Challenges are growing in popularity.
Are you Goofy enough to do a half on Saturday and a full on Sunday? Or maybe you’re Dopey enough to try a 5K, 10K, half, & full?
If attempting a challenge is something you’re considering, there’s a few tips out there that might help you finish injury free and happy.
We all know I run in the world of Disney. And sometimes the Land. 😉
When I first started my runDisney career, the only challenge out there was the Goofy. Some of those early runners tacked-on the 5K just for giggles and called it the unofficial Dopey.
These were the real crazies who were up to anything: including waking up super early multiple days in a row.
In 2013, runDisney started mixing things up.
First they added the Dumbo Double Dare: a 10K and half marathon successive day challenge.
This appealed to people like me who loved the idea of extra bling (face it- I don’t care about the extra miles, I love the hardware!) but who weren’t quite on board with the whole Goofy plan since that involved a full marathon.
With the wild success of this race and the lightbulb going off at Disney HQ that, why yes, people really DO want to #runalltheraces, the floodgates opened.
There are now challenges at every race weekend that runDisney holds except for the lone night race, Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I’m sure if they could figure out how to hold a 10K wedged in between the morning 5K and the evening half marathon, they would!
As a firm believer in the #runalltheraces hashtag (or at least run most of the races) I have completed 5 official runDisney challenges and one un-official Pixie Dust Challenge. (And frankly, that’s one ugly medal I’m okay with NOT getting. Sorry, not sorry… blech.)
Tip 1: Train for it.
No really, that’s my tip. Do the work and it won’t hurt on race day.
It wasn’t the races: it was ME. I didn’t do the work, so by mile 5-6 of the 2nd day I was totally and completely over running.
I did, indeed, have to force myself to finish a couple of these races.
Tip 2: Train. Train. Train.
Yeah, I really MEAN it.
Train like you’ll race with back to back progressive runs. Walking one day, and running the next. It will prepare your body for the miles you will face on race day more accurately.
And yeah, I know, I’m repeating myself. But here’s the deal:
I know plenty of people can complete without proper training (hello- I did it!) but I can also tell you that training actually DOES make the race experience more fun.
AND you know, it also makes the after party at Disneyland or Disney World WAY more fun if you aren’t in pain.
You came all this way to enjoy the full experience: don’t short yourself before the race even starts by NOT being prepared to see the weekend through!
Tip 3: Take it EASY between races.
I’m a commando park goer, so this one is HARD for me to follow. But I’ve learned that the 2nd day of running can be much easier if I’ve stayed off my feet after the first race.
This generally means doing my post-race voodoo, heading into the park for a few character pictures and some food, then heading to my room for an early night.
This is also why my family hates going to my race weekends. I’m way not-fun when I have more than 1 race on the calendar.
But Stitch loved me, so whatevs.
Tip 4: Take it EASY on the first race. Or the second.
My rule of thought on the challenges: be realistic.
*Most* people don’t PR 2 days in a row.
If you do- well, hey-o! I’m super impressed and mega jealous. Sincerely. And you probably followed the first 3 tips without me telling you to, which is WHY you PR both races.
I found a good solution for me is to treat the 10K as a fun run. I don’t worry about my pace and I’m out to get any pictures I can while on the course. I typically start out slow and steady and make frequent stops.
This allows me mentally to know that the half is where I’ll put in the real work, and I won’t be spent from running the day before.
It seems to work for me, but I know a lot of people that do the reverse. They run hard on Saturday and spend Sunday enjoying the course!
Tip 5: Run with friends.
Honestly, my halves aren’t much fun since I started doing the challenges. My legs, and more importantly my feet, aren’t fans of all the walking/running back to back no matter how much I train.
Want to see my blisters from the Disneyland Half? Yeah- me either. Those were some ugly runners feet happening right there. I’ll spare you.
My halves end up being a matter of completion, not competition. And I’ve found myself running some of them alone- which just isn’t all that fun if you aren’t having a good race.
DisBroad Julie and I have run many races together. She’s pretty cool peeps to run with! This year I also got the chance to hang out with Piya, Diane and DisBroad April (who normally leaves me in the dust!).
And we had a blast. It made the difference in this race and the weekend in general- which is why the Princess Half is my jam.
I’m not sure how many more challenges I have in me. Right now I’m signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet & the Rebel Challenge. I have a feeling I’ll cave and sign up for the Glass Slipper again as well.
But I honestly feel like I’m a happier runner if I’m only doing one race a weekend. A theory I’ll be testing out during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.
What’s your biggest takeaway on challenge races? Do you enjoy them?
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Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)