What to Eat on Run Disney Race Day!

What is a Run Disney Diet? What should you eat on the day of your Run Disney race? You booked your travel, you’ve trained for months, and now the day is finally here for your much-anticipated Run Disney Race! While the course promises to be magic, many things will determine your enjoyment of the event. No, we can’t control the weather, but we can plan ahead for proper fueling. Why is this important? The food you feed your body will have a direct impact on your muscle use, capacity and race time. Maybe you’re not a competitive runner trying to break any records, but most of us have plans that follow the race. BIG plans. MAGICAL plans. Won’t your day be so much more enjoyable with a happy digestive system and adequate energy stores to power through (despite that early Run Disney wakeup call)? Of course! As a runner and Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist myself, I’ve put together a list my tips to make your Run Disney race day full of energy, enjoyment and comfort!

The right food can fuel your Run Disney race!
Fuel up for Run Disney! What you eat on Run Disney race day matters!

Before your race

You will wake up anywhere between 2:30-3:00 am for your race. The last bus leaves Disney resorts for the start at 4am. You won’t cross the start line for several hours after you wake up and you’ll be running for even longer than that. Keep this in mind. Eat something that you’re used to the morning of your race. My favorite? Toast with peanut butter and a banana (an “Elvis Sandwich” to many marathoners). This should be something you have already tested out during your weekend long runs leading up to race day. Aim for about 350-550 calories of mostly carbohydrates, moderate protein, and low in both fiber and fat for better digestion. If you’re a caffeine drinker, aim to consume your morning coffee at least 30 minutes or more before your race. This is when those Joffrey’s Food Trucks come in handy at the start area! If you have a late corral placement (F, G and on), you may want to take your pre-race snack (or part of it), along with water into your corral and consume it while you wait.

Runner to-go bags are available for purchase at Disney Resorts during Run Disney Race weekends.
Runner To-Go Bags are available for purchase at Disney Resorts for in-room pre-race snacking so you have what you need to eat the day of your Run Disney race.
Food and Beverage menu from the start area of Run Disney race. You can buy food to eat at Run Disney races.
Light refreshments and beverages are available for purchase the race start area for Run Disney runners to eat before their race.
run Disney dining specials are available for purchase post-race hours at Disney resorts like Disney's Polynesian.
Run Disney dining specials at Captain Cooks at Disney’s Polynesian Resort can re-fuel you after you returned back from the Run Disney race.

During the race

At the 50-60 minute mark of your race, take in carbohydrates and electrolytes. For a full marathon, do so again every hour. This may be a liquid source, like a sports drink, or from gels and gummies. Run Disney courses provide water, Powerade and Clif Bar products. Details can be found in your Run Disney Event guide. Test these products out during your long runs ahead of time to determine if they are right for you. If you’re unsure about predicting the timing of your run on the course and are anxious about having what you need when you need it, consider using a running belt to store your own stash. You can set an alarm in your phone or smart watch to remind you to fuel on time during the race. Gels and gummies are concentrated in carbohydrates, so make sure to consume water with these products to avoid an upset stomach. Drink every 15-20 minutes. Take advantage of water stations along the way, but also make sure to rehydrate after you cross the finish line.

Eating well and hydrating will make your run Disney race feel better!
The right nutrition will make you fly across the course! Pick the right foods to eat before your run Disney race!

After your race

You’ll be tired, sweaty and yet full of adrenaline! But now is not the time to forget about nutrition since this will help your body with muscle repair and recovery, as well as rehydration. This is when you’ll want to consume a mix of food and fluids rich in carbohydrates and protein. Ready for a little math? You’ll want about 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight and 10-15g Protein within 30 minutes post-race. For example, this equates to 34 grams carbohydrate for a 150lb person. The runner’s fuel box will include adequate carbohydrates to replenish, but may lack some protein (no, the cheese dip doesn’t count). The carbohydrates will replenish muscle glycogen (also known as “muscle fuel”) and the protein will help to repair the muscles. If you lack an appetite and it’s hard for you to eat right after a long run or hard training, try a shake or a DIY smoothie with chocolate milk, banana, and 1 scoop of protein powder. For race day, consider throwing a chocolate milk box (cow’s milk or soy milk – both come in shelf-stable varieties found in the juice box section of the grocery store) in your checked bag so you can enjoy it while on the bus back to your resort. Post-race fueling is important even when you have dining reservations. Keep in mind the time it will take you after the finish for transportation back to your resort, to shower and clean up, then travel to your dining destination. It could be hours from the time you cross the finish to the time you are finally seated for your celebratory meal!

Run Disney runners are provided with complimentary post-race snack boxes with chips, apple sauce and other snacks.
The complimentary post-race Run Disney snack box offered to runners at the finish. Pick one of these snack boxes up before heading to your bus so you can eat after your run Disney race and refuel!
Runners enjoy post-race dining reservations, like brunch with Mickey at Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort.
Brunch with Mickey at Topolino’s Terrace, Disney’s Riviera Resort. Find the right reservation time and brunch menu so you can enjoy eating after your run Disney race!

These are generalized guidelines for runners and will be most helpful for those running the half marathon and marathon, but these tips and guidelines are useful for those running the 5K and 10K events, and for distance training. These tips are especially important for those participating in multi-course events and are running several days throughout their Disney trip!

Get more run Disney tips here!

Best Meals to Eat the Night Before Your Run Disney Race

Run Disney Tips for Parents

The Dopey Challenge and Goofy Challenge are multi-course events for run Disney runners.
Multi-course races are a bucket list item for man Run Disney fans! What to eat on Run Disney race day is especially important for Goofy and Dopey challenge runners!

Disclaimer: These recommendations are for the general public and do not address individual dietary needs. Considerations for therapeutic diets and specific needs should be discussed with your primary care physician and a registered dietitian.

Jamie Lee McIntyre MS RDN is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and contributor to The Kingdom Insider for Disney food, nutrition and wellness - related topics. She is a practicing Dietitian with over 11 years of experience, and is a nutrition communications consultant providing content online and on air in broadcast media. You can find her online (www.JamieLeeRDN.com), at the finish line of a Run Disney race, or in the parks scanning menus, reading labels and trying new foods!