Nutrition A Runner’s Survival Guide for Thanksgiving

A Runner’s Survival Guide for Thanksgiving

By: Dr. Lowell Greib


Quick! Run to your cupboard of running fuel and grab all the gels packets you have. Gather all the gel you’ve been given at all the races that you’ve done, as well as you regular fuel. Count them all up. You need 40 of them for this exercise.

Now over the next six or seven hours, one by one, eat all 40 of them (feel free to wash them down with some water if you need).

As absolutely ridiculous as this may sound, many of us will consume the equivalent on our Thanksgiving holiday. Between the appetizers, sweets, turkey, gravy, veggies, potato, squash, pie and, of course, a couple cocktails, it’s common for Canadians to consume upward of 4,500 calories over the course of a day of Thanksgiving celebration. For those of you who are driven by data, it would take the average runner completing approximately 55 kilometers of racing to burn the calories from this single day of (over) consumption.

As runners who are committed to our improvement in performance, there are a few things that we can keep in mind heading into this great North American tradition.  By following a few simple suggestions, you will be able to keep things well in control.

  1. Build your Thanksgiving meal around your veggies. This is a simple trick that many of you likely follow on a day to day basis but have a bit of a brain fart when it comes to hanging out with family over the long weekend. Your vegetables are high in nutrients,vitamins and, generally speaking, good choices in the Thanksgiving spread. Fill up the majority of your plate with the multiple vegetable options.
  2. Go skinless. By picking skinless meat you will be eliminated many of the unwanted fat calories that are found in the roasted bird. Brown or white doesn’t really make a difference at this special time of the year.
  3. Gravy goes straight to the waistline. If your turkey is floating down a gravy river on your plate you’ve over done things. Remember why gravy tastes so good, it’s made with all of the fat drippings that have slow roasted themselves over the course of seven hours. Of course it tastes good!
  4. Keep it to one plate. Second servings will be your nemesis at Thanksgiving dinner. Think about whether you are truly still hungry before you waddle up to the kitchen counter for more deliciousness.
  5. Your training shouldn’t stop. Just because it’s Thanksgiving, you want to maintain your training program. Many who are participating in a fall race are either peaking in volume or going into a race taper. Try not to sabotage weeks (or months) of commitment in a single day.

Remember that the traditional Thanksgiving meal means stuffing the bird, not yourself. And Happy Thanksgiving from iRun!!!