Fun Runs in Disney World

Disney World is one of my favorite places. I don't think I will ever tire of visiting the happiest place on earth, but that being said, Disney World is not renowned for being the fittest place on earth. 

You can always count on Disney for cute touches.

Lately, fitness has become a bigger priority in my life. While I believe that every person deserves to feel comfortable and happy in their own skin, I found myself at a point in my life where that was an extremely difficult thing to do. I needed to step up my game, if for no other reason than to be comfortable in the body I have, so I started running - well, jogging... I go slow. I started doing a little before the BolderBoulder a couple years ago, and I have done three official 10k's in the past two years, but I got more serious about my endurance about four months ago. And so far, I am pretty proud of the progress I've made. I am able to pace myself better than I used to, and I can go a mile faster than before. On a good day, I can go 4 miles without stopping! I know that Disney wants to encourage fitness because they have so many races, and my runDisney 10k inspired me to explore my options for keeping in shape while in Disney World.

This trip to Florida has been the first vacation since I really started taking my endurance runs seriously, and I was a bit afraid of falling off the bandwagon, so I did a little research about jogging in Disney World. Disney's website has a page about it, but I found an informative site called runningatdisney.com that has maps of the trails, so I could see my options and make plans to keep me on track during my trip. I work better when I have plans. I know that many (if not all) Disney hotels have gyms, but I decided to be outdoors for my workouts that week.

Days 1 & 5 - Hourglass Lake

We stayed at the Pop Century for five nights because of the price and because it was still on property so we had access to all the Disney Transportation. This gave me five mornings to run in Disney. The first and last mornings, I decided to run around Hourglass Lake, which is between the Pop Century and the Art of Animation. Because it was right at the hotel, I didn't have to spend any time commuting to the run. The loop around the lake is about 1.25 miles, so I went twice around it both of those days. This run is nice and simple, and definitely adds value to staying at either hotel if you're a runner.

Day 2 - Grand Floridian and Polynesian

However, I didn't want to do the same run every single day, so I decided to try a few paths in the Magic Kingdom. Our second morning there, I took a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and hopped on the resort monorail, stopping at the Transportation and Ticket Center. I planned my run that day through the grounds of the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, and I knew I could easily get to the Polynesian from the TTC. This run was a bit hard to follow the map I found, mostly because the Polynesian is being refurbished, but you can always turn around if you hit a dead end, and the more twists and turns you make, the more distance you cover! This run had the most Disney magic, because I got to run by the Seven Seas Lagoon and could see the Magic Kingdom in the distance. I also got to run past the wedding pavilion at the Grand Floridian, which is quite beautiful. 

Day 3 - Fort Wilderness - I even met some wildlife!

The third day, I wanted to run from the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds to the Wilderness Lodge, so I started the day by taking a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and riding a ferry to Fort Wilderness. I had the map on my phone and tried to find the trail to the Wilderness Lodge, but I ended up getting lost. Luckily, the campgrounds have no shortage of sidewalks so running around there I got up to 3.5 miles without even getting to the Wilderness Lodge.

Day 4 - Wilderness Lodge.
Hidden Mickeys always make me smile :)

My fourth day, I decided to try the Wilderness Lodge trail again but this time start from the lodge. This was a bit easier because I found signs that helped me out. The trail from the lodge to the campgrounds was very pretty, with lots of trees surrounding each side of the path. You wouldn't even know you were in Disney World if it weren't for the Hidden Mickey. 

Day 4 - Wilderness Lodge

The hardest part about these runs was the commute to and from. The bus takes close to a half hour each way, and depending on your luck with the ferries, you could be looking at close to two hours total transportation time. The monorail is a bit more predictable and quicker between vehicles, but I still spent over an hour getting to and from the hotel. I wouldn't recommend going that far if you're only staying a couple nights, but because we had a more leisurely time frame, I am glad I did the runs I did. (It also gave Nathaniel the opportunity to sleep in ;) Next time I'd like to try some runs in Epcot! Hopefully I will be a bit more wealthy someday and be able to stay closer to the runs I like. The Pop was good, but I enjoy staying closer to the Magic Kingdom and the monorails.

Another reason I didn't want to fall off the bandwagon in Disney World is because I didn't want to worry about what I was eating. I've also been very conscious lately of what and how much I eat, and it is easy to not eat well in Disney if you let yourself. A good thing about a Disney vacation, though, is that you walk. A LOT. With iOS 8 and my iPhone 5s, I discovered that my steps were automatically being tracked, and I could see my daily count in the Health app. I found an app called Breeze that uses the same exact data Health collects, but it helps set goals and I prefer the way the information is presented and analyzed. I clocked over 29,000 steps on our longest day (including my run). Based on a rough estimate of a 2000 step mile, that's over 14 miles in one day! This helped me feel less guilty about the ice cream.

Overall, I feel good about my level of activity on our trip. Like I said earlier, Disney World is not known for the fitness of its visitors. However, I feel that I've found a pretty good way of keeping healthy while still indulging a bit on a vacation to the happiest place on earth. I've never been what you would classify as "skinny" but Disney World definitely makes me feel better about my body, and how I am able to be active in it.