Holidays are all about traditions—beloved rituals that we eagerly anticipate each year. Too often, however, Thanksgiving traditions go no further than the family sprawling out in front of the TV after an enormous feast. This year, why not introduce a new tradition—and get some movement in to boot—by signing up for a local turkey trot? These holiday races are typically 5K (3.1 miles) or shorter, and many offer the opportunity for kids and parents to run or walk side-by-side.
“Just like cooking a tasty Thanksgiving dish, when you do a race with your family, you want to have all the right ingredients,” says Sarah Bowen Shea, coauthor of Run Like a Mother (Andrews McMeel, 2010) and cofounder of Another Mother Runner, a national running community. “With children in the mix, this means fun, costumes and a shorter distance, which turkey trots serve up.”
Signing up for a race is an easy way to stay accountable to a fitness plan, Shea notes. Plus, the exercise you’ll gain by jogging two or three times a week will help you live longer, according to researchers at Harvard and Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.
Five weeks is plenty of time to work up to 3.1 miles, whether you plan to run, jog or walk the distance (or some combination). If you’re starting from zero, take it slowly, mix running with walking and add no more than a half mile to your longest run each week, Shea suggests. On non-running days, you can change up the routine with low-impact cross-training like swimming, yoga, light weight training or bicycling.
Use the program on the following page as a guide. Cut it out and hang it on your fridge to keep track of your progress! Many coaches recommend ending your training week on the same day that your race will be. (Because Thanksgiving races tend to be on Thanksgiving Day, Day 7 of each week will be a Thursday.) That said, you can adapt the program to best accommodate your schedule.
There are several ways to monitor the distance of your runs. Use Google Maps in pedestrian mode to plan out your route. Download apps like Map My Run or Strava, which allow you to track your workouts using your phone’s GPS. Or, if there’s a school or community center near you with a running track, you can easily track your progress there. One lap around a standard track equals a quarter mile.
HOW TO CHOOSE RUNNING SHOES
• Visit a specialty shop. If you’ve never purchased running shoes before, the experts at a running store can help. Ask for an employee who’s trained in evaluating
running gait. Be sure to jog a few test laps around the store or on a treadmill (if the store has one) in different shoes that you have picked out —before you commit to a purchase.
• Shop after work. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends trying on athletic shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are slightly swollen. This will ensure that you choose shoes that aren’t too tight. You should have at least a half-inch of space between your toes and the front of the shoe, ACSM says.
• Choose function over fashion. It can be tempting to choose the flashiest, trendiest running shoes available. Take your time and think about which models feel the best on your feet. Pay particular attention to any spots that slip or rub, and remember that any discomfort is amplified during a race.
LOCAL TURKEY TROTS
SIGN UP FOR ONE OF THESE FUN THANKSGIVING DAY RACES. CHECK OUT RUNNINGINTHEUSA.COM FOR MORE RACES AROUND THE HOLIDAYS AND THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
42ND ANNUAL MILE HIGH UNITED WAY TURKEY TROT
Distances: 4-mile or 1/4-mile Family Fun Run
Where: Washington Park, Denver
Fun factor: Join 10,000 other runners—dogs are welcome, too!
Benefits: Mile High United Way
18TH ANNUAL TURKEY TROT
Distances: 5K and 2K Gobbler Trek
Where: North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley
Fun factor: Prize money and pies to top finishers and age-group winners
Benefits: Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs at North Colorado Medical Center
18TH ANNUAL YMCA OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION TURKEY TROT
Distances: 5K and Kids Fun Run
Where: Briargate YMCA, Colorado Springs
Fun factor: Costumes are encouraged!
Benefits: YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region programs