Lace up your running (or walking) shoes and start the Thanksgiving festivities early with a new tradition — a turkey trot! It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family before a busy day of activities and a turkey dinner. And as an added bonus: Most turkey trots benefit charities, so you’ll get your heart pumping while supporting a good cause.
Typically, Thanksgiving Day races are the length of a 5K (3.1 miles) and are held in communities across the country. If running three miles seems daunting, some events offer one-mile “fun runs” instead. Not ready to run? No problem — these family-friendly events are perfect for any fitness level and welcome runners, joggers and walkers alike.
If you’ve committed to your first turkey trot and are unsure of what to expect or how to prepare, we’ve got you covered. Check out our complete guide to your first turkey trot — and remember, having fun is the most important part!
What to eat before a turkey trot
Whether you’re walking or running, listen to your body and make healthy choices before heading to the start line. For shorter distances, such as a 5K, a light snack or meal should do the trick if your stomach is growling pre-race. And if you want to save a full meal until after the race, no problem, just be sure to snack before so you don’t get too hungry, be mindful of your portions and make healthy choices after your trot.
If you’re up early and want to enjoy breakfast before the event, Jenny Craig RD, Briana Rodriquez, recommends eating at least two hours prior and choosing something light and nutritious that you regularly eat to avoid any stomach issues on course. If you’re a Jenny Craig member, your consultant can help you pick the best breakfast.
Also, hydrating is just as important as what you eat! Rodriquez recommends skipping any sugar-laden sports drinks and opting for refreshing water. Make sure to sip water before, during and after exercising.
What to wear for a turkey run
Dress for the weather: and know your body will heat up once you start moving. According to Runner’s World, a good rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.1 Wear easy-to-shed layers that you can tie around your waist or tuck into your pockets. Try layering a lightweight jacket over a tee or tank to stay cool and dry. If it’s chilly outside, bring a hat or headband and gloves.
If you pick up a few new items of clothing before the race, look for sweat-wicking, technical material and try to avoid wearing all-cotton products, as they tend to soak up moisture and may cause blisters and chafing.2 Some turkey trots encourage costumes, so get creative with fun props or matching t-shirts!
Finally, pick a pair of comfortable running shoes you’ve worn before — you won’t want to break in new ones on the day of the race!
Check the event’s website to ensure you have everything you need, then follow these quick tips before the race starts to have the smoothest possible turkey trot experience.
Arrive early to check in and collect any race materials, like your bib, safety pins and a t-shirt.
Note where bathroom and water stops are along the route.
Choose a spot to meet your team/family members before and after the turkey trot. It’s the best way to get a great group photo and makes it easier to find your fitness buddies.
Fill up your water bottle to stay hydrated during and after the race.
Additionally, you may want to consider packing a small “race day bag” of items that you can carry with you, leave in your car, or with someone cheering you on.
Anti-chafe stick or petroleum jelly
ID, keys, phone and a small amount of cash
Change of clothing
Post-race snack (half of a banana, a small amount of almonds or cashews, etc.)
Remember to pace yourself during the turkey trot. If you feel tired, slow down or take a short break. Enjoy yourself and the time you’ll spend with your loved ones. No matter how far or fast you go, crossing the finish line is a huge accomplishment!
Congrats, you’ve made it to the finish *virtual high five!* After the race, you’ll want to make sure to cool down properly. Try walking for an additional five to ten minutes and take some time to stretch gently.3 These movements will keep your muscles from feeling too tight and promote healthy blood flow.4 Change into clean, dry clothing and slip on comfortable shoes with support.
Most importantly, make sure to rehydrate with water. Sipping H2O throughout the day will help you to feel your best. It’s also a good idea to eat a small snack with protein and carbohydrates within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise to replace any lost nutrients during physical activity. If you’re wondering what you should eat, Rodriquez recommends reaching for a banana with a teaspoon of nut butter or a Jenny Craig Essential Nutrition Bar.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal later in the day by creating a balanced plate, which should contain lean protein, a moderate amount of carbohydrates, and a small amount of healthy fats, such as avocado or olive oil.3
Make It a Tradition
What better way to create a new, healthy family tradition than by participating in a turkey trot? You’ll get to spend quality time with your loved ones and fit in a little exercise, all before sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Pick an event and a goal that feels achievable this year, and then challenge yourself a little more next year. It’s also a great way to foster a little friendly competition!
To learn more about balancing exercise with healthy food choices, contact Jenny Craig to book your free appointment with a consultant today!