5 Smart Ways to Spend Your Rest Day During Philadelphia Marathon Training

A Philly running coach shares the best ways to pursue some active recovery during your marathon training rest day.

marathon training rest day

Try a Phila Massages sports massage on your marathon training rest day. Photograph courtesy Phila Massages.

Marathon training is exhausting — both physically and mentally. Month after month, you’re focused on one thing only: running. Weekend long runs start to become a chore and cutting the dark cold morning runs one mile short for an extra 10 minutes of sleep becomes more attractive.  When the monotony of marathon training starts wearing on you, the best thing you can do is take a little vacation from running by doing a non-running activity. Here are a few options to help get your mind away from marathon training.

Get a Massage

Training for a marathon is tough on your body. Give yourself some love by scheduling a massage on a marathon training rest day. Phila Massages  specializes in sports massages with locations in Center City and Manayunk. I recommend scheduling a massage following a hard running day to help aid recovery — and never do one the day before a hard running day.

Take a Hike

With the leaves changing, there’s no better time then now to go explore some of Philly’s parks. Head out with the kids, the dog, or solo and explore. Hiking is a great rest day activity because it acts as an active recovery day, keeping you moving at a low intensity to shake off the stiffness of running. Find some hike inspiration here.

Go Rock Climbing

If you haven’t tried indoor rock climbing yet, I strongly suggest taking a marathon training rest day to head out to a local climbing gym. It complements running very well by strengthening the upper body and core while increasing range of motion in the hips. The Philadelphia rock climbing gym scene is blowing up right now, so try your hand climbing at one of the newer gyms — Gravity Vault in Radner or Tufas Boulder Lounge in Kensington.

Walk a Shelter Dog

Walking is one of the best active recovery tools out there. It’s low intensity, yet it keeps you moving. With hundreds of dogs and cats in Philadelphia shelters, what better use of time than volunteering to take a dog for a walk or play with a cat for 30 minutes? The Philadelphia SPCA accepts applications to volunteer here. There’s also a program called The Monster Milers, through which you can take a dog out for a run.

Watch a Race

I know, I know. Instead of running yourself we’re telling you to…watch running. But think about it: There’s nothing like the vibe of race morning — the tension in the air, the music pumping as everyone warms up and makes their way to the starting line. Then the gun goes off and runners fight their way towards the finish line. It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of this intoxicating and motivating environment. I always walk away from races eager to train harder, making this a great option when your motivation to run starts to dwindle.


Cory Smith is the founder of Run Your Personal Best, an online running coaching business that has helped hundreds of runners achieve personal bests in distances ranging from 800 meters to 100 miles.  He is a multiple-time NCAA Division One Regional qualifier and two-time National Championship qualifier while at Villanova and holds personal bests of 8:05 3K and 3:45 1500 meters. Along with his work for Philadelphia magazine, Cory serves as a running editor for Gear Institute and is a regular contributor for Outside, Trail Runner, and Gear Junkie.

Let’s get social! Join Be Well Philly at: