The Dos and Don'ts of Training For Your First Marathon

T-minus 5 weeks until our second marathon! While we're still ramping up the mileage I wanted to repost my Dos and Don'ts of Training For Your First Marathon. Enjoy!

Its that time again! Registration opened today to sign up for the WDW Marathon in 2017. All races are available to sign up including the Dopey Challenge (running all the races: 5k, 10k, Half, and Full Marathon - INSANE people do that), the Goofy Challenge (running the Half and Full Marathon), the Full, the Half, a 10k, and 5k.

Be patient if you log on to today - lots of people are hitting it and it'll be super slow. I've currently been waiting for about 15 minutes just to get to the registration page.

Waiting for the Run Disney Website

While I'm waiting I wanted to share my "wise" words of advice from sign up to actually running the marathon (because running one marathon makes me an expert - insert eye roll here). I CAN share with you what I learned and what I'll be doing the same and differently this time around.


DO SIGN UP for one! Signing up may be the scariest part, but you can do it! Make sure you sign up at least 6 months in advance if you are new to running - you want to build a base and get ready for those long runs in the middle of your training plan.

DON'T sign up one month before. You can't train in enough time unless you are a super athlete.


DO find a good training plan. There are lots out there including a ton from Hal Higdon. Talk to your friends that have run a marathon and ask about their training plans.

DON'T change your plan mid-training. Believe in your plan and believe in yourself.

DO get fitted for running shoes. I finally did this post 2016 Marathon and guess what - I had been running in shoes that were completely wrong for me! Since running in my new shoes (AND inserts) I've had none of the hip, knee, calf pain I had in my old shoes. Check out your local running store to see if they can fit you for shoes, or go to RoadRunner Sports who have an awesome shoe fitting experience that includes recording how your feet hit a treadmill on a run, measuring your arches, and custom made shoe inserts. It is DEFINITELY worth it!

Get fitted! You'll thank yourself at mile 200 of training.

Get fitted! You'll thank yourself at mile 200 of training.

DON'T just pick the prettiest pair. I'm definitely guilty of this. GET FITTED at a running store - these folks are experts and they know what they're talking about. Don't just go to your local sporting goods store to ask for help. I ran in a size too small for my first half marathon because of that and had a long recovery afterward because my feet were destroyed.

DO stretch and foam roll after EVERY. RUN. I'm not kidding here. EVERY. RUN. If you've never used a foam roller get one RIGHT NOW by clicking here. It works out sore muscles and helps to break down knots and kinks - its basically like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. Here are great videos from Runner's World on how to foam roll after a run.

DON'T NOT STRETCH OR FOAM ROLL! See how serious I am? If you need help stretching Yoga for Runners is a great app that I use after most of my runs - it takes you through a 15-20 minute guided stretch / yoga routine that feels amazing!

DO sign up for a half marathon mid-training. I didn't want to do this last year, but I'm so glad I did! Running a race in the middle gives you something to look forward to instead of just long run after long run. Its a good base test to see where you're at and to get you ready for race day.

Malibu Half Marathon 2015

Malibu Half Marathon 2015

DON'T freak out if the half marathon doesn't go well. I had a calf problem flare up right before my half marathon so instead of worrying about the run, I just treated it like a fun group run instead of a crazy race! This is only the half way point anyway - plenty of time to adjust and tinker with your training and to evaluate what has and hasn't been working for you.

DO give yourself a pat on the back and a little break after completing the half marathon. Marci and I are going to give ourselves the weekend off after our half marathon and are planning a weekend in Vegas to celebrate the halfway point of training.

A little break after finishing your half marathon during training is definitely required!

A little break after finishing your half marathon during training is definitely required!

DON'T forget to KEEP training after the half marathon and DON'T get psyched out that the next long run you will do will be even longer than the half. I had never run longer than 13.1 miles before so I got really psyched out about all the long runs after the half. DON'T freak out and just run.

DO cross train! This may be the most intense experience you've put your body through pounding on the pavement mile after mile. Cross training helps build muscle and strengthens your body inbetween runs. I highly recommend swimming, cycling, or doing yoga. I definitely didn't cross train as much during the last month of training, but I plan to this time around.

DON'T overdo it! When your body starts to ache, twinge, poke, or scream give yourself a break. Missing a 5 or 8 miler here or there is OK! Its better to have your body heal and make your long runs than push through the pain early on.

This is what happens when you push through the pain. Not fun!

This is what happens when you push through the pain. Not fun!

DO figure out a hydration and nutrition plan for during your runs. I highly recommend getting a hydration vest - I'm amazed at how I can barely tell when I'm wearing it AND how useful it is to carry water with me and nutrition.

For nutrition I absolutely love Clif Organic Energy Food. Its vegan, super tasty, and gives me that extra boost to keep going. I had no problems eating it while on the run.

DON'T wait until the week before the marathon to figure out your hydration and nutrition plan. Part of training should include training with hydration and nutrition.

DO find some good podcasts or audiobooks if you plan on listening to something while you run. I have a great playlist with lots of music, but it was nice to break up some of those long runs with podcasts or TED talks! Here are some of my favorite podcasts:

DON'T listen to the same thing over and over again. You'll burn out - try to find something new for every run - even if its just putting all your music on shuffle. 

Do start your nutrition NOW. If you need help getting ideas for filling, healthy recipes head on over to my RECIPE section or read A Vegan's Guide for Marathon Runners. Here are just a few delicious meals to get you started:

Don't wait until the week before the marathon to start eating right! (I know, its the same thing as do start your nutrition now - but its SUPER important!)

Do get motivated with great movies and books! Here are some of my favorites that got me through last fall:



WDW Marathon Specific

DO plan on spending a couple days in the Parks after the race. You've gone all this way and trained so long and hard, make sure you reward yourself with a fantastic trip to Disney World. 

DON'T spend too many days before the race walking around - get in a few days early to get settled in, but don't wear yourself out standing in line at the Parks. Its also really fun if you've never been to WDW to see it for the first time during the marathon. You get to run through all the Parks and even behind the scenes in some areas and its really cool to see something new around every corner.

DO book your accommodations NOW. Especially if you're staying at the Parks - the hotels fill up fast. I'd also recommend staying at one of the Park hotels - most offer free shuttle rides to the start at Epcot the morning of the race so you don't have to panic about parking and waiting in the super long lines to get in.

Marci and I spent the night before at the Swan Hotel at Epcot.

Marci and I spent the night before at the Swan Hotel at Epcot.

DON'T wait until the last minute to book your hotel - they'll be sold out soon! Its a super popular weekend and almost everything fills up. You also might want to think about booking a second night at the hotel after the race. Due to high volume of customers we couldn't get a late check out and had to check out of the hotel at 4am before the race start since we knew we'd still be running during normal check out time. This year we're planning on having an extra day at the hotel so we can come back and shower after the marathon.

DO pack your race clothes and shoes in your carry on if you're flying to Florida. You don't need the extra stress in case the airline loses your luggage before the race.

DON'T overthink packing - lay out everything you want to bring ahead of time and pare it down. Think layers - Florida can be super hot or super cold in January.

DO enjoy yourself! This is supposed to be the happiest run on earth! Enjoy every second of it!

DON'T be grumpy! Remember you chose to do this and if the race doesn't go exactly to plan at least enjoy seeing the characters around every corner and soak in the AMAZING fans that come out to cheer you on!

WDW Marathon