The tradition of getting together with family and friends to enjoy a big turkey dinner at Thanksgiving usually means that most of us drop our healthy diet and indulge in ways we normally wouldn’t. But there is a way to enjoy your pumpkin pie without the additional guilt.
By being physically active, you can burn off calories before you sit down to consume more. And I’m not suggesting your leave your family at home while you go on a solo mission. Plan activities that everyone can enjoy. These can be as simple as organizing a backyard touch football game or soccer scrimmage in the park.
If coordination, ability or skill is a deterrent, an organized running race ensures everyone will enjoy the benefits of fresh air and physical fitness.
A friend of mine, Katriona Grant, is running the Victoria Half Marathon on Oct. 7 with her family, including her 68-year-old dad, sister-in-law and boyfriend.
Katriona is a personal trainer and her father started a walk/run training program in July. They will walk and run 21 kilometres together and set a goal to run one- or two-minute intervals every five minutes to complete the race as a foursome.
If a half-marathon is too ambitious for your family, the Granville Island 10 km Turkey Trot on Oct. 8 is a great alternative that won’t take you outside the city.
The race is a loop, starting and ending on Granville Island. The course crosses the Burrard Bridge, continues along the sea wall before returning to the Island. This family friendly course accommodates strollers so your kids can come along, too.
If an organized run or walk is something you would like to add to your Thanksgiving tradition, here are five things to keep in mind to ensure everyone enjoys the event and crosses the finish line safely.
Consider your ability
Before signing up the family for an organized event, make sure everyone is physically capable of running or walking the distance. It is best to ask each family member and not assume since there are many reasons why the event may not be appropriate for everyone.
Gauge your competition
Although it can be fun to compete with family members, make sure your “rival opponents” are not injuring themselves by trying to keep up with you or a faster group of racers. Establish your goal ahead of time. Are you racing or running together?
Wear the right equipment
If you are running or walking with people who don’t run on a regular basis, ensure everyone is wearing proper shoes and is dressed appropriately for the weather.
Plan ahead and train
If this is going to become a tradition, start training ahead of time—either together or separately. It will make your event much more rewarding and ensures that everyone has a good time. Following a simple training program, will build on the excitement of the event and gives everyone something to look forward to.
Set a meeting place
The start and finish area can be busy, easy places to lose people. It’s best to assign a location where you will meet before and after the race. This location should be a short distance away from the start line and distinguishable by everyone, such as a certain storefront or street sign.
If you are going to walk the distance, bring food along the way. The high-energy food offered along the course, such as gels and Gatorade, is for runners who are exerting a huge effort and will be packed with simple sugars. These choices may not be appealing or appropriate for walkers or children. Snacks like fruit and granola bars are good choices to keep your energy high and family happy.
Even though it usually isn’t hot on Thanksgiving weekend, it’s important to drink water and stay hydrated. If you are walking, the water stations may be empty when you get there so it is best to carry a small water bottle with you.
Don’t forget to have fun so this tradition can continue. Katriona bought matching technical long-sleeve running shirts for her family so everyone feels like they are part of the team. Plus, it will be easy to spot everyone in the crowd. You can play with face paint, costumes or use your imagination to find ways to make a healthy, physically active outing fun for all ages.
Kristina Bangma is a coach, personal trainer and writer with a love of riding and racing. Email questions to email@example.com.