Scripps News LifeHolidays and Celebrations


Expert gives the dos and don'ts of running a Thanksgiving turkey trot

It might be tempting to sign up for a local turkey trot on Thanksgiving, but an expert says there are a few things to keep in mind.
Runners break from the starting line at the 40th annual Turkey Trot to raise money for the Denver chapter of the United Way.
Posted at 2:18 PM, Nov 17, 2023

Turkey trots are a common way for new and experienced runners to burn a few calories before bellying up to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

According to Run Signup, over 750,000 Americans participated in a turkey trot last Thanksgiving at one of over 730 races across the U.S. The number of people who registered for a Turkey Trot through Run Signup has doubled over the past six years.

The actual number of participants is actually higher, as some races use different platforms for registration. 

With so many runners hitting the starting line, these races can be a good introduction to running for inexperienced athletes. If you’re signed up for a race, here are some tips from exercise physiologist Katie Lawton from the Cleveland Clinic on how to successfully run a turkey trot:

Pick a manageable race distance. Turkey trots can range from just a mile to a half-marathon distance. Lawton said a 5K is generally a good distance for beginners.

Train a bit. While the Turkey Trot might be a few days away, it might not be a bad idea to get outside and log a few miles ahead of the race.

Get a group together. Lawton recommends inviting friends and family to join in the fun.

Wear comfortable athletic shoes. While Lawton says any athletic shoe will do for a one-time 5K, if you plan on continuing your training, it would not be a bad idea to get shoes made for walking and running. Many running stores have devices that help athletes find the proper shoe and fit. 

Dress for the weather. Take a layered approach to your outfit, Lawton said. If it is chilly, you will generally start to warm up after the race begins. You can remove outer layers as you race.

Hydrate. The Cleveland Clinic said drinking water is especially important if you get sweaty or consumed alcohol the night before.

Forget Black Friday; plumbers prepare for Brown Friday
Person uses a plunger on a toilet.

Forget Black Friday; plumbers prepare for Brown Friday

Roto-Rooter is encouraging Americans to get their plungers ready as the company sees a spike in calls the day after Thanksgiving.


The Cleveland Clinic also suggests runners pace themselves at turkey trots. They also note that slower runners should start at the back of the pack, allowing faster runners an easier path forward.

After the race, they say to keep moving and be sure to eat a light snack, like a banana or granola bar.

These races aren't just good for fitness; they can help raise a lot of money. Run Signup said that over $1.8 million was raised for various charities through the hundreds of Turkey Trot registrations it managed in 2022.

To find a race near you, click here.