A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Holiday-themed runs

on November 25, 2013

This year, I’m going to be participating in my very first Turkey Trot! Even before I was a runner, I was always tempted by the idea of the runs on Thanksgiving morning because it seemed like something average people participated in, not just the uber-athlete. I love the idea of holiday-themed runs to help keep healthy habits in our minds in a season where we’re bombarded with indulgences! It’s all about balance right? *As a side note, I am really bemused by the email I just got from my gym with the holiday schedule for Thanksgiving, where there will be fitness classes from 6 – 11am (I really hope those instructors volunteered for that – no one should work on Thanksgiving against their will!) but things are completely closed Black Friday. Apparently shopping trumps family food time, although knowing my gym’s clientele they probably had members insisting on classes before they went to Thanksgiving dinner!

My very first 5K was on New Year’s Day last year (Commitment Day) and while it was very light on theming (really no theming at all), it was fun to start the New Year on such a symbolically healthy note with lots of others who were doing the same.

Finished my first 5K!

Finished my first 5K!

  • Looking back, I remember being so impressed with another woman I talked to on the bus over who was looking at doing a half marathon sometime during the year and being so amazed at the idea of running that far. I never expected to be training for my own half marathon less than a year later!

Throughout the holiday season, themed runs abound and what I love is that these are largely “runs” – not races. Most of them are very low key and (hopefully!) less intimidating for new or casual runners. They’re also frequently fundraisers for community outreach projects like the Food Bank, Toys for Tots and various shelters. Not only can you burn off the calories for the pie you’re going have later in the day, you can do your good deed for the day. Definitely a win-win!

Because these events are so low key, they’re also a great way to introduce less athletic family members to the idea of exercise and physical activity for fun. Whether they are spectators or participants, I think it helps to introduce the idea that the holidays are about more than food without being preachy about it.  The events I’ve read about and seen really seem like giant holiday parties where people happen to cover a few miles. Most of these events welcome costumes and strollers. Some even welcome your dogs, which would be an adventure in our house with one very inquisitive terrier and one very lazy lab. I’ve even heard of some families that do their own unofficial holiday runs each year on Thanksgiving or Christmas, which sounds fun!

Aside from the fun of holiday runs and the extra room in your daily calories it allows you for holiday treats, holiday-themed runs are also a good way to help keep you accountable to your training plan or maintaining your level of fitness during the chaotic holiday season (how many times can I put holiday in a sentence?). I know for me, the idea of that 5K on New Year’s Day is the only thing that kept me running last December. Otherwise, I’d have spent my time shopping and celebrating rather than braving the cold and snowy streets!

If you’re traveling for the holiday, look into the running club in the area you’ll be visiting or local running stores to get information about any holiday themed events that may be occurring. This is especially helpful if you’re in a smaller town where it is more likely to be a locally organized run rather than part of a national series that has its own web presence. I found the Turkey Trot I’ll be doing in Arkansas through the calendar on the local running store’s website after not finding anything on the national race calendar sites.  In Omaha, the Omaha Running Club has a calendar of events that includes lots of small local options as well.

For Christmas, I’m thinking about doing the Ugly Sweater Run (UglySweaterRun), which is part of a national series of holiday themed runs complete with Christmas music, a hot chocolate aid station and an artificial snow machine. There’s also a run/walk on Christmas Eve in the park where I do my long runs, so I may head out for that too. That would take me up to 8 running events for the year, not counting the 3 virtual runs I’ve done, which is just mind blowing for someone who wouldn’t have called herself a runner a year ago. That is quite a gift to myself 🙂

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Do you do any holiday runs? Is it an organized event or a tradition of your own? Anybody have an ugly sweater to lend me?

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2 responses to “Holiday-themed runs

  1. Laura says:

    Wow, Jess! You have come so far in a year and have much to be proud of! 🙂 I considered doing a Turkey Trot this year (there are three in my area) and starting a fun, new family tradition, but I decided to hold off for one more year. I have been so stressed and overwhelmed this fall, that I decided to take it easy on Thanksgiving morning before I start cooking. Ironic, though, considering running does give me solace and helps me de-stress. I am looking forward to doing one next year, though, and I can’t wait to read your re-cap! I’m thinking about doing the Ugly Sweater Run, too!

    • Since we’re visiting, not hosting, it was a little easier to take the plunge to do my first Turkey Trot. I don’t know that I’d be able to do it if I was cooking! Since we’re staying at a hotel, we’ll miss the first early morning rush of cooking anyway so I decided to take the plunge. I’m not sure I’m confident enough to run in a silly costume, but I may at least swing by Target this afternoon to see if they have a cute tee I can pop over my tech shirt.

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