How to Train for Milwaukee’s Turkey Trot

These expert tips can help even new runners get ready for Milwaukee’s annual Thanksgiving 5K.

LOOKING TO BURN a few calories before going to town on your feast this Thanksgiving? Or maybe you’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to bust out your giant turkey costume? Either way, the annual Milwaukee Turkey Trot 5K Walk/Run is calling your name. The race is on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) at Veterans Park, with proceeds from the $60 registration fee benefiting the Hunger Task Force. We asked Karen Berenson, the owner of RunFit MKE, to share her expert tips for beginners preparing for the race.

Gear Up

Choosing a running shoe with cushioning and support in the right places is crucial. “People will develop blisters, plantar fasciitis, shin splints – that can totally be avoided if you have the right footwear,” Berenson says. Look for a store with a knowledgeable staff who will measure your gait and make personalized recommendations for you. Berenson suggests Performance Running Outfitters (performancerunning.com), which has five area locations where staff will measure your gait and recommend the right shoe for you.

Warm Up and Cool Down

This is another important way to avoid injury. Before each run, try some standing leg swings, keeping loose as you kick front to back and side to side, one leg at a time. After your workout, get on one knee with your other leg extended behind you, press both hands against your raised knee and push forward until you feel tightness in both legs, then switch. 


 

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Start Slow

For day one of training, start by jogging for 30 seconds. If that’s a breeze, jog a while longer and note when you tire out. For someone who has never tried distance running before, Berenson says it can take about eight weeks to work up to running a full 5K (that’s 3.1 miles). “You shouldn’t be afraid to sign up, even if you don’t think you can run the whole thing,” she says. “A lot of people will run and walk it.”

Turkey Trot 2021; Photo courtesy of All Community Events

Pick up the Pace

For beginners, Berenson suggests two days of running, followed by one day off to recover. During your first week, set a goal of 30-40 minutes of constant movement, alternating running and walking. Don’t worry about distance or speed. Just try to continually increase the amount of time you can jog. Once you reach 10 minutes straight, increase your goal to jogging a mile. 

A Half-Mile at a Time

When you can run a mile, stay at that distance for one week. Up it by half a mile the next week, then again the next, and so on. “If you can get to 2.5 miles prior to the race, you can get to 5K on race day,” Berenson says. 

The Morning Of

Berenson suggests eating a meal 90 minutes before the 9 a.m. race time. Cut it much closer than that, and you might feel a little queasy on the track. Chicken, bananas and whole carbohydrates like rice all make for good options. After the race, of course, you can recover all those calories (and more) in turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. 


Register for the Milwaukee Turkey Trot at wisconsinruns.com.


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s November issue.

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Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.