A blog by runners. For runners.

Tips for racing during the holidays

Tips for racing this holiday seasonThanksgiving is right around the corner with the rest of the holidays blowing in shortly after. Will you be running a Turkey Day event this year? Or maybe those jingle bell runs are more your style. No matter your preference in racing for holiday cheer, there are some ways to make the experience more enjoyable and inclusive for everyone.

  1. Plan ahead. There’s enough stress and coordination involved with making meals, wrapping presents, and traveling to see family. Adding a race to the mix can be tricky. So, if you want to participate in an athletic event that falls on a holiday – plan ahead. Make sure you accurately record the start time, location, parking, and any other considerations (packet pickup, etc.) so you aren’t scrambling.
  2. Pack a bag. If you’re traveling to see family or friends and the race you’re running is away from home – pack your athletic gear separately from the rest of your stuff. It can be way too easy to forget a pair of socks or extra layer when you’re stuffing in presents and holiday sweaters to fit in your suitcase. And don’t forget your sneakers. While you’re at it, bring some comfortable clothing for the rest of your day. There’s nothing worse than running a solid 10K and then fussing with too-tight dressy clothing the rest of the afternoon. (Related: How to pack when flying to a race)
  3. Eat breakfast. I know this one sounds silly, but with all the food that’s going to happen later in the day – it can be tempting to skimp on breakfast. If you’re planning to run a race, you need fuel in the morning just as much, if not more, than you’ll need to replenish your stores later in the day. Start with something simple. (Related: Pre-race meal planning)
  4. Invite friends. If your race has signups the morning of, try to get your friends and family in on the action by seeing if they want to jog too. This time of year is great for encouraging people to get fit and active, and it’s something they can carry with them beyond their New Year’s goals and aspirations. Sometimes all someone needs to get off the couch is a little nudge in the right direction. Emphasize how they can scarf good comfort foods with less guilt the rest of the day. (Related: Making fitness a family affair during the holidays)
  5. Relax and enjoy. Racing on the holiday isn’t about PRs. It’s for getting out there, making time to exercise an on otherwise hectic day, and enjoying the festive season with your fellow athletes. Race a solid race, but don’t overdo it and risk particularly awful aches, pains, and injuries that might otherwise ruin the rest of your fun. Leave your watch behind. Run with your cousin Fred who’s just looking to finish without stopping. And – OK – if sprinting to the finish is what will truly make your day, that’s fine, too!

Written by Ashley Marcin.