Phila. Marathon training group seeks strength in numbers

Over the past 14 weeks, a group of runners from around the region have been training for the Philadelphia Marathon and half marathon together. The runners, who are participating collectively as “Team Philly,” say that running with a group allows them to train more effectively.

“Running with a group helps me get through the long training runs,” said team member Hamil Pearsall. She added that the group runs help her focus on the specific training plan.

With the full marathon spanning 26.2 miles, and the half marathon at 13.1 miles, team mentor and Manayunk mom Elizabeth Seeley says coaching the group has helped the entire team push through the long miles in training.

“It has been an incredible experience to get to know people over the many miles of long and difficult training and observe how each person in the group has faced challenge and developed as a runner,” said Seeley, who is running her fourth marathon this Sunday.

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Seeley has been a competitive athlete and runner since college; she qualified to run in the 2008 Olympics and has 11 marathons under her belt. She was inspired to begin coaching this team because of her own experience with mentors.

“Their support and guidance helped me to learn and grow so much in all the areas of my life,” said Seeley, who adds that encouraging her team is key to coaching.

How “Team Philly” got its start 

As a branch-off of the City of Philadelphia’s efforts to support healthier lifestyles, the “Team Philly” race training supports runners of all levels, including beginner to intermediate. Three local-area businesses, Philadelphia Runner, Fusion Cross-training and Excel Physical Therapy, power the program with their expertise, resources and other services.

For the $100 to $150 fee, members get access to weekly training runs, fitness cross-training, strength conditioning, injury treatment, athletic massages and running apparel.

Since its kick-off in August, the team has met on Wednesday and Thursday nights at Philadelphia Runner in University City and at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings on Kelly Drive in Center City.

Preparing for race day

With the race only two days away, the group’s runners are mentally preparing to lace up and get started.

“I’ve been training for 14 weeks and feel like I am ready,” said Pearsall. “I will find out for sure on Sunday.”

Seeley says she is inspired by each individual’s story and journey to the marathon. 

“I believe running with a group offers one a chance to be more social [and] accountable to others and self, to train harder,” said Seeley. “Being around all of that great work and energy is infectious and wonderful.”

The Philadelphia Marathon kicks off at 7 a.m. on Sunday.  Check for live blog updates throughout the day.  

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