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The Non-Runner’s Guide to Holiday Races

This Non-Runner’s Guide to Holiday Races will help you get through and perhaps even enjoy your Turkey Trot, Santa Hustle, Resolution Run, or Valentine’s Race! Link up with Running Coaches Corner for more great posts!

Have a turkey trot, resolution run, or other holiday run coming up? Check out this Non-Runners Guide to Holiday Races so that you might actually ENJOY running this year! nonrunners-guide-holiday-races-5k-running-coaches-corner-36

Non Runners Guide To Holiday Races

This advice is not meant to keep you from having fun, but rather to make sure that you do have fun! 

Holiday Race Clothing

Let’s start with the clothing.

Hashtag Goals

Hashtag Goals

Yes, you can wear a costume, but a) do so at your own risk and b) pay special attention to undergarments. And you might want to try on the outfit prior to the race to ensure you aren’t miserable the whole time. Cotton isn’t going to help you out that much, particularly if you start to sweat. Layers are key (as I discussed in my post on Late Fall Running), so you might want to stick with a turkey hat or deely boppers and festive colors or something of the sort. Or just go for it and be the turkey. Just know that you better get to running.

rhoa running


In a perfect world, you would wear shoes that aren’t 15 years old/from high school/have no cushion in them at all. You would be wearing running specific shoes, that have less that 500 miles on them (or are, at the very least, less than 3 years of periodic use old). 


I can hope, right?

Holiday Race Nutrition

You don’t need to fuel like you are running a marathon. Eat a lighter breakfast that is easy on your tummy, and if you must have coffee, make sure that you have it far enough in advance for it to do its work on you. I would aim for 200-300 calories, or a piece of toast and 1 tbsp of nut butter and half a banana. Save the oatmeal or omelet for afterwards. And don’t test your luck–save the “fun foods” for after.

pie trio suzlyfe

And what should you reach for after? A nice, veggie filled omelet (pay attention to serving size), or that oatmeal that I just talked about. A protein smoothie (watch what is put in there, not all smoothies are created equal!), or treat yourself to a fancy seasonal drink (but ask for half fat milk and no whip, or very light whip, and 1/2 the syrup). A milk based coffee beverage will provide you with some good muscle rebuilding protein as well as warmth and hydration!

Try this 3 Minute Microwave Baked Oatmeal for a warm, delicious, filling, and healthy post workout or leisurely breakfast! Gluten Free and Dairy Free.

Speaking of, you don’t need to refuel like you just ran a marathon. Calorie-wise, you are looking at about 100 cals/mile for a 130-140 lb person (generally), less if you are smaller, more if you are larger. Notice, I said, 100 cals/mile. NOT 1000 CALORIES PER MILE. Of course, if you want to eat all of the foods, by all means go ahead and do so! It is just about your goals–if you are working to lose weight, it is something to consider! Otherwise, go for it!

Holiday Race Running Strategy

If you haven’t run since the turkey trot the year before, I highly suggest run-walk intervals instead of just running for as long as you can. My reason? If you just run and run and run, chances are you will a) experience the wheels totally falling off and then be miserable the rest of the time, b) risk injury, and c) just generally be miserable during and after, when you are going to be hella sore. Doing the run/walk option will help you split up the miles, reduce injury the day of and soreness the following day by allowing your body time to recover, and will hopefully allow you to finish strong!


Pace-wise, whether you are continuously running or run/walking, go with something that is easy and sustainable. Don’t run it like intervals, or try to sprint the entire thing. Because you will be sad. Aim for 5 out of 10 in terms of RPE.

Making Holiday Races Fun

At the end of the day, remember why you are there (hopefully not because you were guilted into it by your in-laws): You are there to have fun, honor tradition, be with your community, family, and friends, and do something for your health and mental and physical wellbeing. 

Finally, Holiday Races will be fun with this Guide for NonRunners! #run #holidays #coachescorner Click To Tweet

So gather a group of old friends and take your kiddos, or go by yourself and just have some you time before you go back to your family. If you aren’t a regular runner, I suggest going with others– when you incorporate this advice, you might just find that you have a good time!


Now, though this might your marathon (congratulations!!), resist the urge to give up movement for the rest of the day–keep moving and do light stretching later on to prevent stiffness and soreness in the muscles. Take some of the advice from this post to help your muscles and body recover!

Marathoners are crazy! We are ready to sign up for the next race! Find out how to handle post marathon recovery at

Most importantly, don’t stop there! Let your holiday run catapult you into the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle or even running on a regular basis. Check out the training options at your gym, or hire a running coach to help you make running a sustainable part of your life, setting you up for longterm health.

I work with runners of all abilities and goals, from running a marathon to running their first 5k to just finding a running routine that they can stick with. A running coach does way more than just tell you how far to run! (Here is a bit more information on what it is that I do). If you are curious, I would love to talk to you! Check out my coaching page and then email me at coachsuztraining@gmail. A running coach would be a great holiday gift! (psst… I’m running some Black (Toenail) Friday Specials, which you can find out about on my Instagram!)

Now, get out there, and get your gobble on!

Do you participate in holiday runs? In costume?

I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday.

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  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    I have to laugh about the costume one. I never did one of those races and could not imagine doing so all decked out like that. Crazy!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…Skillet Cranberry Balsamic SalmonMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 5:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So. much. air. resistance.

      November 25, 2016 at 10:54 am
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    Its all about having fun- but you definitely want to pay attention to the little things (like clothing and shoes) or you may end up pretty miserable!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…7 Tips for Returning to Running after an InjuryMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 5:42 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ugh, I know! A few little things can save the say!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Heather @Lunging Through Life

    Love the tips- laughed out loud at the shoes from 15 years ago, haha. Biggest thing is just to have fun 🙂
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Motherhood: Things I’ve Learned This Past YearMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 5:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      No lie, I definitely saw someone in shoes at least that old today!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    Haha–Black Toenail Friday! LOL! Great post–probably one of my favorites of yours!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…I’m Grateful for Running Bargains!My Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 6:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Wendy! I thought that it might be helpful for a few people!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:52 am
  • Reply Kimberly Hatting

    Holiday runs are fun! And I think they are meant to be fun and not competitive. Our local Turkey Trot we encourage everyone to participate (runners, walkers, strollers, etc.) and we encourage donations to our local food pantry. The best part? Coming home to the aroma of turkey in the oven 😉
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Got Gratitude?- 2016My Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 6:37 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love that you all did the local food pantry donations–best way to celebrate the holiday!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:52 am
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    A guy in one of those full turkey suits flew by me a couple years ago-humbling indeed! LOL thanks for the link up happy Thanksgiving
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Baby It’s Cold Outside! Winter Running TipsMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is definitely humbling. But appropriate.

      November 25, 2016 at 10:51 am
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Great tips! I think the run/walk and RPE pieces of advice are particularly useful – many people would be amazed how much they like to run and how far they can run when they keep the effort manageable.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…EnduraPouch Fuel Pouch Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:08 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Girl, I saw so many people who could’ve benefited from my advice today…

      November 25, 2016 at 10:50 am
  • Reply kat

    I always wanted to run a holiday race but seeing as how 1] I hate running and 2] none of my family are active except for my little brother who also hates running, Im thinking a holiday run is out for us 😉 An obstacle course run would be right up our alley though!
    kat recently posted…[WIAW] Taking the focus off the foodMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:17 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ummmmmm MAKE THAT HAPPEN

      November 25, 2016 at 10:47 am
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    There is a local 5k Turkey Trot near my parents while I am home for the holiday this week and I am debating to run it, but I woke up this morning and there is frost on the cars, so I doubt I will run tmrw. But I love seeing people run it, that normally do not run in other races throughout the year.
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Body FlowMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It was pretty lovely to run a turkey trot here in SC–it was gorgeous out!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:47 am
  • Reply Annmarie

    To be honest, I don’t understand how people run in costume…I just can’t.
    Annmarie recently posted…BOSU Plyo Drills to Improve Running Speed & FormMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SERIOUSLY!! I want to know, just for my own curiosity, though I have no intentions of doing so myself.

      November 25, 2016 at 10:46 am
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    The one problem with doing all the cooking, it impossible to do a race too :-(! I threatened to move Thanksgiving to Friday this year so we could do a family Turkey Trot. hahaha!!
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Be Thankful… AlwaysMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I feel like you should just teach Rhett to do the cooking 😀

      November 25, 2016 at 10:44 am
  • Reply Ellie

    Cute ideas Suz. I think that running on a holiday is just all fun. Why not refuel with a pie post race?! It’s a holiday after all 😉
    Ellie recently posted…26.2 Miles on the TreadmillMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 7:44 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, absolutely! And you know that I did just that! I just like to put it out there so that people aren’t surprised. But if you want that pie, go for it!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:44 am
  • Reply Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    This is awesome! There are so many little things that we take for granted as common knowledge that aren’t…especially around shoes and fueling. Have a great Thanksgiving!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…How to transition from marathon training into 5k trainingMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 8:14 am
  • Reply Ana

    I wish I would have had this list when I did my 2nd 5K. I was sore for 3 days because I wanted to run the whole thing, but was not running at the time.
    Ana recently posted…Girls On The Run 5K 2016My Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 8:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha oh goodness!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:35 am
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    We don’t really do turkey trots in Canada but if we did, I’d totally dress up as a turkey.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…One Pot Butternut Squash Ground Turkey CasseroleMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 8:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think you should do that regardless

      November 25, 2016 at 10:35 am
  • Reply Suzy

    I love the meme with the guy about passing everyone who that started out too fast. His face is hilarious!
    Suzy recently posted…Week In Review: PerspectiveMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 9:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We passed so many newbies today, it was hilarious!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:34 am
  • Reply Sandra Laflamme

    Haha! I would definitely love to see someone running in that turkey outfit! Too funny! The best thing about a turkey trot is the running with friends and family and the post race eats!
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…NYC Marathon Recap 2016 Part IIMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 11:02 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Heck to the yes! They had Frito chili pies at the one today..

      November 25, 2016 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Sarah @ Sweet Miles

    Bahahaha I laughed out loud at the ‘when you pass a bunch of people’ meme. So hilarious and SO 100% true. I loved this post!
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…Very Thankful Am IMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 11:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you Sarah! I can’t tell you how many people we passed during our turkey trot today!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    When I was watching the NYC marathon, I saw some crazy costumes! I also saw a girl who was wearing boots and not running shoes….running!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Thankful Thursday (on Wednesday): Week 4My Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’ve seen people run marathons in pizza and hot dog costumes. I’ve also seen samurai and super heros. People are weird.

      November 25, 2016 at 10:32 am
  • Reply Coco

    Great tips! I don’t know how people can run in costumes. I am to picky!
    Coco recently posted…Choosing To Be GratefulMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 6:37 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously. Chafe city!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:31 am
  • Reply MCM Mama Runs

    There are always people at our local turkey trot in costumes. I’ve never been that brave LOL! Happy Thanksgiving!
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Who is going streaking with me? #RWrunstreakMy Profile

    November 23, 2016 at 10:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m always curious as to whether they are regular runners, or just cray 😀

      November 25, 2016 at 10:30 am
  • Reply Ilka

    I couldn’t get a a number for our local Turkey Trot – sold out! I need to run my own!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Susie!
    Ilka recently posted…My Running RoundUp – Week Nov 14th – Hill TrainingMy Profile

    November 24, 2016 at 4:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Happy Thanksgiving, Ilka! This is my first year running a Turkey Trot with a number–I’ve always done my own thing.

      November 25, 2016 at 10:26 am
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    Fingers crossed I get Will to run with me today! If so, I’ll make sure he doesn’t wear his old ass shoes haha
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Life UpdateMy Profile

    November 24, 2016 at 8:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahaha And did he or did he wear newer ones?

      November 25, 2016 at 10:25 am
  • Reply Rachel

    Oh, the costumes. I saw an entire Thanksgiving feast today. Each person was dressed as a different food item. Oh! And then I saw a lady who was the turkey head and she had a table around her shoulders. It was cray.

    November 24, 2016 at 7:58 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe


      November 25, 2016 at 10:25 am
  • Reply Toni

    Great Tips! I saw a lot of costume do nots on Thanksgiving, if you can run in it don’t wear it, or stay well behind the actual runners
    Toni recently posted…Key West Half Marathon Training BeginsMy Profile

    November 25, 2016 at 6:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Precisely–run in it if you dare, but don’t expect to win!

      November 25, 2016 at 10:24 am
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    This is such a great guide! I’ve never done any kind of race – let alone a holiday race – but I always wonder how people in full costumes fare once they get a couple of miles in 😛
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: New Finds, Duct Tape and DentistsMy Profile

    November 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Some of them are amazing and just beast mode the whole thing. That would be a no for me….

      November 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm
  • Reply Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    Great tips! I have actually never done a turkey trot, mainly because I haven’t felt like waking up that early on Thanksgiving lol. But perhaps I’ll do a santa themed race this year!
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…NYC Marathon Quick Recap (Stay Tuned For Full Recap!)My Profile

    November 28, 2016 at 10:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I dare you to ware a pillow around your waist for it!

      November 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm
  • Reply Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness

    Haha this would have been perfect for my friend to read! She just did her first 5k with me and yes I made her get new shoes!

    November 29, 2016 at 7:14 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank goodness! Otherwise, goodness knows what she would have done!

      November 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

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