15 December, 2011

Disney Running 101 Part 1: 4 to 3 Weeks Prior to Race Day

** I decided to repost all of my Disney Running 101 Posts leading up to January Marathon Weekend.  I have a few more readers since last year so I figured it'd be a nice refresher! Where info has changed, I've attempted to update it with current information! **

One month before race day!  By now you should be nearing the end of your hectic training schedule, getting in one or two last long runs, and beginning your taper period.

During your last few long runs, make sure to finalize what food, hydration, clothing, and gear you want to race with.  Don't try running the race in anything new that you haven't tested out yet!  You don't want to find out that the cute new shirt you bought to wear irritates your neck starting at mile 4.  It's a LONG way to the finish line!  

As for tapering, my taper period starts 3 weeks prior to race day but I know some runners who only use a 2 week taper. The 'official' explanation for tapering is that by resting the body it can recover from the shock of weeks and months of hard training and thus stand the best chance for a peak race performance.

During taper, do NOT overdo it! Give your body the rest it deserves after logging all those crazy miles! No need to suffer an injury this close to the race. After all the hard work you put into the training, it's not worth the risk of hurting yourself. There are no workouts the week prior to the race that will enhance your preparedness. Do something light to keep yourself sane but nothing crazy. An important rule of thumb is "Less is Best", particularly if you are feeling either physically or mentally tired and/or your leg muscles are fatigued/achy, etc.

Since you are running less, pay closer attention to your diet. Increasing protein a little in the beginning of your taper should help your muscles repair and recover. It’s normal to gain a few pounds as your muscles stockpile the glycogen they will need during the race. You're also not running as much, hence not burning as many calories. But gaining more than five pounds will make you feel heavy and sluggish. Eat a few less calories than usual and stick to well-balanced meals.

Also, remember to stay hydrated! Since you're not running as much, you probably won't want to drink as much either.


In terms of Disney, you should start to make your final decisions on the three additional ticketed events that Disney is hosting this year for runners and their guests.

* Depending on the race weekend, Disney may or may not offer all 3 of these.  I will try to keep this updated when I get more info *

A few days before the races (usually Thursdays but that can change), there's a 'Pasta in the Park Party' from roughly 6:30pm - 9:30pm. According to the runDisney site...Kick off the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend by joining us for a Pasta in the Park Party at Epcot®! This event is a great way to relax and be entertained before your big race. The party includes a buffet pasta dinner with self seating, a live DJ and Disney Characters eager to meet you. Following dinner at the World ShowPlace Pavilion, you and your family will be escorted to Worldview Plaza to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show put to music.

I believe the price for 2012 is $47.50 for adults, $28.35 for children.  Is it worth it?  I'm not so sure but that's up to you to decide.  I personally have never done the pasta party.  We normally arriving late on Thursday night so always an option for us.  I've heard mixed reviews about the event and some say the food is only 'acceptable' and not worth the $48.  In the past, my friends and I had a great meal at Tutto Italia, Mama Melrose, and Le Cellier for cheaper per person and loved it.  Many of my other friends just hang out at Pop Century and have a much cheaper pasta dinner in the food court. 

Here's a recap of the party from 2010 so you can decide yourself.  It does look fun but hanging out in the park without the party seems just as fun? :) (Video courtesy of ESPN Wide World of Sports)

The second event for the weekend is the Race Retreat before and after each race for the runners.  I wrote a whole blog post about this earlier but here's a blurb...

From Disney's site... "Are you looking for a way to put a little more magic into your Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend? Experience the race as a VIP with a Race Retreat Package. The Race Retreat features a temperature controlled tent with patio seating at the finish line where you'll have private restrooms and bag check, access to live results, a full brunch, massage and character appearances."

They also posted a flyer from 2012 with more details, which you can read here. Bagels, fresh fruit, hot/cold drinks, private bag check, private rest rooms, changing area, character greets, massages (for a $10 fee), and a few other things.  All for the 'low' price of $105 for marathon runners ($85 for half marathon runners and $175 for Goofy)!! (Prices listed were for 2011, I can't seem to find 2012 prices)

Like I said in my earlier post, I probably would have done this if my BFF and I were running the same races.  Paying for the retreat for 2 days though is steep and what are the chances of it being so frigidly cold again like it was in 2010?  Instead I'll spend the time hanging out with my Running of the Ears crew as well as anyone else I stumble upon in the corrals and family areas. 

And the last ticketed event to discuss with your family and friends coming to cheer you on is the ChEAR Squad.  ChEAR Squad members will get inside information and tips about race weekend and, depending on the package you buy, reserved viewing locations on the course.  There are 4 packages you can choose from with prices ranging from $0 (yes..free) all the way up to $145 (for Platinum Goofy viewing).  Each package contains different perks ranging from just emails to a t-shirt, cooler, cheering clappers to a private area at the finish line, free food, etc.

To read more about the ChEAR Squad packages from 2011, check out Disney's link here. The 2012 ChEAR Squad instructions are here.  Again, can't find prices for some reason this year. 

The ChEAR Squad sounds like a decent idea if your friend and fam don't want to wake up early and deal with all of the chaos of going from park to park to chase you down! I personally don't know anyone that has done it though so I can't comment on if it's worth it or not.  Has anyone done it before?

Anyone going to participate in any of the three ticketed events?  Thoughts? 


So there you have it...Part 1 of my Disney Running 101!  What did you think?  Helpful?  Anything I left out that people should know about 4-3 weeks prior to the big day? 


  1. I can say that this has gotten me amped and excited about my next 12 weeks of training. I'm almost done with my 1st week (which I am repeating next week). Posts like this really give me the mental boost I need. Thanks!!

    My mom did the ChEar Squad last year - except I only ran the 5K. So we didn't do the full package for her because that would have be absolutely silly! So for the package she purchased she got a backpack (which I did not get as a 5K runner, and which is the biggest reason I decided to run the 1/2 next time!), t-shirt, e-mails, seat cushion, and Mickey Mouse clappers. She wore her shirt to the 5K to chEar me on, and maybe brought her seat cushion? Not sure. The stands were covered in ice, so everybody just stood instead of sat! The clappers were here favorite thing. She even brought them to my next race back home and plans to bring them to my first 1/2 in Oregon!

  2. I did chEAR squad at the disneyland half in 2012. Not worth it unless one has mobility issues. I do not. Something fun is watching the charactors greet the runners. If you can run the distance do so, spectating is over-rated.

    1. Thanks, Tom! I've heard the same from a few people. Unless you have mobility issues and/or money to spend, it might not be worth it. Although I will say spectating is fun! I cheered on my friends during the half in 2011 when I ran the full the next day.