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As a leap year baby, this year I was extremely excited for a gift from my sister – running the Run Disney Fairy Tale Challenge together! My sister reached out to me in early 2019 to ask if I would be interested in this as a gift. Immediate response – obviously!
We have previously done two Run Disney races together, the Dopey Challenge in 2016 and the Wine and Dine half marathon in 2015. Needless to say, after this long of a break, I was so ready to get back out on the course. Little did I know that when we registered for this race that come race day, I would be 19 weeks pregnant!
Tips for having a magical training experience
This post shares a little more about my experience running and training for the Fairy Tale Challenge while pregnant. 19.3 miles at 19 weeks pregnant, sounds almost serendipitous, doesn’t it? The following are my tips for making the entire experience enjoyable, from day 1 of training to crossing the finish line after the half marathon.
First and foremost: check with your doctor
Before you undertake a training program, you must check with your doctor if this is appropriate for your pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, and putting your body through this quantity of miles may not be appropriate. Fortunately for me, I had continued running weekly (even though I wasn’t training for any races), so my doctor felt comfortable with me continuing running during my pregnancy.
schedule and stick with your training plan
Now this is easier said than done. My training was scheduled to begin toward the second half of my first trimester. And, to be honest, I felt absolutely awful at this time. I was fatigued, struggling with constant nausea and wondering why I thought this would be a good idea. But, determined to do this right, I scheduled my runs for the time of day when I felt best, usually early evening. When it was time to head out for my run, I’d make sure to complete the set mileage, even if a majority of the time I was walking.
There are multiple free training programs that you can follow. RunDisney offers the Jeff Galloway training plans specific for each race, or even the challenges, on their website. For my previous races, Run Disney and non-Run Disney races, I have used the Hal Higdon training program. I chose the Hal Higdon intermediate half-marathon training plan, since it fit my current mileage at the time, and is also a little shorter than the other programs at 12 weeks long. This fit my work and travel schedule the best of all of the programs.
listen to your body
This is true for any kind of activity that you are undertaking while pregnant. If you are breathless and have a racing heart, then that lets you know that your baby is feeling this as well. Being cogniscent of this is especially important when pursuing an endurance event. My focus during training was that I should always be able to have a conversation with someone any time during the run. This is one way I found to help moderate my effort level.
As the training progressed, I began to realize that no run felt quite the same. Your body is changing quickly, and this can make it challenging to know how a training run will go. Some days I felt amazing, and others, well, let’s just say I’m not even sure you could call it running what I was doing.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Staying hydrated is important for any runner, but is especially important while pregnant. Water is responsible for bringing all of the important nutrient to baby. During the shorter training runs, I found that I could stay hydrated by drinking enough water before and after my run for the day. A great way to monitor how hydrated you are it to check the color of your urine. If you are well hydrated, your urine will be a pale yellow lemonade color.
For race day, I wasn’t as concerned about staying hydrated since I knew they would have water along the course. However, during the longer training runs, I knew I would need to bring water with me. Previously, I used to use a belt that would hold a few smaller water bottles, but with a growing belly, I found this to be too uncomfortable to wear anymore. A better option that I decided to invest in for this time, was a handheld water bottle, like this one. It allowed me to continue to hydrate throughout the longer runs so I wasn’t trying to play catch up after returning from my run.
Invest in good running shoes and sports bras
I can’t emphasize this enough, quality running shoes and a good sports bra will make running infinitely more comfortable for you. The extra pregnancy weight that you are carrying will put stress on your knees so having a supportive, stable pair of shoes can make a big difference for keeping you safe while you run.
I have always been a huge fan of Brooks running shoes – any distance longer than a half-marathon has only been run in a pair of Brooks. This is the current pair I have been running in since I found out I was pregnant. Another great option is to go to a running shoe store and be fitted for a running shoe. These stores are excellent at examining your stride and foot strike pattern to find the shoe that will be most comfortable for you.
I probably shouldn’t need to emphasize this, but a supportive sports bra is clutch for both the training period and race day. Besides running, I participate in CrossFit classes, and because of this found a new brand of sports bras that I am a big fan of. Born primitive has a great line of sports bras that are supportive for any type of high impact activities.
The best advice I can give when it comes to the day of the race is…
Just enjoy the experience!
For the first time since I began participating in these races, I wasn’t concerned with time during the race, and my goal was just to finish. And even finishing was contingent upon how I felt during the race. I found that there were a few key things that helped me complete both the 10K and half-marathon
Prep the night before
RunDisney races start early, and when I say early, I mean it. My sister and I were leaving her house at 3:30am to head over to the starting corrals. Laying out my clothes and breakfast items the night before makes for a much smoother morning and allows for a few extra minutes of sleep. Trust me, you will be grateful for every extra minute of sleep that you get, especially if you are doing the challenge and waking up early two days in a row.
Bring snacks for the race
Depending on how far along your pregnancy is, your body already needs extra calories to support your growing baby. And running these distances also burns quite a few calories as well. I find that it certainly helps maintain your energy level to eat small bites throughout the race. For previous races I have used running gels that you can buy at a number of running stores or on Amazon. However, and number of these contain caffeine, which I am avoiding during my pregnancy. What I found to be a great snack during the races was fruit snacks. Easy to eat and the small packs store well in a pocket.
Enjoy the experience!
There really is something absolutely magical about running through the Disney parks before they open. Disney has always been a special memory for my family and I, and sharing the RunDisney races with my sister is no exception. And doing something you weren’t sure you could do, for me that was finishing the half-marathon. It may have just been the hormones… but I felt extremely proud after finishing this race, much more so than I ever have for past races.