I just love runDisney. It got me back into running and fitness after over a decade of being so focused on my career and family that I forgot to take care of myself. And I love the runDisney community of runners and spectators! So I wanted to make sure that I did whatever little things I can to help everyone have a fun and safe race experience.
While Disney is an uber-safe place to play, there are some hidden dangers in racing runDisney and I think forewarned is forearmed. One of the biggest “hidden” dangers is the unpredictability of the weather in Central Florida, especially from October through June. From July through September, it’s a given that the weather will be lows in the low 70’s, highs in the low 90’s and afternoon thunderstorms. But for the rest of the year, it can be freezing cold, blistering hot, dry for months or torrential storms for days. And most of the time, the weather forecast isn’t all that reliable until a few days out (if that!).
The fact that runDisney draws runners from all over the country (and internationally too!) is a big part of the danger inherent in the unseasonable heat and humidity that rotates through the weather forecast all fall and winter long. While it can get down to freezing and most of the winter a jacket is welcome, we Floridians are accustomed to the fact that a few days of frigid weather inevitably lead to a few days of mild weather and then very warm and humid weather, followed by a rainy/stormy front that brings in more cold weather. If the race weekend falls on one of those beautiful mild weather days, all is well.
Unfortunately, lately mother nature has been having fun with runDisney runners and has been throwing the worst of the weather at us on race weekends. And when it is warm and humid, it’s tough enough on the Floridian runners who are mostly used to training in it. It’s downright unsafe for runners from Northern states who have gotten accustomed to training in freezing temperatures for months. Going directly from running in snow to running in 70 degrees and 98% humidity is not easy on the body.
Luckily, runDisney does a great job of posting with their Event Alerting System both at the Expo and over Twitter and Facebook. What you want to see is this green flag. Anything else means conditions are less than ideal.
If the forecast is calling for warm (really anything over 60 degrees at 4am is going to end up being warm when you’re running later) temperatures and high humidity on race day or runDisney has changed from the green flag to yellow or red, here are my tips for staying safe and having a fun race instead of a miserable one:
- If you possibly can, do a test run in Orlando the day or two before the race. Just a short and easy mile or two shakeout run to see how the conditions feel during a run. My run this past weekend was 73 degrees and 92% humidity. When I walked out of the door in a tank top and SparkleSkirt, it was breezy, overcast and felt pleasant. After a mile it was oppressive and I was already drenched in sweat. And I’m used to this weather! You won’t know how it will feel during the run unless you take a test run. And that’s important for the next suggestion.
- Watch the weather forecast, even up to the night before the race. Monitor runDisney’s announcements for changes in their alert status.
- Adjust your race outfit (or costume) to match the weather. Do not wear long sleeves if the weather is going to be warm and humid. If it’s borderline, consider short sleeves (I don’t need to specify tech materials and NO COTTON do I?) and removable arm sleeves so you can modify for comfort and safety. Yes, I know you spent three months putting together the perfect Gaston or Belle outfit, but don’t be afraid to cut off extraneous bits or even put it away for another day if the conditions are going to be tough. At the Princess Half last year, I ditched several parts of my outfit (arm sleeves and a princess collar) because the conditions weren’t great and I was so happy to be comfortable on my run. I cringed when I saw people with bright red faces looking miserable in full on long sleeved costumes. Add a Bondiband (SPARKLE for 10% off) to keep the sweat from pouring down your face while still looking stylish!
- Hydrate. Hydrate early and often. Electrolytes are your friend. Watered-down Gatorade, Nuun, Cocogo, whatever you like to use. Stay hydrated in the days before the race! Be aware of the dangers of too much water during the race, but you’re looking for balance here.
- Don’t hesitate to stop by the medical tent if you feel dizzy or faint or just need to cool off. I literally thought I was possibly dying during the Tink Half last year (apparently my hands swell terribly when I exercise in the cold weather and as a Floridian I hadn’t experienced it before!) and I didn’t stop by the medical tent because I was afraid they’d pull me from the race. Be smarter than me! No race is worth endangering your health and the medical tents are there to help you!
- Wear sunscreen. And maybe a visor or hat. Especially if you’ll be running after the sun is up (I’m talking to you Dopey and Mickey runners!). Bodyglide or other lubricant can really help if you’ll be doing a lot of sweating.
- If the heat and humidity are high (and only you can know what is “high” to you, but remember that humidity has a huge impact on how hot it feels while running), adjust your race plan. Slow down from the start. Insert or adjust your walk intervals. It may not be a PR kind of day, and that’s ok, there will be other races. This is the most important tip, but the hardest to actually follow! So tell your ego to hush up and listen to your common sense on this one.
Take care of yourself out there. Respect your body enough to take care of it. If you’re used to running in ice and snow, consider the impact of a sudden change to running in heat and humidity and make the adjustments to stay safe and to have a fun race!
I’m linking up with Mickey Monday. Check out the other links below: