Celebrate Thanksgiving, Runner’s Style!
For many Americans, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday – and for good reason! It is a day dedicated to enjoying the company of beloved family and friends and giving thanks for their friendship and love, celebrated by a feast of turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin desserts galore. But for some of us runners, Thanksgiving might be a time in which we see the dedication to our training and fitness fall off a bit.
For most of us, we need this holiday to rest and rejuvenate. After all, that’s what an offseason is for! But it does not HAVE to be a day full of gluttony and remorse, leaving us feeling uncomfortable, guilty, and like we have to spend the next week drastically increasing our mileage to ‘work it off’. Below are some tips for keeping your Thanksgiving healthy and ideas for celebrating the holiday like a true runner!
Thanksgiving foods are delicious. From the turkey drenched in gravy, to cheesy stuffing and marshmallowy sweet potato souffle on the side, to a big ole’ slice of pumpkin pie to top it all off, it is certainly one of the tastiest days of the year. But come Thanksgiving night, and most of us are also more stuffed than we are the rest of the year as well. Overeating, while certainly to be expected at a holiday dedicated to food, might not always be what we want.
It typically leads to lethargy and laziness, and perhaps even gaining some weight. While these things are not really bad in the long term, they might dissuade you from reaching some of your running goals in the near future. That is why we suggest you get crafty in the kitchen and come up with some of your own yummy Thanksgiving recipes and dishes, to bring along to the meal. Don’t feel ashamed to whip up healthier food options as the recipes may become the conversation of the party!
Throw together a “Runnersgiving”
“Thanksgiving” typically brings up thoughts of a big family meal, with “Friendsgiving” being a more 21st-century gathering in which we cook up the traditional meal with our close friends. But how about a “Runnersgiving”! This is just about the best version of the holiday yet, because it involves running, food, and great friendships all in one. You can plan your very own “Runnersgiving” by simply rounding up a few of your running buddies who are privy to trying something new. And you’ll need to come up with a plan. Map out a running route that suits you.
You may choose to go for a neighborhood jog to check out the fall decor with your buddies, or get really festive and hit up the trails or mountainsides to get some spectacular views and experience the vibrant fall foliage. Then invite everyone back to your place to shower, change, and join in on the feast! You might want to serve the ‘usual suspects,’ but in the spirit of changing things up a bit, you also might want to stick more to the theme of “running”. A great way to do this is to make sandwiches instead. Sandwiches are basically a staple in most runners diets, and a Thanksgiving-style sandwich is a DELICIOUS option. Put out different types of bread and whip up a cranberry spread (cranberry sauce, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard and/or horseradish for a little kick).
Slather the sauce on the bread and pile high with turkey and cheese. What’s more, is this is an option you can actually make ahead of time and transport with you, if you choose to run a destination route that you have to drive to. Load up a cooler with pre-made sandwiches, meet your buddies for a fall-themed trail run, then enjoy a picnic spread!
Aside from recruiting friends to join you in your own hand-drawn running route during the holidays, there are also tons of great and fun races to keep the holiday spirit alive. Whether you live in a big city or are from a small town, most places have the option of running a Turkey Trot or a “Gobble Wobble.” These races are excellent ideas for helping you celebrate Thanksgiving as a runner, no matter how much you are used to running or whether or not your family and friends that you are visiting for the holiday are runners too, because they are usually shorter and so much fun that you can easily convince your entourage to join you!
At these races, you are likely to see a lot of folks dressed up in festive turkey attire, and a lot of families bring their kids in running strollers or even sign up the children who are old enough to run. Most of these races are in the morning, before you eat the big Thanksgiving meal, with the intention to “make some room” for the meal.
However, if you are really dedicated to celebrating your Thanksgiving like a real runner, then why not do what you might be doing on any other typical Thursday of the year and plan a two-a-day workout! That might mean you run the Turkey Trot with your dad in the morning, whip up your favorite healthy butternut squash, cranberry, and orzo side dish to serve with the turkey lunch, then run through your neighborhood and try and find the best fall decorations later on that evening. The bottom line is that, as long as you are incorporating running into your holiday, then you are celebrating Thanksgiving like a runner!