With four weeks to go your Turkey Trot prep should be focused on getting in the groove of regular exercise and running, especially for first-time trotters and beginning runners.
Turkey Trots are usually a 5k, or 3.1 mile, long races that happen the morning of Thanksgiving Day. Trots are meant to be fun and can vary in intensity depending on your area. They are a great way to commit to getting in exercise before your big meal and a long day of football watching.
Here are some rules and best practices for running your trot:
1. Get into the running routine. Even if you aren't a novice trotter it's important to get into a routine of regular exercise and running before your race; crushing hard-core track or hill workouts won't help your case in this short time frame. Instead, focus your efforts on running 2-3 times a week. If you're looking to get a taste for increased running intensity then a safe weekly running routine might look like; one run with effort based pick-ups, one longer run (time-wise) and one run at an "easy" pace for recovery and maintenance purposes. You should ease off intensity one week prior, so you have fresh legs for your race.
2. Be safe, head to the back of the pack. It's hard to fight the urge to start at the very front of the race, but if you are with small children, older family or a dog, this is not a safe place to be. Experienced trotters that are racing will often gun it after the start, sometimes running at a sub 6 minute mile pace. Amongst a large group of fast running adults, you or a loved one could easily get hurt, trampled or tripped. Be safe, head to the back of the pack and together make a group goal "to pick off" other trotters during the race. If you're in sub 7 minute mile pace, then migrating closer to the front is a good move so you can find a similar paced group to work with while racing.
3. Wear sneakers, skip the headphones and look around. Whether your trot is on the road or trail, it's important to wear proper training shoes and be alert on the race course. Thanksgiving won't be enjoyable if you have to make a trip to the ER after a bad trip or fall. While you're at it, ditch the headphones so you can fully hear and be aware of your surroundings. You'll want to hear if another runner is coming up behind or beside you to avoid potential collisions. It's also not unheard of for cars to accidentally cross or drive on a race course accidentally. It's likely you'll be tired during your race, so it's important to be as alert, aware and safe as possible during this time.
4. Warm up and cool down, and don't forget to sip water. First time trotters and beginning runners will often skip a pre-race warm up or post-race cool down, don't make this mistake especially in colder temperatures. Make sure you commit to at least a 5-10 minutes to a warm up and a cool down. On the race line you should be warm, if not almost hot on the race line, this will ensure your muscles are ready to go and will reduce your chances of straining a muscle. This is especially important in larger races when you often have to stand and wait for the gun to go off. Once finished, catch your breath and sip some water but make sure you get a few minutes of a cool down in. This will allow your legs to get new blood flow to your limbs and help relieve lactic acid build up which causes stiff post-race legs. Even though it's cold, you should be sipping on water throughout your warmup and cool down in order to stay hydrated.
5. Layer up, lots. Chances are your Thanksgiving day will be chilly; make sure you have clothing options for your warmup, race and cool down come the big day. Fight the urge to strip down during your warm up and let yourself work up to a light sweat. For races with no storage options for your belongings consider wearing layers that you won't mind losing. Stash a sweatshirt, sweat pants or shirt in a bush, in a car or with a friend then head to the line. Come race time make sure you're dressed in clothing that is comfortable FOR YOU. That could mean loose shorts and a t-shirt for someone who doesn't like "sticky" clothing, for others that could be spandex that won't billow during the race. Above all, remember to keep your hands and head warm; this is key for especially cold days. Pick up a headband and mittens from the dollar store so you can start your race toasty then toss them aside should you get overheated. Most importantly, after your race make sure to switch out of your sweaty clothing and into new, fresh layers. Even if you're headed straight home, still get layered up to avoid getting post-run chills. Getting sick after your trot is not a fun way to start your holiday break.
Best of luck in your upcoming Turkey Trot! Don't forget to tweet us at @CoachUp and share your photos with us on Facebook to let us know how it went. We'll be sure to RT and share them with our community.
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