Challenge Race Tips

For this week’s Tuesdays on the Run, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and I are exploring the art and science of running challenge races.  The most famous of these is the runDisney Dopey challenge consisting of a 5k, 10k, Half and Full on consecutive days.  I’m not quite up to even thinking about tackling that monster, but I have done several challenges, mostly consisting of a 10k and then a Half.  I’ve had both wonderful and horrible experiences with the challenges and wanted to share my lessons learned.


  1. You actually have to train for a challenge.  I’d tried to run back to back days in training for the Tink 10k and Half, but got injured so I just trusted in being able to train for the Half distance.  That most assuredly did not work for me!  So, I decided to train differently for the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Knowing that I couldn’t run back to back days in training without injury, I followed Jeff Galloway’s suggestion of doing a speed walk on Saturday that was half of the distance of the long run on Sunday. What a difference that made to my race experience!
  2. Stay off of your feet as much as possible the day before your races.  Tink was my first trip to Disneyland and I was so hyped up from the fun of the 10K that I spent most of the day walking around Disneyland, California Adventure and the Expo.  While I had a great time, I certainly didn’t set myself up for success the next day.  If you can, plan your park days for AFTER all the races are done, so you aren’t tempted to explore the parks on the days before each race.
  3. Fuel properly and adequately.  I was so committed to sticking to a low carb and low calorie diet that I really didn’t eat nearly enough the day of the 10K.  Which means I just didn’t have the fuel I needed for a half marathon the next day.  If you’re doing a four-day challenge, this is even more important!
  4. Don’t try anything new on race day.  Yes, I know, I know.  I already knew this logically, but I decided to try a new version of nuun that I found at the Expo.  And it did not sit well at all.  I didn’t read the label carefully and didn’t realize it had caffeine in it, which I had not trained with. One more thing that is even more critical during a challenge race series than a single race.
  5. Splurge on your lodgings.  At Tink, I got a perfectly acceptable but cheap hotel room.  Because the room was dark and the hotel wasn’t particularly nice, it was difficult to convince myself to hang out and rest.  I know that when the hotel room is a little more posh and the resort has a nice pool or other amenities then I really enjoy lounging by the water or just relaxing in the room.  Rest is so critical during a challenge race that splurging a little on a better room is really worth it.

I’ve signed up for the Star Wars 5k, 10k and Half in Disneyland in January 2016, so I’ll have to make sure to remind myself of those tips as I plan and prepare for the races!  I’m trying to figure out how to make financial sense of a stay at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel because #5 seems like the most important of the tips!

 Loading InLinkz ...


Challenge Race Tips — 13 Comments

  1. Pingback: Training for a RunDisney Challenge | Fit Disney Mom

  2. I agree, we usually splurge on our hotel for race weekend challenges. Most people say they don’t spend much time in their room or that they are only there to sleep, but we are the opposite. We don’t rarely do ALL the parks during a race weekend and we do hang out more at the resort. We like to stay some place that has good eating options so we don’t have to leave the premises as much. We also go to bed MUCH earlier than we would if we were there just for vacation, so yea, the room is important!
    Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Do You Want to Run a Race Challenge?My Profile

  3. What I love about Disneyland is hotels are in walking distance so it’s easy to go back and forth between the parks and hotel. I would definitely say a good hotel is crucial to allow you the ability to relax.
    Lesley recently posted…Time to Check InMy Profile

  4. The Grand Californian is crazy-expensive, isn’t it? You can find other comparable hotels without the Disney theme in the area. Unless your heart is set on it. Then by all means, splurge away!
    Jen recently posted…2015 Solo Summer Adventure #1My Profile

  5. great tips and I am so excited you are in for all of the races at star wars:I hope we get to meet!

    I would look into other hotels for Star wars, there are some really nice hotels (Marriotts, hilton, etc) that are walking distance about less than half the price of grand californian.

  6. A great place to rest can make a world of difference when it comes to race challenges. I stayed at the Grand Californian for the Dumbo Challenge back in 2013 and loved it. The close proximity to the start was perfect. It was definitely a splurge but we were really happy with staying there for that race weekend.
    Lisa @ Lisa Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Tips for Running a runDisney ChallengeMy Profile

  7. For me, fueling is the most important thing. I eat what sounds good and make sure I get enough salt and carbs (two things I normally am very careful with). I don’t usually rest between races, other than normal sleep, but the fact that I train as a mom and never get down time probably helps me with that LOL.
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…TOTR: Why to run a “challenge” raceMy Profile