Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training helps raise funds for the LLS mission

Celebrated Charity Spotlight – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is honored to be the Celebrated Charity for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's Disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS is at the tip of the spear in the fight against blood cancers. To date, LLS has invested more than $1.2 billion in ground breaking research. Being the celebrated charity affords us the opportunity to raise funds and to share the mission of LLS with many individuals who may not otherwise be familiar with who we are and what we do. Next year's event will mark our 23rd year of participation at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

LLS volunteers hand out finisher ears to Marathon participants

We raise funds for the LLS mission at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend through our Team In Training fundraising campaign. Team In Training teammates take on the most iconic endurance challenges in the world while raising money to pioneer new breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. We pride ourselves on getting you ready for your event with experiences coaches, bespoke training and exclusive event weekend experiences! Since 1997, nearly 30,000 Team In Training teammates have participated in a Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend race and have collectively raised more than $86 million dollars for the LLS mission.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training helps raise funds for the LLS mission

For more information on how to join the Team click here and get started on your Team In Training journey to one of the most magical weekends of the year….we hope to see you in January and Go Team!

PhotoPass Photographer captures the finish line moments

Tips for using Disney PhotoPass Service during race weekends

Disney PhotoPass Service is known for capturing photos you can't take on your own and making sure you enjoy yourself rather than worrying about documenting every moment of your vacation. That's why it pairs so well with runDisney!

You may already know that Disney PhotoPass photographers are stationed along the course at every race at Walt Disney World Resort. But today we'll jog your memory and share a few tips for how to take the best race photos and maximize your experience with Disney PhotoPass both on and off of the course! Check them out:

  • Disney PhotoPass photographers on the course wear bright green hats and are often stationed next to green tents so they're easy to spot! Smile and look their way when you run past them, but make sure your bib number is visible, as this is how photos on the course are associated to your account.
  • Photographers are stationed all around the course: at Character Experience locations, in front of park icons, and at the most beautiful locations along the course. You'll even find photographers in the reunion lot prior to the start of your race!
  • Prepare for a photo finish! There's plenty to savor when crossing the finish line but be sure to look up and smile.
  • Not exactly sure how to link and view your race photos? You'll find instructions on the back of your bib.
  • You'll also find Disney PhotoPass photographers in the parks, so celebrate your achievement with a medal photo shoot! Photographers can help you get creative and take home some amazing keepsakes.
  • Purchase Memory Maker! With Memory Maker, you'll get digital downloads of all your Disney PhotoPass photos taken during your visit to Walt Disney World Resort for one price. That means you can download photos from every race of the weekend you participate in and all of the photos you take in the parks with Disney PhotoPass, including attraction photos! When you purchase Memory Maker more than three days in advance of your visit, you'll save $30 relative to the standard purchase price.*

So all you have to do is run, smile and repeat. Disney PhotoPass Service will take care of the rest!

Be sure to look out for the green tents, and smile!

*Memory Maker is subject to the applicable terms and policies available here. Includes photos taken during the applicable Memory Maker Window as defined in such terms (generally, photos taken (i) within one day for the One Day product or (ii) within 30 days from the date of first activation for standard Memory Maker). If Memory Maker is purchased at the advance purchase price, any photos taken within 3 days of the date Memory Maker is purchased are not included and must be purchased separately. A MagicBand is required to receive certain attraction photos and other digital content. Online registration required. Disney PhotoPass Photos in your account will expire pursuant to the expiration policy available here. Downloads are restricted to personal use only. Not responsible for missing, lost or damaged photos. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Valid theme park admission required for certain photo locations.

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runDisney Updates image

runDisney Registration Update

UPDATE REGARDING REGISTRATION DATES. We have been working to create a more streamlined race registration experience for runDisney participants. As a result, soon Guests will register for races using their Disney account, creating a more seamless Disney experience. In addition, Guests will be able to register multiple participants at a time, extra payment options including gift cards will be available and more.

As a reminder, all races still are scheduled for this season as planned, and the revised registration dates for the 2018-2019 Walt Disney World race event weekends are below:

2018 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend presented by MISFIT (Nov. 1-4, 2018)
  • Participants registered for the 2018 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend soon will receive an email with instructions on how to link their current 2018 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend race registration to their Disney account and runDisney profile.

2018 Virtual Running Shorts (Summer 2018)
  • June 29, 2018 – Registration for the Virtual Running Shorts Series ends
  • June 28, 2018 – July 5K & August 5K virtual races on sale

2019 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna (Jan. 9-13, 2019)
  • July 17, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • July 19, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (Feb. 21-24, 2019)
  • Aug 2, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • Aug 7, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Star Wars™ Virtual Half Marathon (Jan. 3 – March 31, 2019)
  • August 23, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • August 28, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Star Wars™ Rival Run Weekend presented by OtterBox (April 4-7, 2019
  • August 23, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • August 28, 2018 – General on-sale date

To best prepare for the upcoming race registration periods, Guests may choose to create a Disney account in advance if they don't already have one. Guests with existing Disney accounts may choose to log in to their account to ensure their password is valid. For more tips on registration, visit and opt in for updates.

Star Wars Half Marathon Start Line with Fireworks

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Storm Trooper at finish line of 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

Runners Fulfilled their Destiny at 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

Nothing stood in the way of runners this past weekend at the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side presented by OtterBox at Walt Disney World. There was no time for heroics as participants conquered the Star Wars Dark Side 5K, Star Wars Dark Side 10K and Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon courses all while celebrating the Star Wars universe. Some runners used their raw strength to dominate their destiny during the Star Wars First Order Challenge and runDisney Kessel Run Challenge.

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side medals hanging.

We were honored by the presence of incredible style this past weekend as runners channeled their favorite Star Wars characters as they raced through Walt Disney World to the finish line. Take a look at some of the weekend's most creative race outfits:

Couple in Star Wars outfits at finish line. - Couple in matching Ewok outfits at finish line.

Couple in Porg outfits at finish line. - Group in coordinating Star Wars outfits at finish line.

Man in Darth Maul outfit at finish line. - Couple in coordinating Star Wars outfits at finish line.

Two woman as R2-D2 and C3-PO at finish line. - Woman in Porg outfit at finish line.

Group in coordinating Star Wars outfits with Darth Vader. - Group in coordinating Storm Trooper outfits at finish line.

Couple in coordinating Star Wars outfits crossing finish line. - Group in matching Wookiee outfits at finish line.

Family in matching Darth Vader outfits at finish line. - Woman in Princess Leia outfit crossing finish line.

Thank you for participating in a weekend filled with galactic fun at the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side! Did you race down the path to the dark side this past weekend? Share your most impressive race photos using #StarWarsHalf.

Star Wars 10K runner passing through Hollywood Studios.

For updates, follow runDisney on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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Make A Wish Central and North Florida logo


Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. That is the Make-A-Wish mission, but why a wish and how is it life-changing? A wish is so much more than just a nice thing, a wish generates hope that leads to renewed strength and energy. A wish replaces fear and anxiety with excitement and joy. A wish can be a catalyst to improved health, both mentally and physically, in children battling critical illnesses.

Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida is honored to be the celebrated charity for the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race weekend. We are thrilled to be a part of this event and to see all of the runners combine their love of Star Wars with their passion for giving back to the community. Runners have the opportunity to make a direct impact in the life of a child by making a donation at the time of registering for a race.

Star Wars Half Marathon Start Line with Fireworks

Our organization has been a celebrated charity of runDisney for the past two years, and through funds raised in that time together, we have been able to grant 3 wishes to children right here in Central Florida. Through the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race weekend, we will be able to grant another 7! A wish can be anything a child wants it to be, the only limit is their imagination. They can vary from wanting to be an ice cream truck driver to wanting to meet their favorite celebrity. Nationwide, the most popular wish is to visit one of the Disney Theme Parks.

Did you know that a combined 89% of doctors, nurses, and medical professionals surveyed believe a wish experience can lead to increased physical health in wish kids? And that 99% of wish families surveyed reported increased feelings of happiness during and after their wish? You can learn more about our organization and the wishes we grant by visiting our booth at the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race weekend Expo, where we will be sharing stories of past wishes and the impact a wish can have on a family and a community. Running the races? Make sure to look for us at the start lines where we will be sharing the story of how Make-A-Wish was founded and how you can continue to support our organization after the race! For more information, please visit

To register for Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon or the Star Wars First Order Challenge, click here.

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Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse at Finish Line

Royalty-Worthy STYLE at 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

It was a royal celebration 10 years in the making filled with fairy tale endings at the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Princesses (and Princes) from all over the land gathered for an amazing run on the most magical courses on Earth donning their royal best. So who was the fairest of them all? Take a look at some of the weekend's most creative race outfits:

Sleeping Beauty group costume. Tangled themed group costume

Tangled themed group costume. Woman running in Tangled costume

5K Finisher Rapunzel costume. Male in Frozen dress at finish line

Merida group costume. Hip Prince and Princesses group costume

Cinderella and Fairy Godmother costumes. Marie the Cat costume

Woman in Snow White costume at finish line. Woman in Little Mermaid costume

Woman in Cinderella costume. Woman in Belle costume in front of Cinderella Castle

Thank you for being a part of the miles and magic over the past 10 years, and congratulations to all runners who participated this past weekend! Did you race in royal fashion? We would love to see your style! Share your Princess Half Marathon Weekend looks with us in social using the hashtag #PrincessHalf!

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Woman holding silver shoe with crown decoration

DIY Glass Slipper-Worthy Shoe for Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

If the shoe fits… run in it! Only a week left until the royal celebration kicks off for the 10th Anniversary Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals! It's a fairy tale weekend full of memories as you join the Disney Princesses for an amazing run on the most magical course on Earth. Make it to the finish line before the stroke of midnight with this Cinderella-inspired DIY running shoe that even Fairy Godmother would approve of:

Woman holding silver shoe with crown decoration in front of Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Crown Shoe Decoration


  • Silver Glitter Craft Foam
  • Grey Craft Foam
  • Lace Detail
  • Silver Glitter Glue
  • Spray Adhesive

Supplies including foam, lace, scissors, adhesive and glue. Lace and foam cut into crown shapes with scissors.

Craft foam crowns with shoelace slits cut with scissors. Lace and Foam crowns adhered together with spray adhesive.


  1. Using a pencil and scissors, trace and cut the shape of the crown for the foam and lace pieces.
  2. Using the spray adhesive, attach the two pieces of foam and adhere the lace detailing.
  3. Add extra sparkle with detailing from the Glitter Glue.
  4. Cut two slits based on your running shoes and attach fasteners to allow sneaker laces to weave through the decoration.
  5. Weave laces through your crown decoration and off to the ball you go!

Silver shoes with crown décor in front of Cinderella castle. Woman looking back at silver shoes with crown décor in front of Cinderella castle. Silver shoes with crown décor in front of Cinderella castle.

Want a ball-worthy outfit for your race? Head over to the Disney Parks Blog for the complete Cinderella-inspired style.

What is inspiring your running style for the weekend? Let us know using the hashtag #PrincessHalf on our social media channels!

Facebook: @runDisney
Instagram: @runDisney
Twitter: @runDisney
YouTube: @runDisney

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Group of women in Merida outfits.

Royal Training Mantras From the Disney Princesses!

The 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is just around the corner and even Princesses need a little extra motivation. Official runDisney training consultant and Olympian Jeff Galloway recommends runners should find and use a mantra to keep focus and stay in a positive mindset. Read through these inspiring quotes from the Disney Princess movies and dream big during your fairy tale run:

Woman in Cinderella outfit at finish line.
"They can't order me to stop dreaming." – Cinderella, Cinderella

Woman in Tiana outfit at finish line.
"The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work." – Tiana, The Princess and the Frog

Group of women in Merida outfits.
"Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it." – Merida, Brave

Woman dressed in Rapunzel outfit.
"Venture outside of your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it." – Rapunzel, Tangled

Couple in Sleeping Beauty and Prince outfits.
"They say if you dream a thing more than once it's sure to come true." – Aurora, Sleeping Beauty

For more runDisney running tips from Jeff Galloway, visit here. To download running programs designed for each runDisney race, visit here.

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First Order Challenge Medal with Kylo Ren

Fulfill Your Running Destiny at the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side!

Runners, do not fear the power of the dark side! Our friends at Star Wars have recently revealed the finisher medals for the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side presented by OtterBox. This year's Walt Disney World race medals take inspiration from the villains of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and were created in partnership with Lucasfilm and Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group. The weekend medals highlight the iconic helmets from some of the First Order's finest.

Take a closer look at what participants will take home this year:

Star Wars 5K Medal with Executioner Stormtrooper
Executioner Stormtrooper | Star Wars Dark Side 5K

Star Wars 10K Medal with Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard | Star Wars Dark Side 10K

Star Wars Half Marathon Medal with Captain Phasma
Captain Phasma | Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

First Order Challenge Medal with Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren | Star Wars First Order Challenge

runDisney Kids Races Medal with BB-9E
BB-9E | runDisney Kids Races presented by GoGo squeeZ® Applesauce

For those runners who enjoy extra bling, race through the galaxy on a course of your own choosing for the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon. Runners taking on the runDisney Kessel Run Challenge will earn the coveted Kessel Run Challenge medal by completing both the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon and Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon.

Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon Medal with Poe Dameron Kessel Run Challenge Medal with Millennium Falcon

Poe Dameron | Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon
Millennium Falcon | runDisney Kessel Run Challenge

Need a little extra training motivation? Use these motivational quotes from the Star Wars films.

Hurry before it's too late as there are very limited spots remaining for select events during the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side presented by OtterBox weekend and Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon, so sign up today! Which race are you looking forward to participating in? Let us know using the hashtag #StarWarsHalf on our social media channels!

Facebook: @runDisney
Instagram: @runDisney
Twitter: @runDisney
YouTube: @runDisney

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Runners cross the finish line of the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.

Training Mantras From a Galaxy Far, Far Away!

Whether you're preparing for the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race weekend or for a run at home, every runner needs a little motivation when training. As recommended by official runDisney training consultant and Olympian Jeff Galloway, runners should find and use a mantra to keep focus and stay in a positive mindset. Try a few of these motivational quotes from the Star Wars films for a "impressive, most impressive" training run:

Family dressed in a Yoda costume
"Do or do not, there is not try." – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Runners at the start line of Star Wars 10K
"Your focus determines your reality." – Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace

adult man in Han Solo costume with Chewbacca
"Never tell me the odds." – Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Half Marathon medals
"Do what must be done. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy." – Darth Sidious, Revenge of the Sith

adult women posing in Darth Vader running shirt
"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." – Yoda, Revenge of the Sith

Runners cheering at Star Wars Half Marathon finish line
"The Force will be with you. Always." – Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope

Jump from training to light speed in just a few parsecs and join us for both the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon and the 2018 Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race weekend. Both events have spots remaining, so sign up today!

For more runDisney running tips from Jeff Galloway, visit here. To download running programs designed for each runDisney race, visit here.

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2018 Walt Disney World Marathon medal at the finish line.

Miles, Memories and Magical STYLE at 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

It was a celebration 25 years in the making filled with miles of smiles and STYLE at the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. Covering 48.6 magical miles over four exciting events, participants donned their silver anniversary best with classic costumes full of character. Ch'EARS to another memorable race weekend with some of our favorite looks:

adult women in 25th anniversary dress. Adult woman in silver anniversary Mickey costume

Women wearing Donald Duck knit gloves. Two adults in Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack outfits

Three adults dressed as Dwarves. Adult group of Cinderella character costumes

Adult group in Disney Cruise Line costume. Adult couple in 'UP' costume

Adult Mickey, Minnie and Walt Disney costumes. Adult Sleeping Beauty Fairy costumes

Whether you were Goofy, Dopey or just set out to have a great time, congratulations to all runners who participated this past weekend! Did you race in character? We would love to see your style! Share your Marathon Weekend looks with us in social using the hashtag #WDWMarathon25!

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Christmas ornament with Glass Slipper Challenge Medal inside.

Celebrate the Most Run-Derful Time of the Year with runDisney Holiday Décor!

Deck the halls with racing medals, fa la la la la, la la la la! It's the most run-derful time of the year - from brightly lit trees to colorful tinsel, many a home will be donning their December best. Show off your hard work from this race season to friends and family (and Santa!) with these festive holiday décor ideas featuring your runDisney medals:

Wooden tree with runDisney ornaments.

White tree with ornament featuring runDisney medal inside.

Mickey-shaped Christmas wreath with runDisney ornaments wrapped around it.

White Christmas tree with runDisney Kids Race Bib, Medal Ornament and Ear Hat.

How are you showing off your "bling" during the holiday season? Be sure to share your photos on social media! From all of us at runDisney, we hope all your miles are merry this year!

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Original Walt Disney World Marathon Finisher Medal

runDisney Throwback: Celebrating 25 Years of the Walt Disney World® Marathon

With less than a month until the 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna, we wanted to highlight some of the fun that was had during the inaugural race in 1994!

Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994

Growing over the years from 8,200 runners to now well over 55,000, the course has expanded from running through just three theme parks to now weaving the magical 26.2 miles through all four Walt Disney World® theme parks plus ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Check out the original course map!

Original Walt Disney World Marathon Course Map from 1994

As is runDisney tradition, each runner that completed the marathon on January 16, 1994, was awarded a finisher medal – a design that also has changed over the 25 years!

Original Walt Disney World Marathon Finisher Medal

Walt Disney World Marathon medals

Here are few more fun highlights:

Start of the first Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994

Runners prepare for the first Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994

Fireworks at the start of the Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994

Who's excited for the 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon? We would love to see your race photos! Share your magical moments with us using #WDWMarathon25!

To learn about other runDisney events, click here.

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Leslie Kay

Making the Most of Your Journey – Wherever You Are

Different stages of life call for different goals, different motivations and different situations. As an exercise physiologist working in the health and fitness field for more than 10 years, I thought I had it all together when it came to setting and reaching goals. Exercise and striving for my "healthy" place has always been a passion of mine – a way of life – and a great source of excitement for me. In my twenties, I had ample time to exercise however long I wanted, and didn't have to abide by anyone else's schedule other than my own. I ran a different 5K or 10K on most weekends, followed a strict training plan, and had extra time to incorporate various cross-training opportunities to help increase my strength, endurance and running time.

I had helped new moms get back into their fitness routine for years, so I thought I'd be an expert when it came time for me to be a mom when I was in my early thirties. I had my jogging stroller ready to go, thinking I could go back to my old routine. The goals I had before, just weren't feasible anymore. I kept pushing, thinking things would just work their way out like they always did. However, my sleep patterns were a mess, my eating routine was off, and my time was no longer my own. My body was weak and I was tired. I wasn't sure I would ever be able to exercise like I used to again.

That was until I learned something integral to my journey as a mom, as an exercise physiologist and as a human – every little bit counts, no matter what. I started going on 10-15 minute walk/jogs at a time, or engaging in mini circuits of no more than 5 minutes. Even though this was very different than my "normal" 30-60 minute workouts, it's what made sense for me, in my now. Throughout this tough realization, I began to grow stronger not just physically but as a person. Many of us face tough times in our training plans. We all have different goals, different motivations and different situations, so it's imperative that we re-evaluate our priorities, reassess our goals and create a plan that is realistic for us in the present.

I have two little boys now, and they have taught me so much about myself and my priorities in life. I know that exercise and training hard CAN be a part of my life, but it needs to make sense for me and my family's situation, not anyone else's. You, too, CAN make it work for you.

Runner high-fives Minnie Mouse at the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon.

Tips to Turn Things Around

1. Reassess
What do you want to achieve? What is most realistic for you to focus on? Are they in alignment with your priorities?

2. Create a Plan
Consider your current circumstances (time frame, support system and so on). Create a plan that meets yours and your family's needs. Talk about it and include them in your journey.

3. Reach out for Support
It's key that your friends and family understand where you are and what your goals are! Include them in your planning process, let them know if you need their support either to cheer you on, join you or even watch your kids! Having a supportive team makes a big difference in helping you reach your goals.

4. Be Flexible
Ongoing changes and unpredictable circumstances can challenge your routine sometimes. Don't fret, have a "plan B" and do what you can when you can. That's it!

5. Break It Up
Don't be afraid to break up your activity into smaller bouts. Sometimes giving yourself permission to not define your exercise plan effectiveness simply based on time is a good thing. If you are training for something specific that requires a longer time commitment, assess your schedule and your family needs to see what is essential to realistically achieve it.

6. Make the Most of It
Enjoy every moment of your dedicated time. Take time for yourself or involve your family into your routine! Load up the jogging stroller and head out on your path, or call the babysitter for your dedicated YOU time. Whatever you do, your time is valuable – enjoy it, take it in, make the most of it!

7. Give Yourself Credit Where You Are
Remember, every little bit counts! Maybe you might not improve your personal record (PR) this race, but give yourself credit for you journey – own it, live it and love it. Life is way more than beating records and checking everything off your lists.

No matter what comes your way in life, you've got this. Take a breath, reassess and just keep on going, no matter what it looks like, no matter what your goal is, no matter where you are in your journey.

You'll get to where you want to be if you believe it.

Brittany Onufrak is a health coach at Cigna®, the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Heroic Style at Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Runners assembled with heroic style during the 2017 Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort! With three epic race distances that featured Super Heroes like Spider-Man, Thor and Black Widow, participants channeled their inner Super Hero with power-packed costumes. Take a look at some of our favorites from the weekend:

Adult women in Black Widow costume at runDisney 2017 Super Heroes half marathon

Adult women in Loki costume at runDisney 2017 Super Heroes half marathon

Adult male in Falcon costume at runDisney 2017 Super Heroes half marathon

Congratulations to runners who participated in Super Heroes Marathon Weekend! Which runDisney race are you planning to bring your style to? Click here to learn more about upcoming events!

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Delectable Style at Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Wining and dining? Check. Running an impressive menu of races? Check. Dressing in delectable style? Check. The 2017 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend presented by MISFIT™ was an appetizing start to the Walt Disney World® 2017-2018 runDisney race season as runners donned their most scrumptious styles! Take a look at some of our favorite creative costumes from the weekend:

Runners with Mickey & Minnie and Cast in themed costumes during Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Runners dressed as favorite foods or servers at Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Runners posed in costume on course During Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend participants posing with Mickey & Minnie

Congratulations to runners who participated this past weekend. Did you race in a fun costume? We would love to see your style! Share your Wine & Dine-inspired looks with us using the hashtag #WineDineHalf!

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Train Like a Princess With runDisney

Calling all Disney Princess Half Marathon runners! It's time to start your training for the February 2018 event, with only a few months left until race day. Kick your training into gear with these helpful tips from Olympian Jeff Galloway, our official runDisney training consultant, inspired by some of our favorite Disney Princesses.


Watch out for the poison apples.

Don't make the same mistake as Snow White! Low or non-fat foods with carbohydrates and protein are a must before any sort of run. Prior to a short run (under one hour), enjoy just a small snack like fresh fruit. Running for longer (90 minutes or more), your body will need something with more carbohydrates such as a bagel with peanut butter. Preparing for a race the next day? Avoid eating a larger meal the afternoon or evening before.


Make sure hydration becomes part of your world.

Just like Ariel and her finned friends know, with a little H2O, life is the bubbles! Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout training, increasing during the week leading up to the race. During the 48 hours prior to a race, drink at least 4 to 6 ounces of water every hour you're awake. Hydrating during the race is also important – stop at every water stop if possible, aiming for 3-6 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes.


Every princess needs her beauty sleep.

While you won't need decades of sleep like Aurora, resting up like a sleeping beauty is a must the days prior to your race. Relax and rest the last two days prior to the race by reading, watching TV or even listening to music.


You could go running and racing and dancing and chasing…

Want to improve your overall fitness? Break out of your running routine (or tower, like Rapunzel) and try cross training on non-training run days. Stretch your muscles out during a yoga class or try other activities that won't tire out your calf muscles.


A good sole can make all the difference.

Don't lose your sneaker when the clock strikes midnight! Proper running form, just like proper running shoes, is important to your training success. For an efficient running technique, keep your feet low to the ground without lifting your knees, maintain an upright running posture, stay light on your feet and adjust your stride to feel smooth and comfortable.

For more running tips from Jeff Galloway, visit here. To download training programs designed for each runDisney race, visit here.

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Running down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle during Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

Update on runDisney Races at Disneyland Resort

We have heard from many of you over the past few months regarding registration for runDisney race weekends at Disneyland Resort. We greatly appreciate your loyalty and dedication to our runDisney race events and want to share the following update with you.

Given the level of construction to support the ongoing Disneyland Resort expansion, we have been working hard to determine how we can continue providing our West Coast participants with the best possible runDisney experience, which is designed around the ability to run throughout our resorts while enjoying entertainment offerings and characters.

After careful consideration and weighing all possibilities, we have made the very difficult decision to place all runDisney race weekends at Disneyland Resort on hiatus beginning in 2018. This includes the associated Coast to Coast Race Challenges.

Anyone who has registered for one of these races will be contacted directly by runDisney today by email and will receive a full refund for registration fees and for any commemorative items they may have purchased.

While news of this hiatus is sad to share, we are so thankful for the magic and memories you have helped create at our race weekends through the years. We look forward to hosting the upcoming Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort November 9-12, and we hope to see many of you there.

We encourage runners to continue to visit for other race opportunities. A full schedule of races at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris are currently still being offered, in addition to our virtual race series. Guests with questions can contact

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Leslie Kay

Food for Fuel: What to Eat Before You Run

What we eat leading up to a training run or a race is imperative. And while you may have go-to foods and beverages, it's important to consider how we're properly fueling our bodies before hitting the pavement. What we eat – and how much we need – varies based on the distance and time we will be running. A light jog, short run or quick race may need only water or some sport drink with carbs and electrolytes to get you through. A longer run, like a half or full marathon, requires more carbohydrates leading up to the race, along with possibly topping off your fuel stores with goos or gels on race day.

My usual pre-race meal is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat (protein, carbs, whole grains), a banana (more starches), a sports drink with water, and carrots (just because). This has treated me well for half marathons and full marathons prior to refueling on the course with water, sports drink and/or gels. Recently, I broke my routine before two races, and I definitely felt the difference. I learned my lesson, and rest assured for my next race, I will be eating what has proven to fuel me in the past!

Volunteers offer runners Powerade during the Walt Disney World Marathon.

Foods to Eat Before a Short Run (30-60 minutes)

Your body doesn't need a lot, but it may perform better with a small snack that includes protein and carbohydrates. Try one of these:

  • Graham crackers with peanut butter or honey
  • A cup of applesauce and cottage cheese
  • Fresh fruit, like berries or a banana
  • Morning runner? A bowl of cereal with milk is sufficient.

Foods to Eat Before a Long Run (90 minutes or more)

If you plan to run for 90 minutes or more, an increase in carbohydrates is necessary. Try one of these about an hour before heading out:

  • A bagel with peanut butter or jelly
  • Peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread with a banana
  • Pretzel or carrots with hummus, and cheese stick
  • Sports drinks will aid in electrolyte balance

Foods to Eat the Night Before a Race

If you're racing in the morning, time can be tight. Don't forget to properly fuel the evening before with a meal that includes complex carbs and protein. Try one of these for dinner:

  • A bowl of pasta with a meat sauce or meatballs
  • Pizza with veggies and some protein

Leave trying different foods, fuels and drinks to when you are training or running for leisure, so you can see how your body responds. No matter what you will be running, racing, how far or how hard, stick with what you know works!

Philip Grand is a health coach at Cigna®, the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Running down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle during Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World


The story of a mom, a daughter and a magical Disney surprise

Let's just say you're at Boston Marathon Expo, breezing through the exhibits, when you round the corner. The runDisney booth beams with color and energy. But wait a minute… who's that in the giant poster? The tutu-clad young lady running toward Cinderella Castle, her arms raised in unfettered elation…

It's your daughter. The same picture you carry everywhere on your phone!

Running down Main Street, U.S.A. toward Cinderella Castle during Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

"My legs were actually shaking!" smiles Val Walforth. "When I showed my phone to the Disney people at the booth, they were amazed, too. We took a photo of the photo and sent it to everybody!"

And the winners are…

Emily asked to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon as her graduation present. Both Emily and Val had a blast running in costumes. "I have so much fun laying out my outfit the day before," Emily says. "I love the whole process of picking out costumes. It's a big part of the whole experience for me."

Val and Emily ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon for two years, winning first place in the mother/daughter category both years, which was a special team division at the time. The photo was taken in the second year.

"It totally captured the feeling of running down Main Street," Emily recalls. "It gives me goose bumps. You can't see it in the picture, I have tears in my eyes."

Running as a Celebration

Val is a serious runner—not in the brow-furrowed, driven sense, but as a firm believer in running as a celebration to be shared with family and friends. "I have done the Boston Marathon for five years and I love them," she says, "but when I do the runDisney races, they mean more to me."

Mother and daughter dressed as Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck get ready for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World

"There aren't words to describe the feeling. The characters on the course, the people cheering along the way, the pixie dust they sprinkle. I started with the Goofy Challenge – a Marathon and Half Marathon – in 2010. Since then, I've done the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon two years in row and the Dopey Challenge. After the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon in California, it was an honor to receive a Coast to Coast Challenge medal with Walt Disney on it. Only the runDisney race medals are on our walls."

"We get very excited and emotional about it," Val adds. "Maybe that's why we're such a Disney family. My husband is usually part of the ChEAR Squad, but this year, he's going to do the 5K and 10K races. Even if he walks them, he'll know, first hand, what a gift it is to be able to run these races."

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Leslie Kay

Tips on staying hydrated on race day

Whether it's a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon, hydration is KEY to a successful and safe run during a runDisney race.

By education and title, I am an exercise physiologist. By human being, I am a runner. I can honestly say after countless 5Ks and 10Ks, 15 half marathons and three marathons (four of those races being runDisney events!), I am addicted to the freedom and the ease of losing yourself in a few miles. Through my experience, however, I have seen my own performance soar and sink – all based off of weather changes and hydration. That's why I wanted to share some tips so that you feel prepared at that starting line.

Cigna runner poses with Mickey Mouse at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

So while I am not from where the races take place, I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home of what may seem like a lot rain and snow than other cities. While preparing for the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend races that are in January, I was training in the depths of our winter weather. So, my body was in for a challenge when it hit 85 degrees on the day of the full marathon. I had run the half marathon the day before and was already depleted, but felt I had rested and recovered as best I could. The heat got to me very quickly, though, and over the course of 26.2 miles, I felt myself slowing down more and more each mile. Thoughts of quitting, coupled with a fear of passing out, entered my mind. If only I had hydrated better!

If you are going to experience a weather change, try to get to your race site a few days early to acclimate, but more importantly, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Here are some more of my tips to be prepared for weather, hydration and different climates:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout training, but especially the week leading up to the race.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, alcohol and desserts the weekend of the race as they will dehydrate you.
  • Load up on fruits and veggies, along with your complex carbs, on the days leading up to the race.
  • Get water at every water stop (or at least every other stop). If you want the sports drink (which you should if the temperatures are 70 or higher), switch at every other station. Aim for 3-6oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes.
  • Avoid the sun as much as you can for a few days leading up to the race to stay rested and not deplete any energy stores.
  • Energy gels or gummies are great for short-term energy, but be sure to wash them down with water (not a sports drink). If people are handing out oranges – take them!
  • A lot of people worry about having to go to the bathroom during a race. Avoid water 60 minutes prior to the race but if you have to go – go! There will be plenty of opportunities along the way.
  • Don't eat or drink anything new on race weekend, and especially on race day!
  • Pay attention to your urine throughout your entire training period. If it's clear – you are well hydrated. If it is not – drink up!

Disney race specifics:

  • From beginner runners to serious athletes, the runDisney events have a lot of participants with varying levels of experience. Try to remember that this race is fun, pretty flat aside from the onramps, and people will stop to take pictures with characters along the way. This can delay your race time – don't let it delay your hydration, though.
  • On race day, you wake up very early and arrive to the race several hours before you begin, so it's easy to deplete yourself of hydration and energy before you even begin. Bring water and any pre-workout hydration in disposable bottles.

Good luck with your training, and have a magical and safe race!

Alissa Spears is a health coach at Cigna®, the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program. Source:

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The inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon start line on January 16, 1994


The Walt Disney World Marathon's first quarter century
jogs a lot of fond memories.

Great things often happen because someone believes in an idea and sticks with it. This was certainly true for Walt Disney and his artists, who built one idea upon another. The Walt Disney World® Marathon – and all the runDisney excitement that followed it – began with a small group of people who knew that the world's greatest resort destination was the ultimate "runtopia."

The Walt Disney World Marathon was officially given the green light in 1992, though discussions began 10 years earlier between Walt Disney World Cast Members and a select group of race management experts led by Jon Hughes. Today, with more than 40 years of experience producing running events, Jon continues to be the executive race director.

"There was no question in our minds that this was the ideal place for a marathon," Jon recalls as he takes a few moments from overseeing the recent Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort. "Everything an ideal race event needs—places to stay, great things to experience on the route—it was all in one place."

"Hey everybody, it's Sue!"

When the signal to start sounded at the first Marathon on January 16, 1994, less than 6,000 runners began the 26.2-mile experience (there are now more than 45,000 throughout the race weekend). One of them was Susan Reinhardt, who today at the age of 70, has run every race at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts!

"When I was growing up, girls weren't brought into as many sports as the boys," she said. "We would play volleyball and a few other things, but nothing like the boys got to do. I really got involved in running later in life. I joined running groups and enjoyed how it relieved stress. When I run, I solve problems in my head. I can think of so many things on a run, then before I know it, I'm back home.

"Running has also broadened my life, because I've now traveled to races in Aspen, London, Paris, Stockholm—and I'm not an Olympian, just a regular person who loves adventure and meeting new people. I've made friends for life."

"Every event is a show in itself"

One of Jon's favorite aspects of planning runDisney events is working with the Disney Entertainment Cast Members. "They're so creative, so full of ideas," he says. "Characters and musicians, actors and singers. Even the race volunteers at the various water, food and first aid stations will cheer, sing and dance enthusiastically for the participants.

"There are a lot of things they add on every year, and some things that have become traditions that runners expect to see every year. One of the little touches is a place on World Drive where runners can hear the song "Sweet Caroline." That's a little nod to Boston, which is one of the running capitals. At Red Sox games, people sing it before the seventh inning stretch. That's the sort of thing that Disney didn't have to do, but it makes some people smile so they do it anyway.

The runners themselves provide some of the most magical moments. "Once there was a man who crossed the finish line and we were worried for a moment because he immediately dropped to one knee as soon as he safely got out of the finish area," Jon recalled. "It turned out that he was proposing. There have been countless proposals, honeymoons on foot, anniversaries, birthdays and other landmark events in people's lives. Almost every event brings new stories, some funny and others very touching."

The joy of a "personal best"

Running doesn't have to be competitive for it to be a triumph, since the act of doing it is a victory--or in Disney terms, a dream come true. "We welcome ability levels from people who have never run, or would rather walk, all the way to Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder in women's marathon, and they all rave about the experience. One year we had 17 members of the same family in a race. Many times, three generations will be running, or walking, together.

Every year since it began, the Walt Disney World Marathon is voted one of the top marathons for beginners. "There is a unique camaraderie among runners," said route operations manager Tom Ward, who has also been with the event from the beginning.

"Seeing first timers finish never fails to get us all choked up. They'll cry. We'll tear up, too. They can come from anywhere in the country, or the world, it doesn't matter. We celebrate along with them."

What better place for a happy ending than right here?

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Runners listen to music during their runDisney race at Walt Disney World

Spotify Running Playlists for Your Summer Training

Turn your training up a notch this summer with one of our running playlists on Spotify. We teamed up with our friends at Walt Disney Records to create customized playlists for runDisney races. Find your favorite playlist to give you that extra step of motivation in your next race!

runDisney Virtual Running Shorts playlist on Spotify

Our newest playlist for the Virtual Running Shorts Series features some fun summer beats to get you through those dog days of summer training. From Olaf's "In Summer" to favorite tunes from "Moana," there is a wide variety of songs to get you pumped up during your runs.

Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend playlist on Spotify

Simply visit to sign in or sign up for an account then you can unleash our running playlists under the Walt Disney Records profile. Continue to check back as we will be updating our playlists for every event each year.

What motivates you during your runDisney training? Share with us through social media using the hashtag #runDisney. Don't forget to follow us for the latest runDisney news on our official channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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Family of runners pose with Chewbacca during Star Wars Half Marathon - The Light Side event.

Out-of-This-World Offerings at Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Light Side

Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Light Side at the Disneyland® Resort is offering two re-imagined experiences to enhance the race weekend for runners and spectators.

Running through the start line at Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side.

The Light Side Lounge: A VIP Experience is designed to take the hustle out of your race weekend and calm your inner Force. This new package offers a private concierge lounge where participants can pick up their race gear while enjoying some light snacks and exclusive entertainment, all in one relaxing place. There will even be early shopping opportunities at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo that will allow runners to beat the crowds and casually shop for race merchandise. This experience also includes early access to the New Balance Expo Booth where runners are able to purchase a pair of the 2017 Limited Edition New Balance runDisney Collection.* Runners will wrap up the weekend with a Post-Race Celebration Party at the ESPN Zone® restaurant in the Downtown Disney® District on Sunday afternoon. To commemorate the race weekend, Light Side Lounge guests will receive a Disney PhotoPass® Collection that enables them to download all of their saved images from the entire race weekend and more!

If cheering on Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Light Side runners is more your speed, the Spectator Viewing Party is for you. Friends and family will enjoy a private viewing area in Disneyland® Park to watch and cheer on runners as they cruise at lightspeed down Main Street, U.S.A. While spectators wait for their runner to return, they can partake in a private continental breakfast buffet at the ESPN Zone® restaurant with televised race course viewing. When they've had their fill, just steps away is the finish line where spectators can relax in luxury lounge seating as they cheer on race participants. All guests will receive chEAR gear and exclusive parking the morning of the event.

Whether you're running, supporting or just a fan of this galaxy, the Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Light Side race event has something for you. Visit here for more details and to sign up for the Light Side Lounge: A VIP Experience or the Spectator Viewing Party.

* Private shopping opportunity grants early access to Official Race Merchandise and New Balance areas of the Health and Fitness Expo only during posted dates and times. Official Race Merchandise and New Balance merchandise is subject to availability and purchase restrictions. See Official Race Merchandise and New Balance Health and Fitness Expo booths for details.

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Leslie Kay

Key Stretches for Runners

When sitting for many hours at a time each day whether it is at a desk, in school or other sedentary activity, certain muscles are prone to tightness: inner calves, thighs, quads, upper chest, back, and groin. These are also the muscles we use for running. When they're tight and out of balance, this inhibits running performance and may lead to an injury, which can keep you from running your runDisney race altogether.

A lack of flexibility is a common cause for injuries. Whether you're new to running, sit for several hours a day or are just getting back to running after a long break, I want to help you have a memorable runDisney experience at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna, by empowering you with how to help you stay injury-free.

Understanding why stretching is important may help motivate you to incorporate it into your regular workout routine. Running with imbalanced muscles is like driving a car with a flat tire. Yes, you can move, but the car is not performing at its optimum and using energy inefficiently.

Begin by stretching these key muscle groups for runners to have good range of movement, a balanced body and greater efficiency, which may help you stay injury-free and reach your runDisney goal.


Upper Body – Looking down at a computer or at a cell phone frequently can create tightness in the neck, chest, upper and lower part of your back. Your arms and legs move together in unison, so if you have tightness in your upper body, this will also restrict your running stride. Many people don't know how to run faster. Move your arms faster and your legs will follow. Not the other way around.

Groin Muscles – A pulled groin is not fun. You use those muscles for walking, going up steps and running. Working on flexibility keeps you mobile and injury-free.

Inner Calves – People who sit are more prone to have tightness in their calves. Tightness in your calves can lead to hamstring strains. If you are having hamstring issues, stretching your calves may help.

Thighs/Quads – You use these muscles to help lift your leg when running along with your hip flexors. Tightness here will decrease your running efficiency by making your body work extra hard to compensate, which could lead to slower running times and/or low back pain. Especially if you have a desk job, they are more prone to be tight.

I am a big supporter of preventive health habits like stretching to help stay injury-free, and for total health and wellness. If you haven't had your annual check-up with your doctor, schedule it today. This is a great opportunity to know your four health numbers: body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, so you can stay healthy and empowered. Here's to your health!

Antonio Williams Jr. is a health coach at Cigna. Cigna is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program. Sources: Škarabot, J, Beardsley, C, Štirn, I, Comparing the Effects of Self‐Myofascial Release with Static Stretching on Ankle Range‐of‐motion in Adolescent Athletes, Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Apr; 10(2): 203–212

Healey, K, Hatfield, D, Blanpied, P, Dorfman, L, Riebe D, The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance, J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jan; 28(1):61-8

Lieberman, D, Warrener, A, Wang, J, Castillo, E, Effects of Stride Frequency and Foot position at Landing on Braking Force, Hip Torque, Impact Peak Force and the Metabolic Cost of Running in Humans, Journal of Experimental Biology 2015 218

Dunne, J, Running: It's All in The Hips, Jan 8, 2013,

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The Benefits of Running for Others

The Benefits of Running for Others

Before every race, I practice the same ritual of laying out my running outfit — the more sparkle, the better! It usually includes a running skirt, visor and a tank with photos of my 4-year-old twin boys. They are the reason I run and the reason I will be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February for the third time to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's because of this charity that I have two healthy and active little boys.

I went into labor with my boys seven weeks before they were due. I barely made it to the hospital before I delivered Logan. Thirty-one minutes later, I had an emergency cesarean section with Lennon. Delivering prematurely was my biggest fear. We live in a small coastal town in Florida and the closest children's hospital is several hours away. I was nervous I would be far from the high-level neonatal intensive care that babies born prematurely often require.

During my mom-to-be research, I learned that neonatal specialists from the children's hospital three hours away rotate shifts at our local hospital. It's because of donations to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals that they can provide this vital care. When we needed specialists, they were there.

I don't think I ever understood the value of life until I watched my boys fight so hard for theirs. There was so much strength in their tiny bodies, and I was grateful every day that we were able to stay close to our friends and family until the boys were healthy enough to come home.

Watching my little miracles persevere through so much adversity motivated me. I was eager to lose the extra 100 pounds I had gained during my pregnancy, and knew the gym was not an option with infant twins in tow. That's when I found running. I purchased a jogging stroller so the boys could join me.

Just before the boys' first birthday, I established a new goal: to run a half marathon. My life was forever changed when I discovered I could combine my love of Disney with running, while supporting a charity that ensured kids live happily ever after — running through Walt Disney World Resort in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

The miles flew by for me. I wasn't running for myself; I was running for Logan and Lennon and the other 10 million kids who are treated each year at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I wanted to show my boys that their mommy could fight as hard as they did.

Katie Heck celebrates after completing the Half Marathon at the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort.

I hope to see you this year as I run the Disney Princess Half Marathon again for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. As a charity runner (we call ourselves "Miracle Makers"), we fundraise (the minimum varies by race) and are guaranteed race entry. You thought the race was full? Not for charity runners! We also have phenomenal fundraising support, an exclusive breakfast (yes, there are Mickey waffles), specially-priced rooms at Walt Disney World Resort® Hotels (subject to availability) and best of all, an amazing network of other charity runners.

Join me. Register and learn more here.

When Katie Heck isn't logging miles, she serves her community as the Lieutenant of Community Services at the Punta Gorda Police Department. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

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Leslie Kay

The Power of Smart Training

Within 18 months I ran two marathons with two very different experiences and two very different race times. My second marathon was 47 minutes faster. How?

I achieved this personal best with smarter marathon training and having more fun.

For my very first marathon, my focus was solely running. The result was I ended up overtraining, injured, and in pain for weeks after the race.

The second time around, fully recovered, I ran a course that was much more difficult and in the heat of summer. Yet, I was out there moving fast, pain free, having fun and talking to everybody.

My favorite memory was mile 24, where a stranger became a friend, and coached the coach to maintain the pace to the finish line.

What training secrets created such a different and positive experience and may help you prepare for the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend? Will you believe me when I say, I was able to do all this by running less while training.

For the year and a half after my first marathon, I dedicated myself to learning how to train smarter and stay injury-free. Since then, I've coached myself and many other runners how to build a foundation of wellness that supports their running goal. I like to think of it as the Pyramid of Change. This pyramid incorporates all areas of wellness including physical activity, sleep, nutrition, mindset and support. Physical basics include preventive health like making sure you get your annual check-up with your doctor and knowing your key health numbers: body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol so you can help stay in control of your health.

I'm excited to share my learnings with you so you can run your runDisney best and have a great experience all the way across the finish line!

Any time you're feeling challenged or stuck in your training program, use the Pyramid of Change and try a new exercise, a different level of intensity, grab a friend or get back to basics.


Cross Training – By reducing my running from five days to three days per week, it allowed me to add strength training, stretching and other forms of cardio such as cycling, swimming and rowing. This variety reduced the impact on my body, continued to build my endurance, increased strength and reduced muscle imbalances. The result was decreased injury and increased performance – both faster and stronger!

Structured Runs – Intentional runs designed for speed training, a medium run, and then a long slow run with a friend helped make the time and miles go faster.

Get Support – Ask a friend, family member or coach to help cheer you on to the finish line.

Mindset/Motivation – When you know your "why," you can develop mental focus and stay motivated to achieving your goal.

Accomplishing my second marathon was eye-opening and reinforced how important it is to honor our bodies in order to reach our potential and achieve our personal definition for wellness. When you're properly prepared and can run pain-free, then you'll get to fully enjoy your favorite runDisney memories.

That's the power of smart training.


Briane Agostinelli is a health coach at Cigna. Cigna is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program. Source: Stretches, Fuel your body, Positive Thinking Sets You Up for Success,

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Disney Sports Mom Lori

runDisney Like a Super Hero – Recap

Hello runners! My son and I just returned from Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort, and I wanted to share a recap of our trip. In a word, everything about this race weekend was perfect. My running buddy, the weather, the courses, our resort, the food, the holiday celebrations at the parks… everything!

Mother and son celebrating with medals after Doctor Strange 10K at Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend.

Austin and I were signed up to run the Doctor Strange 10K together. After about one mile, he decided that I was too slow, so he went on and waited for me at the finish. We both agreed that the course was 6.2 miles of total fun! Running through the two Disneyland theme parks was definitely the highlight. We celebrated our 10K with breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen, rested briefly in our room, and then hit Disneyland Park for some more fun.

Mother and son enjoying Disneyland Park during the holidays.

On Sunday, I completed the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge by running the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. This was my first time running this half marathon and the course immediately became my favorite! The miles took me through the theme parks, along the beautiful streets of Anaheim and even around the warning track at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Bands, cheerleaders, spectators and Super Hero cosplayers were all out cheering for runners. It was so much fun!

Running through Sleeping Beauty Castle during Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend.

The race reminded me, once again, why I love running the Disneyland runDisney events. First, if you are staying at a Disneyland Resort, you can easily walk to the starting line in about ten minutes. I also love that the city of Anaheim joins in the fun. One of my favorite moments of the race was seeing local USO cosplayers putting on a swing dance show for runners! Even as just an average Super Hero fan, I really enjoyed the energy the characters brought to the race. It was also fun to get photos with them—especially Black Widow, who I channeled in my running outfit.

Runner posing with Black Widow during Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend.

Since we had already spent a day at each theme park, we decided to use the third day of our Park Hopper ticket taking in all of the special holiday celebrations at both parks. The highlights were definitely "it's a small world" Holiday and the World of Color Dessert Party. This was the perfect way to end our trip. My boys are growing up fast, so trips like these have become even more important to me. Austin and I had the best time and we are already planning our next adventure together!

Mother and son with Santa Claus at Disneyland.

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Disney Sports Mom Lori


It's hard to believe, but Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend is less than a month away! As Austin and I begin to finalize our plans and finish up our training, I wanted to stop by with a final pre-race update.

Our training schedule has been going pretty well. We haven't been perfect with logging every single run, but with a busy sports schedule we decided to be okay with missing one every now and then. Our priority has been making sure we get the long runs in every week. The miles are definitely getting easier as our race gets closer … we are so excited!

We have recently begun my favorite part of runDisney race preparation. Dining reservations are being made, theme park plans are being mapped out and running costumes are starting to take shape.

Start Line at 2015 Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Dining - Austin is a much more adventurous eater than me, so he took on the responsibility of choosing where we dine. He has researched menus and even listened to some podcasts about food at Disneyland Resort. We are celebrating our 10K with a brunch at Goofy's Kitchen, have dinners reserved at Carthay Circle and Napa Rose, lunch at Blue Bayou and will be going to the World of Color Dessert Party one evening. Most reservations can be made 60 days in advance, and I found it very convenient to make them using the Disneyland app on my phone.

Park Plans – This is only our third trip to Disneyland. Even though we visit Walt Disney World frequently, Disneyland feels like a totally different experience. It offers so many unique attractions and I love knowing that I am walking around the same park where Walt Disney once worked and played. Austin and I have really enjoyed looking at maps and planning out our theme park days. We're also very excited about the special holiday celebrations taking place during our trip!

Running Costumes – One of my favorite things about runDisney races are all the creative costumes people wear. Austin and I are planning to dress up in honor of our favorite super heroes, while still keeping it comfortable enough for running. It's been easy to find athletic wear that goes along with our theme. We are planning a dress rehearsal on our last long run to make sure it all feels good for 6.1 miles. It's never a good idea to wear anything new (especially shoes) during a race. We also plan to take old sweatshirts to wear in the morning in case of cooler weather. They can be discarded once we warm up, and runDisney will collect all clothing items along the course and donate them to charity. That's a win-win!

When you're traveling to a race, it's really important to remember all essential items. I learned that the hard way! Here is a checklist that I now use as I pack my suitcase.

Packing List for Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend is so close! Not only am I super excited about the race and visiting Disneyland, but I know that Austin and I will be making memories I will treasure forever. I will definitely stop back by the runDisney Blog with a recap of our race weekend!

Lori is a member of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel representing runDisney. She is here to answer your questions and help you plan your runcation.

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Leslie Kay

Running as a Guide for Achilles: The Shift from Self to Other

In some ways, running can be considered a selfish sport. It's all about you, and the time you personally dedicate to getting in your miles or crossing that finish line. After nearly 20 years of running races ranging from 5Ks to ultramarathons, I know how much "me" time and energy it takes to train and race year-round.

But there are lots of ways for running to be an incredibly rewarding team sport, one in which the emphasis shifts from the self to the other. I learned this the first time I met Erin.

Erin, a triathlete and mother of three, was recovering from an accident that caused a traumatic brain injury. After learning to walk again, she set an ambitious goal: To return to sports by running the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon. She was given the opportunity to run through a partnership between Cigna (my employer) and Achilles International, an organization that enables people with different abilities to participate in mainstream sports events.

Runners posing for a picture with their medals

Achilles athletes are matched up with one or more guides during the race. The purpose of the guide is simple: To help the athlete complete the event by providing support along the way.

I had first heard about Achilles and guiding from Cigna's CEO, David Cordani, who had served as a guide the previous year. He inspired me: If our CEO can do it, why can't I?

Erin and I met for the first time in December about a month before the race. We went on a practice run together in her Connecticut hometown. We weaved our way through the shoreline community streets on that cool late fall morning, getting to know each other and talking about what all runners talk about: family, relationships, politics … and, of course, running. As her guide, this practice run gave me the chance to understand her unique running needs: How I can serve as an extra set of eyes for her impeded peripheral vision, how I can give her an arm to lean on for stability around turns, and how I can give verbal warnings for bumps or potholes in the road.

During the run, I was virtually unaware of my own – suddenly minor – aches and pains. It was the shift from self to other. All that mattered was helping Erin finish that run safely, which we did.

We became friends that day, and that friendship carried us through the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. We shared an amazing race experience, along with her husband who served as a second guide. We reveled in the energy of the crowd. We cried when we caught our first glimpse of Cinderella Castle. We took lots of pictures. And we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Runners passing the finish line

It's been both thrilling and humbling to be part of the Cigna and Achilles teams these past few years. I'm grateful to Cigna for being an employer that cares about my health and well-being – even encouraging me to keep up with my annual check-ups and stay on top of my important health numbers (Body Mass Index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol). And I'm also grateful to Achilles for the racing opportunities they provide athletes and guides around the world. Both organizations help people do amazing things.

I've since guided many Achilles athletes, but that first experience with Erin – who has become a good family friend – marked a material shift in my running career. The shift from running being a mostly solitary endeavor to being a way to help others achieve their dreams. A way for me to give back through the sport I love most. And a way to make our community of runners stronger.

Michael Lo Presti is the Communications Director at Cigna. Cigna is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

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Meet Your Newest runDisney "Workout Buddy"

Whether you're training on your own or running in a runDisney event, it's nice to have a friend to run with. This year, we're delighted to welcome Misfit as presenting sponsor of Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.

Start line at Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort

So you're probably asking yourself, what is Misfit? (And no, it's not one of Snow White's other dwarfs). It's actually an activity tracker that can fit seamlessly into your runDisney training. And it can help you 24 hours a day! How, you may ask?

Here are some tips from the Misfit team on how to make the most of training with a Misfit activity tracker:

You can track your progress. Set up Misfit in minutes with the easy-to-use app and pound the pavement as you train for your next race. If you're relatively new to running, Misfit helps you set goals and build training gradually, which is ideal for pairing with the Galloway "run/walk" method. If you're an experienced runner, it's a great way to "award yourself" by displaying your achievements and goals in one, well-organized place.

Misfit Activity Tracker

You can get enough rest. You feel, look and work better with a good night's sleep (okay, maybe Sleepy overdoes it). You can do something about it…by doing nothing. Let Misfit automatically track your sleep. Set a goal, like seven to eight hours a night. Keep artificial light and screen time at a minimum at night. Reduce caffeine late in the day. Remember that rest is as important for your training as your running. If you can hit the sack early, you can take advantage of early mornings, which are some of the most "magical" times to run.

Your friends can join in the journey. Find a running buddy or two at similar fitness levels and use your Misfits to stay accountable. Stay in touch and check on each other's progress on the social menu of the Misfit app.

You can eat healthier. Sometimes we don't have the time or resources to keep track of the best food choices. Keep in check and get an overall picture of what you're eating with the Misfit app's photo food journal. Or connect with a partner app, like LoseIt! or MyFitnessPal for more detailed nutritional tracking. That way, when you finish your Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend event, you can indulge at all the fresh markets at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Sometimes the pressures of daily life and the race against the clock stand between you and your runDisney goals. But when you think about it, the Walt Disney World® Resort itself is the result of both dreams, perseverance and hard work. You can do it. After all, you have friends like Misfit and all of us at runDisney along with you, mile after magical mile.

If you would like to get training with a Misfit activity tracker, check out their latest products at and enjoy a 15% discount off your purchase by using code STRIDE15. This offer can be redeemed toward any item and is valid through October 31, 2016.

Misfit is the presenting sponsor of Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World® Resort.

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Creating runDisney Course Magic

Each year, more than 200,000 runners from across the globe participate in runDisney races. One of the things runners frequently want to know is, "How does Disney create runDisney course magic?"

To find out, we talked with the people who make the magic happen, starting with runDisney event manager Paul Morris, who is responsible for designing courses at Walt Disney World® Resort.

Running by Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park

Most Magical Courses on Earth
"Runners just love to run inside our Parks," says Paul. "There's no other experience like it. That's why they come."

When our course designers begin creating a new course they try to locate as much of the course as they can inside the Disney Parks.

"We want to create the most magical, visually stunning and entertaining race courses for our runners while still keeping safety our main priority," Paul says.

As for our races at Disneyland® Resort, race director Mike Bone has to be creative with only two theme parks to work with so his team sets out to find other exciting views for runners.

"While trying to maximize the amount of time in the Parks, we also try to find iconic venues in Anaheim," says Mike. "We want to make the courses as interesting as we can for runners."

Two of these venues that are unique to our Disneyland races are Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Honda Center, home of the Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim Ducks, respectively.

Running through baseball stadium

"Togetherness, for me, means teamwork." – Walt Disney
Designing and building a runDisney race course is a huge partnership. Theme park operations, logistics, transport, engineering, and resort operations are all included. Many of the roadways don't belong to Disney so partnerships with local, county and state municipalities are needed. In fact, Rick Morris, Manager, Disneyland Sports, tells us that depending on the direction of a course, our Disneyland races could pass through up to four different cities in California!

At Disney, runners are a priority. According to Nancy Belanger, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Director of Experience Integration, "when a major construction effort is underway, like the new flyover on Osceola Parkway and changes along the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza, the runDisney team works hand-in-hand with its governmental partner Reedy Creek Improvement District to create exciting new course alternatives that will entertain our runners."

More Magic on Its Way
What makes running through Disney Parks so special is you never know what you will see on course. There may even be some behind-the-scenes magic!

"Runners love seeing where the magic happens," says Mike, who remembers how exciting it was for runners to get a glimpse at Cars Land as it was being built not too long ago in Disney California Adventure Park.

Likewise, at Walt Disney World, Paul and his team will incorporate new attractions into course designs, including the recent popular additions of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park and Harambe Market in Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

"There's always new and amazing experiences on the horizon at Disney," notes Paul. "So we'll also develop courses that let our runners run around the upcoming magic and catch a sneak peek at all the future excitement coming their way."

Disney Entertainment
With course layout and theme in hand, John Phelan, Entertainment Show Director for runDisney and his team begin the creative process of deciding the entertainment offerings for each race.

John sees the entertainment on the course as "inspirational, aspirational and just plain fun." Runners like to have motivation to keep on running. So every half mile or so, entertainment is spotlighted to surprise and delight the runners. Disney characters, live bands, floats, stunt people, actors, musicians and dancers are all featured throughout the races.

"It's an amazing experience for the runners," explains John. "Characters and entertainers cheer as the runners make their way through the Parks. It's exciting and emotional. Definitely a big part of the magic."

So what does it take to create runDisney course magic? Start with plenty of imagination and teamwork, and blend in great Disney entertainment. And of course a little pixie dust never hurts!

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Disney Sports Mom Lori

Preparing to runDisney Like a Super Hero – Part 2

Hello runners! As Austin and I approach the halfway mark of our runDisney training plans, I thought I would stop by with a quick update. In my last blog post, I shared that we are both running the Doctor Strange 10K and I will also be doing the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon to complete the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Our main goal is to have fun and get lots of photos, but we also want to be properly trained so that we feel good enough after the race to spend the day playing in the Disneyland theme parks.

Mother and son running and training for runDisney races

Like I'm sure it is for many of you, fall is a busy time for our family. I only have two kids, but we have four sport schedules going on right now. Here are a few tips I've found that help keep our Super Hero training on track:

  • Schedule your runs – Every Sunday night, my husband and I look at the upcoming week's sports and school schedules. While we are dividing those duties up, I go ahead and pencil in our training runs.
  • Multitask – Austin and I often run on a path at the soccer complex while my older son practices. We would be sitting around waiting for him anyway, so this is a great use of that time.
  • Be prepared – I keep running shoes and clothes in my car so that if an opportunity arises for us to fit in a run, we are ready. I also throw my laptop in there when I leave the house, so I can work on team manager duties while sitting at practices. I have found this time to be very productive.
  • Customize your training schedule – Some weeks Austin has up to four soccer games. He runs a lot during them, so I often count a game as one of his midweek runs. I don't want him to get an injury from too much running.
  • Add miles for your own race – Since I am also training for two upcoming half marathons, I add my additional miles to the end of our long 10K training runs.
  • Be flexible – Again, Austin and I are not doing this to break any speed records. I don't want to dampen his enthusiasm and motivation for the race by forcing him to run when he just isn't feeling it. If he is too tired or the weather is too hot, we run the next day…no big deal!

With around eight weeks left until Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend, we are about to enter my favorite portion of runDisney "training." It's time to decide what running outfits we will wear, when we want to visit the theme parks and what new restaurants we are going to try. Next month, we will be looking at the planning portion of runDisney race weekends… stay tuned!

Lori is a member of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel representing runDisney. She is here to answer your questions and help you plan your runcation.

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Leslie Kay

Part 2: Runner Problems – Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask

In our previous blog post, Cigna chief medical officer for national accounts, Dr. Charles Smith and Cigna health coaches provided preventive health tips to help keep your body in top shape ahead of race day. Now that you've crossed your Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend finish line, you road warriors may have some well-earned wear and tear. To help you heal, our Cigna experts are back to share tips on how to take good care from toes to head after your runDisney race!

Runner putting on proper socks for running

Blisters: to pop or not to pop? This is a good question. Leave smaller blisters alone and let them heal on their own, especially when they're deep under the skin. A large, shallower blister that is up to a quarter size on the sole of the foot and is filled with fluid can be gently pierced with a sterilized pin needle to relieve pain or pressure in order to begin the healing process. While this allows some relief, make sure to sterilize the area thoroughly before and after, and apply antibacterial cream until it heals completely to avoid infection.

How do you care for calluses and corns? Caring for your feet is a great reason for a pedicure! For at-home care, after a bath or shower use a pumice stone to rub away dead skin, then apply moisturizing cream. A second skin adhesive over the callus or corn also provides relief and prevents further friction. If the problem persists, see your doctor.

How do you treat athlete's foot? Athlete's foot is a fungus that grows on the skin, which causes itching and burning. People get it by coming into direct contact either from the ground or another person. A good preventive measure if your feet are prone to sweating a lot inside your shoes, apply baby powder to wick moisture away and always allow shoes to dry fully before wearing them again. If you get athlete's foot, treat it with nonprescription antifungal creams, and keep your feet clean and dry. If the problem persists or you have diabetes, see your doctor.

At Cigna we believe one of the best ways to help you stay healthy is by getting your annual wellness check-up with your doctor and knowing your numbers: Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. As you train for your next runDisney event, whether it's Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend in Orlando or Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in 2017, stay connected with us for more health and wellness tips and motivation from Cigna experts. We're here to be your health partner along your road to wellness!

Cigna is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Disney Sports Mom Lori

Preparing to runDisney Like a Super Hero – Part 1

I've participated in many runDisney race events, and I always have a blast! But, I have to say that my favorite race weekends are the ones that include running with my family.

Last year, I ran Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon with my oldest son, Aaron. And this year, my 13-year-old, Austin, and I have decided to run the Doctor Strange 10K during Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland® Resort. We are following the official runDisney training program for the 10K, which kicked off last month. The plan works great for beginning runners and has eased him into longer distances gradually. He does play soccer year-round, so we have modified the plan to fit longer runs on days he doesn't have games.

Mother and son running and training for runDisney races

Choosing the Super Hero themed race was a no-brainer for Austin. Like most teenage boys, he loves all the Marvel movies, which makes this race so appealing to him. No matter what distance or theme you're searching for, runDisney has the perfect race for you! In 2010, Austin had his runDisney debut in the Kids Races, and it seems like only yesterday that he and I competed as a team in the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge. Now, he is ready to conquer the 10K, and I just hope I can keep up!

Mother and son at runDisney race starting line

So, while I'm super excited about a trip to Disneyland and completing the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, I am even more excited about all of the quality time this will give me with Austin. Training for the race, planning our costumes and deciding on our theme park and dining plans are just a few examples of the things we will be doing together over the next couple of months. I am very aware of how quickly my kids are growing up, so finding something that we can do together is priceless. I also hope that by doing runDisney races with my boys, it will instill in them a lifelong passion for running, and the desire to be active and healthy.

Stay tuned to the runDisney Blog leading up to Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend, as I will be sharing updates on our training and planning progress!

Lori is a member of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel representing runDisney. She is here to answer your questions and help you plan your runcation.

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Leslie Kay

Part 1: Runner Problems – Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask

As you prepare for your runDisney race, we want to help ensure your body is in top form by sharing preventive health tips from Cigna experts on topics you may have wondered about, but were too afraid to ask. Asking about runner's chaffing can be embarrassing, but don't worry – we get it! Cigna's chief medical officer for national accounts, Dr. Charles Smith, and health coaches are here to help you achieve your personal runDisney best, whether you're training for the Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna or another race event! Let's get to it!

Runner Hydrating with water

How do you prevent chaffing? Chaffing anywhere on the body can be prevented by applying a generous layer of petroleum jelly or diaper rash ointment to the affected area. Avoid wearing sweat-soaked clothing, which exacerbates chaffing, and on longer runs, take a sample size of the lubricant with you to reapply.

How do you avoid getting sick on the course? A good rule of thumb is, right before runs lasting up to 60 minutes, just drink water. For runs over 60 minutes, replenish energy with a sports drink containing electrolytes and glycogen. If you're concerned about too much sugar or high calories, low calorie sports drinks are available and provide the electrolytes needed with less sugar and calories. Another helpful tip to ensure you don't have to unexpectedly go to the restroom during your run, eat foods you normally eat and that you know agree with you in the days leading up to your race.

At Cigna, we're passionate about being part of your team and supporting you along your health journey. Which is why we believe in knowing your numbers: Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol to help you stay in control of your health and to keep achieving your runDisney milestones! If you haven't yet, see your doctor to get your annual check-up and know your numbers!

Stay tuned for more questions you've always wanted to ask after Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.

Cigna is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Leslie Kay

Preparing in the Last Month Before Your runDisney Race

It is one month until your big race! You've established a training program to prepare – whether it's Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna or another running event – and you're seeing good results. Way to go! Now, it's imperative to continue improving.

Disneyland 5K Starting Line with Confetti Celebration

To help you achieve your runDisney goals, we gathered expert tips from Cigna's chief medical officer for national accounts, Dr. Charles Smith, and Cigna health coaches who have identified five key areas to focus on in these last few weeks. If you are not currently seeing improvements, your training program may be lacking in one of these areas. Not to worry, we can help!

Training by the sunset for a race

Sleep – Getting good sleep is one of the biggest advantages when it comes to your health and it directly impacts performance. During sleep, your body heals itself and your central nervous system processes important information. For runners, that includes new movement patterns and firing muscles in sequences that improves efficiency and speed. Adults should aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep.

Nutrition – Just like a car cannot go the full distance with only half a tank of gas, the same concept is also true for our bodies. Here are three ways to help you properly fuel your body:

  1. Don't Skip Meals – When feeling starved, you are more likely to over eat at the next meal and choose fast foods and snacks. Head off temptation and eat regularly.
  2. Eat Balanced Meals – Eat for nutrients and health, not necessarily for taste. Meals should include a balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water – We have all heard this but sometimes don't do it. A good rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water two hours before your workout. For workouts over one hour, try to drink 4-6 ounces every 15 minutes. Once you're done, continue hydrating to quench your thirst.

Core Training – Every time you take a step you are using your core for support. Your core consists of obliques, glutes, abdominals, and lower and upper back muscles. The stronger and more stable your core is, the more efficient runner you will be. For distance running, strengthen this muscle group up to 4-5 times a week.

Cross training – Combining two or more different activities such as cycling/weight training, swimming/yoga, or a fitness class/calisthenics enables you to build different muscle groups while giving others a chance to rest and repair. Cross training also helps improve cardiovascular endurance and prevent injuries. Try strength (yoga) or weight training every other day. Your cardio can be done on consecutive days.

Celebrating with high-fives after a training run

Mindset – Your ability to overcome mental barriers will have a big impact on your success and overall experience. Read our last article to help you start training your runner's mindset today!

To help support your training program, try our Coach by Cigna mobile app. Discover fun, healthy activities, and be inspired and encouraged every step of your journey with Cigna coaches, experts and resources in the palm of your hand!

Just as we're part of your team to help you achieve your running goals, we're here to help you stay on target with achieving your health goals, too. If you haven't had your annual check-up with your doctor yet, now is a great time to schedule it to know your numbers: Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and get recommended preventive screenings. Knowing your numbers helps you continue on your road to wellness and achieving your runDisney milestones!

Cigna® is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

Coach by Cigna mobile app is free and available with Android OS 4.4 and higher and iOS 8.0 and higher devices (U.S. only). The downloading and use of the Coach by Cigna mobile app is subject to terms and conditions of the app and the online store from which it is downloaded.

This content and the Coach by Cigna app are for educational purposes only and do not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Starting line of Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

Actress Ashley Eckstein to Train for runDisney Doctor Strange 10K

You may know Ashley Eckstein as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels" as well as other popular Disney characters, but she's also the founder of a fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand, Her Universe. With her busy schedule, fitness is still a priority in her life. Ashley will be participating in her first runDisney event – the Doctor Strange 10K during Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort this November.

Actress Ashely Eckstein wearing Avengers Training Gear

runDisney had the opportunity (and pleasure) of catching up with Ashley to learn about how she is preparing for her first race. She is familiar with runDisney from hearing fans' personal stories and seeing photos through social media. An active lifestyle is important in Ashley's household – her husband is a professional athlete and they enjoy working out together. She believes having a race to train for and look forward to will give her a goal to strive for. Ashley is particularly excited about the theme being Doctor Strange for the 10K and can't wait to see the movie!

runDisney event starting line

As for fashion advice to fellow runners, Ashley says, "Comfort is key, but you should also have fun with your outfit. Be creative, make it your own and let your inner super hero shine!"

For her own race ensemble Ashley is debating between wearing an outfit inspired by Captain America or Black Widow for her first event. Stay tuned as we follow Ashley's journey from training to her costume design!

Spots are still available for the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend here. Which super hero will inspire your outfit? Share your story on our social channels using the hashtag #AvengersHalf.

Twitter: @runDisney
Instagram: @runDisney
Facebook: @RunDisney
YouTube: @runDisney

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Disney Sports Mom Lori

Tips for Registering for runDisney Events

It sometimes seems like registering for a runDisney event has become a race of its own! Race weekends are very popular and events often sell out quickly. Here are some tips to help you register for the race you want.

runDisney event starting line

  1. Keep Informed: Registration dates are published in advance on the runDisney website, but sometimes things come up and the dates change. Follow runDisney on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all of the latest news and developments. On Facebook, be sure to RSVP to the events you are interested in on the "Events" tab. You can also sign up to receive email reminders from runDisney.
  2. Be Prepared: Set up an account in advance and be logged in at least 10 minutes prior to when registration opens. Remember that registration times are listed as Eastern Standard Time, so adjust accordingly to where you live.
  3. Register Yourself: My husband and I often sign up for the same race. He has his own account and we each register ourselves as soon as registration opens. I generally register our boys when they run, but we both have the ability to register our children (under 18) from our Active accounts.

What if it says "On Hold" when I get to the race I want?
If it says "On Hold" that means the queue is full at the time. Keep refreshing as spots may open back up for your race. I have been on hold before and still been able to register.

What if a race is "Sold Out" by the time I get into the system?
First, take a deep breath! There are other options for you.

Option 1: Travel ProvidersrunDisney partners with multiple travel providers that have race bibs for each event. You can find links to each provider under the "Registration" tab of the specific race weekend page on the runDisney website. Benefits of using a travel provider include specially priced room and ticket rates, runner packages, quality service from professional Disney planners and more.

Option 2: Charity Groups – You can run for a cause! There are many charity groups represented during each race weekend. Charity groups also often offer specially priced room and ticket rates, plus you have the satisfaction of running as part of a team that's making a difference for a worthy cause. Links to charity groups can also be found under the "Registration" tab of individual event pages on the runDisney website.

Option 3: Volunteer – I cannot say enough wonderful things about the runDisney volunteers. They are truly a highlight of each race and you can join them! It's so much fun and extremely rewarding to support the runners on a course. Find out more about becoming a volunteer here.

I hope these tips help you get signed up for your favorite runDisney race weekend!

Lori is a member of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel representing runDisney. She is here to answer your questions and help you plan your runcation.

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Leslie Kay

Don't Sweat the Details: Tips for Training Your Runner's Mindset

Starting a new training program can be overwhelming whether you're a first-time runner or trying to achieve a new running milestone. Good news, you don't have to go it alone!

At Cigna, we want to help you achieve your runDisney goals. This is why we've gathered expert tips and guidance from Cigna medical director, Dr. Stuart Lustig, and Cigna health coaches who are ready to partner with you on your road to achieving your goals.

Developing a runner's mindset and being able to overcome mental barriers can have a big impact on your success. Whether you're training for the Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna or another running milestone, by following these tips you will be able to hone your mental focus and tap into the magic along your journey for a successful race experience. Let's get started!

  1. Set attainable, realistic goals. By breaking up a big goal, like completing a 5K or the Disneyland Half Marathon, into smaller, attainable goals, you create a training program that can support you all the way across the finish line. Staying motivated is the key.
  2. Celebrate the small victories along your journey. This creates positive memories and reinforces the mind-body connection, which helps you stay motivated over the long run. When running in the Disney Parks, celebrate with some of your favorite Disney characters on the course and at your favorite spots like the Paradise Pier, Sleeping Beauty Castle and Spaceship Earth.

  3. Build your support system. We oftentimes don't see how far we have come. Ask someone in your life to support you and be your cheerleader. If you cannot find someone to join you in person, try video calls or recording loved one's voices as part of your playlist to lift you up.
  4. Overcome barriers with a growth mindset. When we develop our ability to keep learning and improving, we can overcome barriers to our success. Anytime you feel self-doubt, critical, stuck or bored about your workout routine, change it up! Experiment with new modes of exercise. Consider cross-training, rock climbing or paddleboard yoga.

A great place to begin your health or fitness journey is by knowing your numbers. Cigna's "Go, Know, Take Control" challenge is simple: Go for your annual check-up with your doctor and know your four numbers: Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. By knowing your numbers, you take control of your health and are on the path to an overall healthier you.

We're here to support and cheer you on. Ask your training questions and learn more tips on how to train your mind and body during the runDisney Twitter chat co-hosted by Cigna and runDisney. Follow the hashtag #CignaRunTogetherChat on June 22 at 8 p.m. ET to join the live conversation with Jeff Galloway, official training consultant for runDisney, and Cigna health experts. Stay tuned for our next Cigna guest blog in this series coming in July.

Cigna® is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.

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Announcing the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series

It's time to lace up your running shoes this summer with runDisney! For the first time ever, you can experience a small taste of a runDisney race from home through a series of virtual races that will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The all-new runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series launches this summer and includes three 5Ks that you complete from whatever course you choose – through your neighborhood, on the treadmill, etc. Participants receive a uniquely designed finisher medal for each 5K completed plus a challenge medal for finishing all three virtual 5Ks.

Whether a runDisney veteran or a beginner looking to take the first step, virtual races are a great way to not only introduce your friends and family to running but also a way to jumpstart your training for upcoming races at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and our inaugural event at Disneyland Paris.

These virtual races are inspired by the one and only Mickey Mouse. Each finisher medal will spotlight one of Mickey's iconic staples – yellow shoes, red pants and white gloves. Runners taking on the challenge of all three virtual runs will earn a special medal that features Mickey sporting his complete ensemble.

Virtual races are becoming more and more popular in the running world with the ease of participating from anywhere. As runDisney continues to grow, we will look for more opportunities to stay connected with our runners as well as introduce a healthy and active lifestyle to new audiences.

Register here for the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series. Share your virtual running experience this summer with us using the hashtag #runDisneyShorts.

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Tips for runDisney Races

You've trained and trained for your runDisney event, and now it's the day of your race! Here are a few tips for participating in runDisney events on how to get the most out of your experience on course.

First of all, everyone who participates in runDisney races has a different goal or purpose for doing so. For some runners they have a specific time they want to accomplish for their race, therefore their training has been set to help them reach this desired time. Others sign up to run through the Disney Theme Parks and enjoy the entertainment. These tips can be applied to whatever your goals are!

Get Social: After your race make sure to share your pictures of your accomplishment with your friends, family and runDisney! Look for our official hashtags and other important event information on our runDisney Facebook Event Pages. Using the official hashtags will help us see your runDisney photos and hear about your experiences. And, by commenting on our Facebook page with your own runDisney photos you have a chance to be featured as our "Fan of the Week!" You can also share your experiences with us on Twitter or Instagram by using an official race hashtag or #runDisney. You never know, it could be you in the spotlight next!

Photo Opportunities: There are going to be multiple photo opportunities throughout the course no matter which distance you are running. While character meet and greets are unique and special, there are many other park icons (Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, etc.) that make for great photos. The mile markers, crossing the start line and posing with your medal are also great shots for your photos! Before sunrise try turning your flash off. The character meet and greets are lit so your photos will look better with your flash off. Make sure your race bib is clearly visible on the front of your shirt so you can be identified. This will provide you with the most photo options when it's time to review your official race photos.

Starting and Passing: Starting in your assigned start corral will help ensure you are running with those with a similar pace. If you would like to pass runners on the course simply say, "Excuse Me" or "Coming Through." On the other hand, if you hear these words simply step to the side to let those pass.

Running with Friends & Family: Running with friends and family is encouraging and fun. If you are running with a friend in a different corral, the faster of the two can move back to the slower corral. If you are in a bigger group, run or walk no more than two abreast so other runners can get by you.

Hydrate: Stay hydrated on course to guarantee a great race. If you are planning on grabbing water at the hydration station, move all the way over to the table. Grab water and move away from the table to drink it so others may get the water, too. There will be plenty of water or PowerAde during your race for everyone!

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Feel free to shout words of encouragement to other runners. Sometimes a simple "great job" can mean the world to a runner making it through the last few magical miles!

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Heat Advisory: Preparing for Star Wars™ Half Marathon – The Dark Side

The Central Florida area is anticipated to experience warmer weather than usual. Those participating in the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side race event should plan accordingly for their race. Here are a few important tips to consider:

  • Closely monitor your pace and do not overextend yourself. This may not be the event to attempt your personal best.
  • Stay well hydrated prior to the race and maintain fluid status with alternating water and electrolyte-based hydration options throughout your race and the entire race weekend.
  • Slow down and ask for assistance at any signs of heat illness, including dizziness, light-headedness or nausea. Heed these warnings seriously.

As a reminder, all medical stations will have the appropriate flag color displayed according to existing heat conditions. For more information, please reference page 37 in the official event guide.

Any adjustments to the race are at the discretion of the Event Management team and are for everyone's safety.

All of us at runDisney hope you have a safe, magical run. See you at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

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Tara Gidus

Breakfast: The Meal of runDisney Champions

There are tons of excuses: you don't like breakfast food, you aren't hungry in the morning, or you just don't have time. Be aware that finding reasons to skip breakfast can hinder your running performance in a serious way. The food choices you make throughout the day provide you with the fuel you need for your busy day and your workout. Choosing to skip a crucial meal—like breakfast—will only set you back.

  1. Benefits of Breakfast: While skipping a morning meal may lead to a couple hundred fewer calories consumed in a day, it more often leads to snacking on unhealthy, sugary foods later in the day to make up for a lack of energy.
    • Research consistently shows that breakfast eaters are leaner and healthier.
    • Breakfast keeps blood glucose levels in check, crushes late-afternoon cravings, and encourages healthier eating choices throughout the rest of your day.
    • As runners, the importance of breakfast is magnified. Without fueling properly from the start of your day, you will not be able to achieve optimal performance during your runDisney training.
    • Most importantly, runners need to make the right breakfast choices to ensure they are getting all of the proper nutrients—and eating a meal of champions.

  2. Early-Morning Runners: Running right after waking up? It isn't feasible for most to consume a 500-calorie breakfast and head out for a run immediately afterwards. However, running on an empty stomach is like a car running on fumes—your legs will feel heavy, your head will hurt, and you will struggle to hit your pace goals.
    • If you are an early-morning runner, aim to consume about 100-300 calories of food before heading out.
    • Your choice should provide a source of carbohydrates for energy as well as a small dose of healthy protein.
    • Options include: whole wheat waffle or toast with nut butter, a few handfuls of trail mix or granola, a small fruit smoothie, berries in Greek yogurt, cereal, or a small energy bar.
    • Follow up your workout with carbs and protein to refuel your working muscles—good options are smoothies, eggs and toast, and fruit and cottage cheese.

  3. Evening/Late-Night Runners: If you aren't running until post-lunchtime hours, you can eat a much heartier breakfast. Trying to get by on a skimpy breakfast and a salad at lunch will leave you feeling exhausted during your run, making it even harder to get through your workout.
    • Aim to consume a breakfast that is high-carbohydrate, contains quality protein, and provides a healthy fat—around 400-500 calories.
    • Options include: 2 eggs on whole-wheat toast with a glass of orange juice. Greek yogurt, chia seeds/nuts, and fresh berries. Steel-cut oats, a spoonful of peanut butter, and banana slices.
    • Start your day with breakfast… it is the meal of runDisney champions after all! Questions or comments tweet me @DietDivaTara. For more nutrition tips for your runDisney training, click here.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Disney PhotoPass Service Joins Forces with runDisney

Runners from galaxies near and far, far away have been preparing to run on Darth Vader's turf during the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side at Walt Disney World® Resort April 14-17. Meanwhile, an elite team of Disney PhotoPass Photographers has been training to capture every moment of the race!

We are excited to announce that Disney PhotoPass Photographers will now be capturing your runDisney memories – from the spectacular races to the character experiences along the course.

Here are some details:

  • Disney PhotoPass Photographers will be on the course, at character and backdrop locations, and at the finish line taking your photos during your race.
  • To keep things running, all photos taken by photographers during runDisney events will be linked to your bib number—no need to stop to collect PhotoPass Cards or associate to MagicBands! Photo linking instructions will be included in race event guides and on the runDisney Results page.
  • You'll be able to view and purchase your photos at or on the My Disney Experience app within 24 hours of the event.
  • Want all your race photos and your Walt Disney World vacation memories for one price? Purchase Memory Maker and you'll receive unlimited digital downloads of all your Disney PhotoPass memories from your visit to Walt Disney World Resort—including all your runDisney photos and your Park memories*. Buy Memory Maker three days or more before your visit and save $20 off of the regular price of $169.
  • Have a Walt Disney World Disney Premier Passport or Disney Platinum Plus, Disney Platinum or Disney Gold Annual Pass? Your runDisney photos are included as part of your Annual Pass benefit*!
  • During the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side event, Disney PhotoPass Photographers will be at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to answer your questions. If you follow runDisney on Instagram, stop by the Disney PhotoPass booth to receive a complimentary download of your photo with an exclusive Star Wars backdrop available at the Expo.

May the Force be with you!

*Memory Maker includes photos taken during the Memory Maker window and linked to the Memory Maker guest's Disney account. Disney PhotoPass benefit for Disney Gold, Disney Platinum and Disney Platinum Plus Passholders includes Disney PhotoPass photos and other digital content linked to the Guest's Disney account and captured while the pass is valid for admission to a Walt Disney World Theme Park. A MagicBand is required to receive certain attraction photos and other digital content. Photos and other digital content will expire pursuant to the expiration policy at Valid theme park admission required for certain photo locations.

Memory Maker is subject to Memory Maker terms at and, if applicable, Family & Friends terms at Terms for Disney PhotoPass Benefit for Select Annual Passes are available at Online registration required. Downloads are restricted to personal use by Passholder only. Subject to change without notice.

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Tara Gidus

runDisney Training: Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potatoes

When I was growing up, my mom sometimes made "meal in a peel." Simply put, it's a baked potato with various toppings to choose from. You can make it Mexican with leftover taco meat, black beans, cheese and guacamole, or choose Italian with some marinara, Italian sausage and mozzarella. Sometimes I'll make a meal out of a baked potato, cottage cheese on top, and a side salad. Get creative – an endless array of toppings await!

Broccoli and cheese baked potatoes make for a simple vegetarian dinner and runner-friendly food. Too often "white carbs" are dismissed as being fattening and bad for health, but when it comes to white potatoes, they should be a mainstay in the runner's diet. Potatoes are complex carbohydrates and contain resistant starch, meaning they don't break down as quickly as other white carbs like enriched bread.

Potatoes are high in vitamin C, which boosts immunity and fights the common cold. They are also a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte that is lost in sweat and a common shortfall nutrient that we all need to eat more of. White potatoes pack more potassium than a banana. Potatoes are also low in calories and are naturally fat free. In fact, a medium-sized spud has only 110 calories. White potatoes, believe it or not, are comparable to sweet potatoes when it comes to their antioxidant capacity.

Carbohydrates are a major fuel source for runners, and should make up 45-65% of the diet depending on intensity of training. Another benefit of carbs is they are "protein sparing," meaning they help athletes maintain muscle. Keep in mind that carbs are also needed to metabolize fats, as the body requires the presence of carbohydrates to burn fat for energy.

I'd love to see your creations! If you top a potato, I'd love to see what you choose! Tag me @DietDivaTara on Twitter or Instagram. For more nutrition tips for your runDisney training, click here.

Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potato Recipe
Serves 2

2 russet potatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped


  1. Before making cheese sauce, wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in 425-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. For a faster method, poke holes in outside of potatoes and steam in microwave for five minutes. Set aside.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour to combine and slowly whisk in milk until mixture is fully incorporated. Increase heat to thicken sauce. Stir in cheese and Greek yogurt.
  3. Add chopped broccoli and cook for five minutes until cooked through and turns bright green.
  4. Slice baked potatoes down the center and squeeze skins together to form a hole then pour in cheese sauce. Serve immediately.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Disney Sports Mom Lori

Introducing Our Disney Sports Mom Lori

Hello Runners! I am thrilled to be serving as the 2016 Disney Sports Mom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, which includes helping guests plan their runDisney vacations. I thought I would stop by the runDisney Blog to introduce myself and tell you why I love to runDisney.

I was born and raised in Kentucky and now live in Southern Indiana with my husband and two sons. I spend my days as a homeschool, soccer and track mom. I started running about nine years ago as something to do with my husband, who has always been a runner.

Already a lifelong Disney fan, my world changed in 2009 with an email alert about the first Disney Princess Half Marathon. My cousin and I both called each other at the exact same time with the exact same thought. We will gladly run 13.1 miles if it means we get to dress like a Princess and race through Cinderella Castle!

We couldn't sign up fast enough. This was my first long-distance race, and I honestly thought it would be a one-time deal. I would check it off my bucket list and be happy. I could not have been more wrong!

For those of you who have runDisney before, you know what I mean! The races really are magical. They have become so much more than miles to me. My husband and I run races together for adults-only trips. My girlfriends and I meet up for girls-only weekends. My whole extended family comes and we participate in kids races, 5K family fun runs and half marathons all wrapped up in a weeklong Disney Parks vacation. It's more than logging miles… it's making memories.

I used to jog alongside my oldest son for the Mickey Mile. I blinked and he is now beating me by over an hour in half marathons. He placed fifth in his age group at last year's Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. What I was most proud of, though, is that he stopped for pictures along the course. Even an overly competitive teenage boy can get swept up in the magic of his favorite characters and runDisney!

You cannot be a runner or a spectator at a runDisney event and not be inspired. Whether it's the blazing fast winner of the race, the person overcoming daunting obstacles to even start the race, the families bonding over running, or the runners running because others can't, runDisney races embody the Disney spirit of believing and achieving. THIS is why I runDisney and hope to always runDisney!

Please visit me on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and let me help you plan your next runDisney race vacation.

Lori is a member of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel representing runDisney. She is here to answer your questions and help you plan your runcation.

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Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Expands Menu

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Expands Menu

Prepare to feast on a tasty new menu of race offerings for the 2016 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend on November 3-6! Our most appetizing runDisney event will feature not only the inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K, but also a new challenge for runners who participate in the 10K and half marathon – Lumiere's Two Course Challenge.

As the race weekend expands, all of the races, including the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, will move to a morning start time. With all four theme parks at Walt Disney World® Resort soon remaining open during the nighttime hours, daytime races allow us to give our race participants the best possible runDisney experience along with fantastic entertainment.

The now extended race weekend will begin Thursday, Nov. 3 with the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo followed by Mickey's Holiday 5K on Friday morning at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. For the younger runners, we are adding another day of runDisney Kids Races, which will take place both Friday and Saturday. Also on Saturday, Chef Remy from "Ratatouille" will be cooking up a scrumptious new 10K race through Epcot®, and Lumiere's Two Course Challenge will serve up its first course.

On Sunday morning, runners will enjoy a 13.1-mile course through Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. After plenty of recovery time, the exclusive Post Race Party will take place Sunday evening with extra hours to enjoy everything the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has to offer.

The exciting expansion news goes beyond runDisney. There are also enhancements coming to Walt Disney World Theme Parks. Some of these additions will be open for guests to experience during our race weekend, including the nighttime spectacular "Rivers of Light" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the "Frozen Ever After" experience at the Norway pavilion at Epcot and more!

Registration for our most appetizing race event yet will open on March 29, 2016 at noon ET. Sign up for an email reminder today.

Cheers and bon appétit!

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Tara Gidus

runDisney Training: Refuel with a Wild Berry Power Smoothie Bowl

Have you experienced a smoothie in a bowl? Smoothies that are spoonable (is that even a word?) are like eating a bowl of ice cream that you can feel good about. Frozen deliciousness is just what I crave right after a training run, so whipping up a smoothie satisfies that hankering. This Wild Berry Power Smoothie Bowl is so satisfying, tangy and comforting—and you'd never guess it has kale greens in the mix.

The mixed berries and kale are antioxidant rich to help with post-exercise muscle soreness. Athletes should incorporate at least 5-10 fruits and vegetables per day to get enough power-packed antioxidants for optimal recovery—and this smoothie bowl gives you 2 full servings!

You may be wondering why I blended kefir (fermented milk) instead of plain old milk into this smoothie bowl. Well, it's a bit thicker, to make this smoothie that much more spoonable, and it has the same great protein and calcium as milk, but it's also loaded with probiotics, which help to strengthen the body's immune system.

As it says in the title, this smoothie bowl is filled with power, so I added that extra punch of ground flaxseeds to provide omega 3s, a potent inflammation fighter!

Now get blending and grab a spoon to enjoy the training recovery benefits of this Wild Berry Power Smoothie Bowl!

Wild Berry Power Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1

1 cup frozen mixed berries
½ cup plain low fat kefir
½ banana
½ cup packed baby kale
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
Sprinkle with granola for topping, if desired

1. Place berries, kefir, banana, kale and flaxseed in blender, and process until smooth. Smoothie will be thick.
2. Pour into bowl and top with granola. Serve with a spoon.

NUTRITON FACTS {per recipe} 235 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 74mg sodium, 452mg potassium, 42g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 26g sugar, 9g protein, 71% vitamin A, 95% vitamin C, 22% calcium, 9% iron

Have you tried a smoothie bowl? Show us your smoothie bowls on Twitter tagging @runDisney and @DietDivaTara! For more nutrition tips for your runDisney training, click here.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Darcy Clark

Race to Disney Springs for Special runDisney Savings this Weekend

Whether you run, walk or wheel across the finish line (I'm always so impressed by the athletes who compete in wheelchairs!), you deserve some special recognition after your Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend race. Having completed several runDisney races myself—I'm partial to the half marathon distance—I know firsthand how ready you are to celebrate once all your hard work and training has finally paid off.

While you may know that the Cool Down Party is taking place at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) on Sunday from 2 – 8 p.m., I wanted to be sure you were aware that throughout the weekend you can find special discounts and offers at a variety of retail and food & beverage locations. Feel like saving 20 percent on your meal at Splitsville Luxury Lanes? Want to score three free socks from LittleMissMatched? Hoping to try a complimentary California roll with your Morimoto Asia lunch? You can do all this, and more, from Thursday, Jan. 7 through Sunday, Jan. 10. Be sure to bring your race bib or finisher medal for proof of participation.

Another favorite option? At Fit2Run, you can get your medal engraved for just $20. Simply stop by the store Jan. 9 – 10 from noon to 11 p.m. or visit on Jan. 11 from noon to 8 p.m. (Bonus: They are also offering a FREE gift to all runners, while supplies last, no purchase necessary.)

For a full list of offers, visit the Disney Springs booth at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo or you can see the offers in your Virtual Goody Bag online.

Best of luck on your race!

Darcy Clark is a Marketing Manager for Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort here to share how you can enhance your race weekend!

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Tara Gidus

Fueling for Dopey and Goofy Challenges

Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend is just around the corner, are you ready for the distance and multiple races back to back? Whether you're running one race or all four, nutrition before, during, and after the races is key to getting to the finish line and beyond.

If you're running long two or more days in a row, the recovery meal after the first race is critical for running performance the following day. To finish the Dopey Challenge and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge feeling strong, always remember the 3 R's of recovery: Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate.

1. Refuel. As you are running, you are using your muscle fuel or glycogen stores for energy. This fuel needs to be replaced within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line. For optimal recovery, eat about half of your body weight in grams of carbohydrate.

2. Rebuild. Most runners know they need carbs, but protein is just as important for repairing muscle damaged during exercise. Protein also helps the body to replenish glycogen stores faster. Eat about 10-20 grams of protein after you finish to speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness within an hour after the race. Then have more protein at your next meal a few hours later.

3. Rehydrate. Hydration is important for performance and essential for a proper recovery. If you lose weight after the race, drink 16-24 ounces of fluid per pound of weight loss and replenish until you achieve your pre-race weight. Don't forget to drink and eat enough electrolytes, sodium and potassium after your race to prevent dehydration and cramping the following day.

Timing is key. The sooner you eat and drink after each race the better you will do with recovery and refueling to get ready for the next race the following day. Drink water or sports drink as soon as you finish. Eat or drink carbs and a little bit of protein within 30 minutes. A banana and a handful of nuts would be great, or go for a chocolate milk or smoothie with some protein added.

After your snack within 30 minutes, try to get a full meal with complex carbs, protein, and fruits and/or vegetables within two hours after the race. The rest of the day you should be eating primarily carbs with some protein and fruits/vegetables at every meal. Drink as much as you can until your urine is barely yellow or clear. Avoid alcohol for the best results!

My last bit of advice: Eat early and go to bed early. 3 a.m. comes around really early many days in a row. Make dinner reservations for 4 p.m. and then relax in your room to make it an early bedtime. Eat a bagel, cereal, or some other kind of carbohydrate in the morning along with a banana and some protein before the races.

Enjoy the challenge and report back how you did!

Question or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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runDisney Logo

runDisney Costume & Safety Guidelines

At runDisney events, participants are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Disney characters while following costume guidelines as determined solely by Disney. As you prepare for your race, please review the costume and safety guidelines below.


Disney reserves the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that is considered inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other Guests. All participants and their Guests may dress as their favorite character, but must follow these guidelines as determined solely by Disney.

  • Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive, objectionable or violent.
  • Guests who dress like Characters may not pose for pictures or sign autographs for other Guests.
  • Costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.
  • Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.
  • For runDisney participants ages 13 and under:
    • Costumes and some masks may be worn, as long the mask does not cover the entire face and eyes are visible.
  • For runDisney participants ages 14 and older:
    • Layered costumes, that could conceal prohibited items, are not permitted (e.g. Jedi robes).
    • Costume props, including those that surround the entire body (e.g. Death Star, UP House) are not permitted.
    • Costumes may not reach or drag on the ground. (e.g. full-length Princess dresses)
    • Capes may be worn if the length does not go below the waist.
    • Themed T-shirts, blouses, sweatshirts, and hats are acceptable.
    • Acceptable accessories include: transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords, and tutus. Headwear may be worn as long as it does not cover the face.
    • Guests may not wear masks of any kind.

Please note that while costumed attire may be worn during runDisney events, Guests 14 and older are not permitted to wear costumed attire in the theme parks. As a result, Guests may need to change their attire prior to visiting the parks after participating in a runDisney race.

Guests who do not adhere to these guidelines may be refused entry into, and/or removed from, a race or any race related event/activity unless his or her costume can be modified to meet the above standards.

Safety Reminders

  • All runners, Guests, costumes, and bags are subject to screening prior to entering the event staging areas.
  • Weapons of any kind, or objects that appear to be actual weapons, including toy guns, are not allowed for any participants.
    • See Costume guidelines for examples of acceptable toy accessories.
  • For everyone's safety, selfie sticks, baby joggers, strollers, baby carriers, baby backpacks, skates, scooters, bicycles, skateboards, canes, crutches, walkers, walking sticks, and animals of any kind are prohibited from the course. Violators will be removed from the course and transported to the finish line area.
  • Headphones are discouraged due to audio messages that are placed throughout the course to ensure runner safety.
  • runDisney can offer human guides to assist registered participants with disabilities. Please contact, no later than 90 days in advance of the event.
  • Any children under the race age requirement will not be permitted in corrals, on course, or in runner-only areas. Unregistered individuals will be denied entry into race corrals. Only registered athletes are permitted in runner only areas.

The guidelines for flags at a runDisney race are as follows:

For the safety of all of the spectators and runners, the following items will be prohibited from the start/finish staging areas and the race courses.

  • Flags of any kind that are larger than 3' x 5' regardless of how flag is intended to be carried.
  • Flag poles cannot be longer than 4 feet or have a diameter of more than 4 inches.
    • Pole can be made of wood, plastic, and/or PVC. Poles made of metal are not allowed.
  • Only poles with rounded or flat ends are allowed.
    • No decorative or sharp ends will be allowed.
  • Flag harnesses will be permitted if the participant bib is not covered and the harness does not pose a safety hazard.

Please review the appropriate park rules for further details:

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Ring in the New Year as a Runner

It's that time of the year again when we write down our goals and hopes for the coming year. From spending more time with family to traveling to a new city to getting in shape, we start the year off more motivated than ever.

In fact, the top New Year's resolution in 2015 was "staying fit and healthy," according to a Nielsen survey. What better way to do so than to become a runner in the New Year?

Here are four steps to hit the ground running in 2016.

1. Set a goal. If this is your first time running, taking on 3.1 miles in a 5K is the perfect distance to get started in this new world. Do you want to finish under a certain time? Write your goals down. Goals don't have to be easy to be achievable, but they do have to be realistic. Are you already accustomed to the 5K distance and are looking to increase your mileage? Consider setting a goal to run a 10K or even a half marathon race in 2016. You can do it!

2. Sign up for a race. You've decided you want to tackle your first race, whatever distance that may be. It's time to find your race! runDisney offers nine races throughout the year on both the East and West Coasts as well as one international race. You can even make a vacation out of your race with a trip to the Disney Parks.

3. Train. You have officially signed up for your race, and now it's time to put the work in to prepare you for the big day. Whether you want to train to complete your race in a specific time or you just want to make it across the finish line, we offer free training programs specific to each of our 10K's, half marathons, challenges and marathon. As the official runDisney training consultant, Olympian Jeff Galloway offers tips for runners of all skill levels. From where to train for your race to proper running form, Jeff provides the direction you need to begin your training and will set you up for success on race day.

4. Finish strong. You've completed your training and you're ready! Now is the easy part—you get to show off all your hard work then celebrate your accomplishment. The feeling of crossing the finish line after you have reached your goal is unlike any other. Let that be your motivation to fly past the finish at whatever speed you can do. You may even surprise yourself by wanting to sign up for another race.

Cheers to 2016 and goals you will meet this year! We hope to see you at the finish line.

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Tara Gidus

Fueling Up for the Winter Season

It doesn't get too cold here in Florida compared to the rest of the country, but for the runDisney runners that live in a warmer climate, the day the temps drop below 70 we are busting out the cold weather gear. This time of year, we often turn to comfort foods that may or may not be so healthy—ahem, warm apple pie anyone? Instead of noshing on foods that are going to leave you feeling sluggish, savor those healthier comfort foods that are sure to satisfy. Warm up from the inside out with these cold-weather fueling options.

Oatmeal. A big bowl of oatmeal in the morning after a chilly run is my happy place. The hearty and fiber rich carbohydrates that are in oats keep energy levels stable all morning, a much better choice than a sugary stack of pancakes that will leave you crashing. Top your oatmeal with a drizzle of warm nut butter, fresh fruit and your favorite nuts and seeds for longer lasting energy.

Potato Soup. Cozy up with a bowl of broth-based potato soup to warm yourself up after a chilly run. Sipping broth is a great way to rehydrate because of its fluid and electrolyte sodium content. Potatoes are a perfect runner food, as they are rich in complex carbohydrates and are brimming with potassium, an electrolyte that is lost through sweat. Double win.

Chicken and Wild Rice. Chicken and wild rice make a comforting pair, and they are great running fuel. Make healthy eating easy, by tossing this dish in the crockpot to allow the flavors to infuse together all day. With less hassle on you, you can spend more time logging the long miles.

Veggie Lasagna. Lasagna can be heavy, but lighten it up by going veggie. Butternut squash, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, and onions are some of my favorite vegetables to add to lasagna. Veggie lasagna can still be an excellent source of protein just make sure to go for the whole grain noodles and sub in cottage cheese for ricotta.

Shepherd's Pie. Now this is legit comfort food, and can be ready in a flash for a quick weeknight meal. Brown lean ground beef or lamb and make sure to load it with veggies like mushrooms, peas, corn, carrots, and green beans. Next, add a little whole grain flour, Italian seasonings, garlic and broth. Layer the meat mixture in the bottom of a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes. Note: Make it healthy by whipping potatoes with low fat milk to add creaminess without all the saturated fat found in butter and cream.

Breakfast Strata. Nothing says holiday morning like breakfast strata in my opinion, but strata or casseroles can be enjoyed any day of the year, especially in the winter when you're craving something warm. Amp up the veggies in your traditional strata recipe and always go for whole grain bread and lean meats like ground beef or Canadian bacon. Gluten free? No problem, add sweet potatoes to the strata instead of bread… it tastes amazing!!

What are some of your favorite cold weather meal ideas? Tweet me @DietDivaTara!

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Cole Horton

First-time Runners Will Feel the Force at Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

A year ago today, I was out of breath, out of shape, and out of time. When I decided to run in the first ever runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend event last year, I wasn't sure I could do it. I've never been much of an athlete and when the opportunity came up to run the Star Wars 5k and 10k races, I had just two months to train. But as a Star Wars fanatic, I finally found the inspiration I needed to get off the couch and take my first step into the larger world of running.

My training began on a cold November day in Ohio. I laced up a pair of New Balance shoes and hit the quiet streets of my neighborhood. I knew I was behind in my training, but I was eager to catch up. I ran hard that first day—too hard—and paid the price the next day. In my eagerness to get started, I forgot the most important part of my training: simply following the runDisney training plan.

I didn't realize it until that second day, but runDisney had already given all of us the perfect training plan. For a first time runner like me, I never expected the plan to be so simple or so perfect for someone, like me, who was starting from scratch.

It turns out the most important part about running is actually walking.

Jeff Galloway's runDisney training plans use the Run-Walk-Run method, which helps you avoid fatigue and exhaustion by running and walking in intervals. When I started my training plan, I spent equal time walking as I did running. As I got stronger, the time spent running increased. Using this plan, I was never left out of breath and also avoided any major injuries.

The time commitment for following the training plan is also surprisingly reasonable. Most of my training runs were just thirty minutes long, which I was very thankful for on those cold December days. In just a few weeks, my body had become acclimated to the activity and I actually wanted to run more frequently. For the first time in my life, I truly enjoyed going for a run (or rather, a run-walk-run!).

Best of all, I had a huge goal on the horizon. I knew that at the end of all this training was a giant Star Wars-themed event. I was not only looking forward to the races but also the expo, the characters, the exclusive collectables, and being surrounded by other fans.

On race day, I stuck with my run-walk-run method. While I managed to run a large part of the 5k and 10k races, I took walking breaks as frequently as needed. Many people on the course walked most of the race, which is also totally acceptable! In fact, many people frequently took breaks in the parks for photo ops or just to enjoy the experience. My goal was to finish strong, so I made sure I had enough energy to run across the finish line feeling great!

If you are a Star Wars fan who wants to improve your fitness, try out a new challenge, collect great medals, or just enjoy the experience of the Disney Parks in a new way, I highly encourage you to join me at the upcoming runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side, this April in Florida. There are still limited registration opportunities available for the Half Marathon. Like all runDisney races, there is even a training plan available just for this event. The training plan starts on December 15th, so now is the perfect time to get started. May the course be with you!

Cole Horton is a historian and blogger for, Marvel, and more. Find him on Twitter @ColeHorton.

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Tara Gidus

5 Nutrition & Fitness Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family, friends, and lots of food. Temptation is around every corner, but you don't have to let it get you off track. We've got five tips to help keep your health at the forefront of your mind this holiday season.

1. Allow yourself to enjoy your seasonal favorites. Whether you love sweet potato casserole or have a special place in your heart for peppermint bark, the tastes of the season are something you've been looking forward to all year. Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorites by starting small. This means a small portion on a small plate. If you're still hungry after you've finished your first plate, you can always go back for more.

2. Savor the flavor for a few days. Even better than going back for seconds is bringing your favorites home with you. Grab an empty to-go container before you leave the house and put a serving (or two…) of your favorites away for another day. Chances are your holiday festivities will feature plenty of leftovers, and your hosts will be pawning some off on you anyway. Be smart by only taking a small portion though – you don't need to indulge in pecan pie for the next five days.

3. Schedule your training sessions. Between the parties, the shopping, and the company, your calendar is filling up fast. Don't forget to schedule time for your workouts as well. A calendar will keep your training on track and keep you accountable to your health and fitness goals.

4. Go to bed prepared for tomorrow's workout. Now that it's scheduled, don't give yourself another excuse to skip that training session. If you're planning on an early morning run, lay your clothes out before going to bed; if you've got an after work gym session, pack your gym bag the night before. Prepare for your workout and prepare to achieve your goals.

5. Don't skip meals! If you've got your mind set on conserving today's calories for the spread at that next party, think again. Skipping meals and then splurging can actually cause you to gain fat. Instead of showing up ravenous and regretting that overindulgence later, be sure to maintain your normal eating routine. Have breakfast within an hour of waking up, eat at least every four hours, and if you're worried about temptation, have something light before arriving at the party.

Staying on track during the holidays is possible. Keep these five tips on hand and you'll be well on your way achieving your nutrition and fitness goals.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Healthy Cure for Your Sweet Tooth

I have a weakness for dark chocolate and peanut butter, and while I am a firm believer in all things in moderation I do indulge that chocolate craving. When I'm training hard for an upcoming runDisney race and want to fuel my body with as many whole foods as possible, I seek other ways to get my chocolate fix.

And this Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie does the trick. This smoothie has natural sweetness from the dates, which by the way are also a great source of potassium, an electrolyte lost through sweat. And let's talk about protein. The trio of peanuts, milk, and protein powder pack a big protein punch, as this smoothie clocks in over 30 grams of protein for only 325 calories. Major win in my book!

What are you waiting for, go make this smoothie now! What is your favorite healthy way to cure your sweet tooth? Questions or comments, tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
Makes: 1 smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, no sugar added
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1½-2 cups ice

Place milk, cocoa, peanut butter, protein powder, and date in high-powered blender then process until mixture is smooth. Add ice and blend until creamy.

NUTRITION FACTS: 325 calories, 8g fat, 41g carbohydrate, 240mg sodium, 6g fiber, 30g sugar, 31g protein

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Wine & Dine Welcome Reception

Preparing for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon - Weekend Heat Advisory

Just like many of you, the runDisney team is making their final preparations for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Saturday, Nov. 7. The Central Florida area is experiencing warmer weather than usual for this time of year and we want each of you to be prepared for what to expect this weekend. Here are a few important tips to consider:

  • Closely monitor your pace and do not overextend yourself. This may not be the event to attempt your personal best.
  • Stay well hydrated prior to the race and maintain fluid status with alternating water and electrolyte-based hydration options throughout your race and the entire race weekend.
  • Slow down and ask for assistance at any signs of heat illness.

As a reminder, all medical stations will have the appropriate flag color displayed according to existing heat conditions. For more information, please review page 33 of your race program.

Any adjustments to the race are at the discretion of the Event Management team and are for everyone's safety.

For live updates follow @runDisney on Twitter and RSVP to our Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Event Page on Facebook.

All of us at runDisney hope you have a safe, magical run. See you at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

Jon Hughes, Race Director
Dr. James Scelfo, Medical Director

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Five Reasons to Run the Fifth Anniversary Tinker Bell Half Marathon

Five Reasons to Run the Fifth Anniversary Tinker Bell Half Marathon

Get your fairy wings ready for a race sprinkled in pixie dust! We are celebrating the fifth anniversary of Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA Jewelry at Disneyland® Resort May 5-8, 2016. With plenty of magic in store for the weekend, here are five reasons you don't want to miss this anniversary race.

1. Special Anniversary Medal

One of the ways we celebrate a runDisney anniversary is with a commemorative medal. The Tinker Bell Half Marathon anniversary medal will be sure to delight with its colorful design and focus on Tinker Bell. Look out for the reveal of the medals in early 2016.

2. Experience the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

The last Tinker Bell Half Marathon race marked the first time participants experienced running through Disneyland® Park during the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. Don't miss your chance to enjoy this remarkable celebration of 60 years of Disney magic.

3. Celebrate Mother's Day

Tinker Bell Half Marathon is the perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day. Whether you run alongside your mom or she cheers you on from the ChEAR Squad, she will never forget this special weekend you share together.

4. Earn your Coast to Coast Race Challenge Medal

Participating in Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World® Resort in February? Now is your opportunity to earn a pink Coast to Coast Race Challenge Medal for running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2016.

5. Put on your fairy wings and escape to Never Land

As one of our uniquely themed races, runners show their Disney style in a variety of ways from colorful fairy wings to embracing their favorite "Peter Pan" characters. Where else can you have a fairytale finish quite like this?

It's not too late to participate in our pixie-dusted race. Reserve your spot today to run in the fifth anniversary Tinker Bell Half Marathon here. We will see you in Never Land!

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Tara Gidus

Spice Up Your runDisney Training Meals This Fall

Pumpkin spice and everything nice! With the pumpkin spice latte back and all things pumpkin at the grocery store we are jumping on the bandwagon over here to celebrate the season. Although we haven't seen our first cold snap yet in Florida, we are trying to get in the spirit of fall at least in the kitchen anyways.

This Pumpkin Vegetable Chili is truly nourishing from the inside out. A bowl of this chili is true comfort food that is healthy to boot! As a runner, we need electrolytes so I don't shy away from canned vegetables, especially beans because they are rich in sodium and potassium. Beans are a triple whammy for runners providing hydration benefits, good-for-you fibrous carbohydrates, and iron.

Iron is a mineral that helps with transporting oxygen throughout the body and is also lost through sweat and blood loss, which isn't uncommon in runners who are logging long miles. Female and vegetarian runners are especially at risk for iron insufficiency thus all the more reason to eat your beans!

This chili is pretty simple to toss together on a weeknight and if you have a stocked pantry, it's likely you have all these ingredients already!

Pumpkin... love it or hate it? Tweet me @DietDivaTara!

Pumpkin Vegetable Chili
Makes 6 servings

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Green onions and sour cream, for topping if desired

1. In large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions to pan, and sauté until starting to become translucent.
2. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes with juice and pumpkin puree.
4. Add cumin, pumpkin pie spice, salt and cinnamon sticks then stir to combine.
5. Stir in beans and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until ready to serve. Top each bowl with green onions and sour cream if desired.

NUTRITION FACTS {per serving}: 217 calories, 2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 678mg sodium, 825mg potassium, 40g carbohydrates, 13g fiber, 7g sugar, 11g protein, 49% vitamin A, 54% vitamin C, 16% calcium, 31% iron

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Infinity Gauntlet Challenge Medal Reveal

Are you gearing up to brave the ultimate Super Hero adventure – the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge during Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend? By completing the Captain America 10K plus the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, runners will claim the coveted Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal in addition to the half marathon and 10K medals.

Now, let's take a look at Earth's mightiest medal and test your Super Hero knowledge. The medal is comprised of the Infinity Stones, which are six incredibly powerful cosmic artifacts, each stone representing a different facet of existence. Possessing all six of the Infinity Stones grants the bearer virtual omniscience and omnipotence. One must successfully wield the stones to obtain complete control over its respective aspect.

Each stone represents a different power. Here's where we test your knowledge. Do you know what each stone represents? This year we are highlighting the Space Stone on the back of the medal. The Space Stone grants dominion over the very fabric of space, allowing for teleportation and the ability to exist in multiple places at once.

Due to their incredible power, the Infinity Stones are nearly impossible for any mere mortal to use without being overwhelmed. By embedding the stones in a special containment glove (on this medal), their energies may be controlled, allowing anyone who wields this Infinity Gauntlet to dominate the entire universe. And you thought you were running just another race!

Good luck participants on your quest to obtain the Infinity Gauntlet.

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Wine & Dine Welcome Reception

You're Invited to the Disney Wine & Dine Welcome Reception

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is approaching, and we have an exciting appetizer for the race weekend to share – the Disney Wine & Dine Welcome Reception.

Runners and Guests are cordially invited to this first-ever premium event where they will enjoy an exclusive evening to give their taste buds a preview of the delectable weekend ahead!

Among the many features of this event, Guests will enjoy delicious food and wine pairings. There will be an opportunity to shop at the runDisney Official Merchandise Store before anyone else as well as special gifts for Guests. Some of our favorite Disney characters will also make appearances along with our official training consultant, Olympian Jeff Galloway. Runners will be able to pick up all bibs and participant shirts, making this a convenient and easy one-stop premium service.

This first-class event will take place on Thursday, November 5 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

To purchase tickets to the Disney Wine & Dine Welcome Reception visit here.

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Tara Gidus

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Energy Bowl

Finding nutritious, fueling, and appetizing breakfasts can be tough. Finding an easy-to-pack, high-carb breakfast for a race morning while traveling is even harder. The last thing you want to do is settle for convenience and choke down a nutritionally subpar bar that early in the morning, or risk being late by cooking up your usual rock star breakfast. But one thing we do know is, a carb packed pre-race (or pre-run) fuel is absolutely necessary.

Why not try something that checks everything off the list, like this Oatmeal Energy Bowl? High carb—check. Quick and easy preparation—check. Travel friendly, nutritionally substantial and delicious—check, check, check!

Oats are a leading source of carbohydrates, especially before physical activity. They are an immediate source of energy (without the crash due to blood sugar stabilizing properties), easily digestible, and very filling. In addition to its high carbohydrate content, oats are rich in fiber, manganese, zinc, and even have some protein.

The benefits of adding apples to this energy bowl go beyond providing additional carbs. Apples are rich in the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown to improve endurance performance and have anti-inflammatory effects.

Almond butter in this energy bowl not only adds some flavor, but also provides a serving of healthy fats (as does the coconut!) and a little extra protein to top off a very well-balanced, substantial, pre-race breakfast!

This energy bowl can definitely be made the night before (or a few nights before if you're traveling) and reheated race morning. It also stores nicely in a container if you want to grab it and go.

Eat up and enjoy the run!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Energy Bowl
Serves 1

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ honeycrisp apple, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • Coconut flakes for garnish

1. Add oats, water, apples, raisins and cinnamon to a pot, and bring to a boil.
2. Let the mixture cook, stirring frequently until it reaches desired thickness. Remove from heat and spoon into a bowl.
3. Top with a drizzle of almond butter and a sprinkle of coconut. Enjoy!

1. Add oats, water, apples, raisins and cinnamon to a microwave safe bowl.
2. Microwave for 2-3 minutes (depending on desired thickness).
3. Top with a drizzle of almond butter and a sprinkle of coconut. Enjoy!

If you wish, other delicious toppings could be sliced bananas, walnuts, granola and more apples.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Mighty Medals Revealed for Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Mighty Medals Revealed for Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

The inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend set the bar high with an epic ensemble of finisher medals for our Super Hero runners. This year, designers accepted their own mission to craft mightier medals and medallions, which included an additional race and challenge medal.

Mission accomplished!

Our race for the tiniest runners calls for an Avenger of similar stature – Ant-Man. With the release of Marvel's "Ant-Man" this summer, designers found this half-inch hero to be the perfect fit for the runDisney Kids Races finisher medallion.

The Mighty Avenger, Thor, wields one of the most powerful weapons in the Marvel Universe –Mjolnir. Thor's iconic hammer is brought to life on this year's Avengers Super Heroes 5K medallion.

The inaugural Captain America 10K medal features our favorite patriotic Super Hero's iconic shield. Designers also incorporated Captain America's signature red, white and blue color scheme in the lanyard to complement the shield.

To close out the heroic weekend, runners will assemble for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon where they will be awarded for completing the ultimate 13.1-mile journey. This extraordinary medal features the signature Avengers "A" as well as the symbols for Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

There is still time to put your skills to the test and join forces with Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the half marathon race. Reserve your spot today here.

Runners who will defy odds in the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge must stay tuned for the reveal of the inaugural medal. For more information on Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend and other runDisney events visit

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Tara Gidus

Five Creative Fuel Sources for Distance Runners

How should you fuel during your runDisney race? Some runners who are on the course for two to three hours may stay well fueled during their race with just carbohydrate-containing fluids such as sports drinks, but for those who are on the race course longer may also need solid foods for extra calories. As an endurance runner, you want the source of fuel during your race to be simple carbohydrates or carbohydrate in the form of sugar. Sugar eaten before and during long periods of exercise can help with maintaining steady blood sugar levels, preventing high rates of carbohydrate breakdown, delaying the onset of fatigue, and improving endurance performance.

The body can use simple carbohydrates for energy quicker than it can use complex carbohydrates, which take longer for the body to breakdown into energy. Simple carbohydrates include things like sports drinks, fruit snacks, dried fruits, candy, cookies, white breads, and white rice or pastas. Most sports drinks have multiple sources of sugar like glucose and sucrose, which are rapidly absorbed and quickly converted to energy. The sugars in sports drinks have been shown to help athletic performance when the duration is greater than an hour.

After the first hour of exercise, about 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour is recommended. One study suggested about 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour is ideal for endurance events greater than 2.5 hours. For the runners who may be on the course longer and need a little extra boost on top of your sports drink, special sport foods such as gels, sports beans, and energy bars are good options. You can also get a similar benefit from other fuel options listed below.

1. Red Licorice: One vine of red licorice has 9 grams of carbohydrate and 40 calories. Three vines are equivalent in calories and carbohydrates as an energy gel packet.
2. Fruit Snacks: Fruit snacks provide calories and simple carbohydrate that will breakdown quickly in your body. One single serve packet of fruit snacks has about 21 grams of carbohydrate and 80 calories.
3. Granola Bar: One granola bar has about 25 grams of carbohydrate and 140 calories. Check labels to see what your brand contains. Choose your granola bars wisely, as some can be higher in fat which takes longer to digest, and may lead to stomach cramps.
4. Raisins: Raisins have been shown to be comparable to commercial carbohydrate sport chews. One box of raisins contains 22 grams of carbohydrate and 90 calories. Other dried fruits can be used such as dried mango, tart cherries, or cranberries.
5. Dates: Dates are high in simple sugars and carbohydrates. One Medjool date has about 18 grams of carbohydrate and 66 calories. For some people, the fiber load in dates and other dried fruits may cause gastrointestinal pain or cramping.

Sports drinks include both carbohydrate and electrolytes so if you plan to choose one of the options listed above it may be beneficial to supplement with a sports drink for the fluid and electrolytes. Water and a small package of salt could also be used to provide fluids and electrolytes.

Remember, when you try these options for the first time, try them on training days and during practice first. Pick the ones that work best for you to use on race day. If you have questions or comments, tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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10th Anniversary Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend Medals Revealed

10th Anniversary Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend Medals Revealed

This September, thousands of runners will journey to the Happiest Race on Earth to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®. With just a couple months left of training, we wanted to share some special motivation to encourage you as race day approaches – the 10th anniversary finisher medals!

The Disneyland® 5K kicks off the weekend, and its medallion showcases classic Disney characters in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, but there is a hint of evil lurking in the shadows.

Disney Art Director Scott Auerbach says Maleficent as a dragon appears in the 5K medallion to foreshadow the evil to come the next day in the Disneyland® 10K.

Fans of Disney Villains will be in for a treat when evil takes over the 10K course. Auerbach illustrates this theme in the 10K medal with the Magic Mirror from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Capping off the weekend will be the 10th anniversary Disneyland® Half Marathon.

For inspiration for this extraordinary medal, Disney Yellow Shoes Art Director David Brotherton looked to the Disneyland® Resort Diamond Celebration to not only commemorate 10 years of the race but also 60 years of magic at Disneyland® Resort. Brotherton says the diamond shape of the medal incorporates Disneyland's 1950s look and feel while still accommodating the spinner inside the diamond.

Runners who put their endurance to the test in the Dumbo Double Dare will earn this Dumbo-inspired finisher medal after completing 19.3 miles between the 10K and half marathon.

"I wanted the Dumbo Double Dare medal to have the charm of the classic film but also reflect strength, boldness and the untapped courage that we all possess," Auerbach says.

From the 10th Anniversary Party to the magical miles through Disneyland® Resort, runners are sure to remember this historic race weekend with their new bling as the perfect memento.

For more information on Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend and other runDisney event weekends, visit

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Tara Gidus

Sweet & Sweaty Summertime: Training in the Heat

Heat, humidity, and more heat. Summer ushers in sun-filled days and balmy nights, but can also pose a major threat to your training plan. Temptations to relax and live in vacation-mode, coupled with scorching hot conditions, can hit your motivation hard. With so many runDisney race opportunities coming up in the fall, it's important to stick to your training plan now more than ever. Consider these guidelines below as you get ready to hit the roads this summer!

  • Start hydrated. Easier said than done. You need to ensure you're hydrated before heading out the door. Urine color and urine volume are easy indicators of this – aim for a high volume of pale-yellow urine. Drink 20 fluid ounces of water or sports drink 2-3 hours prior to your run and then another 10 fluid ounces in the last 10 minutes before your run. If you plan to run in the morning, hydrate before bed – a few nighttime trips to the bathroom will be worth it!

  • Rehydrate. Drenched in sweat and salt after your summertime run, you walk inside to the air conditioning and hop into a cold shower. But before you get too comfortable, you need to make it a priority to rehydrate. Your fluid levels have been hit hard, so drinking enough water and electrolytes after your workout is crucial to recovery. Drink 24 ounces for every pound lost through exercise.

  • Don't forget about electrolytes. While water can do wonders for hydration, electrolytes can assist in fluid absorption and balance. Sports drinks provide both electrolytes and carbohydrates to ensure a boost in energy and performance. Electrolyte tablets can be added to water, making it more appealing to drink and also offering a no-carb option. If you plan to run for more than an hour in the heat, consider bringing an electrolyte-packed drink to sip on.

  • Beat the heat. Mid-day workouts might have been effective during the cold winter months, quite the opposite is true during the summer. The best way to get in your run during the summer is to beat the sun – wake up early and hit the roads! It's important to compensate for your earlier alarm by getting to bed earlier. Nothing will hinder your workout more than lack of sleep.

  • Stay realistic. Extreme temperatures and humidity have an impact on your ability to perform, and it is important to recognize this when creating your training plans. When your body's cooling system becomes overloaded, blood that was previously routed toward your muscles is instead sent to your skin to help cool it down. This can hinder your speed. Stay calm and realistic when evaluating your performance during the summer. Slow down. Often pace can and should slow 30-60 seconds per mile in the heat and humidity.

What motivates you to get in your run during the hottest months? Questions or comments tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Chicken & Veggie Pasta Salad

As runners, it's important to combine training with good quality, substantial meals in order to keep energy up, properly recover, and see improvements in performance. In the midst of a busy schedule, coming up with healthy, runner-friendly lunch options to bring to the office, or wherever the day takes you, can be quite a challenge.

This pasta salad is easy, satisfying, balanced with nutrition and makes for easy transport for on-the-go eating. I love the fact that I can prepare a batch of this in advance and eat from it all week! Because it's typically served cold, all you need to do is put it in a container and take it with you. There's no need for a microwave, but it is also delicious warmed up too!

With pasta salad, it's easy to get in your carbs, protein, veggies, and healthy fat all in one. Just throw the ingredients together and voilà—a perfectly balanced meal! The carbohydrates from the pasta will provide energy for your post-work run, the chicken sausage will deliver muscle-building protein, the veggies will give antioxidants for recovery, and the olive oil will provide healthy fat to promote hormone regulation and absorption of nutrients.

Go grab a spoon and dig into this Chicken & Veggie Pasta Salad—you guys are going to love it! Or layer it into a Mason jar and take it for lunch.

Chicken & Veggie Pasta Salad
Serves 6


  • 1 box (13.5 oz) whole grain pasta
  • 4 links pre-cooked chicken sausage
  • 1¼ cups grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1¼ cups chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup (3.8 oz) canned sliced black olives
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In the last minute of cooking noodles, add broccoli to pasta water to soften a bit. The broccoli will turn bright green in color.
  3. Drain the noodles and broccoli.
  4. In a large bowl add noodles, broccoli, and remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Let's Talk Heart Health

Knowing how to keep our hearts healthy, especially as runners, is essential. The heart pumps blood into our bodies to sustain life and it keeps us active and doing the things we love to do, so it's important to be aware of ways to keep it beating strong.

As athletes, we focus on training other muscles in our body, so why should this one be any different? Here are three nutritious ways to support your ticker.

  1. Eat more fruits, veggies and whole grains
    • This is a given, but can never be said enough. Fruits, veggies and whole grains are very rich in fiber.
    • Fiber can help to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full longer.
    • Set a goal for yourself to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables and choose whole grains when available.

  2. Reduce "bad" fats and cholesterol
    • High blood cholesterol levels are dangerous because they can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries that increases susceptibility to heart attack and stroke.
    • Reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet by limiting intake of butter, fatty meats, cheeses, creams and fried foods.
    • Check nutrition facts and ingredient lists on processed foods to reduce consumption of trans fats. Hydrogenated oil is another name for trans fat!

  3. Eat more good fats
    • Don't avoid fat, but get the right kind. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for your heart.
    • Fill your diet with foods like olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.

When it comes to matters of the heart, follow these three nutrition tips so that you don't miss a beat.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Iron 101: Are You Getting Enough?

Iron is a mineral that helps make red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. In addition, iron also helps make much needed energy for working muscles, enhances the immune system, and heightens brain function.

Seems important, right? Because it is! Yet, iron deficiency is far too common among runners and athletes, male or female. Iron deficiency anemia is higher in the athletic population, particularly among young females, vegetarian athletes, endurance athletes, and athletes with calorie restrictive diets. Symptoms of iron deficiency are fatigue, irregular body temperature, and an increase in infections, all of which can negatively affect training and athletic performance.

You may be at risk for iron deficiency if you get less than 18mg per day for women and 8mg per day for men. Runners may need even slightly more than that because iron is lost through sweat and marathoners can be susceptible to blood loss due to foot strike hemolysis, which occurs from a breakdown of muscle and red blood cells during prolonged exercise. Bleeding can also occur in the gut from taking aspirin or ibuprofen for long periods of time to control pain. Women are at an even higher risk due to blood loss from menstruation.

Tips to boost iron intake:

  • Eat lean meats. Iron from meat, fish, and poultry are three-times more absorbent than iron from plant-based sources.
  • Pair animal proteins with plant sources of iron. Iron from animal products increases the absorption of iron from plants, so it's beneficial to eat lean meats with green leafy vegetables or beans.
  • Eat iron-rich veggies with Vitamin C. Vitamin C also promotes iron absorption, especially iron from plants. For example, add vitamin C-rich strawberries to a spinach salad. The best plant sources of iron are beans, spinach, tomato sauce, tofu, cereal, cream of wheat, pasta, and rice.

If you are experiencing symptoms of low iron and are unsure of where your levels are, getting a blood test is the only way to truly know. Don't supplement without getting your iron levels checked from a doctor because supplementation without deficiency can lead to toxicity.

Food sources are the best ways to get iron in the diet (in comparison to supplements) so it's important to get plenty of high-iron foods in at every meal to benefit your health, training, and athletic performance. If you do need a supplement, look for a slow-release formulation to prevent constipation as a side effect.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Meagan Franks

Tinker Bell: The Progression of a Disney Character

Have you ever wondered how a drawing comes to life as a Disney Character? Take Tinker Bell for example. Where did that spunky, rebellious, temperamental, yet charming character come from? When looking at the facts, Marc Davis, the animator behind such classic characters like Bambi, Thumper and Cinderella, was ultimately responsible for the iconic character affectionately known as, "Tink," but one woman helped bring life to his drawings.

The woman behind the pixie dust is Margaret Kerry. She was the real life model for the sassy and loveable fairy. Davis had Kerry pose with larger than life objects to help capture the perspective and personality of the feisty pixie we know today.

Margaret Kerry is a Disney legend for playing the iconic role of the live-action reference model for Tinker Bell in Walt Disney's 1953 classic animated film "Peter Pan." Join Margaret at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo during the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend located at Disneyland® Resort where she will share how she helped bring Tinker Bell to life.

Meagan Franks of runDisney is here to share information on our Speaker Series during the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo.

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Tara Gidus

How to Fuel Your Child for a runDisney Race

Ever wonder how to feed your child who loves to run? Whether your athlete is 7 years old sprinting the 400-meter or a 17-year-old cross country runner, nutrition plays an integral role in his or her wellness and performance. One of the many wonderful components of runDisney is that the whole family can participate. Likewise, the whole family should be fueled properly, and different family members have differing nutrient needs.

Keep these nutrients in mind while your child is preparing for a runDisney race:

  1. Hydration
    Children in general need ample fluids to carry out basic metabolism and growth, but especially active kiddos have an even higher need due to sweat losses. Children are more susceptible to heat strokes than adults are, and proper hydration plays a key role in prevention. It is suggested that children consume an additional 8-12 ounces of water for every half hour of physical activity. Water is the ideal form of hydration for children who are running an hour or less. Sports drinks are typically recommended only for runs longer than an hour.

  2. Adequate Calories
    Adults look to have calorie output match calorie intake to maintain weight. Children are growing and therefore need to be eating more calories than they're using in order to continue to grow. This means that especially active children may have increased calorie needs compared to their less active peers. You may notice that a child is hungrier during a running season, which is completely normal!

  3. Calcium and Vitamin D
    Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone strength and muscle functioning. It's especially important to consume these nutrients as a child athlete because this is an important time of building bone. Bone density typically peaks around age 25 and generally declines thereafter. Getting calcium from food sources is ideal and examples include milk, dairy products, soymilk, almond milk, broccoli, spinach, kale and fortified orange juices. Look for milk and orange juice that is also fortified with Vitamin D.

  4. Iron
    Young athletes who participate in intense exercise on a regular basis often lose more iron. Due to these losses, they may need more iron in their diet than other children their age. Teenage girl athletes are especially at risk of iron-deficiency anemia. Food sources of iron to offer your child include nuts, iron-fortified cereals and whole grains, beef, dark leafy greens (such as spinach or kale) and dark chocolate. It is recommended that iron supplements be avoided unless indicated by a health professional due to potential toxicity risks.

Enjoy fueling your child athlete for the upcoming Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA Jewelry or another Disney event with fun for the whole family! Tweet questions or comments to @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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runDisney Mom

Mother's Day in Never Land During Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

Don't forget your favorite running mother! Show her she's appreciated this Mother's Day with these ideas for celebrating her special day during Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. Because at Disneyland® Resort, she'll never have to grow up.

  • Disney Floral & Gifts - In the Fairy Garden Bouquet. Even if you're not attending this fanciful race weekend, you can show your support from home by surprising her with this lovely bouquet. It can even be delivered directly to her Disneyland® Resort Hotel!

  • Celebration Cakes - Nothing could be sweeter than to celebrate your race accomplishment and being "mom" by ordering a specialty custom cake. These made-to-order creations are available for delivery at most table service restaurants at Disneyland® Park, Disney California Adventure® Park or Disneyland® Resort Hotels.

  • Mandara Spa at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Pamper yourself and melt away while you dream of a mermaid lagoon underneath a magic moon. With a host of spa services to choose from, this could be your escape to a mother's perfect Never Land.

  • Special Mother's Day Dining Options - Steakhouse 55, Storytellers Cafe and Goofy's Kitchen are just a few of the table service restaurants that will play host to a special Mother's Day brunch.

  • Disneyland® Guided Tours - See Disneyland® Resort in a whole new way! Take a "Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" and discover Walt's inspiration behind creating Disneyland® Park. Or immerse yourself in the history of California and see this Golden State through Walt's eyes.

In addition to unique experiences, there are also commemorative items mom is sure to love.

Whether you're off to Never Land for a girls' weekend or you're traveling as a family, there is no better way to spend Mother's Day than surrounded by the magic of the Disneyland® Resort during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA Jewelry. Just remember, it's the second star to the right and run on 'till morning!

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Tara Gidus

Be Proactive with Probiotics

Probiotics are often referred to as "the good bacteria for your stomach." These active cultures are found in food, aid in digestion and can offer multiple health benefits for the general population. Bonus, there are additional positive correlations between probiotic intake and runners.

Incorporating sources of probiotics into your diet as an athlete strengthens the gastrointestinal tract and may help to prevent or reduce exercise tummy troubles. There have also been indications that probiotic consumption could help to enhance immune function in runners and may even help athletes to maintain a healthy body weight.

Check out these sources of probiotics to be proactive toward your stomach today.

  1. Yogurt
    Yogurt is often one of the first probiotic-rich options athletes begin to incorporate in their diet. Be careful though, a lot of yogurts are loaded with added sugars! Pick yogurts packed with protein, like Greek yogurt for even more nutrition. Shoot for yogurts that have the "live and active cultures" slogan on them for the maximum benefits from these healthy bacteria.

  2. Sauerkraut
    A German favorite, this pickled cabbage offers probiotic health benefits! Try topping it on a sandwich. If you're watching sodium, be aware that sauerkraut has a decent amount of salt, which can be a good thing for a healthy runner that needs extra salt in their diet.

  3. Olives in Brine
    Live active cultures thrive in olive brine, thus olives can provide a good source of probiotics. Pop a few in your salad or on top of your pizza.

  4. Kefir
    This choice may initially sound a little bit strange to you, but don't knock it until you try it! It's a product that is what you might envision the offspring of yogurt and milk to be—a bit thinner than yogurt but thicker than milk. It's a great source of probiotics and vitamins, and can be paired with fruit, cereal or granola. I love to blend plain kefir into my post-workout smoothie!

  5. Kimchi
    This Korean dish is a twist on cabbage—it's fermented and pickled. It has calcium, many vitamins and also probiotics. It's often very spicy, so if you're looking for a hot way to get probiotics into your diet, this one's for you.

  6. Kombucha tea
    This drink is of Asian origin and is also known as "fermented tea." It can be consumed hot or iced. Give it a try to aid your digestive system!

  7. Tempeh
    This is a meat substitute that could be a good source of probiotics for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or any athlete looking for protein varieties (and probiotics) for that matter. Plus, it's also packed with vitamin B12, and is super versatile to cook.

  8. Dark Chocolate
    Who would have thought, right? In addition to antioxidants and iron, dark chocolate also offers probiotics that can help maintain healthy stomach bacteria levels.
    *Note: this doesn't give you an excuse to eat the whole box! Moderation is still important for it to be beneficial.

Have a favorite source of probiotics or question about one of these? Tweet questions or comments to @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Leslie Kay

Avengers Assemble for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge & Captain America 10K

Calling all Avengers! Join forces with Earth's mightiest heroes for the ultimate test — the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge during Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend.

Any Avenger who wears the Infinity Gauntlet wields unimaginable power, and only a true Avenger can stand up to the challenge this November at Disneyland® Resort.

Those ready to brave this Super Hero quest will begin their journey with the inaugural Captain America 10K as they channel their inner super soldier through the 6.2-mile star-spangled race. To conquer the challenge, runners will assemble for the most extraordinary course on Earth — Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon.

Both action-packed courses will take runners through Disneyland® Resort Theme Parks and surrounding areas with Disney entertainment along the way as well as some of your favorite Avenger Super Heroes cheering you across the finish line.

After combatting the toughest trial yet, runners will earn the coveted Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal in addition to 10K and half marathon medals. (Participants must be registered for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge in order to receive the medal)

Take a look at the top three reasons to unleash the Super Hero within you:

Registration for Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend opens April 7 at noon ET. To sign up for an email reminder visit here.

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Tara Gidus

Running on Plants: Is it healthy?

It seems hard enough as an athlete and runner to get enough nutrients in your diet, but add being vegetarian or vegan on top of that and you might as well diagnose yourself with every nutrient deficiency under the sun. Right? Wrong!

Vegetarians, vegans, and those who don't have access to their usual chicken breast today, read up! Fueling without meat or animal products in general isn't as impossible as one may think.

Myth 1: A vegetarian diet lacks protein.
Protein is packed in plant foods like lentils, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice. In fact a half-cup of beans has the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat. To meet protein needs it's recommended to get 0.8 g/kg (or 1.8g/pound) of body weight per day, and the typical American eats well over this amount. Endurance runners likely need a bit more, about 1-1.2g/kg body weight. Many vegetarians incorporate dairy proteins like eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese, making it even easier to meet protein needs.

Myth 2: A vegetarian diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Vegetarian diets can be very healthy if done correctly. Just like any diet, if you don't eat balanced you set yourself up for nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin B12 and iron are rich in animal sources. Vitamin B12 is important for healthy nerve cells and iron helps produce red blood cells. Vegetarians can get enough B12 by incorporating dairy and seafood into their diet. Nutritional yeast flakes can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, or salads and are also a great source of B12. To meet iron needs in a vegetarian diet, combine iron-rich foods with good sources of vitamin C like oranges, tomatoes, and broccoli. Good iron sources are spinach, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, pinto beans, potatoes, cashews, and fortified cereals.

Myth 3: Vegetarians never eat animal products.
There are many different types of vegetarians. There are some that just avoid animal meat and others that avoid all animal products, and then there are those that don't eat meat but incorporate seafood.

  • Vegan: Eats no animal products including meats, dairy, and eggs
  • Lacto Vegetarian: Eats no animal products except for dairy
  • Ovo Vegetarian: Eats no animal products except for eggs
  • Lacto-ovo Vegetarian: Eats no animal products except for dairy and eggs
  • Pesco-Vegetarian: Eats no animal products except for fish
  • Flexitarian: Eats small amounts of meat occasionally

Myth 4: Vegetarians are healthier than non-vegetarians.
Not all vegetarians are healthy. Vegetarians who eliminate meat, but continue to eat highly processed foods are not getting the benefits of a plant-based diet. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is the best way to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Are you fueled by veggies? Tweet me @DietDivaTara!

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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A Taste of Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

A Taste of Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend may be months away, but it's not too early to start planning for this weekend getaway to Walt Disney World® Resort. As registration time approaches, here are 10 facts to give you a taste of the most appetizing race weekend in the most magical place on Earth.

  1. It's the sixth year of the race weekend.
    Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend returns to Walt Disney World® Resort for the sixth time with all new medals, mementos and memories to last a lifetime.

  2. Pre-Race Taste at the Indiana JonesTM Epic Stunt Spectacular! Theater in Disney's Hollywood Studios®.
    To kick off the weekend, guests can partake in a private party at Indiana JonesTM Epic Stunt Spectacular! Theater. The event features entry to Disney's Hollywood Studios®, four tastes from the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, and Disney characters as well as other entertainment throughout the evening.

  3. There's a holiday-themed 5K through Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.
    Participants run on the "wild side" during the holiday excitement of Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K through Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

  4. Kids get in the spirit of running at the runDisney Kids Races held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
    From diaper dashing infants to toddler sprints to a one-mile race around ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, kids 13 and under are invited to join in on the running fun at the runDisney Kids Races.

  5. It's the only nighttime runDisney half marathon.
    With a 10 p.m. start time, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is the perfect nightcap to your Saturday night.

  6. The 13.1-mile course runs through three Walt Disney World® Theme Parks.
    From ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, runners embark on a journey through Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park and Disney's Hollywood Studios® before concluding their race at Epcot®.

  7. The half marathon course takes runners through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios®.
    Running through this majestic light display is a sight to see!

  8. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse cheer runners on.
    Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse welcome you with open arms as you cross the finish line at Epcot®.

  9. Participants can cheers to their half marathon finish with a complimentary glass of wine or beer.
    Included on participants' race bib, runners can use their tear-off drink voucher to delight in a glass of wine or beer after their half marathon finish.

  10. Runners and spectators celebrate at the Finish Line Party at the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival.
    After finishing the half marathon, runners are invited to the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival to taste their way around the World as they celebrate their accomplishment. Spectators are also welcome to join and can purchase tickets once race registration opens.

Registration for Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend opens on March 17, 2015 at noon ET. Sign up for a reminder email here.

All event information is subject to change.

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Celebrating the Ultimate Girls Weekend at Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Celebrating the Ultimate Girls Weekend at Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

It was the ultimate runDisney girls weekend as more than 49,500 registered runners participated in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World® Resort.

From our princesses in waiting competing in the runDisney Kids Races, to more experienced princesses participating in the Disney Princess 5K, the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K and the Disney Princess Half Marathon, the weekend was filled celebrating the attributes of a true princess – commitment, perseverance and determination.

The crowning moment came on Sunday when more than 24,000 runners participated in the half marathon. The 13.1-mile journey took runners to Magic Kingdom® Park, through the Cinderella Castle and finished with a royal celebration just outside Epcot®. Waiting for runners was one of the most coveted rewards, the Disney Princess Half Marathon finisher medal. And for those special princesses registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge, completing the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday (19.3 total miles), an additional medal was bestowed upon them, the Glass Slipper Challenge medal.

Although every runner had something to celebrate, one runner's journey was just a little more magical.

After falling on ice and breaking her hip one year ago, and fearing she would never run again, 30-year-old Lauren Passell from New York City was the winner of the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Dressed in a Tinker Bell inspired outfit, Passell had a winning time of 1:22:59. She was followed by second-place finisher Heather Schulz of Orlando (1:23:28) and Mariela Ortiz of Argentina was third (1:23:45).

Congratulations to all who ran and celebrated like a princess. We hope the following video helps you relive your accomplishment. And for those who weren't able to participate, we hope it inspires you to join us February 2016.

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Tara Gidus

Weight Loss and Running: What's Tripping You Up?

You're training hard and watching your weight diligently, and yet, the number on the scale won't budge! Many runners striving for weight loss have experienced this frustration and confusion. Why does running cause some athletes to lose weight and others to gain weight? Let's talk about the common culprits that derail weight loss goals.

Nutrition: What Am I Missing?

  • Not enough protein—Protein for runners is crucial in increasing muscle growth and speeding recovery… and keeping you more satisfied! Did you know protein is the biggest metabolism booster? It can take up to twice as long to break down! Protein assists in rebuilding muscle fibers torn during a run. Insufficient protein intake increases the risk of injury, while adequate intake reduces risk of injury. Distance runners need more protein than the average person, and athletes trying to lose weight might need even more! I recommend anywhere from 1.0 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (there are 2.2 pounds in a kg) a day, which equates to about 75 to 120 grams of protein for a 165 pound runner.
  • Not enough fat—Contrary to past beliefs, fat is a critical component of weight loss and overall health. Healthy unsaturated fats such as those found in olive oils, walnuts, salmon, avocados and ground flaxseeds help keep you satisfied and tend to reduce hunger. Healthy fats also help reduce injury and inflammation while providing protective heart benefits.
  • Quality carbs—Eating the right kind of quality carbs can positively affect your waistline, improve performance, increase energy throughout the day, and aid in weight loss. Slowly digested, fiber-rich carbs found in whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, etc.), lentils, fruits, and vegetables help replenish muscle and liver glycogen (stored energy) post-workout.

What Behaviors May Be Hindering My Weight Loss?

  • Realistic weight loss goals in a realistic time frame—Know how many calories your body needs. Keep a food diary to track progress and challenges.
  • Skipping snacks or meals—Your body may try to conserve calories by decreasing metabolism and calorie burn throughout the day. Muscle fatigue and slower recovery may also occur if you're not obtaining enough calories.
  • Lack of sleep—This has been associated with increased calorie consumption. Try to go to bed earlier or switch runs to later in the day.
  • Not incorporating strength training—Even though cardio burns more calories during exercise, strength training helps build metabolically active muscle, which burns more calories throughout the day. Strength training also helps improve leg strength and enhance endurance.

Extra Ways To Cut Calories

  • Make your own granola instead buying store-bought versions. You're able to control ingredients, calories, fat, protein and sugar. Plus it's cheaper!
  • Grab string cheese and an apple instead of an energy bar. Packaged energy bars may be sugar- and fat-laden.
  • Make your own salad dressing using two parts vinegar and one part oil to control calories.
  • Eat fruit prior to a meal. Studies show that people who ate an apple 15 minutes before a meal ate 187 fewer calories.
  • Walk during lunch for 20 minutes; sitting all day negates some of the health benefits of your workout.

Do you have questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon

The 411 on runDisney Corrals

We know runners choose runDisney events for many reasons, but one of the most common is they are great for both running enthusiasts and first timers alike. If you've never participated in a big race weekend event, like some of our charity runners, there may be a lot of questions swirling around in your head including, "What is this corral thing all about?" If that question is on your mind, you are not alone! We've received several questions about corrals and placement from our Children's Miracle Network Hospitals charity runners, so we sat down with the runDisney team to get the scoop on how it works.

Q. Let's start with the basics. What is a corral?

A. A corral is a group of runners that are classified by their estimated finish time.

Q. Why are corrals helpful?

A. Grouping runners by estimated finish time allows each runner to be surrounded by other runners who will keep the same pace. Corrals also help the condition of the course by spreading out runners so that there is less crowding, leading to a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Q. How are corrals assigned?

A. Corrals are assigned by the estimated finish time the runner submits when he or she registers. Proof of time must be provided from a certified race that is a 10K or longer. Proof of time is not required for runDisney 5K and 10K races. If no proof of time is available, runners will be placed in one of the last corrals. The number of corrals is determined by the number of participants in the race.

Q. How will runners know which corral they are in?

A. Corral assignments are posted to the runDisney website approximately one month before each race weekend. Runners can look up their corral assignment using their bib number. Runner walk-out to corrals begins approximately 1.5 hours before race start for races that are 13.1 miles or longer. In order to find your corral, simply follow event signage or ask any Cast Member or volunteer for assistance.

If you are running during the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, you can find your corral assignment HERE.

If you need assistance with determining your bib number for Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, you can find it on your waiver which is available HERE.

Q. What if a friend, spouse, or child is assigned to a different corral but they want to run together?

A. In a place where every mile is magic, we know our runners may want to share their experience with someone. Runners can move backward in corral assignments to join a friend, child, or spouse, but they cannot move forward. For example, if you are assigned to corral G, and your friend is assigned to corral K, you can move back to K, but your friend is not able to move forward to corral G. You do not need to notify runDisney if you choose to move back in corrals. Simply follow event signage to the corral of your choice, keeping in mind that you cannot move to a corral ahead of your pre-assigned corral.

Please note that no corral changes will be made at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo.

Q. Do the corrals all start at once or is the start staggered?

A. Corral start times are staggered and the time between each corral varies based on the number of runners. This staggered start allows for more space on the course and gives each runner a better opportunity to set a personal record, or check out the amazing sites (and special surprises!) along the course!

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

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Darcy Clark

Fuel Up for Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Downtown Disney®

I've got a few runDisney races under my belt, and though I'll never be an elite runner, I've come to really enjoy the sport and all that goes along with it … the feeling of accomplishment, the friendships, and fitness, and of course, the food! While it's always important to strive for healthy, balanced eating, it is especially true during race week.

As someone who gets to experience Downtown Disney® on a daily basis, I thought I'd share some of my favorite meals to get you ready for your big run (or walk!). WARNING: The list below will likely make you hungry, so read responsibly:

AMC Dine-In Theatres – Bistro Chicken Mac & Cheese: it's as decadent as it sounds – a creamy blend of cavatappi pasta, Cheddar Jack cheese, bistro cheese sauce and juicy chicken slices, served with a warm soft pretzel breadstick. (This is a great post-race option, too, if you want to give your legs a chance to rest while you take in the latest big-screen flick!)

Bongos Cuban Café – The Gluten-free Penne Primavera with Lemon Butter Sauce is overflowing with vegetables, and the Linguine with Cuban Style Meat Sauce is a great choice for meat lovers who crave some extra protein.

Crossroads at House of Blues – Options abound… whether you choose the Cajun Chicken Pasta, Jambalaya, Lobster Mac & Cheese or Linguini Primavera, you can't go wrong. (I'm not a huge fan of too much spice, but the Jambalaya gets it just right!)

Fulton's Crab House – Like linguini? You'll love Fulton's version featuring shrimp, scallops, calamari, littleneck clams and mussels simmered in a tangy tomato and crab broth.
*Show your race bib or finisher's medal to save $5 on this dish all weekend long.

Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – There's only one word to describe the sausage and Parmesan covered Rigatoni Calabrese: Delizioso!
*Show your race bib or finisher's medal to save $5 on this dish all weekend long.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – Take spaghetti pasta and add Irish smoked salmon, shrimp and spinach tossed in a light tomato gin sauce and you've got this delight from my favorite authentic Irish pub.

Rainforest Café – Planet Earth Pasta: Italian sausage and cavatappi pasta lightly tossed with olive oil and garlic in marinara sauce, then topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. Even better? Gluten free pasta is available upon request.

Splitsville Luxury Lanes – Steak Alfredo: the newest pasta dish on the menu is already a huge hit with guests and with 20% off for runDisney athletes all weekend long, it's a real winner.
*Show your race bib or finisher's medal to take advantage of the 20% off discount.

Wolfgang Puck Express – For a fast casual option, the Cavatappi Chicken Alfredo with crimini mushrooms, baby peas and goat cheese or the gluten-free Half Rotisserie Chicken with garlic butter, rosemary and mashed potatoes from this Marketplace hot spot can't be beat.

Wolfgang Puck Grand Café – Shrimp Pesto: a simple and delightful dish that's impeccably prepared. I can't promise it will make you run faster, but I do know it will leave you satisfied.
*Show your race bib or finisher's medal to save $5 on this dish all weekend long.

I hope you make it out to the Downtown Disney® area for the Happily Ever After Party to celebrate your accomplishments during Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but also, for a meal or two leading up to your race day. I've finished 13.1 miles and I know you can, too (especially with the right fuel) – good luck out there!

Darcy Clark is a Marketing Manager for Downtown Disney® at Walt Disney World® Resort here to share how you can enhance your race weekend!

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Tara Gidus

Are You Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables?

We all know fruits and veggies are important in our diet, but are we getting enough to maximize our workouts, stay healthy, manage our weight, and prevent chronic disease? According to current MyPlate nutrition recommendations from the USDA, Americans should be consuming two or more servings daily of fruit and three or more servings of vegetables per day. Sadly, only 33% of adults meet the recommendation for fruit consumption and only 27% get the recommended servings of vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, and prevent diabetes and some types of cancer. In addition to an array of health benefits, fruit and vegetable intake significantly impacts athletic performance.

How do fruits and vegetables affect athletic performance?

Vitamins and minerals within fruits and vegetables play an important role in maintaining overall health. Strenuous exercise causes more stress on the body, which increases the risk of illness and infection. Athletes training intensely may need higher amounts of fruits and vegetables to help combat excessive stress on the body. High fruit and vegetable intake optimizes exercise performance, energy production, and tissue recovery during periods of physically demanding exercise. On the other hand, inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables can increase the likelihood of fatigue, muscle damage, lack of muscle strength, and impaired immune function.

How do I get more fruits and vegetables into my diet?

Here are seven tips to boost your daily intake:

  1. Create a goal amount. If fruits and vegetables rank low on your daily menu, start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day, slowly building to the recommended amounts.
  2. Pack snacks. In between meals, munch on fruits and vegetables. Try carrots and hummus, a banana and almond butter, or Greek yogurt and raspberries.
  3. Boost your breakfast. Instead of a bagel or donut, make an omelet with your leftover veggies. Or add blackberries, strawberries, or dried fruit to cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt.
  4. Try a fruit smoothie. Whether in the morning or afternoon, a fruit smoothie with leafy greens (I promise you won't taste it!) is a delicious and healthy way to incorporate more fruit and veggies into your diet.
  5. Roasting does wonders. Roasting veggies at a high heat brings out nutty, sweet flavors. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other spices to enhance flavor. My favorite—roasted broccoli! Preheat the oven to 425 and bake broccoli for 20 minutes until tops are slightly browned. Amazing!
  6. Try something new. Variety is the spice of life. Check out exotic fruits or vegetables you've never tried or something new that's in season.
  7. Sneak them in! Add veggies to macaroni and cheese, tomato sauces, smoothies, and even desserts (such as zucchini bread, carrot cakes, etc.) for an added boost of nutrition to your favorite foods.

How many fruits and veggies do you eat a day? If you have questions or comments, tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Join the Celebration at the Disneyland® Half Marathon 10th Anniversary Party

Join the Celebration at the Disneyland® Half Marathon 10th Anniversary Party

As part of the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend, you are invited to a special anniversary party to kick off the race weekend.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, party guests are invited to Disneyland® Park starting at 4 p.m. where they can enjoy the entertainment and attractions before the private gathering begins at 9 p.m. at Disneyland® Park West Side.

The party will feature an exclusive viewing of the "Paint the Night" parade, as part of the Disneyland® Resort Diamond Celebration, as well as other special entertainment, including Disney character meet and greets.

Guests can also enjoy select attractions including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Indiana JonesTM Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain.

Don't miss your chance to join this special celebration as part of your Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend! For more information please visit here.

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runDisney Mom

Add Some Extra Magic with the Miles!

If you've experienced a runDisney race event, you know every mile on the course is magic, but did you know there are other opportunities to enhance your race experience off the course? Whether you're traveling with family, friends or solo, runDisney offers several pixie-dusted ways for you to add an extra bit of magic to your race-cation.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! For all you princesses out there preparing for the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, it's not too late to make your girls' weekend more royal than ever.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Breakfast - A Royal Celebration!
Available following the Disney Princess 5K and the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K, this post-race breakfast will allow you to show off your bling as you mingle with your princess peers, as well as meet & greet the Disney Princesses for that perfect photo. My favorite aspect of the breakfast is the ability to see so many happy runners enjoying themselves with a bountiful buffet, a climate-controlled tent, and smiles that go on for miles! Want your family or friends to join you? They can! Tickets are available for spectators as well – truly making it an affair for all.

Race Retreat - The Ultimate in Princess Pampering
This is the ultimate way to pamper yourself both before and after your race! Open to runners at 3 a.m., the Race Retreat will allow you to escape the elements before the race while you fuel up with a continental breakfast. In addition, there is a private gEAR bag check, private restrooms, character meet & greets, large screen viewing of the finish line, comfortable lounge seating, and a full-breakfast buffet upon your return post-race.

For spectators that have purchased the Platinum ChEAR Squad package, the Race Retreat will be accessible beginning at 5:30 a.m. This is the perfect location for your fans to relax and enjoy themselves before they head over to the reserved grandstand seating to watch your big finish. Another great feature is the Kiddie Corner, an area designated for the littlest princes and princesses in your group to color, make ChEAR Cards, or watch a Disney movie while in their still-sleepy state. One of my favorite benefits of the Race Retreat is having somewhere for the ones you love to be comfortable should inclement weather arise while you're running.

*Moms Panel Tip: Make sure your ChEAR Squad registers to follow you through Runner Tracking! Your split times, as well as estimated finish time, will be sent via text message to their smartphones, giving the perfect heads-up on when they should head toward the finish line.

Pasta in the Park Party - The Most Royal of Events
I extend an invitation for you to attend the most enchanting event in the "world," the Pasta in the Park Party. Food, fun, music and a room full of royalty make for magical memories. Your evening begins as you enter World ShowPlace Pavilion, a beautiful venue tucked away between Epcot®'s Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions along World Showcase Promenade. You'll be transported into a fairy tale as your favorite Disney Princesses are there to greet you, and face painters and balloon artists add to the festive feel. Oh, and don't forget your glass slippers! A DJ will be on-hand to ensure you dance the night away. Once you've had your pasta buffet fill, you'll be escorted to a reserved viewing area for the perfect way to end the evening – Epcot's nighttime spectacular, IllumiNations: Refections of Earth.

*Moms Panel Tip: Upon entering, head all the way through to the opposite side of the venue. Guests like to stop at the first few tables, but there are buffet lines and a lot tables on the other side as well. This is especially useful if you have a large group.

With a menu like this, adding extra magic to your runDisney-cation is as easy as Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! But don't let the clock strike midnight; availability for these events during the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend is going fast.

Do you have runDisney vacation planning questions? Send them my way on the Disney Parks Moms Panel! I am here to help you plan a fairy tale race-cation.

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Leslie Kay

How to Avoid Injury from Overtraining

Whether training for a 26.2 mile marathon, or your first 5K, when working to improve your fitness level, you must push yourself and your body to achieve new milestones. Challenging yourself to work harder and run further will train your body and help you achieve your running goals. However, pushing yourself too hard and skipping recovery time can eventually lead to exhaustion and even injury.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of training, but overtraining can not only impact you physically, but can lead to negative psychological effects. Overtraining can lead to recurring injuries, slower race time and a sense that running has become all work.

A key sign that you may be overtraining is a change in pulse rate. If your walking resting pulse increases by more than a few beats, you may be suffering from overtraining. Other signs include decreased appetite, insatiable thirst, lack of sleep, abnormal muscle soreness, decreased strength or endurance or even personality changes. If you experience any of these symptoms rest and take a day off from your training schedule. If the symptoms persist, contact your doctor.

To avoid overtraining follow these tips to get the most out of your training and avoid injury:


Keeping regular rest days is just as important as your long runs because your body needs to rebuild muscle tissue that is broken down during each workout. If you skip your rest days, your body will eventually decline and will result in injury. Rest days are also important for your emotional wellbeing. Those who overtrain express negative feelings toward working out, which can lead to mental roadblocks and eventually lack of interest altogether.


Sleep and rest days are two different, but equally important, steps to follow when training for a marathon. During periods of heavier training, your body requires sleep to help rebuild and heal. The amount of sleep recommended depends on the person. Teenagers need about 9 hours on average, while adults require 7 to 8 hours per night. Factor in your sleep like you would a run to avoid fatigue and overtraining.


If you keep the same workout every single time and don't add any variety, you will subject your muscles to the same stress over and over. Eventually those muscles will be overstrained, which could lead to injury. Incorporating alternative exercise into your running routine can help build muscle but also give your joints much needed rest.

Follow a Training Plan

Training for a marathon should include easy distance runs, long runs, interval workouts, hill sprints and rest days that will help you slowly build mileage and progress to the final finish line. A training program is an important tool to help you map out what activities to do and when so you don't become fatigued too quickly. Keep in mind that most programs are a suggestion, however. Listen to your body and if you're experiencing any discomfort or having difficulties with the program, alter it to fit your specific needs.

Cigna® is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

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Tara Gidus

What's Really in My Energy Bar? Five Ingredients to Know

In any grocery store or convenience store, you'll most likely see an entire aisle devoted to energy bars. High-protein, low-carb, low-sugar—the list goes on. Navigating all of the ingredients can get exhausting! So what should you know?

Energy bars or nutrition bars can offer a healthy and convenient alternative to help meet your calorie, protein, carb and fat needs when food choices are limited or eating whole foods is not an option. Depending on your exercise regimen, energy bars can also provide a great pre-workout boost in available energy or help replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle post-workout. Even though certain energy bars can be useful and healthy, some products contain ingredients that are less than stellar. Take a closer look at these five ingredients the next time you need a grab-and-go bar.

  1. Palm Oil
    • Use of palm oil in processed foods has skyrocketed 60% in the past seven years. After a 2006 FDA ruling that mandated trans-fatty acids to be on the Nutrition Facts label, food manufacturers began increasing imports of palm oil, a naturally trans-fat free alternative.
    • Palm oil is odorless, tasteless and solid at room temperature, making it ideal in processed foods to enhance the texture, mouthfeel, and shelf life.
    • Palm oil is high in saturated fat, which is known to raise LDL cholesterol but is safer to consume at higher amounts than trans-fats. Note: Saturated fats should make up less than 10% of overall energy intake for healthy athletes.
    • Aim for bars rich in healthy fats like whole nuts, nut butters and seeds!
  2. Sugar Alcohols
    • Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). Look for –ol at the end of ingredient names, usually it's a sugar alcohol.
    • Used as sweeteners and bulking agents in many sugar-free items.
    • As a sugar substitute, sugar alcohols provide about a half to one-third fewer calories than regular sugar, and are often used in diabetic friendly and diet foods.
    • Eating too many of these sugar alcohols is likely to cause digestive issues such as uncomfortable gas, bloating and diarrhea.
  3. Protein
    • If protein is a priority in your bar, choose bars that use high-quality sources of protein such as whey, whey isolates and micellar casein.
      • - Whey isolate is highest in protein content and commonly found in quality energy bars.
      • - Whey concentrate contains 80% protein in addition to small amounts of fat, minerals and lactose.
    • Whey protein naturally has the highest percentage of branched-chain amino acids including leucine, which plays a large role in muscle protein creation.
    • Whey protein is also quickly digested and absorbed to support muscle growth and repair more effectively than other protein sources.
    • Collagen and gelatin may contribute to protein content in energy bars but are considered low-quality protein, meaning it does not contain all of the essential amino acids the body needs.
    • Keep in mind these proteins are okay in moderation, but I've seen athletes down 2-3 protein bars a day. The best way to boost protein intake is get a bar filled with whole protein rich ingredients like nuts and seeds, and drink with a glass of milk for whey protein instead of relying on processed powders.
  4. Fiber
    • Obtaining enough fiber in the diet helps maintain a healthy digestive system and helps lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, and supports weight loss or maintenance.
    • Too much fiber pre-workout can cause bloating, gas or diarrhea and leave you feeling too full during a run. Bars lower in fiber (about 5 grams or less) may be helpful in reducing these common symptoms.
    • Post-workout, fiber is beneficial in increasing the feeling of fullness and curbing appetite.
    • Dietary fiber is natural and should be obtained through eating foods like nuts, seeds and beans. Often energy bars are lurking with synthetic fibers like inulin, maltodextrin, and polydextrose that can lead to gas and bloating, and may not have the same health benefits.
  5. Added Sugars
    • While sugar is needed to provide the "glue" and keep the energy bar from falling apart, make sure that your bar is not loaded with added sugars.
    • Some sugars are natural like the ones found in dried fruits—dates, cherries, raisins, apricots are common fruits and the healthiest sugars found in energy bars.
    • Check the ingredient list on the nutrition label! Foods are labeled in order of largest to smallest quantity in the product. If added sugar is one of the first three ingredients put the bar back.
    • Other names for added sugar: Brown Rice Syrup, Agave Nectar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Beet Sugar, Barley Malt, Date Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Fructose, Glucose and the list goes on.

While energy bars can be a convenient snack, some can be as rich as a candy bar, so check the ingredient list. If you want to know first hand the ingredients that go into your energy bar, try my Peanut Butter Pistachio Energy Bites recipe!! Questions or comments tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Star WarsTM Half Marathon Weekend Kicked Off With the Wookiee Welcome Party!

Star WarsTM Half Marathon Weekend Kicked Off With the Wookiee Welcome Party!

Runners fueled with "Wookiee Wookiee Sugar Cookies" and other treats out of this world to kick off Star WarsTM Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland® Resort.

Participants mingled over snacks, and received special greetings from Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and many more! Located right in Tomorrowland at Disneyland® Park, runners had the unique opportunity to enjoy select attractions after the Park closed to the public.

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Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend Runners Cruised Through the Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge

Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend Runners Cruised Through the Inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge

After experiencing the magical miles of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, more than 700 runners set sail on Disney Cruise Line's Disney Dream to embark on a fun run in the sun in the inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge.

Runners cruised along a brand new 5K course on Disney's private tropical island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, making it the first-ever international runDisney race. Alongside sandy white beaches and sparkling turquoise water, participants enjoyed photo opportunities and entertainment throughout the course.

In order to partake in the Challenge, runners had to complete at least one WDW Marathon Weekend race. After breezing through the finish line, runners received multiple treasures including the Castaway Cay 5K finisher medal as well as a Castaway Cay Challenge medal. Aboard the ship, cruisers also enjoyed special activities and access to merchandise exclusively for Challenge participants.

If you missed out on the inaugural race, it's not too late to sign up to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Castaway Cay Challenge next month!

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Cole Horton

Running Costumes From a Galaxy Far, Far Away

There are more than 17,000 characters in the Star WarsTM universe: From gallant heroes to vile villains, the galaxy is full of weird and wonderful beings to inspire your next running costume! As a Star Wars writer and new runner getting ready for the Star WarsTM Half Marathon Weekend, I've put a lot of thought into my own gear. Here are just some of my own crazy ideas.

Jabba the Hutt

The galaxy's best-known gangster, Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the Star Wars character least likely to run a half marathon. As unique as this costume might be, wearing a giant slug outfit is just too hot to run a race. That tail dragging the ground isn't allowed either.


If you are like me, you were absolutely blown away by the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My favorite new character is BB-8, the small ball of a droid. While we don't know much about this little droid, I do know that my crazy costume idea is just too bulky to work at a runDisney race. Like all of us anticipating the next film, this costume will just have to wait.

Boba Fett

A quiet, mysterious bounty hunter, this Boba Fett costume might actually work. Rather than a helmet that covers my face (not allowed for the race), I envisioned a Boba-inspired headband. Complete with kneepads, arm sleeves, and a cape, I just don't have the time to complete this costume.


As a new runner, I'm going to keep my inaugural outfit simple. My favorite character, the little astromech droid known as R2-D2, inspires my costume. His robot counterpart C-3PO once called him an "overweight glob of grease"—a fitting description for me at the beginning of this journey. But like R2, I've equipped myself with the best tools and resources to complete my first runDisney 5K and 10K. Look for me at all of the events, where I will be covering the action for

As you put the finishing touches on your own costume, be sure to review the official costume guidelines. Also, don't forget to give your outfit at least one test run to make sure it will go the distance as you race.

Cole Horton is a historian and blogger for, Marvel, and more. Find him on Twitter @ColeHorton.

Costume concept sketches by Jennifer Horton.

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Running My First Half Marathon

"I've just completed my first half marathon"

I didn't think those words would ever leave my mouth.

You see, if you're reading this with the idea of completing your first half marathon in your sights and you find yourself thinking, "Can I even do this?" I'm here to tell you that you can, because I was just like you not too long ago.

As a former "kid-who-sat-out-in-gym-class" turned fashion blogger, I used to think the only 13.1 miles I would ever complete would be compiled of laps around a shopping mall. When it came down to nutrition, I could eat a salad and protein, yes... or I could eat a pizza. Carb load! I am a driven individual when it comes to my career, but when it came to my own physical health I preferred to stay within my comfort zone. I never considered myself to be a runner, only having a couple 5Ks and one 10K under my belt. I thought half marathons and marathons were only for those verging on Olympian status and that those runners would create an unwelcoming experience for any of those who came out on race day just to give it a try.

But everything changed for me when I stood at the finish line of the 2014 Disneyland® Half Marathon. With a hot tea in hand, I cheered on the first hundred finishers as they ran across the finish line, while Mickey and friends celebrated and gave out high fives. You see, after the elite and professional runners, I watched thousands upon thousands of everyday people cross the finish line. Some were young while others were young at heart. Some were running, others walking, while some even skipped over the finish line.

They came in all different shapes and sizes, but there was one thing they had in common: they were all finishing a half marathon.

My first half marathon was the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I made sure to take in the speaker series, which is offered at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, and ask as many questions of as many people as I encountered who had already run a half marathon. In my mind, I broke it down into four 5K races. After each 5K, I did a full-body analysis and told myself, "You're feeling great! Onto the next 5K!"

It was around the 10-mile mark, as we were exiting the gates of Disney's Hollywood Studios, when all worry left me. I was going to complete my first half marathon! My race partner and I began to really enjoy ourselves at that point. "I've had a foot cramp since the third mile, but I'm still doing it!" I said out loud. "You go girl!!!" A stranger responded. The camaraderie and friendships you make out there on the course are unlike any other. You're surrounded not only by thousands of the best cheerleaders, but by thousands of your best friends.

Nearing the finish line, tears started to well up in my eyes. I realized I was about to have that moment that I've watched so many others have.

"I did it. I finished my first half marathon. I pushed through my own personal doubts and the doubts of others around me. I may not be the fastest runner or the most athletic, but I ran and I finished."

That finish line belongs to the 10,000th finisher just as much as it does to the 1st finisher. There is an electric sense of accomplishment and pride at a runDisney finish line. I want you to know that you, too, can experience that feeling.

Leslie Kay of DisneyBound is here to help inspire your runDisney outfits! Tweet her at @LADisneyBound

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Leucine: Secret Weapon For Staying Lean

Leucine: Secret Weapon For Staying Lean

Leucine. Have you heard of it? It's a branched chain amino acid that might be the secret to building muscle and losing body fat. While lots of research is underway on this nutrient, incorporating leucine-rich whole foods in your diet can benefit the runner—especially the aging runner. Let me explain.

We know as we age we lose muscle mass, and as a consequence our metabolism slows… hello middle-age spread. While it might be in part due to a poor exercise routine that doesn't incorporate strength training, research is pointing to nutrition as being the ticket to maintaining muscle mass as we age. In fact, high quality proteins (rich in leucine) become even more vital as we get older.

If you're a runner and you're young, about 20-25 years old, your body doesn't need as much of the amino acid leucine. About 1.7g does the trick. But as we age, especially over 60, the body requires 2.5 grams of leucine or more to trigger muscle protein synthesis. Between 25 and 60 years old? While more research is needed, likely the ideal range is somewhere between 1.7 and 2.5 grams.

So with all this talk about leucine, you might be thinking that you need to go out and purchase a supplement. No need—you can easily get this nutrient through whole foods. The trick to maximizing the muscle-building pathway is to eat whole, intact proteins (and carbohydrates… we are runners) every 4 hours. Two grams of leucine is about 20 to 25 grams of animal protein. If you're a vegetarian, you will need to eat more (about 30 grams of protein) since the leucine concentration is not as high in plant foods.

The key to all this talk about leucine is to space your proteins throughout the day. Most people get 50 grams of protein at dinner and struggle to get 10 grams at breakfast. You don't have to be a pro at math to know what to eat. I'll show you how you can do this plan below.

8 AM Breakfast:

1 egg + 2 egg whites with ½ ounce cheddar cheese

1 slice Canadian bacon

1 slice whole grain bread

4 ounces orange juice

12 PM Lunch:

3 ounces tuna

½ cup spinach

2 slices whole grain bread

1 apple

4 PM Snack:

5-ounce container Greek yogurt

1 cup fresh berries

1 ounce almonds

8 PM Dinner:

3 ounces grilled chicken breast

1 cup brown rice

1 cup lettuce greens

2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

As always, if you have any questions or comments, tweet me @DietDivaTara!

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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runDisney Mom

Disneyland® Dining:
The Happiest Meals On Earth!

One of my favorite aspects of planning a runDisney-cation is selecting where to dine, and Disneyland® Resort is no exception. With so many unique offerings exclusive to the Happiest Place on Earth, you're sure to find the fuel and fun you have come to expect from Disney Parks. Need some dining suggestions for your next Disneyland® Resort race weekend? Here are a few of my favorite dining experiences for a little inspiration:

Disneyland® Park

  • Cafe Orleans—Two words: pommes frites! I also suggest "N'awlins Vegetable Ragoût" with blackened chicken. The vegetables used in this delectable dish are low in fiber once steamed, making it a great pre-race option.
  • Carnation Cafe—There is something here to please the whole family while the runners in the group can enjoy penne pasta with shrimp (but go light on the sauce).

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Carthay Circle Restaurant—Step back into Hollywood's golden era and enjoy one of Disneyland® Resort's signature dining experiences. You can be sure Chef Andrew Sutton will be serving fresh, seasonal dishes pre- or post-race. The house biscuits are a must! I also highly recommend the World of Color Dining Package, which offers a fabulous fixed dining menu with a preferred viewing option for the World of Color nighttime show.
  • Flo's V8 Café—Get your eats on Route 66! And get the BBQ pork ribs... or the roast beef & cheddar... oh, and one of Flo's Pie-O-Rama's!

Downtown Disney District

  • Catal Restaurant—Disneyland® Resort's best kept secret! Nestled high above the Downtown Disney District, this signature dining location has never disappointed! The food is exceptional. And when you dine during a race weekend, they offer a special, off-menu pasta dish.
  • Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen®—I could dine here multiple times a trip just for the New Orleans Bread Pudding! But order early, this rich dessert takes 20 minutes to be delivered to your table.

Resort Hotels

  • Napa Rose Chef's Counter, or "Vintner's Table"—This is about as exclusive as you can get for dining experiences at Disneyland® Resort! And it's worth every quick service meal you need to eat to mark this off your bucket list. I've had the pleasure of enjoying this experience a few times and I am always impressed with each course. Not only is the interaction with the show-kitchen staff great fun, but they've always been so gracious to work around my aversion to seafood.
  • Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar—This is usually my first stop upon arrival, well before race day. A "Shipwreck on the Rocks" and a Hawaiian cheeseburger is how I like to start a race-cation!

Favorite Disneyland® Resort Snacks/Treats

  • Dole Whip® Float—Tiki Juice Bar, Disneyland® Park
  • Chimichanga—Edelweiss Snacks, Disneyland® Park
  • Corn Dog—Little Red Wagon, Disneyland® Park
  • New Orleans Mint Julep & Mickey-shaped Beignets—Mint Julep Bar, Disneyland® Park
  • The World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae—Ghirardelli® Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, Disney California Adventure Park

Race Morning Options

One aspect of running Disney that is unique to Disneyland® Resort is the ability to grab a coffee and pre-race snack en route to the Start Zone Area. Many of the food vendors in the Downtown Disney District are open to runners/spectators during the wee hours of race morning! No need to skip your coffee run.

Hungry yet?

Have a Disney Dining question? Send them my way! As the runDisney Specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, I am here to help you plan a magical runDisney-cation.

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Another Mother Runner

Running Free

With the bulk of the racing season over, it’s time to give yourself a running gift that doesn’t cost a thing. What is it? A naked run. No, not one that encourages frostbite on your most tender parts, and causes your neighbor to draw his blinds.


A naked run is one where you leave all your devices—music, GPS and anything else electronic that you don’t need for safety or communication—at home. If that sounds like torture to you (How will I know if I’m running a 9:45 mile, not a 9:30 or 10:00 one? How will I be motivated without Taylor Swift?), you owe it to yourself to try it.

Why? Because when you run naked, you tune into your body. Not into your music or your numbers, but into you, the complex machine that actually does the work. Your body actually talks to you during every step of the run, but more often than not, you’re too preoccupied to listen.


Without distractions, you notice your muscles that are firing, your breath that going in and out, your mind that is controlling the whole effort, your footfalls that become your rhythm.

You soak up and remember what an easy run truly feels like, and how labored your breath becomes during a tempo run. When it’s race time, knowledge can guide you much more capably than a GPS can. 


Before you break out into a nervous sweat, here are a few ways to slowly step away from the gadgets:


—Lose one piece at a time. If you simply must have your newest playlist, take your tunes. But leave your GPS at home and notice how that feels.


—Run a familiar route to mitigate the data loss. You likely already know that your park loop, from beginning to end, is 3.7 miles. So you can still record your mileage manually.


—Downsize a bit. Use a stopwatch instead of a GPS. Take your music, but only listen for the second half of the run. Store your GPS in a pocket and don’t look at it until you’re done running.


—Run with a pal, and focus on being present in your conversation. Worst-case scenario: she can wear a GPS, and give you the readout at the end. (Do your best not to ask for any numbers mid-run!)


Aim to log at least five naked runs in December—and do more if you can handle it. Come January, when you load yourself up again, chances are, you’ll be so pleasantly surprised by your progress, you might just schedule a naked run weekly for all of 2015. 



If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Another Mother Runner

Light Up Your Holiday Running

Let’s be honest, many runs this time of year are completed with the singular goal of burning off whatever we plan on consuming that night. Guilt-free eggnog and peppermint bark are good for a few miles, right? Yet often when it’s dark and dreary outside (or in the basement, where the treadmill resides), caloric burn isn’t always a strong enough impetus to exercise.


For additional incentive, embrace the holiday spirit with your runs. Here are four ways to turn your huffing and puffing into ho-ho-ho-ing.


1. Let there be light: Map out your running route for the best tour of holiday lights. Bonus points if you stop and sing carols! If you’re typically a morning runner, this is a great excuse—um, we mean reason—to sleep in and run in the evening instead.


2. Icing you won’t slip on: Organize a group run with friends and have it end at your house for hot mulled cider and cookie decorating—sampling strongly encouraged. Extra points for a running gingerbread man complete with a race number and laced-up shoes.  


3. Jingle all the way: Coordinate a free community or school-wide 5K. In lieu of an entry fee, runners and walkers (adults and children) bring a donation for a food bank. Encourage participants to dress in costume or holiday colors, and give everyone jingle bells for added festive fun. We know of one mother runner who had 44 runners the first year she organized a neighborhood 5K, and she’s got more than 80 folks signed up for this year’s event.


4. Better to give than receive: Run a holiday 5K or 10K, then donate at least the equivalent of your entry fee to a non-profit organization that is near and dear to your heart. After all, that’s the true spirit of this season.



If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Bundle Up—And Run On

Bundle Up—And Run On

This probably isn’t news to you, but not all of us are fortunate enough to live in Florida or California, where a chilly run means putting on tights instead of capris or shorts. For most of the country, a winter run means snow, wet, wind chill, ice and other fun weather features that threaten to thwart your miles. Don’t let them; instead, follow these tips:


—Dress like it’s 10 degrees warmer than it really is. You should feel chilly, if not almost cold when you step outside, or you’re going to heat up like an oven within 15 or so minutes.


—Typically, you’ll want one layer on the bottom and two to three layers on top. A pair of thicker winter running tights protects your legs from most everything. (And remember: your legs are doing most of the work, so they’re going to be warm naturally.)


—On top, go for a wicking layer first. Most sports bras are made out of synthetic fabrics, but keep your next layer wicking as well that’ll pull sweat off your hard-working body and move it out into the (cold, cold) world. The second layer can be a lightweight fleece or down, wool, or another synthetic fabric. The final layer, if you need it, should be a lightweight jacket with lots of zippers and mesh inserts so your top half doesn’t “fog up.”


—For maximum climate control, have escape hatches built in, like a zip neck on your shirt, sleeves that can easily be rolled up, mittens that convert to gloves and arm warmers that can be pushed down or pulled up. Hand warmers in your mitts can also be a toasty addition if you're in really cold climates.


—Get wooly. No, not suggesting you let your leg hairs grow long enough for insulation. Instead, invest in a wool running top. It’s true what they say about this natural fiber: It keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Wool socks—especially ones that cover your ankles—are a must-have for running outdoors in frigid weather.


—Remember accessories. If your extremities are cold, the rest of you will be too. A fleece beanie or headband makes the difference in being comfortable or miserable (cover those ears!). A neck gaiter keeps your neck toasty and warms the air before you suck it in. Gloves or mittens are a must-have (you can always stash them in a pocket if you get too warm). And sunglasses, even if it's not super sunny, can protect your eyes against flakes and drops.



If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Leslie Kay

Running With Your Kids at the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®

Whether you’re trying to get your family healthy, limit screen time or just looking to spend time with your children, the solution can be as simple as running. Not only can your children benefit from the regular physical activity, but running has proven to help adolescents sleep more soundly and better handle physical and emotional challenges.


The personal challenge, camaraderie while running with others, the confidence you gain when achieving a personal best and the countless health benefits are all things we want our kids to experience, but how do you safely and effectively engage your children in a running program?


Make it fun!

Running is not just about the miles or achieving the best possible time. For kids, you need variety and a fun attitude for them to enjoy an afternoon jog. Create obstacle courses, scavenger hunts or relays to engage your child in physical activity that doesn’t feel like long distance running. Variety and a fun approach will eliminate boredom and keep your child engaged.


Lead by example.

While you may be passionate about running, you can’t expect your kids to automatically have the same enthusiasm. Instead, set an example as someone who enjoys running and has fun with it. Your child will likely embrace the sport when they see a parent enjoying runs and talking positively about their experiences.


Set goals together.

Having realistic goals can motivate you and your child to run regularly. Whether your goal is to run a 5K, beat a certain time or increase your time out together, make sure it’s a goal your child is comfortable with. Work in unison to achieve the same goal and help one another to reach the end.


Make your child the priority.

Regardless of the personal bests you’re trying to achieve or the marathon you’re training for, the runs you take with your child are about the two of you. If you are training, schedule your regular runs for another day so you can focus your attention on your child and their running goals. One of the most rewarding benefits of running with your child is the one-on-one time you have while out for a jog – take advantage of this time to learn about your son or daughter and what motivates them to achieve their own goals. It may even reinvigorate your own running regimen.


Cigna® is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

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Tara Gidus

The Fat Factor

Low-fat foods were all the rage about 20 years ago, but we’ve learned that not all fat is bad and we actually need fat!  However, many runners still fear that fat will make them fat or increase their cholesterol levels. Are low-fat foods really the best option for your training? Many “fat-free” products are loaded with sugars and refined carbohydrates, which defeat the purpose. Fat often gets the rap for being the bad guy when in actuality it plays an essential role in your health and training.


How do you know what type of fat to eat or how much of it to eat? Rule of thumb is to opt for unsaturated fats versus saturated fats. Some heart healthy “good fats” are avocado, oils, olives, seeds, and nuts. So how can fat affect the diet of a runner?


Prevent Cravings. When eating a diet low in fat, people often wonder why they are craving ice cream sundaes and cookies. Often this is because they are trying to eat no- or low-fat during the day so at night or on the weekend they “cheat” and feel guilty. Fat actually promotes fullness because it digests slowly over 3-4 hours, whereas carbohydrates tend to be digested much more quickly.


Fewer Injuries. When consuming a low-fat diet, especially among women, injuries tend to increase. The most common injuries are stress fractures, iliotibial band problems and tendonitis. These types of injuries can vary in severity, but they can clearly impact training and race performance.


Improved Hormone Function. Fat aids in the production of testosterone, cortisol, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help utilize fat as a fuel source for metabolism and directing amino acids into muscle cells, which increase lean tissue mass. When these hormone levels are low, your ability to recover from exercise is compromised.


Better Vitamin Absorption. Fats are needed as the transporter for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are key for building muscle and keeping a healthy immune system. Remember to choose full fat salad dressing to increase absorption of the nutrients in your salad.


Fights Inflammation. Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the diet, meaning you have to eat foods like salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel, sardines, algae, walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds for your body to get the necessary building blocks that it needs. DHA and EPA are two omega-3 fatty acids that are plentiful in cold-water fish and are concentrated in the brain and retina of the eye. Athletes can benefit from these fish because they fight inflammation, improve mental focus, keep joints healthy, and speed recovery between workouts.


Tweet how you consume fat in your diet to me @DietDivaTara.


Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.


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Leslie Kay

Overcoming Running Roadblocks for the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®

Running is a mind-body sport that challenges your psyche as much as your body, particularly for runners who are training for long distance marathons. While working to achieve a new race milestone, runners often experience a range of high and low emotions before finally crossing the finish line. In fact, experts say running is 90 percent mental.

While training, or while competing in a marathon, runners hit mental barriers that may derail them from succeeding. By recognizing these roadblocks, you can prepare yourself to move past the hurdles and continue on for a successful and rewarding experience.

Here are tips to help break through those mental barriers and achieve your goals:

  1. Stay positive. Often, mental barriers include negative thoughts or self-doubt. When you find yourself being pessimistic, turn it around by reminding yourself how hard you’ve worked and how much you’ve achieved so far. It took a lot of hours, hard work and sweat to get to where you are. Celebrate yourself and the people who inspired you reach this milestone moment.  

  2. Focus on yourself, not other runners. By accepting that some runners will be faster, and some slower, concentrate on your own strengths and maintain a positive attitude to push you through the race. At the starting line, focus on your pace and avoid the mistake of running with everyone. If you need a focal point on the stretch run, identify someone running about your pace and follow them. You’re going to the same place!

  3. Keep your goal in mind. Trying to achieve a new running time? Adding extra miles to your run? Participating in your first marathon? Visualize yourself achieving your goals and think of those who inspired you onward and had your back throughout your training. This will help keep you motivated and soon you’ll feel the wind at your back and the finish line within your sights!


For information and tips about potential mental roadblocks and how to overcome them, check out the infographic below, which details a runner’s emotional journey during a marathon.

Cigna® is the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend and Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend.

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Tara Gidus

How 'bout them Apples?

Move over, pumpkins… apples are comin’ through! Fall means sweet, crisp apples are finally in season and taste better than ever. But, their delicious flavor isn’t the only thing worth buzzing about; apples do amazing things for not just our taste buds but our bodies, too!


Apples are full of vitamins, one of them being Vitamin C. Vitamin C keeps your immune system strong, so you’ll be able to stay cold and flu free during these chillier months coming up. Apples also contain a complex of B vitamins, which are known to keep red blood cells healthy, getting that much needed oxygenated blood flowing to the muscles and heart during an intense run. The high amount of dietary fiber in apples is exceptionally helpful with digestion problems as well, which is a fairly common issue among runners. 

Red apples in particular have a rare antioxidant in the skin called quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to potentially benefit athletes specifically in the following ways:

  • Has anti-inflammatory effects
  • Improves endurance performance
  • Prevents oxidative damage
  • Increases alertness
  • Increases concentration
  • Increases muscle recovery


So if you haven’t already, head to your local grocery store and grab some apples to put in your salad, added to smoothies, or shredded in your morning oatmeal. Or try this nutritious apple ‘cookie’ recipe to get your daily dose of apple. You’ll be glad you did!


Apple Cookies


  • 1 apple
  • Peanut butter
  • Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Coconut flakes
  • Cacaonibs


  1. Slice apple into thin rings and remove core
  2. Spread peanut butter over one side of ring
  3. Top with walnuts, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs


Great source of healthy fats, protein, and all the benefits of apples!


Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara!


Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Another Mother Runner

Safety 101

As the year ends, and darkness eats into our daylight—and running time—we wanted to go over a few safety tips. Yes, they may seem basic, but you’d be surprised at how many runners, wearing black from head to toe, we see running with traffic at dusk and dawn. So here’s a gentle, friendly reminder; after all, we want to see you out there for many years and miles to come.


  • Run against traffic. Always.
  • Light yourself up. When you’re running in dark or diminished light conditions, have one piece of reflective wear (reflective tape, a vest) on both your bottom and top halves. Use a headlamp, hand lights, and/or other blinking lights to make yourself even more visible.
  • Never assume a car sees you. Also, don’t be reckless when it comes to traffic lights. Pause your GPS if need be to wait for a crossing signal. Thousands of pounds of metal will always beat a human body.
  • Opt for sidewalks over the road, paths over both. Concrete isn’t great for your joints, so a bike or walking path or trail is best.
  • Cover your tracks. Tell somebody where you are going: your exact route and when you expect to be home. If your running partner has the groggy drools going on when you leave in the morning, write him or her a note to back up your verbal message. Or text somebody with the same info, and tell them if they don't get another text from you by a certain time to please call you.
  • Get a running buddy. Seriously, safety comes in pairs.
  • Opt for boredom and safety over exotic routes. If you have to do tedious one-mile laps in your neighborhood with street lights instead of an unlit park because it's pitch black at 5:30, so be it.
  • Be aware. Yes, blaring Beyoncé's “Run the World (Girls)” gets you pumped up, but her voice takes away one of your vital senses: hearing. If you're a gotta-have-tunes runner, try to run with just one earbud in. Keep the volume low enough that you can hear yourself talk at a normal voice. Keep your head and eyes up; when you get all slumped and downward gazing, you look more like prey than predator.
  • Carry your phone and some form of ID, and anything else that makes you feel safe, like pepper spray or mace.
  • Use your internal compass. Your gut is smarter than you think. Listen to it. If a car passes you a few too many times, change your route. If a person on the same sidewalk feels creepy, head to the other side of the street—or turn a corner. There is no social etiquette when it comes to personal safety.
  • Don't be shy. If you feel threatened, seek a safe place however you can.  Ask a fellow runner if you can run with them until you're in the clear. Knock on the door of a house you don't know. Yell for help or make noise.
  • Take a self-defense class and up your confidence.
  • If a car seems suspect—they're driving slowly by you or passing by you multiple times—make eye contact with the driver and let them see you're alert and paying attention. Memorize their license plate, and then get to a safe place.
  • Say hi to everybody you pass; you want them to remember your face and your hair color if the need arises.



If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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runDisney Mom

To All Who Volunteer For This Happy Race, Thank You!

I stepped out of my comfort zone during the 2014 Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend to offer my services as a runDisney Volunteer during the Family Fun Run 5K. And by comfort zone, I mean a 1:30 a.m. wake-up call to report for duty at 2:30 a.m. Albeit early, I was excited to be hanging up my running shoes for the day to serve as support.

As a runDisney Volunteer at Disneyland® Resort, your day begins by checking in, receiving your official race crew T-shirt, snack pack and station assignment. These assignments can range from pre-race water to post-race refreshments and everything in between, depending upon the race you’re volunteering for. In addition to offering us a Fitful nutrition box, there were a variety of warm beverages to enjoy while we waited.


I was immediately taken aback by the amount of young people and local community groups that had volunteered their time in an effort to either earn volunteer hours or support ACF, Anaheim Community Foundation, the designated non-profit charity for this year’s event. There were also a number of fellow runners who, like me, were participating in the Dumbo Double Dare and simply wanted to support their fellow runners. I was also impressed to see Mike Bone, Race Director of the Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend, on-hand to provide operational support and chat with staff and volunteers – a sure sign of a great Race Director!

I was happy to have received post-race refreshments as my assignment, as I knew I would get to congratulate runners as they came through the chute to exit into the family reunion area. I was also happy to have gotten to meet some fantastic people! I think the team I was assigned to work with was my favorite part. We immediately got to work moving boxes from pallets to tables, unpacking their contents and arranging them in an organized manner while maintaining a safe working environment.


It was inspiring to see the smiling faces of race participants as they came through the chute after having completed a 3.1 mile journey through the Happiest Place on Earth. Over 6,000 runners comprising of every group dynamic you could think of came out to show their #DisneySide during this event. And the costumes were amazing! I think Kronk had to be my favorite. I hope he found a new groove running Disney.


Once all runners had cleared the course, we began the process of repackaging unused nutrition packs, breaking down cardboard boxes to be recycled and then signing out for our shift. I have to say, I left this experience with an entirely new appreciation for our runDisney race volunteers! So don’t forget to thank them during your next runDisney event.


Are you interested in becoming a Sports Enthusiast Volunteer at Walt Disney World® Resort or a runDisney Volunteer at Disneyland® Resort? Select the highlighted link for more information and to get started!

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Save Time for More Wine & Dine

As you get ready for the upcoming Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend, you're probably thinking about your run. Your plan of attack. Possibly the Disney Wine & Dine Pre-Race Taste.

But don't forget about your opportunity to secure a pair shoes from the 2014 Limited Edition New Balance runDisney Collection.

So you can experience more of the fun and excitement during the weekend, the process for purchasing shoes will actually begin online. Participants who are registered for a running event with a bib number can visit the New Balance Virtual Que website at for all the details on how to register. 

The first opportunity for online registration begins on Friday, November 7 at 6:00 a.m. EST.

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Wine & Dine Costumes

5 Final Training and Travel Tips for Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is almost here and it’s time to double check your final training and travel plans as you head to Walt Disney World® Resort for the race’s fifth anniversary festivities.

At this point I’m sure you’re prepared – you’ve rocked your long training runs, you’ve put together the perfect race day outfit, and you may have even practiced for the Finish Line Party at the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival.  If you’re traveling to the race from out of town here are five final training and travel tips so you can stay on track for this epic race.

1. Plan Your Final Training Runs. If you’re taking advantage of this magical race location and arriving several days early for some extra fun in the Disney Parks, there are plenty of places within the Walt Disney World® Resort to get your last training runs done before the big day. There are several safe jogging routes already mapped out for your convenience. You can look online or check with the concierge at your resort for a printed map. If you’d rather run on the treadmill there are 11 fitness centers at Walt Disney World® Resort. Again, your concierge can advise you on the appropriate facility. Remember not to overdo it, miles pile up easily when you’re playing in the Parks.

2. Squash Night Run Nerves. If you’ve never done a night race, the thought of it can be a little intimidating. If you didn’t incorporate a night run into your training there’s no need to worry, night races at Disney are big fun. The starting fireworks and the light displays in the Parks are a real treat. The course is well marked and lit so safety isn’t an issue. Also, just like a morning race your adrenaline kicks in so the late time of day shouldn’t affect your performance.

3. Test Your Tutu. Many people dress up for runDisney races. You’re likely to see everyone from the princesses to Mickey himself. Whether you choose to pick a character or simply rock regular running gear make sure you take a test run wearing your outfit so that you’re comfortable during the race. You can check out the costume rules on the race website.

4. Stop, Stand and Stretch. Whether you’re driving or flying to Walt Disney World® Resort for the race, make sure to stop, stand and stretch your legs. The last thing you want to do is get really tight or uncomfortable on the way to the race. Allot extra time on your road trip to stop and get out of the car. If you’re flying make sure to take a stroll down the aisle. Many runners like to wear compression socks when they travel before and after a race. I wore mine on my cross country trip from the Tinker Bell Half Marathon earlier this year and my legs were so glad I did. Also, don’t forget to bring your foam roller or stick with you to help relieve sore muscles.

5. Eat and Drink.  You’re headed to the Wine and Dine, right? Seriously, you’ve got to stay hydrated and fueled up while you’re traveling to the race. Be smart about what you’re eating and drinking so that you’ll have the right energy to take on the 13.1 miles through the Parks – and all the fabulous food and wine afterwards. Pack water and healthy snacks with you on your road trip, and make sure to drink plenty of water on the plane. You can check out runDisney’s official nutritionist’s Tara Gidus’ Top 10 Healthy Travel Snack for Runners.

Lorraine Robertson is the founder of and contributes regularly to as Marathon TMOM where she writes about destination running.

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Tara Gidus

Fueling for a Night Race

With the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon around the corner, many people are wondering how they should fuel for this nighttime race. Here is a guide of what you should do on the day of your nighttime race to keep you energized and feeling good by the time you reach that finish line!

  1. Hydrate pre-race. Drink lots of fluids all day and check your urine color to ensure that it is clear or barely yellow, which means that you are hydrated. To stay hydrated you should have 2-3 cups of fluids two hours before the race. It takes 45-90 minutes for fluids to pass through your body so drinking a lot two hours before the race will give you enough time to get rid of the excess before the race starts. Also, about 15 minutes before the race you should have 8 ounces of fluids to replenish before the starting gun.

  2. Race day is not the day to try new foods! Eat familiar foods with easy to digest carbs, low fiber, low fat and moderate protein to make sure that your stomach doesn’t get upset and that you are ready to go come race time. Avoid greasy and creamy or other high fat foods.  Three to four hours before the race is when you should eat your last meal, and one hour before the race have a snack consisting of fast digesting carbs like a banana or bread/bagel/dry cereal/pretzels.

  3. Hydration and fuel during the race. Drink ½-1 cup fluids every 15-20 minutes, which is the same as 4-8 big gulps. Have some fast digesting carbs during your run like a gel or sports drink, just be sure to stick with what worked for you during training.

  4. Recover after the race. Remember the 3 R’s for recovery: refuel with carbs, rebuild with protein and rehydrate with fluids. If you are going to have alcohol post-race, make sure you also eat some food to replenish and drink water to hydrate.  And lastly be sure to get a good night’s sleep after you finish celebrating your wonderful race achievement!

Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara!

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Jeff Galloway

Top 10 Tips For Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Success

1.  Practice and fine-tune your race day routine. Write down your schedule, with time in the Disney Parks, meals and downtime before you board the buses to the start area.


2.  Get your race gear ready in the morning before leaving for your activities.  Affix your race number, and lay out everything you will need.  Stash some extra cash to sample various snacks after the race.


3.  Drink an eight-ounce glass of water about every 1.5 to 2 hours until about 6 p.m.  Have another glass or two before 8:30 p.m.  To avoid potty stops during the race, cut fluid intake at that time—ingesting only at the race water tables.

4.  Most find that it’s OK to spend most of the morning in the Parks, but I recommend you take a 10-minute “sit down” break every hour.


5.  During the afternoon, it’s best to get off your feet from about 4 p.m. until you head to the bus.  Relax around your room, take a nap, read a book, watch a movie, etc.


6.  Morning Nutrition:  Could be similar to most mornings but avoid large meals and foods that could cause problems including fried or fatty foods, too much protein and high fiber foods. 


7.  Afternoon Eating: Eat regularly but not too much in quantity at one time. Stick to light snacks of 150-250 calories, about every two hours.

8.  Most find it best to stop eating 2-3 hours before the run. Adjust to your needs. If your blood sugar starts to drop, have a light snack, such as an energy bar.


9.  If your energy level tends to drop after 9 p.m., and you drink coffee, bring a cup of coffee with you to the staging area and drink it during the hour before the start.


10.  Start slowly, enjoy every character and…wine and dine!



As the official runDisney training consultant, Olympian Jeff Galloway is here to help motivate you to cross the finish line with his proven training programs. Learn more at and follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffGalloway.

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Another Mother Runner

The Core Of The Matter

Although mileage is most important to become a capable runner, core strength is a close second. A strong core—an area that basically runs from your belly button to the bottom of your glutes—helps in myriad ways. It keeps you supported and stable, which is especially important on longer runs. It helps preserve proper running form and tall posture when you fatigue. Although all movements don't originate from the core, it also connects the whole body and encourages all your parts to work together as a team. If your core is weak, something else—your hips, your knees, your upper back—will take the hit, and can leave you sidelined.

Here are three of the most effective ways to strengthen your core and your muscular team. Do them two to three times a week after an easier or shorter run:

1. Forward Plank: Get on all fours: either palms or forearms for your upper body and either knees or toes—no shame in knee planks. Form one straight line from the back of your head to the back of your knees or heels. (Read: Butt down!) Hold for up to one minute.

As you get stronger: Start on your toes; when your form wavers, drop to your knees to finish the minute. Once you can do that, lift one leg or arm off the floor, pause, then lift the other.

2. Hunting Dog: Resting on your knees and palms, engage your core and glutes and make sure your back stays long and stable. (If need be, place a light pole along your spine: It shouldn't move.) Extend your left leg and right arm so that they're both parallel to the floor. Lower then repeat on opposite side. Do 10 on each side.

As you get stronger: You can hold arm/leg for incrementally longer periods of time, provided your glutes are working, and your back isn't arched or in pain. If it is, keep it at a regular rhythm.

3. Bridge: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet resting on the floor. Squeezing your glutes, lift your hips off the floor to form a line from your knees to your chest, hold for five seconds, then lower. Work up to 10 reps. Note: Your glutes should be firing; if they're not, you're just straining your lower back and quads.

As you get stronger: Gradually increase the length of the holds until you can hold for 60 consecutive seconds. Then, march your feet in place while maintaining hip stability.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Jeff Galloway

Change A Life - Help Someone Start Exercising

You know how good you feel when you finish a long run, and how you glow as you walk after the finish with your runDisney medal around your neck?  Research shows that running, even in short segments, turns on brain circuits for a better attitude, more vitality, and personal empowerment—better than any other activity studied.  When you help a friend or family member get "hooked” on exercise, you help him or her to improve their physical health.  The mental benefits are also life-changing for you and the person you mentor.

  • Your motivation to exercise increases when you serve as a role model. You'll also inspire yourself to learn more about fitness. Adults who serve as an exercise mentor find that they study and learn the principles of training better as they explain them to others.
  • Get them a good textbook. My books on getting started offer training schedules with support information. You can read more about these at
  • Start with a little exercise, and gradually increase. Children will often do a lot more than they should at first then get sore and discouraged. Hold them back and they can be successful in every workout!
  • Make each session enjoyable - especially during the first month. If your “coachee” is huffing and puffing, slow the pace, walk more slowly, and make other adjustments from the beginning of every exercise session. If there is any sign of struggle, stop for that day. Never push through pain.

Low Blood Sugar

Before a workout, if you suspect that your friend or child is experiencing low blood sugar, eat pieces of an energy bar with water, diet drink, or coffee about 30-45 minutes before the start. Provide a reward after each session - especially a snack to reload the energy stores. The best nutritional formula for a booster snack is 80% carbohydrate and 20% protein. On some special occasions, however, it's OK to have a reward snack that may be a little more decadent than usual.

Find interesting areas where you can exercise - scenic areas, interesting exercise club, etc.

Convenient walking routes near office or home, or a nearby gym can lead to more exercise sessions a year. But once a week or so, an excursion to an interesting area or fun health club venue can be very rewarding. It's great to have variety, and you should give your coachee some choice. 

On each exercise session, have a joke, a juicy story or a controversial issue.

This will break the ice, inject some humor, and result in a positive bonding experience. With beginners (adults or kids) who are struggling with motivation, the humorous moments provide a series of positive reinforcements. 

Structure each session so that there is success.

Don't let the new exerciser do too much—especially during the first few sessions. If walking or running, take liberal rest breaks before you hear the huffing and puffing. If in a gym, move to another exercise before there is fatigue, or heavy breathing.

Don't push too hard, but encourage and reinforce a good attitude.

One of the most difficult decisions in coaching is whether to push or back off—whether to use a pat on the back or a kick in the butt. In general, it is important that the person exercises regularly. When motivation is down, reduce the intensity to reduce discomfort and produce success. The ultimate victory is realized when the new exerciser wants to do it. 

Rewards work!

After a certain number of weeks, or after reaching a certain level of fitness, surprise the coachee with a reward. It doesn't have to be something expensive or exotic. The reward allows the new exerciser to focus on his or her progress, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from steady exercise.

Tell him or her about your mistakes.

Most people learn more from a personal story that has a lesson, than a lecture on the same topic. 

Don't over-sell exercise.

The benefits are so powerful that almost everyone who stays with it for six months will continue. Walking or running with the new athlete on the tough days and congratulating him or her for the dedication are powerful reinforcers. But if your coachee is falling asleep during your one hour speech on the benefits, you know that you've stepped over the line.

Your greatest reward will be an independent fit person.

Take it as a real compliment that your coachee will need less and less of your guidance. This means that you were an excellent coach, and that he or she can find another person to coach. Another life can be enriched.

Join me this year at the @runDisney #WDWMarathon!

Jeff Galloway 

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Another Mother Runner

Tackle The Hills

Although the runDisney courses don’t have crazy hard hills—and, we admit, we’re thrilled they don’t—taking on some climbs while training will make you a stronger, faster runner simply by getting to the top. (We often call hills the best BOGO going: strength + speed in one inclined package.) When you approach a hill on a run, here are some ways to make it (relatively) easier:

Pace yourself. On a short hill—less than 30 seconds—you can put the gas pedal and your head down and just summit the puppy. But on anything longer than that, it's helpful to think about the climb as a well-paced race: start slow and get stronger. It's a huge buzzkill when you’re halfway up a hill and feel like you want to quit, hurl, or both. If you think conservatively at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. (Hah.)


Arm yourself. Runners live in their legs, but we have four limbs for a reason. (And that reason isn't just to fold laundry, wash dishes, pick up piglets and wipe bottoms.) Your feet follow the rhythm your arms set, so get your groove on with your arms. Keep your elbows bent to 90 degrees, and then swing them tightly so your wrists to your elbows graze your sides. When you start a climb, consciously think about transferring the power from your legs to your arms and visualize your arms are doing at least 60 percent of the work of the climb.


Keep your feet quick. Big, lurching steps don't serve you well while running in general, but when it comes to hills, they handicap you big time. Keep your steps short and quick—it can feel a little unnatural, FYI—so you can climb as effectively as possible. Lean into the hill slightly, which makes it feel like you’re not fighting gravity so intensely. Finally, if your calves are whining, make sure you use a full foot strike, and not just stay on your forefoot.


Break it up. If the hill feels intimidating, do not focus on the top. Instead, give yourself mini-goals that will get you to the top: make it to that puddle, that crack in the pavement, that tree. Each taste of success gets you that much closer—and more motivated to get to—the top.


Aim High. Try to not peter when you hit the top of the hill. Get up and over it and then crest it to leave your mark on it. How? Run hard for 10 more steps once you feel the hill level out. Although it's easy in theory because you’re either on flat ground or heading down, it can be challenging in reality. I made it to the top of this fierce hill, and now you want me to continue to run hard? Who are you: my mother?


If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Whole Grains For Runners

With the month of September in the books, the road races are back up to speed and it is officially “National Whole Grains Month.” But what exactly is a whole grain? For a product to be considered as whole grain, 100% of the original kernel – with the bran, endosperm and germ – must be intact.


We see ‘whole wheat’ and ‘whole grain’ labeling in the bread aisle and athletes often ask me what is the best choice. The truth is, they are both great runner fuel. ‘Whole grain’ refers to the entire grain family such as wheat, oat, rye, corn, millet, quinoa, etc. The product might be labeled whole grain if it has a blend of different grains. ‘Whole wheat’ refers to the specific grain, wheat, and that the wheat grains are intact. To ensure the most whole grains, choose 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat products since these confirm that all of the grains in the product are whole and it’s free of refined grains.


It is recommended that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that's at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains per day or at least 48 grams of whole grains daily. Whole grains have been shown to lower diabetes risk, reduce inflammation, and have a greater fiber content than refined grains. Here’s a sneak peek of how to incorporate whole grains into your daily routine.


  • Oats. Start heating up your oatmeal in the morning to increase your protein and complex carbohydrates all while lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol. Choose plain steel-cut oats, old-fashioned oats or rolled oats as they have the entire oat kernel with no added sugar that’s sure to satisfy. You can sprinkle oats on yogurt, smoothies and even mixed with breakfast muffins!


  • Bread. Consuming whole grain bread is one of my favorite ways to get my recommended daily allowance of 48 grams because the slices are packed with them. If you’re looking for a lighter option, try out sandwich thins as a great alternative with only 100 calories.


  • Popcorn. Corn is a whole grain. Thus, popcorn = healthy, without greasy butter, that is. Air-pop 1-2 cups of your own corn kernels and dash with some Parmesan cheese for a little flavor as a go-to afternoon snack. When looking for corn kernels, steer away from labels with “degerminated” because the entire germ of the kernel has been removed!

  • Brown or Colored Rice.  White rice is refined, where the germ and bran are removed so opt for brown rice or any other colored rice like red, black or wild rice. Pair rice as a side dish or mix it into a veggie stir-fry one night. Cooked brown rice can even be stored in the freezer for several months so it’s easy to warm it up for a quick dinner with the family.


Do you get enough whole grains in your diet? Tweet me@DietDivaTara to share your special recipes or snacks that are packed with whole-grain goodness.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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runDisney Mom

Top 5 Tips For Planning Your Rundisney Nighttime Race-Cation

Another runDisney race season has officially kicked off with the 2014 Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend, but now it’s time to take the fun back to Walt Disney World® Resort for the next two race events; The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler Weekend and Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. One of these races will have you reaching a thrilling finish in the shadow of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ attraction and the other is the perfect runners’ night out. Both races have you running under the stars and straight for an after party.

Here are some helpful tips to bring out your inner night owl when planning a runDisney-cation around a nighttime race.

  1. Reset your body clock AND have some fun by selecting activities on Friday night that mimic race hours.

  2. Make Advanced Dining Reservations on race day for breakfast only.
    • Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort are my favorite a la carte options for a late morning breakfast.

    • Snack throughout the day. My advice on maintaining a 4:1 carb/protein ratio; a warm soft-baked pretzel from Germany's Pavilion at Epcot® and a turkey leg from the American Pavilion. We are race-cationing, right?!

  3. Link a credit card to your MagicBand through your My Disney Experienceaccount for a flawless time during the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash or Wine & Dine Finish Line Party.
    • Rock the newest on-course race accessory, a MagicBand, and then use it for purchases as you party into the wee hours of the morning. That’s my kind of Extra Magic(Band) Hours!

    • Please note: FastPass+ will not be available during the post-race parties.

  4. What to bring in your gEAR Bag:
    • Dry clothes
    • Travel-sized pack of baby wipes
    • Towel
    • One two-gallon sized plastic bag for your running clothes
    • Bottle of water
    • Post-race snack

  5. Spend Sunday enjoying the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase®.
    • This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the day tasting your way around the world without the possibility of new and exotic foods derailing your run.

I hope you’re ready to runDisney at night during The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon! These unique nighttime race events offer a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World® Resort during the most festive time of the year!

Do you have questions regarding your fall runDisney race-cation? Send them my way by visiting me over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel!

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Weekend Weather Advisory

There is potential for inclement weather on race evening. The race will be held rain or shine. However, if there is lightning in the area, the race will either have a delayed start or, depending on the intensity of the weather, be cancelled. Delaying or canceling the event is at the discretion of the runDisney Event Management team and is based on ensuring everyone's safety.

Please know that due to rainy conditions in Central Florida all week, parts of the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler course could be unusually soggy and muddy. Be sure to plan accordingly and exercise caution while running through these areas. As a reminder, the registration fee and safety policy are available on All of us at runDisney hope you have a safe, magical run. See you at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

For the most up to date information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Castaway Cay

Set Sail For The New Castaway Cay Challenge Finisher Medal

We hear it all the time, “It’s all about the bling!”  Well today Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend runners who registered for the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay Challenge will not be disappointed as we reveal the treasure waiting for them at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. 

The inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge takes place in January 2015.  Hundreds of runners are combining the excitement of participating in a marathon weekend event with a four-night cruise aboard the Disney Dream.  After running their event at Walt Disney World® Resort, challenge participants set sail on a four-night cruise and run the Castaway Cay 5K to earn the inaugural Castaway Cay Challenge finisher medal.  They will also enjoy exclusive runDisney activities throughout the cruise, including featured menu items, guest speaker session and special merchandise. 

Now some of you might be wondering how can I get one of these amazing medals? 

If you are registered for the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon you still have the opportunity to claim your treasure.  Registered runners can book the four-night cruise aboard the Disney Dream departing Feb. 23 from Port Canaveral, and participate in the Castaway Cay Challenge.

It’s the perfect way to extend your family trip or your ultimate girls weekend and keep the celebration going for four more nights.  In addition to the Castaway Cay 5K and the Castaway Cay Challenge finisher medal, runners can purchase a trip to Senses Spa for a post-race massage, a steam bath or sauna in the Rainforest room.  Continue to relax by the fresh water pools, jetted hot tubs or take an exciting ride on The AquaDuck, a thrilling transparent tube water coaster that actually goes off the side of the ship.  End your days with the girls enjoying a Broadway-style show, or dancing and celebrating the night away in one of several nightclubs.

For more information and to register for the Disney Princess Weekend Castaway Cay Challenge, visit

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Leslie Kay

DisneyBound & runDisney Team Up to Bring You Costume Inspiration For Your Next Race

As a former “kid-who-sat-out-in-gym-class,” I used to care much more about the color of a baseball jersey than I did about hitting a home run (or even just...hitting the ball). Its safe to say running wasnt always my go-to activity, either. However, over the years, Ive grown to love the daily challenge running presents and the rewards a calculated diet gives you.

There are a few beliefs when it comes to running that I havent outgrown. For instance, your running outfit should be one that inspires you to stay active. The more confident you feel in your activewear, the more you will push yourself to achieve your goals. I also still like to believe in the childlike ideal that a brand new pair of sneakers (especially the ones that blink and light-up) will make you run faster. This may not actually be true, but we all remember thinking it to be so as kids – a brand new item added to your running ensemble might just be enough motivation to get you out of a rut.

DisneyBound is a fashion blog that I began a few years ago and was amazed to watch it quickly grow to become an online viral success around the globe even becoming a verb within the Disney community. DisneyBounding uses a Disney character as inspiration to create outfits using trend-worthy pieces in a look that mimics the wardrobe and style worn by the character. Next time you walk through the Disney Parks, keep an eye out for DisneyBounders – if you see a yellow dress, blue cardigan and red hair bow, you may just have a Snow White in front of you. The boy in the black shirt, red shorts and yellow shoes may just be channeling his inner Mickey Mouse.

I am very excited and honored to be teaming up with runDisney to help you channel your Disney Side while still remaining comfortable trying to achieve your fitness goals. Keep an eye out for fashion tips and outfit inspiration perfect for upcoming race weekends!

Leslie Kay of DisneyBound is here to help inspire your runDisney outfits! Tweet her at @LADisneyBound

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Another Mother Runner

Beating the Post-Race Blues

If you just ran the Disneyland® Half Marathon, the weeks after the race can be tough: You feel accomplished, yet let down. Exhausted, but restless. Months ago, you were in the throws of training; just weeks ago, you couldn’t get your mind off the race. Now it’s all in your rearview mirror...sigh. 

What now? Here are some cures for the post-race blues—otherwise known as PRB—that we’ve used and have come from some helpful mother runners on our Facebook page.

Expect them.
When polled, four out of five mother runners said they experienced PRB. Okay, we didn’t get that scientific, but feeling down after a race is as common as a teenager who responds only in monosyllables. “I just finished my first half marathon yesterday,” says Kirsten, a mother runner. “Felt amazing. Better than maybe ever. Today? Bad day. Really bad day.” When you cross a finish line, you feel full of life, pride, accomplishment, and then with every step after it, a little air is released from your “yay me!” bubble. That doesn’t always happen, but realize if it does, it’s totally normal.  

Recap your race.
If you're like us, you’re certain you'll remember that pre-race dinner of your sister-in-law’s favorite pasta dish made you feel like you were hauling rocks in your belly while you ran. Then five months pass, it’s the night before your next race, you think, “Oh yeah, I love that pasta dish,” and you're right back to sinking like a stone. Instead, write down what worked for you and what didn't. Did you start out too fast or cross the finish line with energy left in your engine? Wish you’d run up the hills (they’re over more quickly that way!) instead of walking them?  Take five minutes and write it down. Your log will quickly become a source of insight and inspiration.
But don’t dwell.
Yes, we just told you to pick apart your race, and now we're telling you to let it go. Unless the day was 55 degrees and overcast, your training was flawless, your body just hummed, and your head was focused, chances are there was something to be improved on. Acknowledge it, write it down, then move on. Whether your race made you flush with pride—or regret—celebrate your race for what it was: a day when you put yourself on the line. Not many people willingly put themselves out there. Be proud you did.

Put your legs up.
Although having another goal down the road definitely helps—more on that in a minute—be sure to let your body recover. A helpful, oft-used recovery equation is this: For every mile you raced, enjoy that number of easy days. So for 3.1 miles of a 5K, you'd spend the next three days chilling or doing easy workouts. For a 10K, you've bought yourself nearly a week, and after a marathon, nearly a month. Even though your legs may protest, a short walk or quick spin on your bike the day after a race is always a good call. (Oxygen-rich healing blood to the rescue!) For the rest of your recovery time, realize that "easy" doesn't mean "non-existent." You can—and should—run, but keep your mileage and speed in the low- to moderate-zone so your legs can recover, injuries are kept at bay and you can nail your next race.
Have another finish line in your future.
If you’re training for your first half or full marathon, enter a 5K or 10K six to eight weeks after your longer race. The distance will feel blissfully “short,” and the goal will help keep your juices flowing. (Sign up while you're still training for the double-digit run; sometimes lethargy likes to hang with PRB.) After a marathon, maybe a 10K or a blazing 5K is the right distance.

Take care of yourself…
When you’re feeling yuck, nothing good can come from overdosing on sugar or fried, cheesy things or staying up until 11:30 p.m. to watch “16 Candles” for the 13th time. Instead, eat like you know you should and get to bed early. Caroline, a mother runner, likes to head to a yoga class, read a book and admire her race photos (“admire” was our word…). Similarly, treat your toes to a pedicure or your muscles to a massage.
…and others.
Finally, heed this suggestion from Tammy, a mother runner, who admits she can get a little teary after a race is over. “One thing that always helps me [get over the blues] is to do something for a neighbor or a friend just because. By making someone else happy, it carries over to my own well-being.”

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Goofy Give Back

runDisney Announces The "Goofy Giveback"

Last week millions of viewers across the country witnessed an amazing transformation. They tuned into ABC's hit summer series Extreme Weight Loss and watched as show hosts Chris and Heidi Powell guided a father-daughter team through a reward challenge at the 2014 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna® and completed the Half Marathon in January.

Jeff and Juliana Macht of Colorado spent one year working with the Powell's to change their nutritional habits, adopt a healthy active lifestyle, and and build a closer father-daughter relationship. In total Jeff lost more than 200 pounds and Juliana more than 90 pounds.

The social media response to Jeff and Juliana's story was incredible. Hundreds of viewers shared how they were inspired and motivated by the father-daughter story. Many pledged to make changes and adopt a healthy active lifestyle. Several people expressed that they would like to take participate in the 2015 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend but it was sold out.

Well we have good news for you!

Coming off the success of the season finale show and responding to viewer feedback, we are excited to announce the "Goofy Giveback." Starting today we are taking a limited number of Goofy registrations, breaking up the challenge and opening up additional individual registrations for the 2015 Walt Disney World® Half Marathon and Marathon. You can register for these events by visiting This unique registration period will remain open for 39 days representing the total miles covered in the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. You have until October 24th or until both races reach capacity to take advantage of this special opportunity.

It is important to note we will keep enough spots open for those still looking to take on the 10th anniversary Goofy Race and a Half Challenge and run 39.3 miles over 2-days.

runDisney is committed to helping everyone adopt a healthy lifestyle. We are always listening to our fans and working to create new opportunities and experiences that allow you to set goals, accomplish them and then celebrate at Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® Resorts.

Congratulations Jeff and Juliana on your amazing transformation!

We invite everyone to visit to register for the Walt Disney World® Marathon, Half Marathon and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. We will see you at the finish line in January.

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Another Mother Runner

Five Vocab Words Every Runner Must Know

Most running vocabulary words are sport-specific—tempo, splits, GPS, chafe—but these five universal terms can be much more effective than any workout or piece of gear. Heed them, and your running will be more solid and strong.

Respect yourself enough to turn down commitments that would leave you with no time or energy for yourself—or your running. Then bring along that self-respect when you head out; respect every ligament, tendon, bone and muscle propelling you forward. If one is crying, pull up. Finally, self-respect means honoring your own effort on every run and especially every race. There will always be somebody faster/stronger/leaner/(fill in adjective that you think you’re not) than you. Good for them—but more importantly, good for you. (And if the check-fuel light is on in your self-respect tank, go for a run. It'll automatically refill it.)

Missing a training run, or two, during a cat-is-barfing-and-everybody-else-has-strep-throat week won’t hurt your running. Taking weeks or months off because you’re too stressed/wiped/bloated, however, will. And the last thing you’ll want to do is start running again, because let’s face it: Starting over sucks. Being consistent wears a groove in your brain that makes it crave regular runs, which takes a little pressure off the whole motivation thing. It’s just not so hard to get out the door. So next time you press snooze four times, making you miss a third of your 60-minute run, don’t flake on the rest of your run: Get up and go.

We’re not talking about the kind of patience that stops you from sighing loudly in the long supermarket checkout line—although that’s not a bad thing—but this style of patience you need runs deeper than that: It’s the stoicism to accept the fact a stress fracture doesn’t mend overnight or plantar fasciitis won’t disappear without taking at least a few weeks off. It’s the self-restraint you need to sign up for a 10K and a half marathon (or two) before you register for that marathon it seems all your friends (and neighbors) are running. It’s the patience to be kind to yourself when you want to resume running 10-minute miles, but your running watch won’t budge from 11:00s (and your 4-month-old refuses to sleep through the night). Remember: Good things come to those who wait—or, better yet, keep trying.

We usually associate “stubborn” with a two-year-old who wants to do everything, “self, mama, self,” but STUBBORNNESS has a positive connotation here. You have to be stubborn enough not to allow yourself to flake on training. (See Consistency.) You have to be stubborn enough not to listen to people who wonder why you run because they think, “you don’t look like a runner.” (And quick-witted enough to come up with a really great comeback: Let us know if you have one.) Stubborn enough to not stop at 7 miles when the plan calls for 9. Stubborn enough to keep pressing on the gas pedal at mile 12 in a half marathon when you really, really want to walk. Be stubborn so that you can be part of this special running math: you + stubborn + running = crazy pride.

5. JOY
Okay, we know you’re not finishing every run with an ear-to-ear grin and a Pollyanna attitude. (Heck, we’d settle for that feeling once every month.) But there needs to be some aspect of joy in your running, or else you’ll quit—and we don’t want that, right? Maybe it’s the time with your gossipy friends that brings you joy. Maybe it’s the knowledge that you are 100 percent, totally in control—no partner, child, four-legged, in-law, boss to answer to—that brings you joy. Maybe it’s being able to figuratively flip your (beer-bellied) high school crush the bird at your 20-year high school reunion. Maybe it’s that first sip of wine at 5 p.m., knowing you did 5 miles at 5 a.m., that brings you joy. Whatever it is, seize that feeling when you’re not feeling respectful, consistent, patient or stubborn. And then go chase that joy.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Flor Irlandez

Three Generations Crossing The Disneyland® Half Marathon Finish Line Together

Last year we introduced the runDisney community to 81-year-old Flor Irlandez from Portland, OR.  In 2013 she was the oldest runner to complete the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort.  She ran the Disneyland® 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, a total of 19.3 miles.  This year, she returned to run the Dumbo Double Dare, this time at the age of 82.  Running with two of her daughters, a son in-law and grandson, she once again completed the two-day event and collected three runDisney finisher medals and family memories to last for years.

There are a couple lessons we can take away from Flor’s accomplishment. 

First, we should not let age be a barrier to accomplish our goals.  Flor’s message is simple,“Just get going, not just running, but walking, getting out, sweating… I just feel good after a run, everybody should do it.

Second, participating in a runDisney event can be fun for the entire family.  Flor has inspired three generations to lead a healthy active lifestyle. 

It just makes it fun and it’s no longer about running and racing, but about being together and being healthy as a family,” said Marissa Walker, Flor’s daughter from Berkeley, CA. 

For more information and to register for a runDisney event, visit

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Another Mother Runner

When To Kick Your Kicks

You don’t need much equipment for running, but topping the must-have list is a pair of supportive, well-designed shoes. At about $100 a pop, it’s tempting to try to milk out every last drop of wear from one pair before plunking down plastic to buy another pair. Not a wise move. Here’s how to know when to pony up for a new pair of running shoes:

Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Where you fall on the 300- to 500-mile spectrum depends upon your build, how efficiently you run and the surface you run on.  A small runner doing mostly treadmill jaunts can get more miles out of his or her shoes than a heavier runner hoofing it primarily on pavement. Keep track of the miles on your shoes by making note of the purchase wherever you log your miles. You can also use a marker to write the date you bought them on the tongue of a shoe for a rough idea.

Watch for signs of aging shoes. As your mileage in a pair approaches 300, start to pay attention to any signs that you need a new pair. On regular runs, if the arches of your feet start to ache, your knees feel sore or your shins feel a little twingy, it’s time to go shoe shopping. You’ll feel your shoe’s age before you can see it, and random pains often mean the shock absorbency and support of your shoes is headed south.

Do the twist test. This DIY test allows you to check on the deterioration of your midsole. Grab one of your shoes, and twist the toe and heel in opposite directions. A worn-out midsole is easier to twist than a newer one. (More minimal shoes twist easily, so this test doesn’t work as well for them.) If the sole of your shoe twists more easily than a “Toy Story” ragdoll, it’s not able to support and cushion your steps properly.

Do a side-by-side comparison. Go to your local running store and try on a new pair of your typical shoes. If you feel a huge difference from the ones you’re training in, add to your footwear family. Consider always alternating a couple pairs of shoes as some studies suggest switching pairs helps decrease the risk of injury. Only hitch in this plan? Then you have to keep track of the miles accumulated for each pair.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Dave McGillivray

Why I Rundisney: Dave Mcgillivray

Dave McGillivray is the race director of one of the most prestigious running events in the world, the Boston Marathon.  Every April he and his team put on an elite event, attracting the top marathoners in the world.  It is the one race every runner hopes to qualify for and compete in.   McGillivray is also an accomplished runner who has competed in races around the globe.  At one point in his early years, he literally ran across the country, Medford, OR, to Medford, MA, for charity.  He lives, works, eats and breathes running. 

Running is extremely personal to McGillivray, the roots of which start at an emotional time in his life.  As a child McGillivray wanted nothing more than to be an athlete, but each time he tried to make a team he was faced with a challenge, his size, and turned away.  In elementary school he gave it one last shot and tried out for the basketball team.  Not lacking in ability but lacking in height the coach once again cut him. 

At the age of 12 this was a defining moment in his life.  It was then he decided he would never again let anyone tell him he wasn’t good enough and he took up running because no one can cut you from that.

“Running gives me self confidence, it gives me self esteem, it makes me feel good about myself,” McGillivray said. 

His message to runners and those thinking about starting to run is “never underestimate and never not appreciate where you’re at, that you have this gift to be able to do this (run).” 

“Never take it for granted that you are healthy enough to do this,” he added.  And speaking of health, recently McGillivray was hit with a heart-related health issue and he reminds runners, “That just because you are fit doesn’t mean you are healthy.”

Some of McGillivray’s favorite race memories are those from runDisney events. This veteran of several runDisney marathons and the 2014 inaugural Dopey Challenge gives high marks to the entertainment and excitement for Disney races. 

“It is one of the most well managed, well orchestrated road races I have ever competed in,” McGillivray said.   Having young kids he’s also quick to point out how exciting these destination races are for the entire family.

We hope you will take a moment to be motivated by Dave McGillivray’s story and see the unique way he celebrated his 60th birthday.  There is no doubt Dave McGillivray has gone and continues to go through life running.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories.  To view submissions and to learn how to upload your story, visit

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New Balance Shoes 101

The excitement is certainly mounting for your Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend, but there is also another aspect that’s unique to runDisney fans; the Limited Edition New Balance runDisney Collection.

During the weekend, the process for purchasing shoes will actually begin online.  Participants who are registered for a running event with a bib number can visit the New Balance Virtual Queue website at for all the details on how to register.  The first opportunity for online registration begins on Thursday, August 28 at 6:00 a.m. PDT.

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Another Mother Runner

The Final Countdown To Disneyland® Half Marathon

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy soundtrack, this is it: the final countdown. You’ve done the work, and now you’re in taper mode, if you’re doing Disneyland® Half Marathon. You want to optimize your race experience by treating your well-trained body properly in the hours leading up to the start. Here are a few self-care rules of race prep:

2 Days, Pre-Race

  • Stay hydrated: keep a water bottle at your desk and in your car and sip it regularly.
  • Eat some salty snacks, like pretzels or saltines, to help your body hold onto more water.
  • Carbs are what your muscles use for fuel, so you want to fill them up. Now is not the time to fret about calories. Now is the time, though, to cut down on fiber. We love green vegetables and black beans and the like, but they can, um, backfire during a race.
  • Aim to get some solid shut-eye, especially two nights before the race. Studies have shown that is the night that can affect performance, not the night right before the race. So don’t fret if you toss and turn in the hours leading up to your (super-early!) race-day alarm.

Day Before the Starting Line

  • Do a short run—2-3 miles, max—to get your ya-ya’s out. Plus, it’ll keep your legs fresh and remind you of how fit and ready you are. Doing a set of 4-6 strides—spurts where you gradually pick up the pace for 20 seconds or so—will keep some pep in your step.
  • Continue drinking plenty of caffeine-free liquids—water, decaf tea, milk, sports drinks.
  • Try to kick back—lounge by the pool, read a magazine, watch a DVD. Resist the urge to tour the Disney Parks all day with your family or friends. If nothing else, put your feet up for a few hours in the afternoon.
  • Eat a carbohydrate-packed dinner on the early side…but don’t eat until you’re stuffed. Eating a massive plate of pasta is going to drag you down, not fuel your engines.

Early Morning on Race Day

  • Eat something before you race. You can get through a 5K, and possibly a 10K, on an empty stomach, but unless you have an incredibly sensitive stomach, you need to ingest some calories before going 13.1 miles. A half of a bagel, a sports drink, a handful of cereal…whatever you can stomach.
  • Keep sipping water or a sports drink as you get ready to head to your corral. Sure, it’s a drag to have to hit the port-a-potties before (or during) the race, but it’s better than grinding to a halt because you are dehydrated.
  • Once the race goes off, practice your nutrition and hydration plan as you’ve done during training. Don’t try anything new—wacky flavors or a product you picked up at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo—on race day, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Top 10 Healthy Travel Snacks For Runners

As we gear up for race season, many runners will be catching a flight or driving the distance to their destination city for the big race day. But before you jet set and get ready to go, make sure your carry-on contains one of the essentials: travel snacks.

Packing snacks is the best prevention because temptation is everywhere when you’re traveling. It’s easy to make a high calorie choice at the airport while you’re waiting on your flight or boredom may set in on the long car ride so you pull through the drive thru.

Snacking is meant to bridge the gap from one meal to the next and helps you control portions because they prevent ravenous hunger. Plan ahead by looking at your travel schedule to know how many snacks you need to pack. Can you bring a cooler or do you need to stock up on shelf stable snacks? To help you plan ahead, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 favorite travel snacks for runners.

  • Trail Mix. Toss together pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, raisins, dried tart cherries, whole grain cereal and dark chocolate chips. Pre-portion into individual snack bags for convenience and to prevent mindless munching.
  • Apples & Nut Butter. I always make sure to store single serving containers of peanut butter to-go or almond butter squeeze packets in my carry-on. Pair it with an apple for a super satisfying and nutritious snack!
  • Dry Roasted Edamame. Protein packed, tasty and filling! Pair it with some tart cherries for a sweet and salty bite.

  • Fruit & Nut Bars. Stock up on your favorite bar of choice. Check the ingredient labels to make sure your bar is mostly fruit and nuts and not too high in added sugars. 
  • Popcorn. Fiber-filled and fun for munching. Go light on the butter and you’ve got yourself a healthy, whole grain, low-calorie snack.
  • Oat Bran Muffin. Bake a batch of healthy muffins before you leave for your trip for a homemade snack on the go.

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. Convenient and easy for busy runners.
  • Whole Grain Crackers & Cheese. Nothing is better than the simplicity of cheese and crackers.
  • Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. Yes, I have a chocolate problem :)
  • Hummus & Pretzels To-Go. You can find these conveniently packed and they will help spice up your snack time.

Safe travels and visit the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler Weekend. Have any questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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AT&T Athlete Alerts

Have Your Friends & Family Follow You on Race Day!

So you're getting ready for the upcoming Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend. Made your final training run, check. Packed your Stitch themed running gear, check. Sneakers, check. But there's one more thing we want to make sure you don't forget, and that's telling all your friends and family how they can follow you on your way to the finish line!

Our friends with AT&T have helped to create some enhanced mobile-magic with AT&T Athlete Alerts. If you’ve used runner tracking in prior races, you know it’s fun to have your friends and family receive notifications about where you are on the course and when you finish.  This year runners in the Disneyland® Half Marathon and Disneyland® 10K can choose to have a variety of fun Disney-themed status updates posted directly to their Facebook and Twitter profiles. 

But wait, there’s more!  Not only can Half Marathon and 10K runners communicate to their friends and family, but with the AT&T Text To Screen, friends and family can send text messages for you to see on multiple screens throughout the courses. 

Here’s how you can get set up to experience a little mobile pixie dust:

1) Text your bib number to 345678 to sign up and register for AT&T Athlete Alerts.  You can even sign up the morning of the race!

2) Visit where you can opt in to share your progress with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. 

3) When you visit the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, look for the AT&T Brand Ambassadors at the AT&T kiosk.  Don’t forget to take a selfie with your bib number too!

4) Your friends and family can text messages of support to 567890 (or tweet using #DisneylandHalf) to congratulate you on the big screens along the Half Marathon and 10K courses (depending on the event course, screens will be located at the start line, Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the half marathon only, finish line and Family Reunion area

Have a great time during the weekend events!

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runDisney Mom

runDisneyland: The Happiest Health & Fitness Expo On Earth!

One of the many things you’ll experience as a Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend race participant is attending the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo—a three day event designed to bring the best of the running world directly to you in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” From the latest in high-tech gadgets to official runDisney merchandise, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of all things running, including the best kept secret of any runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, the runDisney Speaker Series.

For me, the Speaker Series has always been one of the best parts of the Expo! I’ve gotten last minute advice from Jeff Galloway on trusting my training and not veering from my plan, I’ve heard Tara Gidus remind runners not to be tempted to try any new food items pre-race, and I have witnessed some incredibly inspiring celebrity testimonies—they’ve had to overcome battles just like us! And this year’s Speaker Series will prove to be just as inspiring!

So get those last minute questions ready, because here’s what you can expect at this year’s Expo:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

4:00 p.m. – 30 mins
Runner’s World Strategy Session
Runner’s World and runDisney have teamed up to put together some helpful tips to make your race day Magical! Covering topics such as what to wear, how to refuel, and race strategy, this session will prepare you for your best race day yet!

5:00 p.m. – 1 hr
Information for Runners and Spectators
Whether you’re running or cheering, our panel of experts will tell you everything you need to know about the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Dumbo Double Dare. We’ve lined up the Race Director, Show Director, spectator experts and the runDisney Mom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel to share all the important details. They’ll also take some time to answer questions from the crowd in an interactive Q&A session.

6:00 p.m. – 30 mins
“I’ve been ready for this my whole life!” - Rudy
Sean Astin, Actor and running enthusiast
Sean Astin, best known for playing Rudy Ruettiger, will inspire you to believe in yourself, never take no for an answer, and that hard work pays off. Sean will also share his motivation for running and leading a healthy, active lifestyle while at the same time balancing family and work.

7:00 p.m. – 1 hr
Even Dumbo Needed a Coach!
Jeff Galloway, Official runDisney Training Consultant
Jeff Galloway’s training programs have helped thousands of runners – and his tips will ensure you can enjoy your Dumbo Double Dare Challenge injury-free and with energy to spare.

Friday, August 29, 2014

11:00 a.m. – 30 mins
Runner’s World Strategy Session
Runner’s World and runDisney have teamed up to put together some helpful tips to make your race day Magical! Covering topics such as what to wear, how to refuel, and race strategy, this session will prepare you for your best race day yet!

Noon – 30 mins
13.1 Tips for the Happiest Race on Earth! Presented by Clif
The Clif Pace Team will share their secrets to help athletes of all abilities run or walk their best half marathon and enjoy the “Happiest Race on Earth!”

1:00 p.m. – 1hr
Information For Runners and Spectators
Whether you’re running or cheering, our panel of experts will tell you everything you need to know about the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Dumbo Double Dare. We’ve lined up the Race Director, Show Director, spectator experts and the runDisney Mom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel to share all the important details. They’ll also take some time to answer questions from the crowd in an interactive Q&A session.

2:00 p.m. – 30 mins
Costume Inspiration for Your Run!
Leslie Kay, DisneyBound
Planning your outfit for the Disneyland® Half Marathon? Leslie Kay of DisneyBound will give you tips on how to put together the perfect character ensemble designed after the character icons of the weekend including Dumbo, Lilo, Stitch, and many more. This is a session you will not want to miss!

3:00 p.m. – 30 mins
“I’ve been ready for this my whole life!” - Rudy
Sean Astin, Actor and running enthusiast
Sean Astin, best known for playing Rudy Ruettiger, will inspire you to believe in yourself, never take no for an answer, and that hard work pays off. Sean will also share his motivation for running and leading a healthy, active lifestyle while at the same time balancing family and work.

4:00 p.m. – 30 mins
Even Dumbo Needed a Coach! Presented by Florida Hospital with Jeff Galloway, Official runDisney Training Consultant
Join Jeff Galloway and Florida Hospital to learn the famous run/walk training program, stretching and recovery methods, as well as an interactive Q&A session. Enjoy your race injury-free, so you can celebrate like an Elephant who can fly!

5:00 p.m. – 30 mins
The Cinderella Story: Proof a Pair of Shoes Can Change Your Life presented by New Balance
The shoe experts from New Balance will show you how finding the right fit can improve your running, just like it changed Cinderella’s life. Then, learn how to put those shoes to even better use with the New Balance Good Form Running Clinic, where you’ll learn the four crucial elements that can turn running into a more enjoyable (and less painful) experience. Leave those glass slippers at home - you’ll want your running shoes to participate in some “feet on” learning.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

10:00 a.m. – 30 mins
The Cinderella Story: Proof a Pair of Shoes Can Change Your Life presented by New Balance
The shoe experts from New Balance will show you how finding the right fit can improve your running, just like it changed Cinderella’s life. Then, learn how to put those shoes to even better use with the New Balance Good Form Running Clinic, where you’ll learn the four crucial elements that can turn running into a more enjoyable (and less painful) experience. Leave those glass slippers at home - you’ll want your running shoes to participate in some “feet on” learning.

11:00 a.m. – 1 hr
Costume Inspiration for Your Run!
Leslie Kay, DisneyBound
Planning your outfit for the Disneyland® Half Marathon? Leslie Kay of DisneyBound will give you tips on how to put together the perfect character ensemble designed after the character icons of the weekend including Dumbo, Lilo, Stitch, and many more. This is a session you will not want to miss!

Noon – 30 mins
“I’ve been ready for this my whole life!” - Rudy
Sean Astin, Actor and running enthusiast
Sean Astin, best known for playing Rudy Ruettiger, will inspire you to believe in yourself, never take no for an answer, and that hard work pays off. Sean will also share his motivation for running and leading a healthy, active lifestyle while at the same time balancing family and work.

1:00 p.m. – 30 mins
13.1 Tips for the Happiest Race on Earth! Presented by Clif
The Clif Pace Team will share their secrets to help athletes of all abilities run or walk their best half marathon and enjoy the “Happiest Race on Earth!”

2:00 p.m. – 30 mins
Even Dumbo Needed a Coach! Presented by Florida Hospital with Jeff Galloway, Official runDisney Training Consultant
Join Jeff Galloway and Florida Hospital to learn the famous run/walk training program, stretching and recovery methods, as well as an interactive Q&A session. Enjoy your race injury-free, so you can celebrate like an Elephant who can fly!

3:00 p.m. – 1 hr
Information For Runners and Spectators
Whether you’re running or cheering, our panel of experts will tell you everything you need to know about the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Dumbo Double Dare. We’ve lined up the Race Director, Show Director, spectator experts and the runDisney Mom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel to share all the important details. They’ll also take some time to answer questions from the crowd in an interactive Q&A session.

Isn’t that a great lineup! And I’ll be there too, answering any of your last minute Disneyland® Half Marathon vacation planning questions. I hope to see you there!

Do you have a runDisney vacation-planning question? Visit me on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and send them my way! 

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Another Mother Runner

REST: Not a four-letter word

When you’re training for a race, it’s easy to let enthusiasm propel you out the door to run every single day. Maybe it’s nerves that rev you up. You’re worried you won’t be ready at the starting line if you give yourself a break from running before race day.

Regardless, you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and then repeat after us: Recovery is as important as running.

It may seem counterintuitive, but to reap the benefits of your workouts, you need to take a day or two a week off from working out. Not to get all science-y on you, but exercise makes little tears in your muscles. When you give those muscles time to repair themselves, it makes them stronger. If you don’t give them time, guess what? They don’t heal and eventually your performance—and even your health—can suffer. Rest and recovery is as much a part of race preparation as eating right, stretching and doing weekly longer runs.

Rest comes in two varieties: complete and active. A day of complete rest means no exercise, just going about your daily living: going to work, grocery shopping, hanging with friends or family or even watching a movie. Active rest, as its name implies, involves doing some activity, like swimming, walking, or yoga, instead of running. The former is good because it keeps you mentally fresh, so you’re looking forward to the next workout (and gives you a day off to take care of tasks you may not have had time to complete when training), while the latter is helpful because movement speeds oxygen-rich, healing blood to get to your injured muscles faster. Both are beneficial.

Rest and recovery, or R&R, sounds easy, but just in case it doesn’t feel easy to you, here are some pointers:

  • Experiment with what works for you. For some people, taking a complete rest day each week makes them stronger and more energetic; others prefer active rest to complete rest. 

  • If you opt for active rest, realize the optimal word is rest. It doesn’t mean intervals on the bike or an ultra-intense yoga class that gets your quads shaking. It means an easy 20 to 45 minute workout that gets your blood flowing and heart pumping. Walk with a friend, take your dog on a fun hike or take an easy yoga class—whatever suits your mood.

  • Listen to your body on a daily basis. If you don’t have a rest day on your schedule, but feel sluggish or achy, take the day off totally and pick up where you left off the next day. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy; it means you’re smart.

  • Recovery doesn’t only happen on rest days. Also key is ample amounts of sleep; seven to eight hours nightly is ideal. When you’re training, eat the way you know you should, being sure you refuel within 30 minutes after a workout with carbs and protein (a glass of chocolate milk does the trick). If you can swing it, get a massage regularly or invest in a foam roller to keep your muscles supple and ready to run.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Tara Gidus

Hydration 101: What To Drink?

Living in Florida we experience on a daily basis how hydration can directly impact running performance, especially when the humidity rises in the summer months! Yuck. Minimal decreases in body weight while running (1-2 percent sweat loss) can impact endurance and severe dehydration can be grounds for heat related illness. But why does this hydration thing have to be so complicated? The answer, it doesn’t.

Keeping fluid levels in check during a run is not as complicated or as scary as people make it out to be. So here is the low down: When you run, you sweat. When you sweat, you lose water and precious electrolytes that allow your muscles to fire with every stride. What is lost in sweat needs to be replenished to prevent any decrease in performance and prevent heat related illness. The other dilemma: what to hydrate with?

Here are some options you may choose to hydrate with before, during or after a run:

  • Water. Up to 70 percent of our body is water. Water is essential to human life so staying hydrated during a run is crucial. Water hydrates just fine for shorter runs and is what you should drink throughout the day. If exercising in hot conditions, or if you’re out for more than an hour, your best bet is to use sports drinks.

  • Coconut Water. Coconut water is a great low carbohydrate, naturally sweet, and a nutrient rich choice to replace lost fluids and replenish potassium. (Note: most people don’t meet 50 percent of their potassium needs). I love adding coconut water to my pre or post-workout smoothie made with fresh fruit and salt to get all the nutrients I need.  It does not, however, contain enough sodium to be the sole source of fluid during a long run. 

  • Chocolate Milk. This kiddie favorite is great to grab right after a run to promote recovery. Drinking chocolate milk post-run contains the amino acid leucine needed for muscle protein synthesis. Chocolate milk also restores the carbohydrates used to fuel muscles during a run and contains vitamin D and calcium needed for bone health.

  • Sports Drinks. Commercial sports drinks are good for supplying electrolytes and fueling muscles with carbohydrates to aid in hydration and prevent dehydration related muscle cramps. Consume sports drinks during workouts lasting longer than an hour by taking a few gulps every 15 minutes.

  • High Electrolyte Drinks. This new breed of sports drinks contains extra electrolytes for heavy sweaters and endurance athletes. I like to use these products during my long training runs and races.

  • 100% Fruit Juice. Choosing to hydrate with fruit juice right before or during a run is not optimal because the concentration of carbs in the liquid causes it to be absorbed slower and can cause stomach upset with activity. However, 100% fruit juices do have anti-inflammatory compounds that can promote recovery, so drink them post workout to recover faster and rehydrate.  

With this knowledge you can arm yourself with the hydration tools you need to power through those long training runs in the dead of summer. And, wherever your running adventures take you… HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!

Have any questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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I runDisney For Those I Couldn't Help – I Am Running For Charity

I runDisney For Those I Couldn't Help –
I Am Running For Charity

At 34-years-of-age, Tisa Daniels of Round Hill, VA, is a wife, a mother of two boys and a runner.  Four years ago Daniels returned to the sport to accomplish two things; fight off weight gain as she quit smoking cold turkey and start living a healthy active lifestyle to be a role model for her oldest son.  A couple years later after taking a 15-month break to have her second child, Daniels would again look to running to help battle through postpartum depression.   

Today Daniels is running strong as a veteran of several 5K and 10K events.  Her current goal is to run the Glass Slipper Challenge at the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Networks Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort, Feb. 19-22.  Running a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday will push her body to new limits, but the distance and physical challenge is not all that's new.   This time she is running for a cause, she is running for charity.

Daniels is thankful that her kids have not needed the services of a Children's Miracle Network Hospital, but working as a social worker at a Level 1 Trauma Center she has witnessed firsthand the blessing these facilities bring to kids and parents.  It is for those kids, and kids of future generations needing a local hospital that she has dedicated these races to raise money for CMN Hospitals.

“I am running Disney as a charity run to help all the families I have seen though the years but couldn’t help,” Daniels said.

Running for charity is a great way to add more meaning to your experience and offers you a chance to give back to people and organizations in need.  Starting with the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, runDisney is excited to offer our charity partners the opportunity to use CrowdRise.  This registration platform makes it easier for runners to find a charity, register for an event, then track and share their fundraising progress with friends and family.

As Daniels says, "It is the ultimate gift to be able to raise money to help families who you don't know, who you'll never meet, who need it."

To get information on running for a participating runDisney charity, visit CrowdRise.  And click here if you want to join Daniels and run the 2015 Princess Half Marathon presented by Children Miracle Network Hospitals.

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Villains runDisney:
Chapter 6 – CAPTAIN HOOK

Runners have channeled their inner evil by displaying a variety of villainess styles. On our rundisney courses we’ve seen the bad-girl finesse of Cruella De Vil, the purple envy of the Evil Queen, the puffy sleeves of torment worn by the Evil Stepsisters, the horn headpiece of Maleficent, and the playing cards of the Queen of Hearts. However, the reign of villains is never ending in Disney’s history. To close our “Villains runDisney” series let’s not forget the “the world’s most famous crook,” Captain Hook.

The antagonist of Peter Pan, Captain Hook sailed the seas seeking his revenge but was relentlessly hunted by the crocodile that acquired a taste for the Captain.
Though known for his failures, Hook has been seen successfully crossing the finish line of our races possibly fleeing for his life, chasing after Peter Pan, or trusting his dim-witted mate Mr. Smee.

Once you hear the ticking clock, DON’T STOP! Keep running!

Some Captain Hook runners have been spotted wearing a crimson coat with gold lining and a gold buckle, a large black hat with a lavender feather, black pants, long white socks, black boots, and the most important necessity to obtain the Captain's look... the hook! 

Check out a few menacing Captain Hook looks from races below:

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New Challenge, New Medal For Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort

New Challenge, New Medal For Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort

Well runDisney fans, Tinker Bell is at it again!

With a little faith, trust and pixie dust, runDisney introduces the Pixie Dust Challenge for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland® Resort, May 7-10, 2015.  Runners who complete the Tinker Bell 10K on Saturday and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Sunday will receive the inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge medal, in addition to your 10K and half marathon medals!

Whether you participate in the runDisney Kids Races, the Never Land 5K, the Tinker Bell 10K or the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, runners can expect Disney entertainment and excitement throughout each race.  Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and Fairies will cheer you on all weekend long as you make your runs through Neverland and the amazing Disneyland® Resort and along the historic and charming streets of Anaheim.

Registration for the Pixie Dust Challenge and all Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend events opens on Tuesday, August 12, Noon EDT / 9 am PDT, at

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runDisney Mom

Run Disneyland - Preparing For The Happiest Race Of Earth

Another runDisney race season is fast approaching! And if you’re a fan of running at Disneyland® Resort, this year will prove to be especially magical with the addition of the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend in November, and the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in January. But we can’t forget it all starts with the Happiest Race on Earth, Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend, August 28-31.

I have such fond memories of a childhood surrounded in the magic of Disneyland®. It’s where I first believed dreams could come true and where my love for all things Disney Parks began. It’s these special memories that make the Disneyland® Half Marathon Weekend my favorite event in the runDisney race series.

There are some other great reasons I love running at Disneyland® Resort, aside from the pixie-dusted memories, that may serve as great tips for you too!

  • The first four miles of this course are comprised mostly of running through the theme parks, making it a great way to encourage negative splits as you take your time through the Parks to get those coveted photos.
  • Once you’ve exited the theme parks, you hit the streets of Anaheim and are ready to open up and just run!
  • You get the opportunity to experience a slight relief in road running as you navigate the Santa Ana River Trail and varied running terrain, like soft dirt.
  • You’ll approach the Angel Stadium of Anaheim at the 15K split, in addition to the Clif Shot Station. Whether you take the Clif Shot or not, this is a great time to refuel and take in the sights of the stadium as you run the warning track of the hometown team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  
  • Exit the stadium and open it back up as you head for the finish line.                                   

The Disneyland® Half Marathon course is fast and flat with only two measurable inclines, but I have some tips to make your time on the course as enjoyable as possible.

  1. We may begin in darkness of early morning, but by the time you exit Disneyland® Park and turn east onto Ball Road, you will experience the sun in all its glory directly in your eyes. Bring sunglasses and head gear!
  2. Hydrate early! Hydrate often! Weather for this race has ranged from excessively humid, by California standards, to cool and dry, when it’s not as easy to recognize you’re in need of fluids. Stick to a sound hydration plan.
  3. Expect a high number of turns through the streets of Anaheim. I advise looking at the course map prior to race time to mentally familiarize yourself with when these turns may occur.  
  4. Be ready to embrace considerable spectator support throughout the entire course - the best I’ve seen at any runDisney event! No matter what happens out there, take in the support of these strangers ready to ChEAR you on to the finish.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you plan and prepare to runDisneyland. See you on the course!

Do you have a runDisney vacation-planning question? Visit me on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and send them my way! 

Faith is the runDisney specialist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Another Mother Runner

Finding The Perfect Easy Run Pace

It seems almost—dare we type it?—goofy, but no matter what pace you want to achieve in a race, it’s important to do the majority of your training at an easy pace. This allows you to build a solid base of endurance so you can go the distance, whether that’s a 5K at the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend or 26.2 miles at the Walt Disney World® Marathon.

Yet what qualifies as “easy”? It’s important to keep in mind that pace recommendations, or even a GPS watch, don’t get the final say on your pace any given day. You do. Easy should feel like just that: pretty simple. Obviously, you’re sweating and working hard because that’s just what happens when you run, but when you’re running easy, you should be able to carry on a conversation and not feel terribly taxed in your lungs, legs or any other part of your body. An easy run, on a scale of 1 (lying on the couch) to 10 (sprinting for your life) is around a 4.

After a good night's sleep and relatively little recent life stress, a 10:30 pace may feel just perfect. You're not breathing too hard, your limbs are feeling light and fluid. On the other hand, if your previous night’s duties included at least one wake-up from a kid (two-legged or four-legged) or your quads are sore to the touch (thanks, squats!) or it’s extra-humid, a 10:30 pace may feel downright impossible. On days like that, slow down until you find a pace that approximates that easy-to-breathe, light, fluid feeling. It may be a 10:45, it may be an 11:45.

Doesn't matter what the digits say. Going after that easy-run feeling is more important than any specific pace or number—which is easy enough to remember, right?

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Another Mother Runner

Intervals 101

Intervals: They are one element in what coaches sometimes refer to as “speed play,” yet these accelerated bursts in a run aren’t always exactly fun and games. They do, however, make you a faster runner, which isn’t exactly a ride on California Screamin’, but is still kind of fun, right?

Here is an interval primer if you’re thinking of giving them a whirl:

Consider doing intervals for the first few times on a treadmill. With the readout and buttons in front of your face, it’s easier to see—and control—your pace. It takes away the guesswork and intimidation.

The shorter the interval, the faster/harder you may run. This means 30-second intervals should be more intense than 5-minute ones. That said, never flail or overdo it. While doing intervals, you should always feel in control of your stride so never go all-out.

The work should gradually get harder, both in the wide and narrow view. If you’re doing six intervals, numbers one and two are “easy.” Three and four feel harder. However, five and six? You may be cursing our good names (which we are totally fine with, by the way). Likewise, if you’re doing a one-minute interval, the first 20 seconds are a cruise. The second 20 is a faster cruise and the third 20 is a leg-burning cruise. An interval shouldn’t feel hard from the start; in fact, it’s in the last third of an interval, no matter what the length, that you want to hit about 80 percent of your max.

Recover properly. Time between intervals usually takes two forms: either a specific time (two minutes) or a feeling (“fully recovered”). With either method, try not to stop moving; you recover much more quickly in motion. Resting your hands on your knees and begging for mercy is not a good recovery option. It’s A-OK to walk for a bit, then run easily, then walk again right before starting the next interval. If there’s a certain time between intervals, realize you might not feel 100 percent before you start another pace pick-up. If you’re supposed to recover fully, do that, but don’t milk it: too much time between intervals slows your momentum and actually makes them feel tougher.  

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Villains runDisney: Chapter 5- Queen Of Hearts

Villains runDisney:
Chapter 5 - Queen Of Hearts

If I lose my temper, you lose your head! Understand?"

We’ve seen many different villainesses run through our courses but none quite like the comical Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland.”  Our “Villains runDisney” series began with some truly wicked Disney villains, including Cruella De Vil, the Evil Queen, the Evil Stepsisters and Maleficent. In this chapter, we will learn that no one crosses the Queen of Hearts or it will be off with our heads!

The Queen of Hearts is the mad ruler of Wonderland who encounters a lost Alice in her rose garden where someone has been painting her roses red. If anyone at a runDisney race were to challenge the Queen of Hearts she would proclaim the popular phrase, “Off with their heads!”

At our races, the Queen of Hearts runs wearing a black and red skirt and top with a gold crown and hearts galore. Some Queen of Hearts runners even deck out in playing cards.

Remember, don't be late like the White Rabbit in putting together your Queen of Hearts costume!

Take a look below at some of our elaborate Queen of Hearts runners from our races:

Next up: Chapter 6 - Captain Hook

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runDisney Mom

The Magic of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Like most runDisney participants, my first experience with the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex came as a runner while attending Disney’s Fit for a Princess Health & Fitness Expo. I remember I was immediately taken aback by the caliber and quality of the facilities and was very excited to finally be seeing them for myself. My thoughts: It’s a magical “World” of sports! A total touchdown, home run, and goal in my book of athletics and I didn’t know half of what exciting things really happen in this unique, first-class 220-acre complex. Then, as part of the inaugural 2012 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10-Miler I had the opportunity to actually tour the Complex....Ok, run through the Complex as the course for this race had us weave through various walkways in and around several of the Hess Sports Fields. As a soccer mom, I was very impressed with the condition of the soccer fields. Oh, how I wanted take off my shoes and run barefoot through the immaculate grass!

A few months later I was back again for another Disney Health & Fitness Expo; this time as a Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge participant during the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna®. As I stood in the central courtyard area, near the Welcome Center, a highlight reel featuring Disney Soccer played on the jumbotron between two race segments and we stopped in our tracks to watch. At that moment I longed to be able to give my son the opportunity to play a sport he loved, in a location that serves as a source of magical vacation memories for my family.

As an adult, my son will most likely forget many of the places he’s played during his fleeting childhood, but he’ll never forget the times he played in the heart of Walt Disney World® Resort at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It’s the only place in the world where you can be on the fields with Mickey in the morning, and on Splash Mountain by evening.

That experience is what sent me on a journey of learning not just about Disney Soccer, but about the Complex itself.

Do you have a runDisney vacation planning question? Visit me on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and send them my way! 

Faith is the runDisney specialist on Disney Parks Moms Panel, here to answer your questions and to help you plan your runcation!

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Tara Gidus

Staying Cool in the Summer

It’s blistering hot here in Orlando and I’m sure it feels equally as hot where you are. I’m all about getting my sweat on, but after I get my run in staying cool is a priority. I try to stay ahead of the heat by running before the sun comes up, but it’s been tough to beat the heat lately. No matter how early I get out, the humidity and heat are on! 

As much as I wish it were fall already, I know these hot runs have a purpose in my training and they will make me a better runner when it begins to cool off.  And of course I turn to food to help me recover – I know, so sports nutritionist of me.

I cannot get enough frozen fruit, especially grapes from California this summer. They are delectable on their own and mixed with other fruits and greens in a smoothie, they are oh-so-refreshing.  Grapes of any color (red, green, or black) contain beneficial antioxidants that occur naturally in all grapes called polyphenols.  You’ve likely heard of the heart-healthy compound resveratrol, and possibly used it as an excuse to remove any guilt for drinking red wine, right?  Well, hate to burst your bubble, but resveratrol is found in the skins of grapes of all colors.  A serving of grapes (3/4 cup) has 90 calories, no fat, and no cholesterol. 

Many of you have requested nutrition information, so I’ve added it below. This recipe is bursting with potassium, an electrolyte lost through sweat, and it’s a great source of carbohydrates to restore glycogen in the muscle.

This smoothie would be amazing (and recovery-like) paired with a turkey sandwich or eggs and Canadian bacon to up the protein. Or guzzle it down pre-workout, since it is low fat it’s easier to digest right before a workout.

Beat the heat and get a dose of greens this summer with a green grape smoothie!

What do you eat to cool down after a hot run?

Grapes & Greens Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup frozen grapes (red, green, or black)
1 frozen banana
¼ cup frozen pineapple
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup spinach
1 cup kale, stems removed
½ cup kefir
½ cup coconut water
½ to 1 cup ice

Place all ingredients, except ice into blender. Blend until greens are pureed; add ice to desired consistency.  Serve immediately.

Note:  If you’re not a fan of kefir, sub in milk or Greek yogurt.  If you sub with yogurt, you may need some extra coconut water if it’s too thick to blend properly.

NUTRITION (serving size: ½ recipe): 202 calories, 2g total fat, 31mg sodium, 837mg potassium, 52g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 35g sugar, 4g protein, 134% vitamin A, 97% vitamin C, 9% calcium, 8% iron

Questions or comments? Tweet me @DietDivaTara

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.

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Another Mother Runner

Recovering After a Long Run

Even though you might have a summertime 5K on your mind, training season for fall half and full marathons will soon be here—and, if you’re aiming for 13.1 or 26.2 in the next few months, you’ll be logging double-digit miles in between trips to the pool. Although you may wish otherwise, long runs don’t end when you hit your appointed mileage; self-care after extended efforts is key so you can both avoid injury and be fresh for your next workout.

Here are three must-do’s after a long run:

1. Refuel quickly. Even if your stomach is feeling a little sloshy after a long run, getting in a mix of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of the end of your run is vital to help your muscles speed on their way to recovery. You don’t have to invest in high-end protein smoothies: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread works well, as does a glass of low-fat chocolate milk, which contains many of the same elements as sports drinks like sodium, magnesium and potassium.

2. Foam roll that day. You can decide if you’d rather hit the floor to iron out tight muscles right after your run or if you’d rather shower, go about your day, maybe nap, and then give them some TLC before bed. Although foam rolling isn’t exactly pleasant, releasing your quads, calves, hips, hamstrings and glutes will also greatly aid your recovery. Think of it a DIY massage session.

3. Wear compression wear. Maybe on that day but definitely that night. If you own a pair of compression calf sleeves or socks, now’s the time to pull them out. Post-run, the extra squeeze helps oxygen-rich, healing blood circulate more efficiently through your lower legs. Read: you’ll feel less swelling and more pep in your step—both useful as you look forward to your next long run.

If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or question you’d like us to answer, let us know at @TheMotherRunner or on our Facebook page. Thanks and many happy miles!

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the authors of Another Mother Runner and official contributors to runDisney.

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Villains runDisney: Chapter 4 – Maleficent

Villains runDisney:
Chapter 4 – Maleficent

You poor, simple fools. Thinking you could defeat me. Me, the mistress of all evil!”

Next up in our “Villains runDisney” series is one of the most malicious Disney villains in history. Our series began with Cruella De Vil, the Evil Queen, the Evil Stepsisters and now the “mistress of all evil” Maleficent gives runners the motivation to defeat all those that stand in his or her way.

As one of the most powerful Disney villains, Maleficent is cruel and sinister; willing to do whatever it takes to get her way.

On our runDisney courses, we’ve seen many different interpretations of Maleficent. Some runners have been spotted wearing Maleficent’s full-out wardrobe, including a thick black and purple cloak, a horn headpiece and her magical staff with her pet raven on top of it. We’ve also seen runners wearing Maleficent’s version of Mickey ears along with a black top with a purple skirt.

Do you think you’re ready to take on the running style of the “mistress of evil”? Check out some of our most vicious Malificent’s below:

Next up: Chapter 5 - Queen of Hearts