Running a “Turkey Trot” – that is road race on Thanksgiving morning – has become a tradition that started for me 10 years ago. While there were a couple years in there where injury or family plans prevented me from doing so, I’ve really come to feel that it’s not Thanksgiving if I don’t start the day running.
In New Jersey it was either the Ashenfelter 8k in Glen Ridge, which serves as the USATF-NJ 8k Championship, or the more local (for me at the time) Upper Saddle River 5k. Deciding between the two depended on what the rest of the day’s plans were. If I was cooking, I could easily zip over to Upper Saddle River, just a few miles away, transverse the hilly course, wish everyone a great start to the holiday season, and be back in my kitchen to slide the turkey in the oven with time to spare.
The Ashenfelter 8k was more of a commitment. It was further away (but a fairly flat course). The competitive field meant that it was a who’s who in New Jersey running, so I could count on seeing a lot of my running friends. The race was named for Glen Ridge hometown hero, Horace Ashenfelter (who passed away in early 2018). Mr. Ashenfelter won an Olympic Gold Medal and set a world record at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in the 3000-meter steeplechase. He was always there Thanksgiving morning to greet all the runners as they finished.
This year in Chicago I have new Turkey Trots to choose from; lots of Turkey Trots! There are no less than a dozen races on Thanksgiving morning in Chicagoland– all within an easy drive of where I live. The closest is right in Lincoln Park about a mile from me. While the jog over and back would provide a nice warm-up and cool-down, I’ve opted for the North Shore Turkey Trot in Highland Park. It was the best place for my boyfriend and I to meet up before retreating to our own kitchens to prepare different pieces of the meal that will come together later in the day (don’t want to take too much credit here, I’m just bringing 3 desserts).
So, if you’ve never run on Thanksgiving before, or you need a reminder, here are 3 reasons why you should sign-up for your local Turkey Trot this year:
- Calorie deficit. You know you’re going to over-indulge at mealtime, so why not feel less guilty about it by running off some calories first. A typical 5k will burn between 300-400 calories.
- Stress relief. Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful. Whether you’re doing the cooking or just sharing the day with family and friends, the day can be anxiety producing. Doctors, mental health professionals and coaches have been touting the benefits of physical activity to manage stress for a long time.
- A reason to be thankful. Getting out, enjoying nature, moving our bodies, feeling our hearts pound and hearing our breath – on any day – reminds us how good it feels to be alive and to be grateful for all that we have. And isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?
Get out there. Go do it! And have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you, my readers and friends. Enjoy the day!