Planning to Run a Holiday 5K? Read This First

If you’re like thousands of other Americans, you may be planning to combine some exercise with your indulgence this Thanksgiving. Whether they’re called a Turkey Trot, a Drumstick Dash, or other catchy seasonal name, you’ll find these popular races all over the country. Normally a 5K, although sometimes longer, these holiday-themed events are often scheduled early in the morning so participants can earn their medals long before meal-time. Yet, as with any fitness event, there are some important points to consider before lacing up your running shoes. We offer some tips to help you stay healthy during a holiday event so you won’t be eating your Thanksgiving meal while laid up on the couch.

  1. Moderation Matters: If you haven’t run more than a mile since spring, now may not be the time to try a 10K or attempt to beat your personal record. Instead, stick to a shorter event like a 5K, pace yourself, and don’t be discouraged if you need to reduce your speed or take a walk-break.
  2. Dress for Success: Sure, you may look photo-ready in your turkey-themed outfit, but this time of year can be quite cold, depending on your climate. Be sure that you wear wicking fabric, and look for layers designed for cooler months. Take care to protect your hands and ears by wearing running gloves and a headband that covers your ears.
  3. Take it Seriously: You’re running for fun, maybe with family or friends; however, any athletic event carries the risk of accident or injury. Take it seriously and go through all the steps that you would for any other race. New to 5Ks or runs in general? In that case, follow our list and keep reading…
  4. Prepare: Although this may not be your break-out performance, you should still sleep, eat, and hydrate with the intent of fueling your body. A 5K is the same distance no matter what name it has, and your body still has to perform. Get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, have a small breakfast (that you’ve ideally tested before) up to 2 hours before the race, and hydrate well.
  5. Nothing New on Race Day: That’s an old rule for a reason. Why risk blisters, sore muscles, or worse because you decided to try out a new pair of shoes? Play it safe: stick with what works and what’s familiar for your Thanksgiving run.
  6. Warm Up & Cool Down: Just because this is a fun holiday outing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your body warmed up. In fact, colder temperatures make it easier to sustain injury because your body isn’t properly warmed up, it’s cold outside, and your body is suddenly under stress. Prior to your run, go through some gentle static (non-moving) stretches and move into some dynamic (moving) stretches. Stretching your calves is a great example of a static stretch, while some gentle leg-swings are dynamic stretches. Move into your pace slowly after allowing your body to warm up and get loose. After the race, walk and allow your heart rate to slow back to normal. Stretch again and take a nice warm shower at home – you’ll be glad you did!

This time of year you don’t have to hibernate; getting outside and active is possible all year ’round with a little planning. Be practical and you can reduce your risk of injury or having your holiday race become the punchline in your story at the Thanksgiving table. Injured already or need help getting active again? Body One Physical Therapy can help. With four locations serving Central Indiana, you can find one that works for you: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our team of talented and highly-trained physical therapists works with clients of all ages and activity levels and we’re ready to help you tackle your next goal. Call today for your appointment!