There is nothing like Thanksgiving guilt to make one strap on the running shoes to either burn off the Thanksgiving dinner calories or consider jump starting a healthy habit by running a Turkey Trot. Just like that last piece of pumpkin pie, you can certainly overdo it and end up feeling worse than intended. Whether new to running or an experienced veteran looking to gain more consistency, the key is to pace yourself, instead of “loading up your plate” with too many miles or unreasonable goals.
Running Scenario 1: New to Running
As you pack on the pounds over Thanksgiving, and the residual post-Thanksgiving guilt, it is easy to overcompensate by running yourself into an injury or taking on too many miles or a fast pace. It’s like the more we eat, the more we feel the need to run that very moment instead of planning for the long run.
For new runners, it is critical to work into running as that will allow you to move from occasionally running and into becoming a runner. The difference is huge, as you will be making a lifestyle change able to withstand any Thanksgiving dinner since your body needs consistency to gain running benefits, such as a higher metabolism.
There is never a bad time to start running, but using Thanksgiving guilt is a great motivator. The next step is to follow a maintainable running program, and we have a comprehensive running guide to get your started.
Running Scenario 2: Training for a Turkey Trot Race…and Beyond
Turkey Trots are a great way to establish some running consistency and meet a running goal. Akin to training for your first 5K, a Turkey Trot is typically between 5K to 10K in distance and runs the risk of fall off post-race, as once the goal of running a Turkey Trot is complete many runners fall into previous bad habits.
It’s better to use the Turkey Trot as a short term “reward” for your training rather than viewing it as the end of your running for the year. Just like Thanksgiving dinner, the best part can be the leftovers, so as you train for and complete your Turkey Trot, look forward to all the leftover miles and joy the running lifestyle can bring you!
Finding a Turkey Trot
Turkey Trots are usually held the weekend before or after Thanksgiving, and locating these races can be done via checking with your local running store or searching on Active.com or Running in the USA for “Turkey Trot”. If you are part of a local running club, they may also have a race calendar and training groups specifically tailored for a Turkey Trot.
Find Your Running “Gang”
Running with other turkeys… ahem, runners… is a great way to reinforce your running goals beyond a Turkey Trot and hopefully find a year round running group. The running community is huge, diverse, and inviting. Finding these likeminded individuals can be achieved via your local running store, attending a race and looking for other runners in matching uniforms, or searching for local running clubs.
Running Scenario 3: Returning to Running after a Layoff or Trouble Finding Consistency
Those on a long running layoff or looking for more running consistency may want to use Thanksgiving as a restart for their running, but might overdo their efforts resulting in injury and more setbacks. In this running scenario, it is better to work slowly back into running instead of letting the emotions add stress… and too many miles too fast…. on your body.
What matters is getting back on track, not how far or how fast you used to run. A true running reset is when you “forget” your old PRs and distance you ran. Instead, focus on consistently running 3 days a week, even if it’s just a mile per run, before working your way back. This will reduce stress and you will quickly find your old strength coming back while discovering new capabilities. Using the Thanksgiving analogy, it’s like an unending stream of leftovers that you will never tire of eating.