runDisney challenges continue to be a draw for many runners. The allure of multiple medals often overlooks the added mileage (and early mornings). And with a challenge (or two) available each runDisney race weekend, their popularity is very evident!
But before clicking register, there are a few important questions to ask. No matter if you are a newer runner or have been running for decades, these challenges bring their own unique flair, both good and not-quite-as-good. These questions primarily focus on the 10K+half marathon challenges, as the Goofy & Dopey Challenge are for more experienced runners.
1. How long have I been (consistently) running?
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and want to jump right into a multi-day runDisney event. First and foremost, you need to make sure your body (and mind) are ready for the idea of back-to-back runs, where the mileage doubles. For the 10K+half marathon events, it is best to already have at least a half marathon under your belt. Not only do you know you are capable of that distance, but you know the preparation needed to succeed! (For the Goofy & Dopey challenges, it is best to have already completed at least one marathon.)
With these challenges, a strong base is highly recommended. If you have been running consistently for at least a year, working up into the double-digit mileage, you are most likely ready for a 10K+half marathon challenge. (That being said, everyone is different. Do what is best for your body, without overexerting.) Keep in mind, the better training base you have, the more enjoyable the race will be!
As always, you should check with your doctor before any exercise regimen, especially if adding something new.
2. Do I have the time and motivation to train?
It’s one thing to train for a 10K or half marathon. It’s another to train to run them back-to-back! The training involved with the runDisney challenges is more strenuous than a stand-alone race. Along with working up your mileage, you will also be running two days in a row (on top of your normal training). This allows your legs to get used to running while fatigued AND running double the distance on those tired legs!
Your training plan will likely include an extra day of running, which means your priorities may need to shift. Make sure that you have the time to train well. (It is normal for a missed run to occur now and then, but it should not happen frequently.) Challenge training will also include increased motivation, especially with the back-to-back runs. It’s not easy to double your mileage the day after a run, especially if your legs are fatigued! Having clear motivation (including a mantra or two) always helps!
3. Am I prepared for 2 (or more) early morning wake up calls?
Along with training, the early morning wake up calls are definitely the toughest part of a runDisney challenge. At Walt Disney World in particular, the wake up calls come as early as 2:30 am! The first one may not be as difficult, but when you combine two or more together, it will take a lot of motivation to get out of your cozy bed.
Before clicking register, take the time to decide if your body can handle those early mornings – especially multiple in a row.
4. Do I have a support team?
Based on the three questions above, it is clear you will need some help when it comes to these challenges. Having a strong support team in place makes a lot of difference! While there are many ideas (see below), the biggest is to have at least one person who will be your source of encouragement. When things get tough, this person will be there to offer words of motivation, reminding you why you signed up in the first place!
Other support members can include:
- Family and Friends – you will likely be making sacrifices, so having your family and friends on board will make it a little easier if you need childcare, someone to bring you water on your long run, or even support on the race course.
- Running Buddies – having another runner or a group of runners to train with helps the miles tick by just a little faster. Not to mention, having to meet someone is motivation to get out and run!
- Online Groups – there are many groups on Facebook and other platforms that will be a source of encouragement as you go through this journey together. Find groups that are uplifting and positive (without offering poor advice)!
- Doctors/Specialists/Coaches – if you require special dietary needs, want to hit a time goal, or are prone to injury, having the experts assist is a must.
5. Which challenge should I choose?
If your answers to the above questions make you feel as though you are ready to take on a runDisney challenge, the next decision is which to choose! As mentioned earlier, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and the Dopey Challenge are for more experienced runners. If your goal is one of the 10K+Half Marathon challenges, there are eight to choose from!
- Rebel Challenge – Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (Light Side)
- Glass Slipper Challenge – Princess Half Marathon Weekend
- Dark Side Challenge – Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (Dark Side)
- Pixie Dust Challenge – Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend
- Disneyland Double Dare – Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend
- 10K+Half Challenge – Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend
- Two Course Challenge – Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
- Infinity Gauntlet Challenge – Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend
Be sure to check out the blog post about choosing your runDisney challenge, which has information on all of the options available. Also, keep in mind that registration is now opening around 11 months prior to race weekend.
There are also a few additional challenges to consider, which allow for a little more recovery time! The Coast-to-Coast Challenge is a half marathon or marathon in Walt Disney World and a half marathon in Disneyland within the same calendar year. The Castle to Chateau is a half marathon in Walt Disney World or Disneyland (or marathon in Walt Disney World), as well as the half marathon in Disneyland Paris within the same calendar year. The Castaway Cay Challenge is a race during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, along with the Castaway Cay 5K on the 4-night Bahamian cruise aboard the Disney Cruise Line (departing the Monday immediately after Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend).
A runDisney challenge is a great way to experience multiple runDisney races, but be sure your body and mind are ready! If they are, then enjoy every magical mile!