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Expert gives the dos and don'ts of running a Thanksgiving turkey trot

Runners start at 40th Annual Turkey Trot
Posted at 9:20 AM, Nov 22, 2022

Turkey trots are a common way for new and experienced runners to burn a few calories before bellying up to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Running USA reported that nearly 1 million people participate in annual turkey trots, making it the most popular day to race in the U.S.

With so many runners hitting the starting line, these races can be a good introduction to running for inexperienced athletes. If you’re signed up for a race, here are some tips from exercise physiologist Katie Lawton from the Cleveland Clinicon how to successfully run a turkey trot:

  • Pick a manageable race distance. Turkey trots can range from just a mile to a half marathon distance. Lawton said a 5K is generally a good distance for beginners.
  • Train a bit. While the Turkey Trot might be a few days away, it might not be a bad idea to get outside and log a few miles ahead of the race.
  • Get a group together. Lawton recommends inviting friends and family to join in the fun.
  • Wear comfortable athletic shoes. While Lawton says any athletic shoe will do for a one-time 5K, if you plan on continuing your training, it would not be a bad idea to get shoes made for walking and running. Many running stores have devices that help athletes find the proper shoe and fit. 
  • Dress for the weather. Take a layered approach to your outfit, Lawton said. If it is chilly, you will generally start to warm up after the race begins. You can remove this clothing as you race.
  • Hydrate. The Cleveland Clinic said drinking water is especially important if you get sweaty or consumed alcohol the night before.

The Cleveland Clinic suggests runners pace themselves at turkey trots. They also note that slower runners should start at the back of the pack, allowing faster runners an easier path forward.

After the race, they say to keep moving and be sure to eat a light snack, like a banana or granola bar.

To find a race near you, click here.