Thanksgiving has a long list of tried and true traditions: turkey and stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, football and, of course, Thanksgiving Day parades. But more and more people are adding another ritual to their T-day arsenal — running a turkey trot.
The first Thanksgiving Day race on record was run in 1896 in Buffalo, NY. Things have progressed quite a bit since then, and according to once source, nearly 860,000 people participated in turkey trots across the United States in 2012. More runners race on Thanksgiving than any other holiday during the year.
This popular run typically takes place on Thanksgiving morning. In the spirit of the holiday, the proceeds from many races go to benefit a local charity to support their work in the community. For example, the this race has raised more than $5 million for various charities.
Ode to Joy
But the emphasis is also on fun, and festive runners will often dress up in turkey costumes. In 2011, runners in Dallas set a world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys at the this turkey trot. In place of your typical race trophy, prizes might be a turkey or a homemade pie, and instead of a race day medal, you might receive some turkey-inspired paraphernalia.
Holiday Calorie Burner?
In addition to the fun, a turkey trot gives you a chance to run to the finish line before your race to the dinner table. But can you really earn your feast? While squeezing in a bit of cardio before your post-turkey food coma might leave you feeling guilt-free when you gobble down your Thanksgiving meal, don't grab seconds just yet. According to the Calorie Control Council, people consume more than 4,500 calories on average during the holiday. So your typical 5K or 10K turkey trot won't burn enough to create a big enough deficit for all those calories.
Although it might not give you a free pass at the dinner table, a turkey trot is a great way to get a workout in and spend the morning with family and friends and to gather together as a community. Isn't that what the holidays are all about?
Before you plop down on the couch and turn on football, be sure to do these post-run stretches to avoid post-workout soreness.
Christine Yu is a freelance writer, runner, yoga instructor and wannabe surfer. She blogs at Lovelifesurf.com.