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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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