If you’re like me, you were the kid in high school who DREADED (capitals needed here!) when your gym teacher announced you’d have to run a mile. I can remember looking at the track that ran around our football field and literally rolling my eyes – I’m not a runner! I “ran” three times a year – when the gym teacher told me I had to, and even then I basically “wogged” (walk-jog) the four laps around the track.
Fast forward six or seven years after those horrible gym experiences, and I signed up for my first runDisney race. I had cheered on my sister in her first half marathon, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, and decided that I wanted to run one too (quintessential little sister – if my big sis can do it, so can I!). I signed up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon along with my sister and was SO nervous when race day came. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and was convinced I would not be able to keep up with my sister.
I had trained a little bit, but I felt totally unprepared. Guess what? I finished the race and signed up for another one, and another, and another. As of today, I’ve ran 6 runDisney races and am preparing for my 7th – the 2021 Princess Half Marathon Weekend 10k. What does that mean to you? If you are not a “runner” you can still finish and have fun running a Disney race!
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Before we get into some tips for non-runners running a Disney race, here’s a quick overview of everything you need to know to be prepared for a run weekend.
- Disney currently hosts four run events annually in Walt Disney World – Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. Races are also held in Disneyland Paris as well as a virtual series. At this time, no races are being held in the Disneyland Resort.
- Each run weekend includes multiple races that span from a 5k to a full marathon. Also included are runDisney kids races of varying lengths.
- Registration for races is limited. You will want to plan far in advance if you hope to run a race so that you’re ready to sign up for the race the day registration opens. If you are an Annual Passholder or DVC Member, be sure to check and see if you can access the registration link before the general public.
- The cost of registration for a race includes varying items depending on the length of the race, but may include a personalized race bib, finisher medal, participant shirt, virtual goody bag, and downloadable finisher certificate.
- You will need to visit the runDisney Expo, held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports for all Walt Disney World Races, to pick up your race bib prior to the race. That means that you should build in an extra day or two before your race when planning your trip.
- The runDisney Expo includes exclusive runDisney merchandise as well as a myriad of run vendors that you’ll definitely want to check out.
- If you are staying at a Disney resort on the day of your race, you can take Disney transportation to the starting line. I would 100% recommend doing this, as parking for the start of most races can be difficult both before and after the race.
- You will receive a letter on your race bib that identifies the corral that you will start in. A corral is essentially a large group of people who you will start your run with. You will not be able to move to a corral in front of yours.
- If you have people coming to cheer you on, be sure that they activate the run tracker using your bib number. All of this information will be included in the eGuide that runDisney will distribute on race weekend.
- If you’d like pictures from your run, consider purchasing the One Day Memory Maker. This will allow you to download all photos of you taken on the course during the race by Disney photographers.
runDisney Tips for Non-Runners
If you’ve signed up for a runDisney race or are thinking about signing up for one, below are a few tips that have helped me finish 6 runDisney races as a “non-runner.”
Set a Training Schedule
I’ve tried a number of different training schedules when preparing for runDisney races and settled on a mix of a few that work for me. If you’re just starting out, I would highly recommend checking out Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method. Jeff is the runDisney training king (my name for him!) and is affiliated with runDisney. You can download his training schedules for the different race lengths at rundisney.com.
If you try Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method, you may want to invest in a Interval Timer and Stopwatch. This timer will help you stick to the timing that Jeff recommends and let you focus on your running, rather than counting down your time blocks.
To be successful, you don’t have to follow Jeff Galloway’s method if it doesn’t work for you. I’ve found that I do the run-walk method, but I don’t stick to his intervals. I listen to my body and know when I need to take it a little slower.
No matter what method you do, one of the most important parts of training for any race is setting a schedule that you stick to. You want to look at your lifestyle and determine a schedule that is realistic. When I first started out, I thought I should be running everyday. That lasted about a week before I figured out that 1. I was miserable, 2. my body was hurting, 3. I wasn’t seeing much progress in terms of my time. For me, I figured out that I needed to run/power-walk 3 days a week. On the other days, I tried to be active in other ways, be it through a weight training workout, yoga, or even just talking a slower walk with my fiance.
The best piece of advice I can give you as a fellow non-runner when making your schedule is to figure out what your goal is and stick to it.
To help out with both planning and sticking to your schedule, you can download my runDisney training packet that includes printable workout calendars for the month, week, and day!
Make a Disney Playlist
This may sound like a no-brainer, but put on some Disney music that gets you going when you run! Turning on a few of my favorite Disney tunes as I hit the pavement gets me excited for the runDisney experience and reminds me what I’m working towards – that gorgeous runDisney medal and the chance to run on Disney property!
You may not want to listen to music when you’re actually running the race, especially when you’re in
You can check out my runDisney Playlist on Spotify or create your own!
Join the Community
Ask anyone who ran a runDisney race and I’m sure they will tell you that one of the best parts of the race is the other runners. I’ve ran a few races by myself and not once did I actually feel alone. People are constantly around you cheering you on and making sure you are okay. What’s even better is this community continues off the course. When you register for a race, do a quick search on Facebook and you’ll find a number of Facebook Groups that are dedicated to runDisney. In the groups you’ll be able to read about other people’s progress, get motivation for the many helpful links that will be shared, and connect with people who will be running the race with you.
This was a huge help to me when I ran my first few races because I felt more prepared going into the race weekend. I was able to get tons of tips on bib pickup, the merch shop, and the course itself that I would have spent hours searching for online.
Dress the Part
One of the most important purchases you will make, other than you runDisney race registration, is your shoes. I would recommend purchasing a good pair of sneakers before you start your training that you can break in far in advance of the race. This way, you will be running in shoes that you are used to and that you know you won’t get blisters from.
If you’re looking for the best kind of sneaker to get, you can search online or you can go to a running shop and they will usually be able to test a few different kinds of sneakers out on you. I personally have tried a number of different brands and am currently a big fan of ASICS because they offer a lot of arch support, which helps me since I have high arches.
Once you have your sneakers, you can start to have fun with your run outfits! During my training, I just wear whatever t-shirt, sports bra, and leggings I have laying around the house. However, for a race, I have a ton of fun putting together a themed race outfit.
You’ll see that some people will run in full-out costumes, while others will opt for a themed run shirt and headband or something more subdued. If you’re looking for Disney run clothing, check out Etsy for a ton of great options.
The most important part about both training for an running a runDisney race, or any race for that matter, is having fun! You will find that so much of finishing a race is mental. If you can focus on how incredible it is to be running through Walt Disney World, you’ll have no problem passing that finish line and collecting your well deserved medal!