A very popular activity each November is the Turkey Trot, held all over the United States on Thanksgiving morning. These are usually 5k races, but some of them are 5 milers or 10k’s. (Don't make a mistake like me and sign up for something longer than you were expecting!) These races are a great opportunity to try a fun, low pressure race, burn some calories before you eat your body weight in stuffing, and, let’s face it, it’s all about getting the cool T-shirt.
Just because this is more about fun than getting your personal best, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come prepared. Here are some great tips for whether you are a veteran Turkey-Trotter or a newbie.
How to Run a Turkey Trot
- Run your race
Don’t worry about how fast you are running. Just try to keep moving and keep a steady pace. People will pass you - just let them. It is tempting to get caught up in the momentum of the race, but you are better suited to keeping a pace that works for you. Chances are you may be passing those people later on who seemed so fast earlier.
- Know your body
While you are running, it is normal to feel uncomfortable. Running any kind of distance requires some mental toughness, but there is a big difference between feeling tired or sore and feeling injured. The discomfort you feel should not be debilitating in any way. If it is, stop immediately. No one will look down on you, and there is no prize for toughing it out on a stress fracture (except a lovely set of crutches).
There are plenty of training programs out there to get you ready for a 5k and beyond, but if you only decided to commit the race yesterday, there is not a lot of time. That is okay - any practice you can do will help. Mix it up with running outside, doing indoor cardio, and doing some strength training (yes, this will help with your running). You should try a workout on the Arc Trainer for building speed and endurance.
- Use the buddy system
Running a race can be much more fun with a buddy to push you. I did my first race alone and I don’t recommend it. Having a familiar face there will help it feel less intimidating and make it more fun. At very least, make a playlist of your favorite music and get in rhythm with the beat. Science proves that music does make running much more enjoyable and helps get your mind off the task at hand. Some races discourage running with music, but many people still do it anyway. I, for one, find it very useful and hardly ever run a race without it, especially when I am lacking a buddy to share the long distance with me.
- Eat all the turkey
When you are done with your race you have every right to treat yourself. Enjoy that Thanksgiving turkey with your family- odds are it will taste better than ever. And then go sign up for another 5k, you running machine.