By Scot Mahlke
It’s here, the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend! The Walt Disney World Marathon is my favorite runDisney race. It was my very first Disney endurance event, and it’s the race I’ve run the most times over the years. There are so many unique and great things about this race. It’s the only 26.2 mile runDisney race. It goes through each of the 4 parks (Twice through Epcot, and this year it even goes through Blizzard Beach). The course cuts through a couple of resorts, goes through backstage areas that most guests will never see, and it’s the race with the longest history dating back to 1994. You’ll find no shortage of advice to runners who are about to tackle a marathon, but I’m not interested in giving anyone last minute advice on running the race. What I'd like to do is share some great ideas of what to do after the race to take care of yourself, relax, and celebrate your accomplishment on your Disney vacation! Here are 7 ways to enjoy your vacation and recover after the marathon.
1. Go for gentle run. Take advantage of miles and miles of walking and running trails. After running a marathon, some of the non-runners in your party might think you're crazy for going for a run or a walk later in the day after the event, but most experienced runners know that walking or going for an easy run is key to a healthy recovery. Take advantage of the trails you’ll find at each Disney resort.
2. Rent a bike! Many of the Disney resorts offer bicycle rentals, it’s a great, low-impact way to keep those muscles moving. My favorite rental locations are Fort Wilderness Campground, Port Orleans Riverside, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West (there’s a great long path connecting Saratoga and OKW resorts that runs along the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course)
3. Enjoy the pool! Another great way to get some low impact exercise is going for a swim. The leisure pools that are a bit quieter than the busy feature pools can be an especially great place to swim and stretch. I know it’s January, and Florida can get pretty chilly this time of year, but the resort pools are kept at about 82 degrees. Many of them have hot tubs too!
4. Don’t overdo it at the parks. A few years ago I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon with my friend Molly, and after the race we spent the whole day enjoying Disneyland park and Disney’s California Adventure. It wasn’t crowded at all and we gave in to the temptation to go on just about every attraction at each park. When I checked my watch late in the day it showed that we had covered just under 30 miles for the day, so after running 13.1 miles we essentially did a victory lap around the Disneyland resort. I definitely know better, and I had some pretty sore feet and stiff joints the next morning. Learn from my mistake! Set aside time to relax and get off of your feet.
5. Treat yourself to a massage. There are some amazing spas at Walt Disney world, and they are experienced at helping runners recover with massages that focus helping your body flush out lactic acid, and they’ll stay away from deep tissue massages that could hinder your recovery.
6. Don't feel guilty about relaxing in the room. It’s important to communicate with your family and friends who are traveling with you and set the expectation that’s it’s OK for you to spend time in the room while they are doing other things. They shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out, and you shouldn’t feel pressure to run around the parks from rope drop until fireworks each day. Training for a marathon requires workouts that last for hours, and most runners sacrifice huge amounts of their free time. Chances are you could use a nap or you’d like to catch up on some reading, and maybe binge watch some of the Disney+ shows you’ve been missing out on.
7. Celebrate with a great meal! It can be tempting to eat anything and everything after a marathon, and Disney has no shortage of treats to indulge with, but I like to plan a nice meal to celebrate your incredible accomplishment with your family and friends. Refueling your body after what you’ve just accomplished will require a healthy meal with plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, potassium rich foods. Pick a restaurant with a great menu and choose something that will help your recovery, but definitely order dessert. After all, you’ve earned it!