It’s no secret that the runDisney challenges are extremely popular! With ten challenges currently available (Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Rebel Challenge, Fairy Tale Challenge, Dark Side Challenge, Pixie Dust Challenge, Disneyland Double Dare, Disneyland Paris 10K + Half, Two Course Challenge & Infinity Gauntlet Challenge), they sell out within days – if not even faster.
However, these challenges are not to be taken lightly! Here are our top 10 tips (in no particular order) to prepare for and conquer your runDisney challenge!
Prepare for the training involved. The training needed to complete a runDisney challenge is quite intense. Jeff Galloway’s plans are at least 19 weeks in length and include 3 (and sometimes 4) days of running. It is recommended that you have a strong running background and base before signing up for a runDisney challenge (even more so for those signing up for the Goofy or Dopey challenge). Make sure that you can devote the time to training so you can have fun and reduce the chances of injury or burn out!
Have a great support crew. With so much time devoted to training, you need to make sure you have a great support crew in place! Talk it over with your family so they are prepared for your extended training time. Even better, find a way to involve them in your training! Having a running partner or group is an excellent way to keep you motivated as you log in the miles toward your runDisney challenge goal.
Focus on the back-to-back training runs. The key component to the runDisney challenges is that you are running two or four days in a row, doubling your mileage each day. Therefore, it is extremely important that you train your legs and body for this! Make sure that your training includes multiple back-to-back training runs. These can be two days of run/walk or straight running, or you can walk the first day, then run/walk or run the second day. The most important part is to get your legs used to going a longer distance when they are fatigued from the day prior.
Do a (mini) trial challenge. Once you have put in a strong amount of training, it doesn’t hurt to have a trial run of the challenge itself. You don’t need to run the exact same mileage as the challenge, but a good portion of it. A recommendation is a 6 mile followed by a 12 mile run for Rebel Challenge, Glass Slipper Challenge, Dark Side Challenge, Pixie Dust Challenge, Disneyland Double Dare, Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge or Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Many Dopey runners completed a 3 mile, 6 mile, 10 mile and 20 mile “mini” challenge as part of their training. This should be the peak of your training, so approximately 2-3 weeks before the actual event. It is a GREAT confidence booster!
Bring two pairs of shoes. In fact, we would even go one step farther and say to train in two pairs of shoes! Rotate your shoes as you train, then bring both along for the races themselves. Not only do you have a back-up if needed, but you also allow your feet to recover a bit from the day before. Not to mention, you don’t want to run in a wet pair of shoes if it rains the first day!
Pack for all race conditions. Unfortunately, Disney cannot control the weather during a race weekend. Both coasts have seen many weather systems during races, so prepare for anything! Pack for hot and humid, cool and windy, rainy, cloudy – you name it. Make sure that you are packing double (or quadruple for Dopey) for each race condition since it could be the same or completely opposite during the challenge days. It is also wise to check out the Weather Channel before traveling, but know that it still can change.
Take the first race(s) easy. Even if your plan is just to run all the races for fun, make sure you take the first race (or races) easy. You want to make sure your legs are somewhat fresh for the longest distance, which will be the last race! Go at a slower pace, walk more and take in all of the entertainment around you!
Refuel and recover between races. When running multiple races, you need to make sure that you properly refuel after you run and let your muscles recover. Be sure to get in some carbs and protein within 30-60 minutes after running and fuel your body throughout the day. Also, rest those legs! Even though the parks may be calling your name, be sure to take it easy and allow your body to rest!
Prepare for the (very) early mornings. The current runDisney challenges all occur during morning events. That means you need to prepare for some VERY early mornings. At Walt Disney World, you will need to be on a bus by 4:00 AM – and not just once, but twice – and possibly FOUR times! Be sure to get to bed early and take a nap during the day if needed.
Have fun! Once you’ve put in the training, you can head to Disney and ENJOY the races! Make new friends. Take photos with the characters. Smile as you cross the finish line a couple times! Let the magic take over and have fun!
Any experienced runner can take on these runDisney challenges with the right training. It is a great way to take your running journey to a new level! Enjoy those magical miles – you will get to experience many of them!