Want to do your best at the Turkey Trot on Thursday morning?
We know that the answer is a “ho-hum” no for some of you reading this, but for those who have trained – and are willing to give up some of the Thanksgiving Eve revelry tonight – below are some tips from three running experts. Before that, however, is key information on the race itself from the organizer: YMCA Buffalo Niagara.
Race start: 9 a.m., sharp on Thanksgiving morning
Runners: 14,000 have registered
Distance: 8K (4.97 miles)
Course: Starts at Delaware and Tacoma avenues, slightly north of the starting line for previous runs; the finish line will be a bit farther south, at Franklin and Niagara streets, to ease congestion outside the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Motorists who aren't involved with the race will want to steer clear of Delaware Avenue and its side streets between the Delaware YMCA and downtown from about 7:30 a.m. through late morning.
Shuttle: Parking is difficult near the starting line, so plan to get there early. MASH Urgent Care will shuttle participants between the finish and starting lines from 7 to approximately 7 to 7:45 a.m. and 10 to 11:45 a.m.
Anything in tow?: Animals, shopping carts, rollerblades and strollers are prohibited on the race course for safety reasons.
How can I help?: Bring two or more cans of food to the Convention Center to benefit local charity.
After-party: Live band and race awards ceremony at the Convention Center and non-alcohol, family friendly event at Statler City immediately following the race. Those looking to drink beer at the Convention Center need to bring proper ID.
Eat your dinner early tonight: And make it something a bit higher in carbohydrates, said Eric Orton, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., a Springville native and the running coach featured in the best-selling book, “Born to Run.”
“It would benefit you to get a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat,” Orton said, “but you might want to go a little heavier on the carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are a great source, so you can do sweet potatoes and a little bit of chicken and some dressing, olives, avocados.”
Hydrate: “If you’re not a regular water drinker, you should try to start drinking more water at least a couple of days before the race,” as well as in the hours afterward, said Beth Stormer, who has participated in several marathons and just finished teaching a12-week Turkey Trot running class at the Be Healthy Institute in Hamburg.
Dream: Get a good night’s sleep tonight, and before you go to bed, said Orton, “Visualize how you want the race to go for yourself. It’s a very powerful tool. Close your eyes and spend five to 10 minutes. Visualize being nervous, how you want to run the race. See yourself run exactly the way you want it to happen.” Thursday morning, “wake up and do the same thing.”
Thursday breakfast: In the morning, an hour or two before the race, eat a small breakfast of simple carbs: a bagel or whole grain toast, a banana, basic fruits, Stormer said. Also have a little protein, recommended Dr. Lisa Daye, an orthopedic surgeon at Excelsior Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Amherst.
Trot clothing: Dress in layers. “I encourage people to pay attention to what they’re comfortable wearing for a race,” Stormer said. “Some people like to be warm the whole time, but we tend to overdo it when we run the Turkey Trot. It’s a long race. You have to be prepared for the weather, but don’t overdress.”
Prerace warm-up: Orton is not a fan of stretching beforehand. “If you have a routine of stretching afterward, go for it. But a certain amount of tight muscles are necessary for performing well and to be healthy. … You want to get your heart rate elevated prior to the start of the race,” he added. “That doesn’t mean you run hard for 20 minutes.” An easy jog for 10 to 15 minutes, punctuated by a few bursts of sprinting, should help you avoid shortness of breath during the race, he said, and help dictate the kind of clothing you’ll want to wear for the run.
During the race: Pace yourself. Stormer discouraged runners from going out too quickly, although she said that isn’t easy in such a crowded race field. “You’ve got your adrenaline pumping and we all tend to do that,” she said. “We’re feeling good, and all of a sudden you hit the wall.”
Added Daye: “In trying to push it too hard, you end up with shin splints, you end up with stress fractures, you end up with something from overuse. You’ve been doing all this training and if you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, the body’s not going to tolerate that. It pushes back.”
Post-race: After the race, instead of heading right into the convention center, grab a bottle of water and stay outside for a few minutes, Stormer said. “Walking is great. It helps the legs loosen up a little bit.”
“You want to cool down,” agreed Orton. “Go for a walk or nice, easy jog afterwards. It’s going to help flush the lactic acid that was built up during the intensity of the race. The elites will go for a nice 20-, 30-minute jog afterward. They’re flushing all of that race out of their body. That helps the recovery so much.”
Stormer said it’s especially important to eat protein and carbs within 30 to 60 minutes after you run. “That’s really important to help muscles rebuild and recover faster,” she said. “And definitely hydrate before you drink a beer.”