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Friday Fitness: Turkey Day Trot Nutrition

For those entering a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make the most out of your event.  Whether walking or running, it is important to fuel and hydrate yourself before, during and after the race.  Too often those in races or running events end up needing medical attention or feel lousy during and/or after the race.   Dehydration? Overhydration (low sodium in the blood)? Hypoglycemia? The root cause of some of these mishaps could have potentially been prevented if a personal nutrition game-plan was initiated.   Here are some tips:


  1. The day before the race, drink enough water throughout the day until your urine is pale in color.  If yellow, drink more water and/or consume more fluid-based foods such as vegetable based soups or fruit smoothies.
  2. On race day, drink 8-20 ounces of water prior to the event.  Sports drinks (6-8% carbohydrate) are only needed for those who are going 60 minutes or longer at moderate-high intensity. 
  3. During the event, use the course as most offer water stations every couple of miles—take advantage by drinking 4-8 ounces per stop (1 gulp is equivalent to about 1 ounce). 
  4. After the race, drink enough fluids to replace what you lost during exercise.  For those “salty sweaters”, try drinking an electrolyte based drink, tomato juice or add electrolyte powder to your water. 

Everyone has different needs on event day, but here are some general guidelines include the following when it comes to food intake before and after the race:

  1. “Graze” the day before the trot on easily digestible high-carbohydrate foods with added protein.  Examples include:  ½ cup plain greek yogurt with ½ ounce of salted almonds or a small banana with 1 T. almond butter.  Avoid the fiber packed bars (e.g., Fiber One).
  2. Eat familiar foods—especially your breakfast prior to the trot.  Breakfast is essential.   Have something light, easy to digest, and added protein to help fuel you for the race as well as preventing post-exercise muscle soreness.  Example) A whole wheat english muffin with a hard-boiled egg washed down with 12 ounces of water.   
  3. If you are not having a meal within 30-60 minutes of the race, make sure to have a snack within that same time period to assist with muscle recovery.  A 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is ideal after a race.  One cup of low fat chocolate milk actually has the perfect ratio… 24-26 gm carbohydrates to 8 grams of protein (the picture is actually me in the cow suit.  Flattering, I know.  “Buttercup” was providing chocolate milk to those finishing at a race in Indiana—be on the lookout for the milk stations.)

Enjoy and savor your Thanksgiving meal either later that afternoon or evening :-)


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