone if you roll an ankle, don’t feel well, etc. Always remember – SAFETY FIRST!

Miscellaneous – While the above are the most important, there may be a few other items you want to bring along on your long run. A house key (if you are running near your home), cash (in case you need to stop for more hydration or fuel), bandaids, tissue, etc. You want to make sure you have anything you may need, but at the same time – you don’t want to feel like a pack mule! Try to keep the extra items to a minimum, if possible.

runDisney Training: What to carry on a long run

How do you carry all these items? There are many options! A popular option among runners is a running belt. There are MANY varieties, so head to your local running store or race expo. Some fit higher or tighter than others, some include water bottles, etc., so you need to find the right fit for you. Another option is a handheld water bottle with a pocket. It may take a little trial and error, eventually finding the option that works best for you!

What do you bring on your long runs? Let us know in the comments below!


A Guide to runDisney Race Etiquette

A runDisney race weekend is full of fun! From the Health and Fitness Expo to the after race celebrations, there are smiles all around! During the race itself, there is a lot to experience. Character meet and greets, DJs and music, running through the parks and even making new running friends along the way. However, with upwards of 25,000 runners during the race, the course can get a little crowded. Whether you are a new or veteran runner, here is a guide to help with race day etiquette!

Guide to runDisney race etiquette

Read through the event guide and race instructions. About a month before the race, runDisney releases an event guide. Inside includes information regarding the Expo, races, tips and more. Be sure to read through this guide as it includes important information regarding the race! It will let you know information on where to go on race day, specifics about the course and much more. Knowing this information before the race makes a HUGE difference!

Always be aware of those around you. This is key! Be aware of where other runners are – behind, to the side and in front. By doing so, it will ensure the safety of not only yourself, but the other runners as well. This is even more important when the lighting is dark – at the beginning of the morning races and during the night events. This applies while running, but also when disposing of items or trash, weaving around others, etc. No one wants to be drenched in Powerade or spat on!

Run/walk no more than two across. runDisney events are unique in that many runners use Galloway’s run/walk method or even walk a large portion of the race. While it is encouraged to run with friends (or even make them on the course), it is VERY important that you run or walk no more than two across. Since the courses can get quite crowded, you need to make sure there is room for others to get around you.

Signal (with a raised hand) if you are going to walk or stop. Whether you are using the run/walk method or if you need to get to the side to use the restroom, etc. – make sure you signal to those around you that you are slowing down or stopping. It is very common practice to raise your hand, so those around you are aware that you will be stopping. This will reduce the number of times you get bumped into!

Stay to the side so that those who need to pass can do so. While the seeded corrals help to keep those of a similar pace together, the addition of characters and entertainment means some may be making more stops than normal. It is best to stay to the side as much as possible, so that others can pass around you if needed. This helps with the overall flow of the course, which is important as there are areas that bottleneck.

Keep moving through aid stations. Throughout the race are various aid stations offering water (and Powerade for the longer distances). It is important to keep moving after grabbing your drink! Even if it is just a walk, make sure that you keep the flow going. This not only applies to aid stations, but photography stations as well – specifically the castle. Don’t stop unless it’s off to the side!

Encourage other runners (and thank the volunteers)! The running community is a wonderful thing. Keep the positivity flowing and encourage one another along the course! It is contagious and will make it a fantastic experience for everyone. Encourage those who may be hurting a bit. Clap for those who are headed for a PR. And, of course, thank every volunteer you see! They are what make the race even more magical!

And above all, Remember the Golden Rule. There is no denying that a runDisney event is full of fun! However, sometimes not-so-magical things occur. No matter what, remember the Golden Rule – treat others the way you would want to be treated. Keep your emotions and remarks positive, apologize if you bump into another runner, help each other out and the race will be even more spectacular!

Guide to runDisney race etiquette

By adhering to this guide and staying positive, the runDisney race can be a magical experience for everyone!

Magical Miles Buy Now 2


runDisney Training – Tips for Back-to-Back Runs

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!

runDisney challenges continue to grow in popularity. From the 19.3 mile options to the 48.6 mile Dopey Challenge, there is a lot of training involved!

Tips for Back-to-Back Runs for runDisney Challenges

The biggest aspect (along with the multiple early morning wake up calls) is preparing your body for the back-to-back runs. Adding these to your training is critical, as you learn to run one day, followed by double the distance on tired legs the next day. Here are some tips to help prepare you for the back-to-back runs in training and on race weekend!

Increase your mileage slowly. If you have been running awhile, it may be tempting to jump right in to the longer back-to-back runs right away. Take it easy! Start small to ensure your body can take the consecutive days, then start to increase mileage slowly each week. Your body may take awhile to get used to the doubling of mileage in the span of 24 hours! For those who aren’t used to the higher amount of mileage, it is wise to incorporate walk breaks as well.

Work on proper recovery. When running multiple days in a row, you need to make sure your legs are getting the recovery they need! Make sure that you stretch and foam roll after your run, especially to prepare for the double mileage the next day. Also make sure that you are getting food (specifically carbs and protein) within 30 minutes of your run. A couple other options that can help recovery are ice baths and compression gear!

Invest in double gear. If you are working toward back-to-back runs of longer distances, it may be a good idea to get more of your favorite gear. This is a must for shoes! You will go through many pairs, so get a few into your rotation. You also may want extra water bottles, headbands, socks and other gear in case they get sweaty or wet. Keep an eye out for sales on running gear and stock up! And prepare for lots and lots of loads of laundry.

Fuel and hydrate like it’s your job. It is important to fuel and hydrate for any run, but these back-to-back runs are even more important. Make sure that you are drinking water all day long and fuel properly the nights before you run. During the longer runs, make sure that you are bringing fuel such as gels, chews, candy or other food items to keep your energy up. You may get dehydrated or need more energy faster than normal since you just ran the day prior!

Listen to your body. This is the most important of all. These challenges bring a whole new aspect to your training. Be sure to pay close attention to what your body is telling you. Keep an eye out for aches and pains, and see a doctor if they get worse. Feeling tired? Make sure you get some extra sleep. Your body is an amazing thing, so it knows if something is wrong! Listen closely – no race is worth injury or illness!

Tips for Back-to-Back Runs for runDisney Challenges

Challenges are a lot of fun to experience, however there is a lot of training involved. Make sure that you can devote the time to train appropriately! Put in the time during the back-to-back runs, then you can enjoy your time on race day!

If you could choose one challenge to participate in, which would it be? Let us know below!