Yes, I know it is only November 6th. Yes, I know (heck, we all know) I’m never any good at “advanced planning”. Yes, I know you don’t want to think about Thanksgiving just yet. Well, tough turkey, we have things to do and runs to plan.
If you’re like me, trying to get my running done during holidays is always a major pain in the neck. I’m usually traveling somewhere remote, I have a family of approximately 1724 members, and I invariably have a race coming up in early December – a BIG race – so I can’t just blow off my running and be content with stuffing my face, sitting on the couch, and watching the parades.
In the past, I used to scramble around last minute, trying to fit mileage in here and there, basically spending the whole holiday stressed out because I wasn’t enjoying the family festivities like the Humming Game, Group Rock Band, and “Who Was the Bigger Dweeb as a Kid” contest, all the while ending the holiday unprepared for my upcoming race. It was a Lose/Lose situation. And frankly, by the end of the holiday I’m pretty sure my family wanted to vote me off the island.
So, in a concerted effort to not ruin another family bonding experience, while still getting my training in, I came up with a few ways (some weirder than others) to balance my need to be lead singer for the family rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” (dance steps included) and my need to be prepared to run around in circles for 24 hours two weeks later. (No snide remarks about either of those activities, people).
1. Con your family into doing a local Turkey Trot – and then run to and/or from it. Every city seems to have some sort of Thanksgiving run. By promoting family togetherness, a cool t-shirt (really, who doesn’t want a shirt with a big turkey on it?), and a way to be able to eat THAT MUCH MORE at Thanksgiving dinner, you can convince your family to join you for the local 5k. To make it a worthwhile run for you, just tell your family you plan to meet them at the race, and then run to it. If it’s too far, drive a reasonable distance and then run from there. Your family can take you back to your car when it’s over. I’ve been able to get in some really fun long runs this way, and no one feels like you’re abandoning them on Thanksgiving to “get a run in”.
2. Create a Family Turkey Trot. If you can’t convince your family to sign up for an official race, create your own. One of my favorite holiday experiences has been when I’ve traveled to visit family in another town. One of the neighbors always has a “friends and family” turkey trot, with everyone gathering for a relaxed run around the neighborhood and then coffee and doughnuts afterwards. Like an official race, you can run before and after if you need more miles, but you are still including your family in the main event. And really, who doesn’t like doughnuts?
3. Plan your own “Turkey Run”. If you can’t convince your family to join you at the local 5k OR be part of a family event, get some of your buddies to agree to meet you early for a special run. Design a course that will be new and fun (we’ve run through local cemeteries, scouted new trails, and done Corn Maze runs). After the run, have pumpkin muffins and mimosas before heading back to the craziness at home. After a few years, you will probably have a new running group tradition.
4. Run while traveling. I actually stole this idea from Pam Reed. If you have to drive to visit family over the holidays, have your spouse (or responsible teen driver) drop you off just outside of the next town you will be stopping in, and run into town. While your family gets gas, picks up lunch, or makes a pit stop, you can get in a few miles. Do this enough times, and you can string together a solid day of running. Crazy, but it works.
5. Have a “Black Friday/Morning After” Run. Even if you can’t get your buddies to meet you for a long run on Thanksgiving day, you shouldn’t have any problem convincing people to meet you the day after. Simply remind them that they probably consumed 5000 calories the day before, and that you are helping them make amends. It is extra appealing if you promise coffee and breakfast afterwards.
Getting mileage in over the holidays can be stressful, but with a little planning, you can make sure you get it done while retaining your lead singer status in the family karaoke group. Because really, are you going to let Aunt Gladys ruin a perfectly good Journey song? Your Family Is Counting On You!