5 Tips to Prep for a Turkey Trot or Holiday Run

Holiday Run
Pete Dills
PT, DPT
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So you’ve taken the plunge again this year and signed up for a Turkey Trot or holiday run. Turns out, you are not alone. According to an article in Runner’s World in 2014, 19.7% of all runners using the RunKeeper website recorded a run on Thanksgiving Day. Maybe it’s to assuage our pre-meal guilt for the inevitable consumption of an absurd amount of calories. Or maybe it’s getting our legs loose for the mad rush at 3 am for a flat screen TV on Black Friday. Either way, it appears as though runners LOVE to run on the Holidays.

Here at Therapeutic Associates, we always encourage you to be active around the holidays, but we always look towards helping people get into activities like running as safely as they can. Here are 5 of my top tips for preparing for your holiday run!

Know (or find out) your limits ahead of time.

“Run a 5k on Thanksgiving? Sure, I ran one in 1996!
Running is a natural human motion. As much of our ancestral history suggests, we are built to run. However, ability and specificity of running doesn’t always carry over after 25 years of armchair quarterbacking. If you are hoping to run in a holiday event, go slow and know your limits. If you haven’t run for a while, consider going out for a short run about a 3-5 days before your event to test your legs out and to reduce the chance you won’t be able to take the stairs into work on Monday morning because of leg soreness or pain.

A little stretching and warm up never hurt anyone.

“Stretching? Who said I needed that?”

We will be honest. Having your PT tell you to not stretch or warm up before your run is like having your dentist tell you not to floss. However, research is a little unclear about whether stretching before a run can actually reduce your overall injury risk. However, we do suggest that there is value to performing SOME level of warm up before you try to crank out your personal best time that you set as a 14 year old track prodigy at Horizon Grammar School. Here’s what we suggest: about 15-20 min before your event, start moving gently and gradually build up your effort as the event gets closer. Walk, light jog, dance, or follow our runner specific dynamic warm up. Either way, get your body moving and ready to participate before going from 0-60.

During your event, run to your perceived exertion, not to the pace of others around you.

“5 minute/mile pace? Sure that sounds doable!”

If you don’t happen to have a fancy running watch or coach telling you how fast to run, don’t worry! It turns out that the amazing machine between our ears is great at determining how hard we are working and self governs our effort to help us not overdo things. When running on your upcoming Turkey Trot or Holiday Run, know your appropriate level of exertion for your experience level. If you don’t run often, or if you are a runner of many years, using the internal feedback system finely honed over millions of years is a great way to keep you healthy and safe during the run. Most people will do great to keep their perceived effort around 13-17 on the RPE scale.

Warm down after your big effort for improved post race outcomes.

 “Give me that medal and show me the way to the snacks and beverages!”

So you finished your run and are ready to celebrate! Go for it, you deserve it! But, before you go too crazy with the free cranberry sauce goo packet, consider taking a few minutes to let your body warm down. Keep moving and walk for a couple of minutes after the run. Try some light stretching, or find the foam roller station at the race. Here is a great post run foam rolling routine for runners that is a great way to ease some of effects of muscle fatigue.

Seek out help from your local Physical Therapist if something didn’t go well.

“Felt great while I was running, not so great on Monday.”

If your race didn’t go quite as planned and you either want to improve your future performance or are now dealing with a nagging injury, get evaluated by a Physical Therapist. If pain has persisted longer than a few days, often times physical therapy can help with treatment of your current pain and to help prevent future injuries. Running analysis done in the clinic or at our Motion Lab if you are in the Portland Metro region can be a game changer for your evolution as a runner. We will help you build back to being the best runner you want to be. Most of our clinics accept new patients within 24-48 hours and we accept all major insurance plans. Many plans don’t even require you to have an MD referral to see us. Give us a call or click here to schedule an appointment at your nearest Therapeutic Associates location.

Our goal is helping you meet yours.

Our therapists are committed to the application of evidence-based treatment techniques to ensure you experience the best in rehabilitation and preventative care and see progress with every visit.

Fall-Running

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