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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Prepping for Marathon Weekend

Half-marathon start in 2010
Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Well, there's less than two weeks away until the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  I've been in training (not enough) for my first ever full marathon.  About a month ago, I shared my thoughts for some of the best spectator spots to cheer on runners.

This week, I want to delve into some of the ways runners can get prepared for the event.

First, of course is to train (again, something I have not done enough of ).  RunDisney has developed a great partnership with famed marathon runner and trainer Jeff Galloway to provide the Galloway Training System -- a reasonable schedule where runners can get prepared for a half or full marathon with a series of short and long runs.  I've tried to follow this system as much as I could and I can see how it can really be helpful for those new to the marathon experience.

Beyond training, there are some things runners will need to have "on board" with them as they complete the course.
  1. Food:  Non-runners might think that a runner will need to eat a lot during an event to keep energy levels up.  In my experience, that's really not the case.  Yes, runners should have an energy bar or two on hand during the event, but most runners I've talked to don't want all that much food with them - mostly because that's extra weight to carry.  Also, there are four food stations (during the full marathon) located along the 2nd half of the course.  At these stations (according to other WDW Radio Running Team Members) are bananas, chocolate chip bars, energy packets (usually Gu - see below) and other items.  "Best bananas ever," so they say.  I do recommend eating a banana because it's so high in potassium, which will help.
  2. Fluids:  Runners need a lot.  But the good news is they don't need to carry any at all.  This is one of the biggest differences between a running event and training runs.  In a training run, runners have to carry water with them - quite a bit, especially on long runs.  In a running event, there are plenty of water/Powerade stations for runners to keep hydrated, so there's no need to carry their own water. 
    • Half Marathon:  Water/Powerade stations are located at:
      • Just past Mile 1
      • Mile 3.5
      • Mile 4.5
      • Just past Mile 6
      • Just past Mile 7
      • Just past Mile 9
      • Just past Mile 10
      • Mile 11
      • Just past Mile 12
      • Finish (Mile 13.1)
    • Full Marathon:  Water/Powerade stations are located at:
      • Just past Mile 1
      • Just past Mile 2
      • Just before Mile 4.5
      • Mile 6.5
      • Just past Mile 7
      • Mile 8.5
      • Just past Mile 9
      • Just past Mile 11
      • Just past Mile 12
      • Mile 13.5
      • Just past Mile 14
      • Just past Mile 15
      • Mile 16
      • Mile 17.5
      • Mile 18.5
      • Mile 19.5
      • Mile 20.5
      • Just past Mile 21
      • Just past Mile 22
      • Mile 23
      • Mile 24
      • Just before Mile 25
      • Finish (Mile 26.2)
  3. Energy:  While runners will need a bit of food and lots of water/Powerade, they will need some additional kicks of energy as they go through the course.  That's where energy chews and Gu come into play.  What are these?  Energy chews are flavored gummies that contain a high amount of caffiene, vitamins and electrolytes to help keep runners' energy levels up.  Gu is a similar product that's more, well, gooey.  For my upcoming run, I've purchased several packets of energy chews and two packets of Gu.  Between these, my energy bars and the Powerade, I should have all the energy I need.  Oh, and don't slack off the energy products just because you're close to the finish!  I did that in a recent half-marathon and nearly hit the wall inside the last mile - it probably cost me 3-5 minutes.
  4. Communication:  It's a good idea to have a cell phone handy to keep touch with friends and family looking to cheer runners on.  It's also a good way to share the running experience with others through social media (just be careful texting and running!).  I'm planning to stream portions of my run live via Ustream at so I hope to see you online!
  5. Pictures!!!:  There are tons (and I mean tons) of photo opportunities while out on the race course, so it's a very good idea for runners to have some sort of camera with them.  I'd suggest bringing a camera that has a flash, be it point-and-shoot or cellphone.  Also, if you're running with friends (something else I strongly suggest), you'll want some of those on-the-road pictures.  They're some of the best shots you'll have during the event.  Just be mindful of your time.  You have to maintain at least a 16-minute per mile pace, so don't get swept because you were standing in line for photo after photo (and there will be lines).  That being said, one photo I do recommend a decent wait for is with Jack Sparrow (if it's offered this year).  It's usually located backstage just after the runners leave Frontierland.  It's a great opportunity that's not normally available in the parks.
Next week, I'll wrap up my thoughts about preparing for Marathon weekend, including dealing with the (sometimes) unpredictable winter Florida weather.

If you're in training -- keep it up!!!

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