YOU should run a Thanksgiving Day race!

It’s that time of year again.  The holidays!

If you’re anything like me, you love the holidays.  Time off from work.  Visiting with your relatives and crazy in-laws.  Meals that start early and seem to last all day long. Relaxing and enjoying time with loved ones.  Did I mention the food? This is especially true of one of the great American traditions:  Thanksgiving Day.

Each family has their own variations on this most American of holidays, but we all have one thing in common:  There will be an enormous amount of food, snacks, and desserts, and most of us will partake with an unrestrained consumption of food not seen on any other day.  In the end, we will be passed out in front of the TV, having eaten to our heart’s content and already exhausted with our brother in-law’s boring work stories and inappropriate jokes.

Sounds pretty good, right?  (Except for that last part, of course.)

Well, I’d like to offer my humble recommendation for adding another tradition to your Thanksgiving festivities.  Why not start your day with a race?  Yes, that kind of road running race.  You may know of them as a “turkey trot” or “gobbler gallop” or whatever your locality calls it’s annual Thanksgiving Day race.  I can’t think of a better way to start off your Thanksgiving then to toe the line and run with your family, friends, and neighbors and prime your personal oven to start burning those inevitable, added calories.

turkeytrot

I don’t have any research to back up this claim, but this race probably has the greatest amount of non-runners and one-time-a-year runners than any other throughout the year.  Since there are so many new runners out there, you will definitely not be alone as a first time “turkey trot” runner.  (Just remember to line up toward the back of the pack if you haven’t been running that much and/or you’re not trying to be competitive.)

If you’ve never done one before, this is a great time to start!  First of all, there are usually a lot of different races to choose from.  I live near a medium-sized city, and I can think of at least SIX different races that are located within a ten to fifteen mile radius.  If you live in a small town, there will probably be at least one race that the town (or local community center or church) sponsors.  If you can’t seem to find one, I would suggest searching for a race in a larger, neighboring town or city that will be more likely to host a race.

You’ll also find that one of the best things about the annual “turkey trot” is that the race is usually organized to benefit a good, local charity that you would be proud to support.  Most local races generally support a good cause, but you can be sure that your “turkey trot” will donate most, if not all of the proceeds to this cause.  This race will attract more people as well, so this will lead to a larger amount of money being donated as well.  The holidays are a good time of year to be charitable, and participating in a race is an excellent opportunity to do something good for you and for someone else at the same time!

Thanksgiving is about one week away, so put down the remote, put on your running shoes, and sign up for your local race.  You will be doing something active, improving the lives of others, and hey, now you can have that guilt-free third helping of turkey, or second piece of pumpkin pie.

 

 

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Procrastination…and Running

Procrastination

 

So, I started this blog a mere FOUR years ago…

…and this is my FIRST blog entry!  Looking back, I wonder what kept me from pursuing this enterprise.  I had recently returned to full-time running, having missed the first half of 2013 with my first major injury (torn meniscus–I’ll cover this topic in the future.)  I was in a new city, with a new running store, and I had new running possibilities.  The world was my oyster.

Was I too busy?

Would anyone actually read something I wrote?

Did my opinion matter?

Did I have anything to contribute to the general (running) public?

Did I doubt my ability to form complete sentences?

The truth is, I have no idea why I never finished what I started with this blog in August of 2013.  Laziness, procrastination, life distractions.  The list could go on and on.  I think the lesson I can take away from this is simply that sometimes we don’t finish what we start.

Fortunately, I did follow through on my desire to start running again back in 2006.  24 marathons and 22 half marathons later, I’m still out there pounding the pavement.  I’ve had ups (PR’s!) and downs (partial knee meniscectomy and multiple hamstring strains), but I’ve kept it up for over 11 years.  And, this brings me to my point about procrastination and running:  I think many people delay getting into running for various reasons and many that are beyond their control.

People have many reasons to start running:  lose weight, maintain weight, reduce stress, train for a race, support a charity, keep up with a spouse or competitive neighbor.  I was trying to lose weight and kick my smoking habit.  We all have our reasons to want to get started, but sometimes that’s not enough to get some people out the door and to hit the road.  The single mom with a full-time job and two kids might not have the time (or energy) to squeeze in a run here or there.  A college grad with their first “real” job and new work responsibilities could find it difficult to divert from the career fast track and focus on their heath.  The retiree who has tried to start to running many times, but has been sidetracked by an unsupportive spouse who thinks they are crazy for trying that “running thing.”

And let’s face it:  Running usually hurts the first time (and second time, and third time…) you try it.  Your feet and legs hurt, you can’t catch your breath, and quite frankly, you don’t get very far.  Frustration can set in fairly quickly and some people don’t recover from that initial run.  Most people don’t hire running coaches right away for training advice and many don’t visit their local running shop in a timely manner to get fitted in the proper shoes.  Unless you have a family member or close friend who is a runner, you are pretty much on your own out there.

So, what can someone do to get started running today?

If you are someone who is new to running, I would first seek out someone close to you who runs, whether it be a spouse, friend, or neighbor.  (Yes, even that guy who wears the short shorts and headband!)  If you don’t know anyone who runs, I would visit your local running store.  Most mid-size towns should have a running specialty store.  Look for stores that only carry running and walking shoes and they should offer you a service known as “gait analysis” which is simply a process to review the way you walk and run and to determine the correct running shoes for you.  Most running stores employ runners who enjoy sharing training tips and can provide information on local running clubs and races.  Your store might even offer free classes or clinics on running form, nutrition, or training for your first race.

The “Couch to 5K” program is a very popular way to take non-runners from the ground zero of not running to the finish line of their first race.  These are great for beginners and people who haven’t run in awhile.  You’ll get a training plan, coaching, and you’ll have the support of other new runners with whom you can relate.

However, some people may not be up for the “group thing” and would prefer to go it alone.  I can appreciate that, because I did the same thing.  Running is an activity that can be enjoyed equally by yourself, or in a group.  If you want to go solo, I’d advise you to get some good shoes, start reading up on everything running like Runner’s World, websites, blogs (hint, hint), and to start slowly.  Get out the door and put one foot in front of the other and repeat this as often as you can.  And, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Whether it comes to starting a blog, or starting your running career, I think the key to your success is to simply GET STARTED!  Don’t procrastinate and do whatever you can to find the motivation to get out there and start running.  The sooner you do, the sooner you might begin to see and feel the benefits that so many runners have already experienced.