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November 12, 2017

Help avoid holiday weight gain by running the Thankful Turkey 5K

This is the time of year when runners have an advantage over most of the rest of the population in keeping the weight off.

It starts out with an appetizer of eating the children’s Halloween candy; but in a short time Thanksgiving arrives, and big meals are placed before many of us. There is no rule that states that you must eat everything in large servings, or try all the varieties of pie afterwards. It seems guests are afraid of offending the host by not eating all that has been placed on the table.

It won’t be that many more weeks before Christmas and Black Friday arrive; and it seems that these holidays also revolve around more food. Football bowl games start in December; and that means a lot of sitting on a sofa with fast food to comfort a losing team all day.

Office parties add to this eating season and lead up to New Year’s Day, and more football bowl games and celebrations. Many people add the Super Bowl game as a holiday and have parties where more food is consumed, along with beverages.

Keeping weight off during this time is very difficult, and is one reason why the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Actually it is just the weight you have gained in these last three months. But it can add up to a substantial amount if you spend the time between these food celebrations being sedentary.

That is where a runner has an advantage. Between the big meals the daily routine includes a run, or walk, or bike ride to help burn off those extra calories. For those runners training for a marathon, it almost becomes an advantage getting those extra calories needed for the long runs leading up to the marathon race.

I have been to parties with runners for various celebrations; and the amount of food consumed by the skinny frames of runners makes you wonder where they store the food.

I was at a pre-race pasta buffet for the Houston Marathon one year and saw Patti Catalano, the favored women’s champion, go through the line. I thought, if she is favored in the race, I will eat what she is going to eat. I did okay on the first trip through the line. I didn’t add quite as much food the second trip through. I couldn’t follow her for the third time, and felt like I had gained 20 pounds after the meal. She won; I finished in a time to qualify for Boston, but was still about 30 minutes behind her. It had to be that third helping that I didn’t eat.

To start the season off for runners, the Thankful Turkey 5K run is this coming Saturday, November 18th, starting at 9:00 a.m. at the First Baptist Church out on McCarty Lane.

There are many runners who enter this race for the awards given. Instead of the usual hardware of medals or trophies, the first-place finisher in age groups receives a large turkey; the second-place finisher gets a nice ham and the third-place winner gets a homemade pie.

The entry fee not only gets you a long-sleeved race shirt and a chance at some drawings, but also food for the Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey and the ham usually make it to the main meal, but I have witnessed some of the pies not making it out of the parking lot after the race.

The race is an out-and-back course with a couple of challenging hills to help burn off some of those added calories. You can register online until November 15th at You can also register on the day of the race at the church.

Cost for the race if you haven’t registered yet is $30, and proceeds from the race go to Bluebonnet Lions Club charities in the local community. For more information call Linda Alexander at 512-618-2395.

There is a Kid’s Run that is free, and all kids will get a finishers award at the finish. One change for some runners is the different age categories. Instead of the usual 20–29, 30–39, etc., the age groups are 17 and under, 18–27, 28–37, 38–47, 48–57, 58–67, and 68 and over.

Even if you do not win a turkey or a ham, you will at least have a head start on holding off the weight gain that seems to be a problem until the end of January. There is nothing like being pro-active and getting a running start at maintaining your weight this year. This means you will be able to change that number one New Year’s Resolution to something new this year.

Moe Johnson
Dr. Maurice Johnson - better known around San Marcos as “Moe” - is a professor in the Department of Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance at Texas State University - San Marcos. Moe has been a fixture in the San Marcos running community - both as a runner and race organizer - since way back when Moby Dick was a minnow. His column on running and fitness appears each Sunday in the Sports section of the San Marcos Daily Record.

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