For an increasing number of Americans, the traditions of Thanksgiving are not just turkey, football and family, but a 5K road race.
The Turkey Trot, which dates to 1896, is now the most popular road race in America, with more than 1,000 such races taking place each year, according to Runner’s World magazine. The race has become such a part of American culture that people talk about Turkey Trot versus no-Turkey-Trot families, Turkey Trot costumes are a thing, and footwear company Brooks has come out with a Turkey Trot-themed shoe.
All this can leave the nonrunner feeling a little bit left out and more inclined to take the side of the vehement no-Trotters.
But here’s what you should know: There is no more welcoming place than your neighborhood Turkey Trot, regardless of your athletic ability. If you can walk, you can complete a Turkey Trot.
And although the most typical course is 5 kilometers — 3.1 miles — there are some races, as in Provo, Utah, that have 1-mile courses. Also, many people will be dressed in costumes; these are not events that emphasize speed. For the past two years — this is not a joke — I have been passed in my local Turkey Trot by a three-legged dog, and I expect to be passed by the same dog again this year. I am not ashamed.
Which brings us to another point — at some of these races, which tend to be more casual than races at other times of the year, your dog is welcome. (If not, the American Kennel Club has a virtual Turkey Trot for dogs and their owners, complete with medals.)
The point is, with names such as the “Gobble Wobble” and extra servings of puns, these events are not so much about running as they are about fun.
Hold the gravy for a moment, because you ain’t seen stuffin’ yet! The annual Family Association Turkey Trot 5K run is just around the corner on Nov. 11. Don’t pull a hamstring racing to https://t.co/DXwRiuJwt1 to register!#DurhamAcademy #DATurkeyTrot #TurkeyTrot #DAFamilies pic.twitter.com/TWbQoNedjf
— Durham Academy (@DurhamAcademy) October 25, 2023
In an ideal world, you would have been training for a 5K for the past two to three months through programs such as Run for God. But this is not an ideal world, and it’s almost November.
So the most important thing to do is to find a Turkey Trot in your community and register today, with a family member or friend, if possible. (If you don’t have someone to go with, it’s not a big deal. Plenty of people participate in these events alone, or break away from the people they came with after the race starts.) Websites like Active.com and RunningintheUSA.com can help you find an event near you.
Then, get out the door and get moving. The general rule of thumb in running is not to increase your mileage by more than 10% a week, but for last-minute Turkey Trot training, any kind of forward movement is good. If you’re not used to running and or even walking long distances, think “slow and steady.” The idea is not to shock your body on the day of the Turkey Trot. “Let your muscles know what you’re going to ask them to do,” exercise physiologist Katie Lawton said, per the Cleveland Clinic blog.
Just a normal day at the office!
The trot is less than one month away. Register for the 18th Annual Arlington Turkey Trot https://t.co/N8c3zFmicc @ArlTurkeyTrot #Arlington #TurkeyTrot pic.twitter.com/CVzenUjkjv
— ArlingtonTurkeyTrot (@ArlTurkeyTrot) October 27, 2023
If you are able to do a mix of walking and slow running, that’s great; a lot of people complete Turkey Trots doing just that. But all walking is fine, too. And while for some people, the Turkey Trot is the only organized athletic event they will do in a year, for others, a first Turkey Trot has led to a lifetime of running.
And yes, if you complete a Turkey Trot, even if you only jog a little bit, you can call yourself a runner. As the late Dr. George Sheehan, the philosopher of running, once said, “The difference between a runner and jogger is an entry blank.”