runDisney Marathon Packing List
If you’re planning to race in a runDisney Marathon or other event, you need to pack the right things. It turns out running at Walt Disney World or Disneyland isn’t as simple as lacing up your shoes and, well, running. Who knew?! I’ve learned this the hard way from the Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon, as I was woefully under-prepared for both races–and not just in terms of training.
Prior to them, one of the upsides to running was–I thought–aside from the pricey race registrations, it would be a super cheap hobby. Turns out that, while not expensive, it’s not exactly free to run if you want to have a comfortable experience. I’d say you probably want to be as comfortable as possible if you’re running 13.1 or more miles.
In light of this, as I prepare for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in January and possibly the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon in September, I’ve started buying things to make my race experience more enjoyable. I’m guessing I’m not the only naive running newbie who also might have had misconceptions about the relative “cheapness” of running, so hopefully these ideas help runDisney beginners. The first few things are fairly obvious (maybe?) pieces of attire, followed by what I think is the less intuitive stuff.
Let’s take a look at some of these things, plus suggestions from other runners that I am still contemplating purchase…
Running Shoes – What I’ve come to realize isn’t so obvious is that you should not simply pick the flyest pair of Nikes on the shelf at Foot Locker. Instead, go to a specialty running shoe store and have them fit you for a shoe based upon your running strike, foot size, etc. Since they do so much work, this is one situation where I don’t use B&M stores as “online showrooms.” When I was looking for my shoes, I avoided popular/heavily marketed sneaker brands, and instead focused on performance brands with reputations among runners like Brooks, Asics, and Saucony. Your mileage may vary on brands.
Running Socks – Another possibly obvious one, but if it prevents even one person from running in ordinary cotton socks, it’s worth it. Some people swear by more expensive pairs (ones that cost $10-20 per pair), but I tend to ruin socks pretty quickly, so I opt for cheaper options. I’ve never had issues with them. Likewise, you’re going to want to wear athletic underwear on the day of the runDisney event.
Running Shorts – Readers used to make fun of me for wearing basketball shorts during runDisney events. I realize it’s my moral responsibility as a blogger to give the people what they want: a better look at my milky-white calves and *ahem* less left to the imagination in my critically-acclaimed running selfies, so I’m bought these. You all know I’m distinctly patriotic, and I’ve learned these shorts are for freedom lovers everywhere, so I got those, too. Or not. I actually just got a pair of Nike DryFit shorts.
Compression Pants – Far more important than switching my shorts, for me at least, was compression pants. I think these made a huge difference for me, both increasing circulation during the race while I ran and preventing my legs from swelling afterwards to speed recovery. I read a lot about these before buying, and thoughts are mixed as to whether they actually work or if it’s placebo effect. All I know is that last year I could barely walk the day after the marathon, and this year I ran 4 consecutive races and had almost no pain after the full marathon. Even if that was all in my head, I’ll take it! Going forward, I plan on using compression pants post race, and these calf sleeves during the race. I was too hot with full length compression pants towards the end of the marathon (you can see them pulled up on the photo above).
Mylar Thermal Blankets – I remember hearing horror stories a few years ago about how cold it was at the starting line. Remember, most of these events start early in the morning, and it’s dramatically colder at 4:30 a.m. than it is at 9 a.m. during the middle of the race, when you want to be wearing only shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. Thermal blankets are great for keeping warm at the start of the race and discarding once it starts (“garbage clothes” also work, and Disney donates these to charity, but mylar blankets will take up less room in your suitcase).
If you’re doing the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, refer to our Packing for Disney Parks in Winter post for other general packing suggestions.
Fanny Pack – Want to look cool in the eyes of a time traveler from 1989? Then a fanny pack is for you! You will definitely want one for your phone, wallet, energy gels/blocks, and various other things. Novelty Disney fanny packs can be found on eBay, and for my first Walt Disney World Marathon, I ran with a boss Figment one and was clearly the envy of all other runners. Unfortunately, this was super uncomfortable, and not recommended for anyone who is “serious” about running. Instead, I now use the Alaska Bear Reflective Running Belt. It’s low profile, comfortable, and holds a surprising amount. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make quite the tubular fashion statement of an old school neon pink fanny pack, but it does the trick.
Bluetooth Wireless Headphones – There’s a caveat to this one: I don’t use headphones at all during runDisney events, but use them religiously in all other circumstances to keep myself hyped. During runDisney events, I actually prefer the sights and sounds of the event itself to keep my hyped. Everyone will have their own preference on this, but for me these are a training tool, not something I actually pack. I go with cheaper ones because our cat likes to chew headphone cords for some reason so I’d rather not be out $100 when he invariably does that. Sound quality is good, but not great in these.
BodyGlide – This post is bound to go down as the most explicit one in the history of this normally family friendly blog, but this is an epidemic too big to ignore: nipple chafing. I didn’t realize this was a thing until I suffered it myself, and dear lord is it painful. Guys, I don’t care if you totally disregard all of my other advice and run in tight-fitting stonewash jeans and some Sperry Top-Siders, you must apply a liberal coating of Bodyglide to your nipples (and possibly elsewhere) before the race. You’re welcome.
Trail Toes – Like the more rugged version of BodyGlide, Trail Toes is an excellent option for preventing blisters and soreness on your feet, thighs, or anywhere else. If you are plagued by more than just nipple chafing, this is the more durable and versatile product.
Rock Tape – This is another, versatile and customizable option for compression, muscle protection, and stress relief for during and after running. I like it around my knees, but I’ve heard of others applying it to their calves, feet, and even lower back. If you have particular, localized muscle pain that sleeves or compression pants can’t address, this is a great option.
Clif Shot Bloks – So everyone has their preference for energy prior to and during runDisney races. Mine is, without a doubt, the shot bloks, and I prefer the variety with caffeine; black cherry (most caffeine) and tropical punch (best taste) are my favorites. While the Clif Shot Energy Gel is also effective, you almost have to wait until you’re at a water station for this, as you will feel like a dog that has just eaten a spoonful of peanut butter if you don’t have something the rinse out your mouth after using the energy gels.
Clif Bars – I take these high-protein bars hiking, camping, running, and beyond. I order via Amazon Subscribe & Save when they are around $1/bar. My favorite in terms of flavor is the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut variety, but in terms of nutritional value, the Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bars are best (I spent about 20 minutes one day comparing them all in the store).
Running Watch – This is one with which I’m still struggling. I know I need one. Yes, need one. See above for Exhibit A as to why. That’s my iPhone, which was a casualty to my sweating during the Disneyland Half Marathon. Thanks for a lot of reader feedback, I’ve narrowed my choices to here to the following options…
Garmin Forerunner 220 – Given the response given when I posed this question in Part 2 of my Disneyland Half Marathon Trip Report, plus my own independent research, this seems to be by far the most popular choice for watches among serious runners. I like that it has GPS and offers distance and pace information, as well as tracking and integration with social media, all of which I think will up my motivation level when training. I’ve also thought about the newer Garmin Forerunner 225, but a heart rate sensor built into the wrist isn’t worth another $100 to me. Your mileage may vary.
Garmin Vivoactive – On paper, this seems like the ideal product for me that’s currently on the market. On the one hand, it sounds like the perfect marriage of smartwatch and running watch with app notifications, GPS, and a fairly extensive feature set. On the other hand, there have been an inordinate number of complaints about stability & bugs. Still, it’s newer and sounds like it offers incredible bang for buck. Bugs can be fixed via firmware updates, so I’m not overly concerned about some of those complaints. I’m big on value, and this seems to offer a lot of that, making it neck and neck with the Forerunner 220 for me in terms of what I’ll probably get.
Fitbit Surge – This sounds a lot like the Vivoactive in being smartwatch + running watch, albeit with not quite as many bells and whistles. Its feature set extends beyond the running set, GPS running watch features. However, there are a concerning number of negative reviews, and it sounds like the features don’t work as well in the field as they sound on the spec sheet. That, plus the added cost…
iWatch 2nd Generation – This is the real wildcard for me and what gives me pause before buying anything. The first generation iWatch is not as robust as I’d like for pure running purposes (namely, it has no GPS). However, Apple has demonstrated a keen ability to iterate on first gen products, making the second generation the truly “killer app.” It’s a question of whether the next one will improve upon the flawed first generation enough for me to go with it instead of a dedicated running watch.
Do any of you runners have other suggestions for running/smartwatches, or further thoughts on the ones I’ve mentioned above?
This is my work-in-progress packing list so far based on what I’ve packed–and failed to pack–specifically for runDisney events. More seasoned runners might take some additional items, but I view these as some of the essentials. In terms of what you bring on race day itself, that’s going to vary from person to person. I know a lot of people like to bring bags with changes of clothing, flip flops, and the like, but lines at bag check are always long, so I always opt to return to my hotel to change and recuperate before heading back out to the parks.
As for the rest of your packing for your trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland for the runDisney event, refer to our What to Pack for Disney Trips post.
For additional planning resources, the best places to start are our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
For updates on Walt Disney World, the latest news, discount information, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!
If you found this runDisney post helpful or enjoyable, please help us out by sharing it with your friends via the social media buttons (or hover over any photo for a Pinterest icon). Thanks!
Okay, serious runners…anything I’m forgetting? Any gaffes or things on my list you wouldn’t recommend packing? Any additional insights into running watches? For those runDisney newbies, any questions about the items listed here or other packing recommendations for the race? Other runDisney topics you’d like to see covered in future posts? I’d love to hear feedback from readers and other runDisney enthusiasts on this list!
How about hydration stations? I drink a little more water during a run than others (it seems), and have been training with a Camelbak. Anyone have info relating to that?
This is a great list for beginners. All your runDisney posts lately made me sign up for a 5k today. I’ve been getting back into running after my 2nd kid and putting my eye on doing a runDisney event next year maybe. Keep up the great posts. They are hilarious and motivational!
A tip that I learned from a friend of mine is bring a plastic bag with you to carry all the goodies runDisney gives you at the end like the box of food, powerade etc. I always had a tough time carrying everything back to the resort, until my friend told me to do it.
Also, I just bought the garmin 220 because with running Dopey in January the 10’s battery barely lasted me through a half marathon. Best purchase I’ve made. I believe it is far superior to my Garmin forerunner 10.
Hope Dopey training is going well! My husband is running the marathon with me in January, but the most he’s ran is a half with me in September. I always joke around with him and say he’s going to pull a Tom Bricker and run with hardly any training 😉
Hope to run into you and Sarah race weekend!
Good luck on the Dopey. I ran this the first year it was available, and it was a wonderful experience. Beware though, you may get hooked. Probably the hardest part was waking up on the fourth day after waking up early for three straight days. I think your list is very accurate and is a strong foundation for runners and walkers. Every runner is different since I have never used a running watch or body glide, but I cannot stress shoes and running socks enough. Please do not skimp on these! Also high on my list are calf sleeves. These help with the blood flow when the back of you calves start to swell and prevent shin splints. I recommend even if you don’t wear them while running, wear them before and after the race. They are are a necessary part of my warm up and cool down on race day, and they come in all kinds of colors so you can coordinate with your outfits if you like. On longer distances, I tend to get blisters so I cover the bottom of my feet or anywhere I may get a blister with liquid bandage spray. I do this this on race day, and can swear by it. Again, every runner is different so my advice to every runner is to find what works for you and stick with it. Good luck to all the runners out there! I hope to see you in Paris, Tom!
Okay just a couple gaffes…
I’m Canadian so it might be different, but we say “throw always”, not “warm ups”.
Body Glide elsewhere?? No. Body Glide EVERYWHERE.
My wife has the Vivoactive and loves it. I use the Garmin 920 and it was a bit buggy at first too, but like you said, the firmware updates just make it better and better…same deal with the Vivoactive. When it comes to running watches, shell out for the Garmin. Best devices on the market.
Keep up the good work!
Hi Tom. I wrote in a previous comment that I have the Garmin Vivoactive and I love it. I have not had any problems with bugs or stability. I have only two complaints about it: 1. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor (although it will sync with the Garmin strap). 2. The vibrate function for intervals is a bit short but that can be fixed by making sure the watch is snug on your wrist. I wore both my old Fitbit Flex and my new Garmin Vivoactive for a couple of days to compare the data. The Fitbit was not as accurate with steps or distance. However, if you get the Surge, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Finally, here are the running items on my packing list that aren’t on yours:
1. all the race paperwork (waivers, etc.)
2. costumes (who runs a Disney race in plain old running gear!?!?)
3. travel roller (very helpful for sore glutes and hammies the day after the race)
I LOVE my 220. It does everything I need it to and fits comfortably. Plus – it’s purple and adorable. But seriously. Best purchase I’ve made yet for my running hobby.
I’m still relatively new to running (first 5K was at PHM in Feb, graduating to 10Ks at Star Wars at WDW next April), but I’ve learned a few things already. My $.02:
-Adidas ClimaCool or Climalite socks. I love socks. Seriously. I have more socks than any one person will ever need. And yet, none of them worked well for running, especially for someone whose feet sweat like mine do. A friend recommended the Adidas socks, and they are the best things ever!
-Fitletic belts are great running belts. I have the Neo Racing, so along with a nice, cushioned, waterproof pocket, there’s also bib toggles to handle race bibs. If I continue increasing my distance, I want to graduate to the Quench, which will hold a couple of water bottles.
When it comes to a running watch, I’m still on the VERY basic level. I have Garmin FR10, which I love, but it is very limited.
And something to keep in mind is compression socks and/or sleeves. I’ve discovered that I have to wear a toeless compression sock for plantar fasciitis if I want to make it through any decent run. And calf sleeves make recovery SOOO much easier! But YMMV on those – some people can’t stand them.
I’m a fan of the Garmin Forerunner 10 as well. It’s under $100 and a great entry-level Garmin GPS watch. If you’re getting into serious training for the first time, the 10 will cover what you need without shelling out quite so much money for it: pace, distance, time, and you upload to the Garmin website and all of that. It’s also really easy to use while running. I know several serious runners (who do ultras) who opt for the 10 instead of the more expensive models. If you end up liking the 10 or getting into more race training in the future, then you can always upgrade. I’m just not sure that I could make the justification cost-wise for spending so much on a piece of equipment that I wasn’t sure I would end up using consistently for a long period of time. For whatever you decide, though, I’ve found DC Rainmaker is the best website for reviews on these kinds of running gadgets. Just my two cents, for what it’s worth (which is, I’m sure, less than two cents).
I also love my SPIbelt when I don’t need to bring a phone or anything with me. It expands size-wise and is nice and low profile.
I had thee Garmin 10 and I don;t think the battery will last for a full marathon. It’s fine for a half.
Sunscreen and sunglasses! Depending on your pace and corral placement you could be spending quite a lot of time in the sun during these races. Another thing that you don’t need for the race but will help with recovery, especially if you are doing on of runDisney’s numerous Challenges is a foam roller or a massage stick. The massage stick would be much easier to fit in luggage. I personally love this one, http://www.amazon.com/The-Stick-Travel-17-Inch/dp/B000P7PVWU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442865519&sr=8-2&keywords=massage+stick
Great list (gotta appreciate the openness and honesty)! Still not really a runner, but I have participated in a few runDisney events and have now started actually training, so I’ve learned a bit, and am picking up tons of new info.
One item I recommend is either a hat or visor, it’s not just for shading the eyes. When I ran at the nighttime Wine & Dine during pouring rain, my hat kept my head warm which really helped in spite of being soaking wet.
Sunscreen is a must have at all Disneyland races. Unlike at WDW, we can’t really hope for or count on rain and clouds to block the sun.
As a casual runner for the past 5-6 years (I don’t do serious distances like half marathons due to knee issues) and as a former Florida Cast Member who did an active role through heat, rain, humidity, and sweat – my suggestion is a powder alternative to Body Glide.
Caldesene Protecting Powder is a baby powder for chafing and diaper rash, and as the bottle says, is for both babies and adults. Baby powder is safe for all sensitive skin areas, and has the advantage of both preventing and treating chaffed or rashed skin. It creates a one way water-proof layer that acts like seal coating (they have a wacky home test that proves its power). For serious activities apply to both the skin and clothing to get double protection. You also get great volume for your buck, and don’t have to worry about putting a gel/liquid in your carry-on bag for travel. This has been my swear by secret for years and I have put it through the test of runs, hikes, outdoor weddings, long flights, all-day walking tours, and WDW.
Second, if you aren’t ready for a fancy running watch, or prefer to use a phone app for tracking your run you could also pick up a phone arm-band case fairly cheap. They stand up to sweat and you still get all the conveniences of having your phone at the ready (particularly if you are using headphones and want audio feedback of your running stats). I’ve found myself also using it for non-athletic events where I want my phone accessible but not in hand (sort of like an arm fanny pack).
Ibuprofen. And something like this http://www.amazon.com/Muscle-Roller-Stick-Professional-Trigger-Point/dp/B00CBNDNOO can help after runs.
Tom, I assume that your post is for guys only. Otherwise, you would have mentioned perhaps the most important piece of equipment for any woman running a race–a high-quality running bra. It’s important for women new to running to realize that they will be MUCH more comfortable if they shell out the bucks for a very high quality bra rather than just grabbing a cheap one from Target (especially those who are “blessed” in that area). Since you are a guy, you will probably just go, “EEEK! Woman stuff” and hide.
Total oversight. You know me, I have a remarkable passion for brassieres. Since I was 14 years old, I was in my friends bathroom. His mother’s brassieres were hanging on the shower rod. I picked it up, studied it. I thought, I like this. I didn’t know what way or what level, but I knew: I wanted to be around brassieres. 😉
(Jokes aside: this list is things that I, personally, would use or pack. I’m not too “blessed” in that area, so I don’t roll with a sports bra.)
Omg. A Seinfeld quote. I heart this blog even more now!
Do you have a female running friend who can perhaps do an addendum to your post with her essential packing items, told from a female point of view? That would be awesome!
Late to the party, but wondering the same (as I am running my first rundisney 5K). Does Sarah have a runDisney packing list?
Sarah doesn’t run, so no. 🙂
Good list. I got some NipStrips a couple of years ago for father’s day and haven’t looked back. I simply cannot run more than half a mile without chafing. It’s awful! http://www.nipstrips.com/
LOL – one of your kids got you NipStrips for father’s day?! Best. Gift. Ever.
I’m not a runner, but I love my Apple Watch. There are tons of great fitness apps for it, and I use the native app to track my workouts. I’ve had it since they came out and I think I’ve only missed one or two days wearing it! Definitely recommend.
I don’t run, but I can say from experience that Glide works great for just walking around the parks as well. We use it to prevent chaffing from shorts, shoes, etc.
Yep! Tons of people have recommended it in the comments of our “What to Pack for Disney” article.
We’re the same way! We use Glide, and I use Trail Toes as well as runner’s tape (or sometimes Kinesio Tape depending on where I’m applying) to avoid the chaff, burn, and blister issues on every single park day. As a general rule, my feet hate me, so I take every precaution I can.
I actually prefer band aids for the nipple chafing issue. These work great!
Yeah, that’s definitely an option. I’ve already gone into enough detail on the nipple chafing issue, but I’ll just say I prefer the glide. 😉
Great list! Running Disney races is definitely a different experience than “normal” runs in lots of ways. I upgraded to the Garmin 220 a few weeks ago and absolutely love it! I also swear by Nuun tablets in my water- they’re a great electrolyte replacement without all the sugar that a lot of sports drinks have.
Nice suggestion on the Nuun tablets! Personally, I go for Powerade at every other station (and water at the non-Powerade stops). I agree with you about the sugar, but it’s just too much of a hassle for me to mix my own drink. Totally personal preference, though!
If you use Nuun, be sure & mix it the night before–you want the carbonation gone before shaking it for hours…unless you want an electrolyte shower mid-run.
I’m just starting in 5k/10 mile training, with a goal of runDisney at some point (though not sure if my surgically repaired calf will ever be strong enough to manage a whole marathon…!) so this is a great place to start for me. Skipping the watch for now, mostly because I have an s6 active which should hopefully suffice, at least while I’m getting started.
Clif bars/energy/granola bars are such a pain for me though because I’m allergic to dried fruit & it’s amazing just how ubiquitous it is, even when you wouldn’t be expecting it! Date paste is usually the main culprit, though I found one the other day with raisin juice in!
I would have never thought of that issue with the dried fruit in the energy bars. I know some people won’t eat energy bars because they have a lot of “random stuff” in them including a decent amount of sugar, but I’ve always found it’s a good mix so long as you’re staying active. Of course, if you’re allergic that’s a totally different story.
Vicki – If you’re looking for a bar with specific ingredients, try YouBar! You select ingredients yourself and while you CAN add dried fruit, you don’t have too. You can select an almond or cashew butter base. 🙂
Tom – Thanks so much for all these great posts! I’m planning a WDW trip for fall and realized that growing up with Disneyland passes and taking a few childhood trips to WDW do not mean I know what I’m doing and your posts have inspired me to do what I’m hoping is just the right amount of planning (no more than 2 ADRs/day) as well as try out some things I might otherwise have skipped; I feel my love of the Country Bear Jamboree being rekindled. I’m also training for a Disney 1/2 next year and your posts continue to motivate me.
Check out 2Toms version of glide–works much better IMHO. They also make a nice detergent for tech clothes
This stuff? http://amzn.to/1LqHXvJ
I’m curious as to what’s so much better about it. I’m willing to shell out big bucks for my nipple well-being, but I want to make sure I’m not wasting any money! 😉
My husband uses the small round band aids on his nipples. Cheap and offers lots of protection. We both use body glide as well in other places.
I’m with Kerry’s husband and use bandaids. But I get the regular size strip ones. Anything over 9 miles, and they are a necessity.
That’s the stuff. I prefer it over Body Glide, given its ability to perform on longer, marathon-distance (14+) training runs as well as performance in humidity & rain. (Either of which can be an issue in Florida…or Oklahoma, where I train). Good luck!