Turkey Trot Prep: Training Tips for Your Best Thanksgiving Run Yet

Do you love the tradition of running a race on Thanksgiving Day? Before putting the turkey in the oven, many people enjoy lacing up their running shoes to join a big group in a 5k or half-marathon race. If you are planning to run on Thanksgiving, then make sure to be proactive with your turkey trot prep.

Yes, Thanksgiving is a day to feast and enjoy time with loved ones. But there are many excuses to spend time outside as well, such as a race, a game of flag football, or simply going for a walk to help the turkey digest.

Turkey Trot Popularity

Even though races happen throughout the year, recreational racers often enjoy these events on holidays, such as July 4th and Thanksgiving Day. An estimated 1 million people join in “Turkey Trot” races on Thanksgiving morning, making it one of the most popular days each year to run a race.

Even though Thanksgiving is popular for runners, most of these people aren’t hard-core. In fact, the race might be the only one they compete in all year long. If you don’t run often, then it’s essential to make time for turkey trot prep so your body is ready to run on race day.

Tips for Successful Turkey Trot Prep

Whether you are getting ready for a Thanksgiving Day race or you are planning to run another race, there are a few things to keep in mind for your turkey trot prep. Follow these tips:

  1. Choose Your Distance: The most common length for a Turkey Trot is 5k, but there are often options for a 10K or half-marathon if you prefer. If you don’t run often, then start small. You can always choose a bigger race when you’ve had more time for training. Be smart about choosing a reasonable distance to avoid injury.
  2. Invest in Good Shoes: Good shoes make a difference when you are running longer distances. If it’s a 5k, then any type of athletic shoe will be fine. But the longer distances require special running shoes designed for these activities. Buy your shoes in advance and make sure to break them in during the weeks before the race.
  3. Wear Layers: There is typically a chill in the air on Thanksgiving morning, especially if you are starting the race before the sun rises. But you will warm up once you start moving. So, be strategic about your clothing by wearing layers to keep you warm pre-race, and items that can be removed easily if you get too warm while running.
  4. Train Before the Race: If you haven’t been running in a long time, don’t expect to be able to show up to the race and run from start to finish. Your body needs time to prepare, which is why movement before the race is critical. Walking, jogging, and running several times a week, for a few weeks before the race, can help with muscle training and building up the endurance you will need.
  5. Invite Friends: The race will be much more enjoyable if you have friends or family to share the experience with. Invite other people to participate. Not only will you have partners to run the race with, but you can also train together as part of your group turkey trot prep.
  6. Fuel Your Body: Eat a hearty meal the night before your race so you have plenty of energy on race day. Also, it can be helpful to eat a light breakfast a few hours before the race. Bring snacks along if needed to keep you going. Often, races will provide snacks along the race path and at the finish line.
  7. Hydration and Electrolytes: Not only should you be drinking plenty of water before, during, and after the race. But also make sure that you are supporting your body with good electrolytes. Supplements can be added to your water if needed. Or, choose sports drinks like Gatorade.

Race Day: Starting Line, Pacing, and Completion

The goal is to make it across the finish line. But there are a few details that influence how comfortable and fast you are during the race. Many people have a lot of energy and motivation at the starting line, but quickly slow down once the race is underway.

Be careful to avoid burnout early in the race. Even if you have a lot of energy when you are starting, don’t run so hard in the beginning that you are having difficulty keeping up at the end. If you are planning to walk a little bit during the race, then the common etiquette is for the slower races to stay towards the back of the crowd at the starting line, allowing the faster racers to get out ahead of the slower-moving participants.

What are Your Goals for the Race?

Choose the right friends to run with so that you can pace yourself. If you’ve been training, then you might have a specific mileage average you are aiming for. Or, if you are planning to walk the race and enjoy the experience with loved ones, then you might simply focus on continuous movement – one foot in front of the other.

Consider your goals, because your desired outcome will shape your experience. If you want to just have fun, then you don’t need to worry about the clock or beating a personal best. If you are a regular runner and you want to push your limits, then you might have a specific goal in mind that you want to meet – such as how much time it takes to complete the race.

Maintain Momentum After the Race

Turkey trot prep is a great way to get moving. Having a goal, such as running a race, is often the motivation people need to stay consistent with an exercise plan. Even after the race is over, don’t let yourself lose the momentum! Plan another race or find a different motivation to continue with a consistent workout routine.

Whether you are preparing for a race or you are continuing an exercise routine after a race, make sure to find a gym where you can work out. Fitness Nation offers the fun and supportive environment you are looking for.