Thanksgiving Day 30A 10K: 5 Tips to Boost Your Race Time

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The Thanksgiving Day 30A 10K is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have time to step up your pace. Whether you’re looking to PR or just cross the finish line at a goal pace, check out these tips from 30A 10K race director Karen Meadows.

Karen Meadows (left) and one of her triathletes, Chloe Elfink Giles
Karen Meadows (left) and one of her triathletes, Chloe Elfink Giles

And if you haven’t signed up yet, don’t miss this family-friendly holiday tradition, racing from Rosemary Beach down Scenic Highway 30A, through Alys Beach and over the beautiful, serene Camp Creek Lake. It’s a great way to start your holiday, supporting local charities and getting some much-needed exercise before our big holiday meals.

Sign up for the Thanksgiving Day 30A 10K here!

Here are 5 tips for your pre-race training. Happy racing!

1. Run up the stairs at any of our public beach accesses

Explosive hill sprints are great for training, the idea being that you power up the hill like a sprinter coming out of the blocks. They strengthen your legs, improve your running form and boost the function of your neuromuscular system.

How to do it: Run at maximum effort for 10-15 seconds up a steep hill or stairs with at least a 7 to 10 percent grade. Follow with a full two- to three-minute rest, jogging downhill or walking, so that you’re fully recovered before starting again. Repeat four times.

2. Run through the nature trails of South Walton

Running on soft surfaces lessens the impact on your joints and allows you to recover faster so its great for training. Running on uneven surfaces also helps strengthen muscles and improve running form by recruiting more of the smaller, more stabilizing muscles that we rely on for balance, especially around the ankles.  As an added bonus, the sounds of birds and trees rustling in the wind is really peaceful and soothing to the soul. It really is!

How to do it: The South Walton Community Council has a brochure listing the nature trails in South Walton, including The Point Washington State Forest, the Topsail Hill Preserve and Eden Gardens State Park.

3. Perform functional strength exercises along Scenic Highway 30A

Not only is it important to practice actually running, but you should also perform exercises that train the body for running. The neighborhoods along Scenic Highway 30A, like Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and Seaside, have green spaces that are perfect for practicing to strengthen these muscles.

How to do it: Try walking lunges or step ups on a low stair or bench. Challenge yourself by seeing how long you can hold a plank or a wall sit. Perform skipping and hopping drills as well.

4. Cross-train to give your running muscles a break

Cross training is important and many coaches believe cross training can be especially helpful for runners who are injury prone and 40 years or older. As a USA Triathlon Coach, I know cycling increase leg strength and cardiovascular fitness without major stress on the joints. Swimming works the upper body and for while providing excellent active recovery for runners.

How to do it: Hit the bike path, the pool or the Gulf of Mexico to get some cross training in to your training plan.

5. Refuel with a healthy meal

The minutes and hours after a workout is an important time for refueling your body with what it needs to recover. Go for a carbohydrate first, but also try to ingest a protein within the hour. Adding protein will help repair any muscle damage from your workout and help you recover more quickly for your next run. And don’t forget to re-hydrate, especially in the hot and humid months!

How to do it: A simple bagel with peanut or almond butter or some chocolate milk will do the trick. Or, check out some of these options for where to get a healthy meal in South Walton.

Karen Meadows is a USA Track and Field certified coach who lives in Panama City Beach, Florida. She is also the race director for the 30A 10K that takes place each Thanksgiving Day morning in Rosemary Beach, Florida. Karen trains beginners, competitive-age groupers and elite runners and triathletes.