Philly Marathon: More Tips from a Top Competitor

This is just part of our coverage of this year's Philadelphia Marathon. You can read all of the articles at And don't forget to join us there on race day to follow the action.

By Kelly Calway

Editor’s Note: Kelly Calway is a United States Army Captain and part of the Army’s World Class Athlete program (WCAP). Capt. Calway was among the top 25 finishers in the 2012 United States Olympic Marathon Team Trials. She plans to run next Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon and will share a few race preparation tips with SportsDoc in the coming days. Today, Kelly focuses on race day, including nutritional and ‘fueling’ tips before, during and after the race, as well as proper hydration and race attire.


Find a good book: After pounding the pavement for months in preparation, whittling your miles down to nearly nothing just before the marathon seems like a lovely reward. I, however, dislike the taper. I love running all of those miles, and to me the taper is torture. There's always something that "doesn't feel right" and the free time allows me to obsess over the possibilities.

I recommend picking up a good book or a new hobby to avoid the stress of the taper. Read, knit, or paint a picture to keep yourself from going crazy while you do the smart thing and reduce your mileage before your race.  

Reducing mileage doesn't mean slowing down: A common misconception among runners is that tapering also means tapering the speed of one’s runs until you're barely keeping up with a snail. That is totally untrue. Running your normal average run speed is far more beneficial because you are not altering your running form. That can lead to injuries.

Race Smart:

Patience is essential: It is important to remain conservative for the first 18 miles. Decide on your pace and stick to it until then. If you feel great at mile 20, pick it up and race over the last 10k, you'll be amazed at how many people you pass at that point.  

Pack it up: Hanging with a pack alleviates some of the mental pressure and strain. If there are people around racing at your pace, form it up and let them click away some of the miles for you. You'll need that energy later.

Mental cues: Review the course map and select some points along the way to give yourself positive messages. You may want to just tell yourself something every few miles, or you may want to pick out tough parts of the course where you may need an extra boost. Either way, select exact points that you will recognize, write them out on the map, and review them before the race. Once you're out there, the cues will keep you positive and mentally strong.  

Visualize: Take the time to visualize your race, start to finish, from lacing up your shoes to hearing your rhythmic breathing at mile 10, to crossing the finish line. See yourself accomplishing the goals you've set for yourself.  By the time you toe the line, you will have already "been there" many times before and your nerves will melt away.