Tips For Running A Turkey Trot

This Thursday is Thanksgiving and that means it’s Turkey Trot time! It’s one of my favorite races to do all year and it’s a great way to get your day started and burn some pre-Thanksgiving feast calories! Run the Trot and you can burn an extra 300-400 (for 5k) to 600-800 (for 10k) calories before your day starts! You may not want to get up early and run – but trust me, later when you are stuffing your face with pie….you will be glad you did! This is a great race for beginners too because it’s so much fun and you can get your family to join you if they are in town for the holiday! So, if this is your first 5k or 10k – you may be wondering just how to do the Trot. Here are the top questions I get asked about the race….

What do I eat before the Turkey Trot?

Just eat what you normally eat before a workout. The race is usually early in the morning, so you may not want to get up extra early to eat so that your food can digest. I usually eat a bowl of Special K about 45-60 minutes before the race and then sip on some G-2 (gatorade) on the way to the race. However, if you are doing the 10k – you may want to add a half of a banana, a piece of toast or even an energy gel. Don’t eat too much and avoid anything with too much fiber, protein and sugar or you may get an upset stomach. Save your big breakfast for AFTER you run. 

Do I need to warmup?

Yes. The shorter the race – the longer your warmup should be. For the 5k, I usually run about 10minutes before at a slow pace, then stop and do about 5minutes of good leg stretches. For the 10k, I warmup about the same or a little less. Ideally, the shorter the race – the faster you will run and for fast speeds you need to make sure your legs are ready. If you are a new runner or are planning to walk part of the race – you still need to warmup. Just do a combination of light jogging and some walking before you start and you will be good! Remember, never stretch cold muscles. So, don’t be one of those people that gets in line for the race and stands there 15minutes before it starts doing all kinds of crazy stretches. Go walk around or if you are worried you’ll lose your place (see below) you can just jog in place. 

How do I line up for the race?

Most experienced racers are very picky about this – so I’m going to help you avoid any dirty looks. Basically, if you are not planning to place in the top 3 of your age group – you do NOT need to be at the front of the start line. Sure, you may be able to keep up with the Kenyans for the first 3 minutes but then you will be left in the dust. Spare yourself the humiliation and just line up a little farther back. Now, if you are pretty fast (sub 8:00 pace or so) don’t get too far back or you will be one of the ones having to pass the slower people. Looks can be deceiving too. Just because someone looks like they are fast – doesn’t mean they are fast. So, the guy wearing tiny shorts and all the watches – may be way slower than you. And vice versa – the chubby dude wearing basketball shorts may be running a 6:00 pace. You never know. Just find a place in line where you feel comfortable and where you won’t cause any roadblocks. 

What should I wear?

I live in Houston and never know what the weather will be like. Some years it’s cold on Thanksgiving and others hot. The race is in the morning, so you may think that you need a heavy sweatshirt or layers, but once you start to run it will get way too hot. My advice is to warmup near your car so that once you get warm you can leave your outer layers in the car. It doesn’t talk long to get warm – so you may be chilly standing in line at the start, but once you start racing it will be fine. You can always wear disposable gloves and then toss them during the race if you get hot. 

What if I’m not a runner?

It’s totally fine! The Turkey Trot is a fun race and it’s not all serious runners. This is one of the best races to do if you are a walker or new to running. Just start out a little farther back (see above) and make sure you warmed up first. Save your speed for the end. Divide the race up into parts and start the first few parts (or miles) slower and gradually get faster. This will give your body a chance to adapt and warm up even more. You are going to have adrenaline and feel like you can run super fast when you are first starting out – but hold yourself back or you will run out of steam. 

For more race tips, read my other blog post: “Last Minute Tips For Running Races 5k Through Marathon”

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