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If your Thanksgiving festivities will begin with a 5K this year, here are tips to be race-ready.

Thinking of mixing in a 5K along with your turkey this Thanksgiving? Before the feasting begins, many people have embraced a new tradition during the holiday – a Turkey Trot. This is typically a low-key 5K run filled with fun and festivities in addition to some solid running or walking activity.

Whether entering a turkey trot is a family tradition, a fun way to squeeze in a workout before you overindulge or a way to motivate you to start a new exercise routine, you’ll need to prepare yourself a bit before you hit the start line if you’re not typically that active. Spending a few weeks before the race getting ready can help you be more prepared to enjoy a pain-free and injury-free race day.

If you’ve never done a 5K before or are a running newbie, here are a few tips to get race-day ready:
  1. Check with your doctor. If you are starting a new activity, especially if you have any medical conditions, make sure you are cleared to start running or walking.
  2. Slowly add distance. Unless you’re used to running or walking a 5K (3.1 miles), start out slowly and gradually add to your mileage over a few weeks so you don’t do too much too soon.
  3. Pick up the speed. If you’re typically a walker but want to try to run the race, start by including short intervals of running during your walk. Increase the amount of time you run between walking as you feel comfortable.
  4. Focus on small goals. You’re not running the race of a lifetime on Thanksgiving morning so no need to put too much pressure on yourself to hit a certain time or to run continuously without stopping. Instead, set small attainable goals that you can hit and be proud of.
  5. Don’t run every day. During training, don’t run every day or you may overdo it. Aim to run 3 – 4 times a week and do other activities on non-running days, like swimming, biking or resistance training. Also schedule some rest days to give your body a chance to recover.
  6. Make sure you stretch. Your legs, hips and back may feel tight when you start running or increase pace or distance. Doing adequate stretching helps you stay more flexible.
  7. Wear comfortable clothes. There’s no need to buy a new outfit, but you will need a supportive pair of sneakers and something comfortable to wear. Sometime during your training, wear the outfit you plan to wear on race day.
  8. Don’t forget to fuel properly. You may be planning for a big feast after your race, but don’t run on an empty stomach. Try out what you plan to eat on training runs to make sure the food sits well with you.
  9. Stay hydrated. Don’t forget to drink before and after your race. Proper hydration is an important part of any physical activity.
  10. Have fun. Remember the reason for this race is to have fun with family and friends and to enjoy a holiday tradition. While spending a few weeks training and adding some activity to your day is a good thing, the ultimate goal is that you have a good time.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 20, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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