The first year I became a runner, I went home for Thanksgiving as always.  Only, instead of going out the night before and partying down, I went to bed early, got up earlier, and threw on my shoes, new running clothes, and slogged into Kentucky for the start of the Oldest Turkey Trot in the land.   There’s a great picture from before the race, that includes my older brother, younger sister, and four of my cousins. 

I remember that year in particular, because I was running a lot then, and I felt fast.  I felt good. I felt like I knew what I was doing as I zipped down the hill towards the Ohio River.  I ran with my cousin Jessica, and we did pretty well.  We finished in a time I’d kill for today (well, I was 24 or so).  But mostly, we just had fun, and had an excuse to get up early and see each other on Thanksgiving.

I love running a race on Thanksgiving morning.  Maybe it’s because I know that family drama will ensue later in the day, and at some point, we’ll all be hitting the wine bottle like it’s the last bit of water on earth.  I like my endorphins early, to counteract some of that dread, I suppose.  But mostly, I just like to have a piece of my mom’s Derby Pie without guilt.  Or to have the third glass of wine with a ready excuse of “Oh, I ran 6 miles this morning, it’s fine.”

Trust me. I realize this is all a mental ruse – that 6 miles of running can’t begin to account for the extra 2,000 calories most of us eat on Thanksiving evening.  But running early that day does set the stage.  It reminds you that you’re an active person, who’s committed to trying to balance the indulgence of dinner with the hard work of the morning. 

And that’s why we’re all going to start moving.  This week. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

You, dear readers, have had it easy up till now.  I’ve been absolutely thrilled with your presence, amazed at your dedication, and excited at your enthusiasm.  But now, I think it’s time we put our money where our mouth is, and started hauling our butts around our neighborhoods, local tracks, and walking paths, and geared up for our first 5k or 10k.

Um, How Far is a 5k?

A 5k is 3.1 miles.  At a brisk walk, some folks will be able to do this in under 40 minutes.  Some might take over an hour.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It’s the leading up to it part that matters.  

If you want, you can select the 10k option.  This is a good idea if you’re already walking regularly, or have a 10k walk in your town that you want to register for.

Do I have to sign up for a race?  Will they let me walk?

Ideally, yes, you’d sign up for a race.   You might say to yourself “self, it’s something good to do for you, and you deserve this.”  Plus, it’s nice to brag about it when someone says to you “oh, you look good, what are you doing?” and you can respond “Oh, I’ve started walking and/or running, and I did a 5k this morning.”  Shock and awe people, I’m telling you.

So yes, if you can find a race near you, sign up for it.  You’ll get a shirt, in all likelihood. You can wear it around town, so everyone knows you’re a True Walker or Runner.  It’s awesome.

And yes, if you don’t want to run, you can definitely walk.  No one cares, so long as you pay your entry fee…

How do you expect me to do this? I’m not walking or running at all right now?

Look, I’m  not asking you to walk on water (now THAT would be newsworthy!).  Rather, we’re just going to do something you already do every day – walk.  You’re just going to do it for a bit farther, a few more days a week, to get ready for Thanksgiving.

And if you’re already running, you can either choose a distance that’s a stretch for you (i.e. if you’re running up to a 5k, find a 10k to train for) or you can stick with what works!

How do I find a race?

Good question.  My best suggestion is to go to and type in “turkey trot” or “thanksgiving race” and the name of your town. 

How much will I have to train? Can I really do this?

The Couch to 5k program requires walking or run/walking 3 times per week to prep you for your 5k in 8 weeks.  You’ll be ready after 7 weeks for our Turkey Trot. 

Click here for the link to the training plan, as well as links to apps for an Iphone or other gadgetry.

Click here for the link to the Podrunner series – which is REALLY COOL – a series of techno songs that are pre-recorded with chimes to tell you when to run, and when to walk.  They will lead you up to running your first 5k!  If you want to use this system to WALK the whole program, that’s okay too, just ignore the chimes!  HINT: Download one week at a time, so you’re not overwhelmed with all the different programs in the first week.

Finally, if you’re already walking or running regularly, click here for the link to Coach Jenny Hadfield’s transition program to train for an 8k or 10k.  With either of these programs, not only will you be ready to run your race at Thanksgiving, but you’ll be well-positioned to walk or run an 8k or 10k for your New Year’s Resolution!

Yeah, this is great, Sallie, but what are YOU doing?

Well, since y’all know I’m coming back from an injury and dying to get moving, I’m going back to basics, too – and using the Couch to 5k program as a walking track until I get cleared to run.  So look for updates from me as we move through the weeks to getting back on the wagon!

Grumble grumble grumble….

Just think – on Thanksgiving morning, you’re going to get up, lace up your shoes, and take your turkey thighs places they’ve never been.  What’s wrong with that picture?  Absolutely nothing.

Your next steps, then, are:

1.  Go find a race.  Sign up for it.  And sign up your family, and friends, too. The more the merrier. (But if they won’t join you, ditch them. You’ll make new friends on Turkey Day!)

2. Print out the plan, or download the Podrunner series for this week.  Look at your calendar, and decide which days this week (3 of them) you’re going to run or walk.

3. Go through your wardrobe, and pick out your new walking or running gear.  Set it aside, in one place, along wiht whatever else you may need – shoes, socks, and a bra (for the girls, obviously) are sometimes helpful.  Then, if you’re running or walking early in the morning, you’ll just have to roll out of bed, get dressed, and get out there.

4. Smile – you’re starting something cool.  Tell a few friends about it, so you’re on the hook.  And drop me a line to let me know which race you’re running.

I’m hoping that you all get out there and get moving, just in time for the holidays…because if we can start before the going gets tough, we’ll keep going when the tough are eating dozens of cookies slathered in buttercream frosting.  And that’s a good thing.

I’ll see you on the path!



10 thoughts

  1. You are so motivational- I just love reading your blog. I’m signed up for our local Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot here in SLC. Always a blast and then I don’t feel guilty when I pig out later. By the way, II got the running tights you recommended. They feel great to run in but I look pretty silly in them! Oh, the sacrifices we make for our sport… 🙂

    Good luck in your training as you recover and heal.

    1. Diane – I’m SO excited the tights feel great – and yes, we make some crazy sacrifices, don’t we? Which ones did you get? I tried to stop in the New Balance store here yesterday and they were closed 😦

      Thanks for coming over – I love your comments, and I’m seriously inspired by your training! Keep it up and let me know how the Trot goes?? How long is it?

  2. Hello!

    I don’t own any sports gear whatsoever – no shoes, sports bras, or anything else. But I’m going to do this program (somehow)! Thank you for the inspiration & I’m hoping you post more so we can follow-up on the challenge!

    1. Glad to have you on board, Kelly! You’ll love it once you get started! I promise to post follow-ups where necessary!! (And check out Don’t Run Naked to get started with clothes and such, but don’t let it hold you back!!!)

    1. Mel, welcome to the club! I’m jealous of your weather in Tucson and I wish I could be there for turkey day! Keep us posted on how it’s going???

  3. I just went to Two Roads Fitness (great sale right now and a good plus sized selection) to order winter walking/running gear. I’ve been trying to get motivated to get back out and get moving, and your post about the Turkey Trot helped me make the first step, which is getting some exercise gear that fits my current very big girl size and is weather appropriate for rainy and windy Oregon.

    I’m really happy I found your blog.

    Since I have not exercised much in a while, I’m going to do the Portland 2009 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for the Arthritis Foundation on December 6. It’s a good cause (my mom suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis) and it’ll give me a couple extra weeks to train. 🙂

    1. Welcome, Denise! I didn’t know about Two Roads fitness – I’ll have to check it out! Good luck with the Jingle Bell and keep us posted!

  4. Today was day 2 of the running and once again, had a great time! I appreciate your inspiration, your information, and the tips on getting the right gear. I will definitely be following your recommendations when I’m ready to buy.

  5. Hi! I just recently found your blog and I’m happy to see that there are more girls out there like me. I’m signed up for The Fox and the Turkey 4 Mile in Batavia, IL on Thanksgiving Day. I don’t quite run the whole thing yet – I do a run/walk mix.

    Thanks for the recommendations on what to wear in cold weather. Chicago in the winter — I might need it!

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