Turkey Trot Tips for Beginner and Experienced Runners

Turkey Trot Tips for Beginner and Experienced Runners

Turkey Trots offer an exciting running experience for the entire spectrum of runners. For some beginners, a Turkey Trot is their first race experience. For some, it’s a time-honored family tradition. Other runners embrace the Turkey Trot as the final race of the season. No matter your experience level or goals, you can run a strong and enjoyable race with these Turkey Trot tips for beginer and experienced runners.

Turkey Trot Tips for Beginner and Experienced Runners

For Beginners:

Start at a Comfortable Effort

Even if you’ve covered the distance before in training, you can still set yourself up for an unpleasant racing experience if you start at a sprint. Running too fast for the first portion of a 5K or 10K may feel easy for the first few minutes, but your lungs and legs will soon burn and you will inevitably slow down. A highly uncomfortable race is not what you want for one of your first racing experiences! 

Don’t let the adrenaline of racing or the excitement of the crowd cause you to start your race too fast. Instead, begin at a comfortable pace, similar to the pace you have done for most of your runs. You might even feel like you are consciously holding back. If you feel good over the last mile, gradually increase your speed. 

Dress Warm Enough But Don’t Bundle Up

In most parts of the country, Thanksgiving day will be cold, windy, and possibly snowy. Make sure you dress appropriately for the cold weather: wear a long sleeve or jacket, running tights or capris, gloves, a hat, and warm socks. However, since your body temperature will rise as you exert yourself, don’t dress too warm! There’s no need to show up at the starting line in a winter parka. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it actually is. (Here are more useful tips for racing in the cold.)

Don’t Line Up in the Front

With the excitement of your first race, you may be tempted to line up right at the front. However, everyone will have a better race experience if they seed themselves appropriately. One of the biggest complaints from community races is that faster runners have to dodge walkers, while slower runners feel overwhelmed by faster runners dodging around them. It’s not a pleasant experience for either side.

No matter your pace, practice good etiquette at the start line. Line up based on your abilities and be cognizant of others around you. If you are running with a dog or a stroller, seed yourself at the back of the start line.

For Experienced Runners:

Don’t Over-Analyze

Like many local races, some Turkey Trots aren’t perfectly measured USATF-certified courses. Your Garmin might measure inaccurately or the race distance may be slightly long or short. Don’t get too stressed about the exact distance or whether you run an “official” PR or not. Focus on pushing yourself hard and enjoying the race for what it is. 

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

For many competitive runners, the Turkey Trot offers the perfect opportunity for one last race of the season. Your fitness is high from a fall marathon or half marathon and you’ve likely had plenty of time to recover if you ran an October or early November race. Even if you have not done any speedwork in several weeks, you still will have the fitness to race fast. 

A Turkey Trot 5K gives you the opportunity to push outside of your comfort zone and capitalize on your previous months of hard training. It’s a low-risk, high-reward scenario. If you push too hard, the worse that happens is you struggle at the end of a 5K. If all goes well, you might walk away with a new PR or an age group award. 

Encourage New Runners

Turkey Trots leave an impression on novice runners. At your local Turkey Trot, contribute to the sense of community by encouraging other runners, especially new runners, and practicing good race day etiquette. When you pass someone, encourage them. If possible, stay at the finish line for a while to cheer on others. 

[Tweet “How to run your best Turkey Trot – whether it’s your first race or you’re aiming for an end-of-season PR via @lauranorrisrun”]

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2 Responses

  1. Don’t line up at the front! I repeat, don’t line up at the front! LOL. My biggest pet peeve about these races.

    I’m running a half TT so I don’t think that will be an issue!

  2. I run with a stroller and sometimes a dog, and after years of lining up at the back, I DO line up pretty close to the front. I used to spend the first mile weaving around other runners I was passing, and you know what? It’s a LOT easier for a lone runner to pass someone with a stroller and/or dog than the other way around: The stroller has very limited turning ability and few people practice good “lanes.” 2. The stroller is wide and people you’re passing don’t have eyes in the back of their head. If they hear breathing behind them, they assume it’s another lone runner no wider than they are. If they’re passing the stroller, they can see it as they approach.

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