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5 Fun and Easy Outdoor Workouts Around Philly That Will Get You in Shape for the Marathon

Running the Marathon is a life goal for everyone from wellness enthusiasts to those who just want a target to make exercise a little more interesting. Because it’s not just the destination– it’s the journey, and that journey can be pretty great if you know what you’re doing. After all, running can become a hobby and a critical part of an active lifestyle that sticks with you long after the race, so you want to make sure you’re having fun while you’re doing it. 

Philadelphia Marathon enthusiasts are well aware of that fact, and have come up with lots of ways to make training an enjoyable experience. Fortunately for rookies, fun ways to work out in Philly, especially outdoors, are easy to find all over the city and often free of charge. (In fact, even the Marathon itself can be free– if you enter our Michelob ULTRA sweepstakes by August 28 for your chance to win a free bib.) 

To help you plan your Marathon prep, we’ve gathered together some of the most original and enjoyable workouts local runners are pursuing to get ready for the race of a lifetime. After all, it’s only worth it if you enjoy it. 

Work on your endurance by running along the Schuylkill.

Since you’re going to be running all those miles on race day, building your endurance in your lungs and limbs is key. As you train, it’s definitely easier to enjoy the distance if you have a pleasant running route and a training buddy. 

Take to the Schuylkill River Trail with a fellow marathon runner to find the stimulation and distraction that gets you through each run. The river views, bridges, and nature will energize you and keep your run interesting as you add each mile. 

If you prefer to run by yourself but need the accountability to keep your goal training pace, try running with yours or a friend’s dog. They’ll love the exercise, and you’ll be able to keep up the speed to be ready for race day and reach your goal—especially if you’re looking to qualify for your next race. Plus at the end, you can feel free to buy your buddy a treat– as well as treat yourself to a refreshing Michelob ULTRA at one of the many restaurants just off the Schuylkill River Trail. 

Strengthen your legs on the Art Museum steps.

If you’re looking to change up your cardio routine and work some new muscles, try running stairs—running stairs strengthens your leg muscles, and helps you maintain strong bones, muscles, and joints. So, in the city known best for stair workouts, why not follow in the footsteps of Rocky himself? Take a warm-up run over to the Art Museum steps and give it a try. 

The best part, again, is that using the stairs is free of charge. With the expenses of gear and nutrition, free workouts can help ease the strain on your wallet. (You can even have the chance to run the whole Marathon for free instead of paying for a bib–if you enter and win the Michelob ULTRA sweepstakes.)

Prevent injury and enhance flexibility with outdoor yoga.

Stretching your muscles is important, especially with all the work they do supporting your body as you run. Yoga will help to stretch out those muscles and prevent injury on race day. Plus, the mindfulness objectives of yoga will help you appreciate the fresh air and provide a pleasant cooldown before you’re pounding the pavement again. 

Luckily, Philly has plenty of outdoor yoga opportunities, many of which are free: Try Yoga in the Yard with Gwen Lewis in Drexel Square; Yoga on the Banks with Sisters in  Public Health at Schuylkill Banks; or Barre at the Square with Tuck Barre. 

Practice your pacing with a running statue or mural tour.

On race day, you’ll have plenty of mile markers and water stops that Philadelphia Marathon runners have been counting on for years. But as you train, it can be harder to feel the accomplishment of those milestones when there are no physical markers to run towards. That’s why planning your training runs around the statues or murals in Philly can be more engaging and motivating.

There are 1,500 statues in the city, so no matter where you like to run, you can plan your entire run around these various sculptures. They’ll give you a sense of progress, and make your water breaks a lot more visually interesting. There are also thousands of murals—Mural Arts Philadelphia can help you locate them—so feel free to mix it up. 

Try cross-training with tennis or pickleball.

Cross training while running in preparation for a marathon can, like stretching and yoga, decrease your chances of injury by strengthening muscles other than the ones you use to run. You can do this simply by playing sports—and the easiest (and free) way to get into a sport in the city is by playing sports like tennis and pickleball that are open to the public. 

Philly has plenty of public courts in places like FDR Park (pickleball and tennis), Seger Park (pickleball), and East Poplar Playground (tennis). So borrow a friend’s racket (or finally pick up your own), find a partner, and hit the court so you’re more agile and less prone to injury when you run. Plus, you get to have fun and pick up a new hobby in the meantime, living an active lifestyle with a little healthy competition mixed in!

Before you head out to experience your new training regimen, make sure to enter for a chance to win a free bib–after all, there’s nothing like rewarding yourself for your active lifestyle by running past the finish line in front of a cheering crowd.