A Runner's Healthy Thanksgiving
I'll never forget the first time I ran a sub 5-minute mile. I was 14 years old, and it was the day after Thanksgiving. While I have many fond memories of that day I also remember writing in my running journal how messed up my stomach was from the insanely large Thanksgiving dinner I had consumed the day before my run. While the food-loading didn't keep me from achieving my goal of running a sub 5-minute mile, it could have, so I have learned over the years to still celebrate Thanksgiving as one of my favorite holidays of the year without waking up the next morning feeling incredibly nasty from overeating. Here are some rules I've developed over the years to stay fit over the holidays; I hope they can be of help to you this season:
STAY IN THE MIDDLE: I tend to have an extreme personality; either I'm training really hard or I am not training at all, or I am eating really healthfully, or I am eating donuts for most of my meals. I have a hard time staying in the middle ground; however, I've found that the principle of moderation — not complete denial of holiday treats — suits me very well. So now, rather than holding out on pies until I finally crumble at the end of the night and eat three pieces of pumpkin pie, I allow myself to try everything I want. I give myself full freedom, but — and this is the key — in moderation. So instead of getting a full piece of three different kinds of pie, I try three pies, but in amounts that total the same size as one piece. I really enjoy food and I don't think there is anything wrong with trying everything put before me. Also I think it is important to honor the cook by at least trying their dish.
STICK WITH TRAINING: Over the holidays I always continue my training. I find running to be the perfect way to celebrate holidays and it also gets my appetite up so I can enjoy a big meal to the fullest. Things taste amazing after long runs so I recommend scheduling a good long run or Turkey Trot to start your Thanksgiving Day.
LET THE NATURAL FLAVOR OF FOODS COME THROUGH: Enjoy how amazing food tastes without having to doctor it up with sugar and excess fat. For example, I find it rather tragic when people add marshmallows to sweet potatoes; sweet potatoes are already so good and so sweet when cooked the right way. Good food doesn't have to be unhealthy, so do some homework to find a few healthy recipes.
Lastly, my job in the kitchen for the holidays is always the turkey. I love it and look forward to it every year. I know there are lots of ways to cook the turkey but my secret is to cook it extra-long at a low temperature (like overnight) in a roasting bag after brining the turkey overnight. It is a long process but not really labor-intensive. Give it a try; it makes a nice, super-juicy, and healthy addition to Thanksgiving.
I wish you all the best for this Thanksgiving. I find Thanksgiving to be such a powerful holiday. I truly believe that it's by being thankful for what we have that more is given to us. Happy Thanksgiving!
— Ryan Hall, Record-breaking marathoner