Preparing for Race Day: Marathon Training

November 20th, 2019

The holidays are approaching which means big things for Philadelphia - lights are illuminating parks, festive events are popping up – and runners are hitting the pavement to participate in the Philadelphia Marathon. 

If you’re running in this year’s Philadelphia marathon, whether you’re signed up for the 13.1 mile run or the 8k on Saturday, or the full 26.2 miles on Sunday, being prepared is half the battle.

Rothman Orthopaedics has partnered with runner Stacy Gross who’s a seasoned vet when it comes to marathon training and day-of information. She’s no stranger to the Philly marathon either. 

And to help educate marathon runners, both beginners and veterans, Stacey met with Rothman foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Elena Wellens to talk all things marathon training. Stacey’s experience in addition to Dr. Wellens’ expertise makes for a well-rounded guide for you to begin preparations for race day. 

What to Keep in Mind on Race Day

  1. Wear shoes appropriate for your foot and size. Race day is not the time to try out new shoes. If you are planning on getting new running shoes for a race, purchase them before you begin training so you can break them in. 

  2. Invest in moisture- wicking socks for race day. Moisture wicking socks use a double layer of fabric to reduce movement, meaning there is less friction between the skin and the sock as you’re running. It also draws sweat and moisture away from the skin to help avoid the risk blisters and deter fungus from forming and causing blisters. 

  3. Warm up thoroughly. Warming up before the race is crucial to get the blood pumping, prepare your muscles and joints, and avoid injuries that can occur. Keep your warm up light without any intense movements, but focus on a full body stretch. Run in place, do several sets of lunges, and hold muscle stretches for 20 seconds each.

  4. Be aware of your surroundings. Race day can get overwhelming and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of things. Prepare by going to the race route before the day of the marathon to scope it out from start to finish. You may want to take a walk along some of the route to become more familiar with it. This will help you to feel more in control during the race and will help you avoid any surprised.

These tips and tricks will keep your body working its best on race day and help you avoid running injuries.

How to Stay Healthy During Marathon Training 

So maybe you didn’t start your training early enough to make it through this year’s marathon or half marathon, but it’s never too soon to start preparing if you’d like to run a race in the future. The following tips are general rules of thumb that you should know about before signing up or even if you’ve already begun your training program. 

Make Sure Old Injuries Have Healed

Injuries that have occurred in the past will flare up during the marathon if they haven’t healed properly. Not only will the injury cause you discomfort and make running the race difficult, it can end up becoming an even more serious injury than it began as. 

Practice Strength-Training along with Running

Running is high-level physical activity that requires the use of your entire body. Your back, abs and legs need to be strong so there’s less impact on your joints. Training these muscles, focusing on the core especially, is essential for runners. Adding two days of weight lifting or body weight exercises to your training will decrease the risk of injury throughout your training and during the marathon.

Don’t Skip Rest Days

Taking a break from training every week is crucial to your overall health and performance in the marathon. You’ll typically have 2 rest days per week, but more if you’re feeling extra exerted or sore. Dr. Wellens states, “Your marathon training means you’ll be slowly building mileage over time. Avoid going for long runs back to back, as this will keep your body from recuperating.” 


Tapering is when you slow your training in order to give your body the rest it needs to be fully capable of running on race day. Fresh legs will allow you to have a stronger run. This training method is one of the most important to practice before the run, but it’s also one of the most difficult to implement. 

Most marathon plans tend to follow the three-week taper, meaning you’ll be running less and recovering more during those final 21 days. Be sure to follow the tapering instructions according to your training plan.

Listen to Your Body

Even if you are a seasoned runner, always listen to your body. If you feel knee pain or any other type of pain, stop and let yourself recover. If the pain does not go away after proper rest, consult with your orthopedic specialists.

Stay Hydrated

One mistake many runners make is forgetting to drink while running. You should drink before, during and after your run, to ensure that your body is properly hydrated and your muscles are able to fully recover from the intense workout.

With these tips in mind, your marathon training and race day should be a “jog” in the park! Follow Rothman partner Stacey Gross on Instagram at @s_gross for more marathon tips. 

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