(NBC News) — Are you signed up for a turkey trot this year? Whether it’s a family tradition, a fun way to squeeze in a workout before digging into the holiday spread, or an excuse to don a silly turkey costume while hitting the pavement, logging a 5K the morning of Thanksgiving is a popular ritual.
But for many people, a turkey trot with family and friends is one of the only times during the year they commit to a 5K race. And if you haven’t been walking or running, getting through the 3.1 miles can be a challenge. But it’s not too late to get yourself in shape for the big day! We’ve devised a customizable “couch potato to turkey trot plan” just for beginners, and for those who are currently active but need to get their body into the swing of walking and jogging before the race.
Before you get started, Michael Conlon, physical therapist and owner of Finish Line Physical Therapy, has a few things to keep in mind. Conlon recommends consulting your doctor to make sure there are no concerns before you start your training plan. When you’re ready to go, he recommends starting at slow pace, one where you’d be carry on a conversation while you’re walking or running. Focus on developing your body’s ability to use oxygen and build your stamina over time.
Conlon also provided a few basic posture tips to avoid injury:
- Keep your head up and focus on an object in the horizon at eye level. Avoid looking down at the ground.
- Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Focus on swinging your arms forward and back avoiding excessive trunk rotation.
- Maintain the alignment of your rib cage over your pelvis to avoid leaning forward or back.
- Keep your feet straight. Avoid turning your feet outward. And aim to have your foot strike the ground below your hips, keeping your body in a straight line, which will help you avoid putting undue stress on your knee and hip joints.
The workout structure
This walking and running routine will help you build you up to a 5K just in time for your turkey trot at the end of the month. The workouts are broken up into three different routines: Walking/running, stretching, and core work. Then, of course, there are rest days. Whether you plan to walk the 5K, run the 5K, or do a mix of both, this plan is the perfect way to ease your way into building up your stamina and muscular development.
You can do the stretch routine before and after your walk/run, to help you warm up your muscles before you hit the pavement and cool down when you’re done. Then we have the core routine: It’s important to strengthen the core when you’re working towards a 5K because your core helps support your back and your breath control. It’s also important to maintain proper alignment while you’re walking and running by training your body to activate your core while you’re in motion.
Download your printable calendar here. Hang the calendar on your fridge, or keep it in your purse or car, for easy reference.
Couch to 5K Training Plan
- Day 1: Walk ½ mile
- Day 2: Stretch
- Day 3: Walk ½ mile
- Day 4: REST
- Day 5: Core
- Day 6: Walk 1 mile
- Day 7: Stretch
- Day 8: Rest
- Day 9: Run ½ mile, Walk 1 mile
- Day 10: REST
- Day 11: Run ½ mile, Walk 1 mile
- Day 12: Stretch
- Day 13: Walk 2 miles
- Day 14: Stretch
- Day 15: Core
- Day 16: Run 1 mile, Walk 1 Mile
- Day 17: Rest
- Day 18: Walk 2.5 miles
- Day 19: Stretch
- Day 20: Core
- Day 21: Run 1.5 miles, walk 1.5 miles
- Day 22: Rest
- Day 23: Run 2 miles, walk 1 mile
- Day 24: Rest
- Day 25: Run 2.5 miles, Walk 1 mile
- Day 26: Stretch
- Day 27: Core
- Day 28: RACE DAY! Run 3.1 miles.
- Day 29: REST
- Day 30: REST