8 Last-Minute Things to Remember Before the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday

It's the final countdown!

Photo courtesy GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon

After months of training, race week is finally here. At this point, all the work is done and it’s time to reap the rewards of months of hard work. Below, eight final things to keep in mind to increase your chances of race-day success. 

  1. Decide on your warm-up strategy. If you’re a beginner with a goal of finishing the race, then some light dynamic stretching should be enough. If you’re a more experienced runner chasing a personal best, then jogging for five to ten minutes with some drills and four light pick-ups 35 minutes before start time should be good.
  2. Lay out your race-day necessities the night before. It will save you from rushing on the morning of the race. This includes pinning your bib on your shirt/singlet and packing your fuel, hydration and anything else you may need on race day.
  3. Dress for the weather. The current forecast is calling for possible showers on Sunday, so you’re going to want to plan your race-day outfit accordingly. Also, wear extra clothing that you’re willing to throw away in order to stay warm while in your corral. (Don’t worry: It gets donated to charity.)
  4. Get good sleep this week. The most important nights of sleep are Thursday and Friday. Be sure to get at least eight hours and aim to wake up close to the time you would on race day, if possible.
  5. Top off your energy stores. This means eating high-quality complex carbs this week. It’s important to get a solid breakfast of complex carbs on race morning. Timing will vary depending on the individual, however, I’ll usually go for a full breakfast of oatmeal, a banana and coffee three to four hours before the race starts.
  6. Mentally prepare to face some marathon demons. It’s not uncommon to have difficult periods during the marathon or even have multiple difficult periods. It’s important to acknowledge that this may happen and not freak out if you’re experiencing one early on. If one happens, try to relax and stay calm until it passes. Here’s my three-step strategy for getting your mind in gear.
  7. Have a realistic plan, but also be willing to alter it if needed. It’s best to be cautious for the first half of the marathon. Running the second half faster than the first has set most of all the world records.
  8. Mentally break the race down into chunks. I recommend three separate chunks: miles 1 to 15, miles 16 to 21, and miles 21 to the finish.

Most importantly, remember to have fun. It’s totally normal to feel nervous going into a big race — especially if you are a first-time marathoner. Reflect on your training; if you put in the miles and hard work long before Sunday, you’re well-equipped to tackle the race. All you need to do now is relax, smile and have the time of you life.

» Read More: The Complete Guide to the Philadelphia Marathon for Runners and Spectators


Cory Smith is a Philadelphia based running coach; founder of Run Your Personal Best, a private running-coaching business; head cross country coach at Penn State Brandywine; and an American Cancer Society DetermiNation running coach. He is a USA Track and Field-certified coach and a 4:03 miler. As a student athlete at Villanova, Cory was an NCAA Division One Regional and National Championship qualifier. Contact Cory at cory@runyourpersonalbest.com. Read all of Cory’s posts for Be Well Philly here.

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