Dana Point Turkey Trot: How to Train for a 5K or 10K Race

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It was my best friend from college that inspired me almost two years ago when she ran her first 10K run in the Dana Point Turkey Trot.

Being a person that could not even run for five minutes at the time, I was in awe of her. Then I was even more in awe, when after having an AWESOME experience at the Turkey Trot, she decided she was going to run her first half marathon that following May and convinced me to start running with her.

Taking up running for me personally has been best thing that could have ever happened to me for my health, both mental and physical. So when the Turkey Trot organizers contacted me to tell me the registration for the Turkey Trot is now open and offered to send an article with expert tips on “How to Train for a 5K or 10K Race” I said, “ABSOLUTELY!”

Seeing that the Turkey Trot is what started my running inspiration, I thought it was only fitting that I sign up to run the 10K race with my friend this year! I am SUPER excited! Let me tell you about this event.

Taking place on Thanksgiving Day morning, the Turkey Trot course offers a 5K race, 10K race and even a 1 mile Kids’ Gobble Wobble (HOW FLIPPIN CUTE), taking you through the beautiful scenery of the beautiful beaches, majestic cliffs and enchanting coves of Dana Point.

Can you think of a better way to start off your Thanksgiving?! Just think about the CALORIES you will burn before sitting down to that stuffing and apple pie!

Even better, the proceeds of the event benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, an organization that helps to distribute food to those who need it in Orange County.

Oh, be still my heart, an event on THANKSGIVING that promotes health, fitness and the giving of food to those in need?  What an incredible experience for the whole family to be a part of!

I am SO in!!!!!!!  Are you?

Maybe it might be your first 5K or 10K.  Maybe like me before I started, you have never run for five minutes in your life.  Do not fear, with so many months advance notice, you have PLENTY of time to slowly ramp up and get in shape.

This awesome article offers 5 great tips on how to train for a 5K or 10K race! I could not more fully agree with all these pointers.  And, a 5K or 10K is the perfect distance to start with {and, of course, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.}

Make the Commitment: A 5K/10K Race on Your Horizon

Signing up to run a 5K (or even a 10K) run is the perfect way to kick-start a fitness routine and/or shed those unwanted pounds. For many beginning runners, the initial training routine can seem daunting. However, there are a few tips to follow that will not only make training manageable, but also fun.

Many beginning runners chose to enter the race world by participating in a recreational run, such as a Thanksgiving Day race. If you sign up to run a Thanksgiving Day race, like the Dana Point Turkey Trot (www.turkeytrot.com), start your training program in September to ensure that you are fit and trim for the beginning of the holiday season!

By beginning with a structured and realistic training routine, you will begin to create a healthy and active lifestyle for yourself that you can carry through the holiday season and into the new year, continuing the hard work you put in for three months.

Here’s a list of five essential tips to get you hitting the pavement and ready for the starting line, healthy and injury free.

1. Sign up for the race. I know, I know, you don’t want to sign up until you know how you are going to feel or what your plans might be or if you will even want to run, but don’t wait! Without making the commitment to yourself and registering for the race, it is too easy to give up if the going gets tough or procrastinate until it’s too late. There is no time like the present; sign up before you lace up! It will be the motivation you need to complete your goal.

2. Set a realistic goal.  It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are to anyone but you. Set three goals per race: your big goal, your moderate goal and your minimum goal.  The big goal is the time that may not possible to attain, but the one you’re aiming for. The moderate goal is a time you know will require an all-out effort to achieve, but it can be done. The minimum goal is the time that you must hit.  For example, if my average pace is 8:30 on a typical training day, my 5K big goal may be 23 minutes (sub 7:30 pace), my moderate goal may be 24 minutes(sub 7:45 pace), and my minimum goal may be 25 minutes (about an 8:00 minute mile pace).

3. Create your program. 5K and 10K training plans are available online and can be obtained through a personal trainer, or located in fitness or running magazines.  There are many training plans to choose from, so the trick is to find one that is simple, easy to understand and works for your lifestyle.  The basic training premise should be at least three days of running per week, with additional days of strength and/or cross training.  Once you have your program, write it on a calendar and stick to it!  Training is a matter of commitment. If you are committed, you will achieve your goal. Be committed!

4. Get the proper running shoes.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this.  Go to a specialty running store and get your feet and gait analyzed.  Treat your feet right and they’ll protect the rest of your body.  Running in the wrong shoes or worn out shoes could lead to injury and won’t bring you to the start line, let alone the finish line.

5. Finally, start running! Your training program should include at least one day of speed work, a day of moderate to easy running, and a day with a long run (working up to the full distance). Rest is important as you train and you have to let your body heal after each of your workouts.  To keep your focus and motivation, make sure to mix it up.  Don’t run the same route every time, download a new podcast or album, or try some fartleks (speed plays).

By Laura Ouimet, Dana Point Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and a marathon/ triathlon coach and trainer. To learn more about the Dana Point Turkey Trot and to sign up, visit www.turkeytrot.com.


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  1. 1
    Jenny K. says:

    I love the Dana Point Turkey Trot. It’s such a fun event all around, but I think my favorite part is the 1 mile kids’ gobble wobble haha. I just love saying it!

  2. 2
    Jen says:

    Good points! That\’s why it is good to register early. Thanks for the warning on the crowds. At least it\’s good to know that everyone is out there to support a great cause on Thanksgiving!

  3. 3

    Only thing I have to say about the DP Turkey Trot is that it always sells out, and the course is far too narrow for all of those people. BUT, I do have to say that it is a nice race to run overall, and the course is all flat.

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