A blog by runners. For runners.

Stay healthy during the holidays: sign up for a race

Whether we’re ready or not, the season of turkeys, mistletoe, and menorahs is right around the corner. The holidays are also the perfect time of the year to get out there and race.

I know; it’s cold in most areas and many of you are eager to take a (well-deserved) break between fall and spring training seasons, but hear me out.

Signing up for a holiday race will:

  • Hold you accountable. Many of us let fitness fall by the wayside in December. The holidays are busy and stressful, but that’s no reason to abandon your fitness routine. Devoting just 30 minutes per day to exercise – that’s only 1/48th of your whole day – can help ease stress levels and make you feel better. Most holiday races are 5Ks, so a half hour of running most days of the week is all you’ll need to do to train.
  • Put you on the right path for spring training. Say you race a fall marathon this year and you have plans for a spring race, too. Taking it too easy over the holidays won’t do you any favors for spring training. Sure, it’s not a good idea for most of us to plug double-digit runs all year long, but regular, short runs – plus a holiday 5K — will help us stay fit.
  • Start the day off right. My husband, son, and I kick off every Thanksgiving with an 8K turkey trot. It’s one of our favorite traditions. The holidays tend to focus on overindulging on not-so-healthy foods. I love that we’re showing our son that holidays can be about doing healthy activities, too. Plus, when I reach for my second slice of pumpkin pie later in the day, I don’t feel quite as guilty about it knowing I already ran.
  • Be fun. Training and racing gets pretty serious sometimes. But there’s nothing serious about seeing people run around in turkey or Santa costumes! Holiday races are usually a lot more laid back, and great fun for the whole family. If you have young children, look for a race in your area that allows strollers or has kids’ events. If you have older family members or relatives who aren’t runners, search for races that allow walkers.

Turkey trots, jingle jogs, and resolutions runs are held all over. Chances are you can find at least one holiday race in your area. Here are a few ideas:

  • Marshfield area YMCA turkey trot. This Marshfield, WI fun run features two distances, a 5-miler and a 2-miler. Though the highlight of the race comes after the finish – wheneach participant receives their own pumpkin pie. Yum!


    Best part about jingle runs? You get to rock a santa hat (or reindeer ears)!

  • Jingle Belle run/walk for arthritis. This race series is held in December in tons of cities across the U.S. Participants raise money to support the Arthritis Foundation and everyone dons jingle bells and race directors encourage runners to dress in costume. It’s good fun for a good cause.
  • New York Road Runners midnight run (Emerald Nuts 4-miler). Start the New Year on the right foot with a 4-mile jaunt around Manhattan. The race features fireworks at midnight, non-alcoholic champagne at water stops, and a costume contest.

Written by Jen Matz.