WDW Marathon Guide - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Walt Disney World Marathon Guide
Tips, hints, motivation and information
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Lani Teshima, editor

Fueling your body at home and in the parks

Feeding the marathon-training machine that is your body

Friday, June 10, 2005
by Lani Teshima, staff editor

Last month, I inadvertently got sidetracked and talked at length about folks planning on “Getting Goofy” by entering both marathon and half-marathon events at next January's Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Today, we get back on track and look at some easy tips for how to fuel your body (including on your Disney vacation) to get your body feeling good on the inside.

First off, I am not a certified nutritionist. There are many good nutritional plans out there, and if you are trying to lose weight while getting in shape, you should see your doctor and get yourself checked out first to make sure you don't have any outstanding issues like high blood pressure that could affect what you should eat or how you work out.

Carbo loading

Most marathon organizers offer a pre-event dinner where they serve mounds of pasta for participants in what is termed "carbo loading." The theory is that by gorging on carbohydrates before the race, you will give yourself plenty of energy with which to complete the event.

The truth for most people, according to noted marathon trainer Jeff Galloway, is that unless you are on a very strict carbohydrate-depleted diet right up until the end of your training, a carbo loading dinner will not make much of a difference. Does that mean you shouldn't enjoy the carbo loading party? Of course not. Just don't overeat; think of a carbo loading party as one of the activities you do to get you into the spirit and excitement of the race event; not as a necessary means to obtain energy. Most trainers will suggest that you eat as you normally eat, and avoiding unusual foods that may give you gastric problems on the day of the race.

Sports drinks

Gatorade—or Powerade at Walt Disney World—is a popular electrolyte replacement drink. If you are exercising longer than an hour, you might consider drinking some sports drink to help energize your body. However, be careful; if you read the instructions of the sports drinks, most of them will tell you to drink equal amounts of water with the drink. If all you have are cups of sports drinks, you will not be hydrating your body properly. Diluting your sports drink into a 50 percent solution with water is an easy way to stay hydrated.

Be careful not to drink sports drinks instead of water during the day when you are not exercising. Sports drinks, although uncabonated, still pack a lot of sugar in them (which you are expected to use as fuel when you are exercising). They are definitely not low-calorie products, and if you are watching how much processed sugar you consume, it's definitely a red flag to stay away from.

Dean Karnazes, the self-entitled "Ultramarathon Man" who has run many marathons (including 10 marathons non-stop—yep, 262 miles) suggests drinking children's Pedialyte electrolyte replacement drinks instead of sports drinks. Karnazes says it gives you good amounts of electrolytes but is not loaded with sugar the way sports drinks are.


Everyone should be drinking 64 ounces of water a day (that comes out to eight glasses of water), but make sure to increase your water intake if you are exercising. Long gone are the days when the P.E. teacher would warn students not to drink any water during sports class to avoid cramping; drinking water is an important part of working out. According to most authorities, you should drink 1 or 2 cups of water before your workout, and drink anywhere from 1/3 to a full cup of water every 10 to 15 minutes that you work out (especially if you are outdoors in heat). In addition, a good rule of thumb is to not count the water you drink as part of your workout into your 64-ounce daily water recommendation.

Are you not in the habit of drinking 64 ounces of water everyday? Your body may be in a permanently dehydrated state and you might not even know it. A lot of people mistake their feeling of thirst for hunger, and while eating allows your body to obtain some water from the food you eat, you might consider drinking a cool glass of water if you are feeling like a snack. If you are really hungry, that cup of water will not make your hunger go away.

Some people have difficulty drinking plain water. Be careful not to substitute it with (sugar-laden) soda and/or caffeinated products (which act as a diuretic and make you lose more water than you drink). Consider keeping a big pitcher of water in your refrigerator at all times, since a tall class of chilled water may be far more palatable than a cup of tap water. If you feel the need for some flavoring, try a squeeze of lemon or a mint sprig. If you really still can't stand it, consider drinking club soda. It's kind of like drinking soda, but without the sugar or caffeine.

It's not that difficult to drink eight glasses of water a day, if you ration it out throughout the day. Try this simple trick:

  1. Keep a bottle of water at your beside. If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, drink a glass of water as well. Otherwise, drink your first glassful when you wake up, before you even leave your bed.
  2. Drink your second glass right before, or with your breakfast.
  3. Drink your third glass with your mid-morning snack or by itself, perhaps around an hour before lunch.
  4. Drink your fourth glass with your lunch.
  5. Drink your fifth glass in the mid-afternoon, either by itself, or with your afternoon snack.
  6. Drink your sixth glass of water as soon as you get home from work or school.
  7. Drink your seventh glass with your dinner.
  8. Drink your eighth glass after dinner, and as late as when you start getting ready for bed.

Be warned that for the first few days as you body adjusts to being properly hydrated, you will be running to the bathroom more often than what you are used to. This is normal.


As important as it is to drink lots of water, there is such a thing as too much water. If you are on a very long run during your marathon training, be careful to augment your water intake with electrolytes (or salt). If you drink too much water and become overhydrated (and you throw off your body's natural balance of water to sodium), you run the risk of experiencing a life-threatening condition called “hyponatrenia.” Hyponatrenia is especially dangerous for endurance sports like marathons, and it has been known to kill people.

The best way to prevent hyponatrenia is to maintain your sodium levels. Researchers recommend that combine your water intake with that of a sports drink, and to add salt to your food in the days before the race (presuming you do not have a medical condition that prohibites or discourages salt, like high blood pressure). Some marathoners and triathletes are even known to eat salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips during the latter portions of their endurance events! That's not for everyone, so some marathoners carry electrolyte tablets with them during their races.

Eating healthy

Everyone wants to know what the secret is to losing weight and keeping it off. Perhaps you've registered for the WDW Marathon with the hopes of losing weight. As you increase your mileage during training, it's possible to lose your fat, get lighter, and increase your pace. But you might be disappointed to hear that there's no real secret. All you need to is move your body, and don't eat so much that your body decides to store the excess as fat. But as a person who is exercising regularly, you need to make sure you are eating certain foods, such as protein, so provide your body with a way to gain muscle (while losing fat).

The recent low-carb craze has mellowed out to a more relaxed approach this year, with a generally agreed-upon philosophy that carbohydrates are fine as long as you get it from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (the South Beach Diet follows this philosophy). For athletes, eating healthy can help your performance as well. So instead of reaching for ice cream, try a yogurt instead. Always have a big bowl of fruit in your kitchen, and avoid purchasing those “middle-aisle” foods—the ones with labels that tell you contents may have settled during shipment (because they mostly used processed sugars and starches)—and make the bulk of your purchases from the fresh vegetable and fruit section.

It's important to eat protein while you're training, since you need to maintain good muscle tone (not to mention muscle gain). Foods like grilled salmon and grilled chicken are particularly good for you. As we head into the summer, fire up your outdoor grill for some healthy eats.

Do you skip breakfast? Try to get into the habit of having something for breakfast; your digestive system has been resting all night, and you need to get your engines started. Eating breakfast also keeps you sated and discourages you from overeating at lunch.

Eating well in the parks

A lot of times, you go on vacation and throw caution to the wind, eating everyhting in sight of things you don't touch at home. While eating treats is OK, remember that your body may be off-kilter from the jet lag and travel, added stress of being on vacation (yes, you can stress out if you're going somewhere for vacation), and the convenience of eating out for every single meal. so while you can treat yourself, consider some things to stick to and you will feel better when you get home.

Don't skip breakfast during vacation. You might be too excited about showing up at the start of park opening that you are tempted to skip breakfast altogether. If you don't have time for a sit-down breakfast, buy some breakfast bars or fruit to keep in your room, that you can munch on as you make your way to the park. If you want to make time for breakfast, consider staying at a hotel with free continental breakfast. Of course, if one of your big events for your trip is to enjoy a breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, by all means enjoy! Just don't make huge breakfast buffets a daily activity during your trip.

While we go on vacation, many of us tend to just eat out for every meal. This can become expensive pretty quickly, both for our wallets and waistlines. In addition to buying breakfast bars or fruit for breakfast, why not bring a small (collapsible) cooler with you to store healthy snacks? Many grocery stores now carry snack-sized packs of fresh vegetables. You can store snacks like veggies, fruit, cheese sticks and yogurt in your cooler, and fill it with ice from the hotel.

If you're a fan of peanut butter and jelly, you can even buy a loaf of whole wheat bread and make your own PBJs for evening snacks. Just don't eat right before you go to bed; most nutritional authorities tell you that's just asking for the calories to go right to your waistline.

Consider focusing on one big meal for the day instead of eating at restaurants for both lunch and dinner. One way to keep your portions manageable is to order a salad and split an entree. Avoid foods you wouldn't normally eat at home, Go with lighter sauces, such as marinara instead of alfredo.

Do you like to write trip reports when you visit the parks? If so, consider keeping a food journal as well. It might be enlightening to see how much or how poorly you eat while on vacation. On the other hand, you might surprise yourself at how well you are eating!

Gone are the days when all you could eat in the parks were junk food. For example, Disneyland has numberous outdoor vending carts that sell things like pickles, veggie trays, and whole fruit. If you are feeling like a snack, consider the healthier alternatives over the $5 five-layer caramel apple or the super-long chili dog. If you fall to temptation, however, at least share it with another member of your party so you still enjoy the fun and flavor of the junk food but only of a reasonable portion.

If you are staying on property at Walt Disney World, think before you purchase a refillable mug. You save money and take home a cute souvenir, but you might end up drinking way more soda than you normally do because you want to try to get your money's worth out of the mug. Consider bringing your own refillable water bottle (and carry it wearing one of the parks' bottle strap holders) so you can stay properly hydrated. Both the California and Florida parks tend to get pretty hot, anyway.

As you start increasing your mileage in your training, remember that you need to be eating healthy to help your bio-machine become efficient and effective. The combination of healthy eating and regular exercise will make you a healthier person, and you may actually discover that you are feeling perkier, and getting ill less often.

One final note—Have you registered for the marathon or half-marathon yet? Are you on the fence? As we start heading into the summer months, know that the events will likely get filled up and their registration closed. Don't procrastinate! Get yourself registered, then put on your running shoes and we'll see you out on the roads!

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.


Click Here to PayLearn MoreAmazon Honor System

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright © MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.