Happy Global Running Day!!!
I’ve been through enough runDisney race weekends to know that packing for them (or prepping for them as a local) is no amateur feat. Whether you’re running your first 5K or embarking on the Dopey Challenge, you don’t want to go into the event(s) unprepared.
And so I thought it might be useful to share the things that I make sure to have on hand, above and beyond a usual packing list, heading into a race weekend – since you don’t want to be left without them once those long days and early early mornings start.
Needless to say I would not recommend trying any of these things for the first time on race day. Get them a week or so in advance if you can to test how they affect you and whether they work for you personally. And as always don’t do anything that I mention here or elsewhere that isn’t approved by your own doctor!! (After all, you can take the girl out of law – but you can’t take the law out of the girl.)
Affiliate links included for some items. Everything listed here is tried and true for me and on my own personal must-have list for any race weekend.
BEFORE THE RACE
- Printed and Signed Waiver(s):
Make sure your race packet pickup at Expo goes smoothly by printing and signing your race waiver (found on the runDisney site) in advance. You’ll need to submit that and show your photo ID in order to pick up your race bibs and other goodies.
Sleep is without question THE most important thing during any race weekend. With your alarm going off at 2 or 3 a.m. every morning that you run, your body needs to be put to bed as early as possible each night before. This is particularly important for events like the Dopey Challenge, when you are waking up this early morning after morning and it really can start to catch up with you in a serious way – especially by the morning of the full marathon. I swear by melatonin to give my body the cue to go to sleep at around 7 p.m. on pre-race evenings and typically use the Nature’s Bounty quick dissolve 10mg tabs linked here.
- Race Costume:
Dressing up for race weekends is lots of fun – but remember you need to be able to run in whatever your costume is!! So make time to do a test run or two in your planned wardrobe. And check the runDisney rules to make sure that it complies.
THAT FLORIDA WEATHER, THOUGH…
When you think running in Florida, you tend to think heat. And that’s definitely true – but you’re also often waiting to start running for hours on end in very chilly weather. Marathon Weekend, in particular, seems without fail to be the coldest weekend of the year. There have been times that we stood outside for hours in 17 degree wind chills waiting to run. That’s not just miserable – it’s hard on your muscles. Save your sanity and your toes by making sure that you have these things in your suitcase for mid-winter races:
- Warm Clothes:
Disney gathers all discarded clothing on the course and donates it to charity – so know that anything that you drop along the way is going to a good place. That said, don’t break the bank here. I often hit up Goodwill or Walmart before a race weekend for the least expensive sweats that I can find and order packs of gloves and hats on Amazon to have on hand for races.
These are a godsend when you’re stuck waiting in the corrals on cold mornings. I order them in bulk in advance so that I always have them on hand.
A sprinkle feels amazing when you’re running – but a downpour in the corrals does not. You don’t need to break the bank by any means, but Florida weather is incredibly unpredictable so I always like to have a pack of cheap ponchos on hand going into a race weekend.
Also for cold mornings – these are great because they take up no space in your luggage but get the job done in the cold. We’ve also learned to cut strips of them to put in our shoes on the coldest race mornings to keep our toes from freezing in the corrals. The strips are great because they’re easy to pull out when you’re ready to start running.
BEFORE AND DURING YOUR RUN
- Running Shoes:
I mean…obviously. But don’t go into training without a pair of race shoes suited to your foot and your stride. I swear by Brooks sneakers but everyone is different. Take care of your body when you’re pounding the pavement by taking the time to visit a running store and being fitted for a proper shoe.
Everyone has their own personal favorite when it comes to running socks – but Injinji are mine. Yes, they take a minute to put on – but they’re worth it. I wear them for every run over 10 miles and in all of my years pounding the pavement, including two full Dopey Challenges, I’ve never had so much as a blister. You can order them here.
- Running Watch and Apps
Tracking your pace and mileage is always important – but when you’re going into a race weekend it’s especially important that you know your body and the pace that you can comfortably meet that meets the pacing requirements but won’t burn you out before the weekend is over. A good running watch is a great way to make sure that you stay in that zone. There are so many out there but you cannot go wrong with a Garmin. You might also look at some of the apps available for your phone for training and the races themselves. I’m a big fan of both Runkeeper and MapMyRun.
I’ve tested just about every running headphones on the market and these win out, big time. I love the fact that they work by bone conduction instead of having to be inserted into my ears – great to prevent moisture build up and also to allow me to listen to music that drives my pace while also staying aware of my surroundings. This is critical when you’re out training on the open road – but is nice too when you want to listen to music but still appreciate the entertainment and other runners on the runDisney course. They’re also very comfortable and stay put without fail. I have a smaller head, so I also like that there’s an Aftershokz Trekz Titanium *Mini* option.
There *is* plenty of water (and, for longer races, diluted Powerade) on the course – but from time to time I will bring my own water on the course, either because it’s going to be an extremely hot day or I have a particular time goal in mind and don’t want to have to slow down for water stops. If you’re happier running with your own water, there’s no reason not to on the runDisney course. There will also be people available at the water stops to help you refill your bottle. I love this particular Nathan belt – the diagonal positioning of the bottle makes it incredible comfortable – and use a Camelback for longer runs where I want a hands free option.
You’ll find fuel and water stops on the longer courses, but it’s always a good idea to have something that you know you’re comfortable with with you on the course. I love these Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and Honey Stinger Waffles, as well as these Cliff Bar Energy Bloks.
I *never* go through a long training run or race without Nuun in my water. It helps to keep you hydrated before and during a race – which is critical when you’re running in Florida heat. I use this regular formula leading up to the run and then usually switch to the caffeinated version the morning of and during the run. (Many of the items here are caffeinated. Make sure that you aren’t doubling up too much and again of course check with your doctor before using any of them – or any other supplement mentioned here.)
Common theme here – but on long runs, particularly in the Florida heat, your body is losing a ton of salt. Over days of races, this can really add up. After my first Dopey, my body was so depleted that my hands were as swollen as they had been when I was pregnant! These days, I always carry a few of these salt tabs with me during long runs to make sure that I’m replenishing my body’s stores along the way.
These Hyland’s leg cramp prevention tablets are new to my arsenal. Like anything here, only use them if your doctor approves and they work for you – but I’ve found them to be amazing when it comes to preventing calf issues when I’m training or on the course.
I never run more than 10 miles without making sure that I’m covered in Body Glide wherever my skin can run against itself or my clothing. Along the top of my leggings, along the bottom of my sports bra and its straps, and on and on. Do *not* go into a race weekend without having Body Glide in your bag. You might not notice during the run…but I promise you’ll know if you didn’t wear it once you’re done.
Taking care of yourself after each race is just as important as the preparation beforehand, especially if you’re running multiple races over one weekend (or have a family that expects you to be out and about with them in the parks on race days). Make sure you have these items with you to help with your recovery.
No explanation necessary here. It’s a necessary recovery tool if your muscles are acting up after or between races. You’ll find it available at the medical tents during the races themselves.
I never, ever go into a race weekend without a ton of Epsom salt on hand for between runs!! I love this Dr. Teal’s muscle recovery soak for an extra effective post-run bath.
Foam rollers are great but I actually prefer a roller stick – and it also travels much more easily as far as real estate in your luggage. Take care of your muscles between races by making sure that you have one of these on hand to roll out the kinks.
This thing is amazing. Your feet will thank you.
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So there you have my ever growing arsenal!! What’s your one most essential item for a runDisney race weekend?