This Event Director and Marathon Runner Is Actually All About Strength Training

Philadelphia Marathon weekend ambassador Stacey Gross makes an effort to incorporate non-running workouts into her routine.

When she’s not directing events, Stacey Gross runs marathons and serves as a weekend ambassador for the Philadelphia Marathon. / Photograph courtesy of Stacey Gross

This post is part of our Running Week content. Stay tuned for more stories related to pounding the pavement.

Who I am: Stacey Gross (@s__gross), 30

Where I live: Roxborough

What I do: I am the director of events for a nonprofit in the city.

What role healthy living plays in my life: I have always followed a healthy lifestyle, but running and weight lifting really became a part of my daily routine fairly recently, in 2017. City Fit Girls played a huge role in the development of my love of running. The group’s weekly Wednesday-evening runs, with a “no runner left behind” mantra, are great ways to make some new friends while logging some miles. They supported and inspired me to start running local 5Ks. Once I discovered how much I love the challenge that comes with running, I started working with a personal trainer to incorporate strength training, which I found is extremely important for runners. With the help of Mackie Root (who really understood what exercises I needed because he was was also training), I was able to run my first Philadelphia Marathon last fall.

I recently was chosen as one of this year’s Philadelphia Marathon Weekend Ambassadors, for which I will be sharing my journey to this year’s race weekend. With every run being different from the last, I’ve learned something different about myself along the way, mainly that I am capable of doing something I never thought I could do. While my current main goal is to get stronger and faster, I hope that my journey will help to inspire someone to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Health memberships (and what they cost):

  • Planet Fitness: $3o per month
  • Personal training with Mackie Root at Unite Fitness: $90 per session
  • Nutrition plan with Juliet Root: $175
  • Running outside: Free!


Gross typically kicks off her mornings with oats, egg whites, and mixed berries. / Photograph courtesy of Stacey Gross.

6:15 a.m. — It was a struggle to get out of bed this morning. I was still exhausted from running the Nashville Half Marathon on Saturday and traveling back home to work an event on Sunday. I snoozed my alarm once and then finally got up to get ready for the crazy work week ahead.

7 a.m. — I prep meals for the week, so my husband and I can easily grab in the morning. I put out Monday’s breakfast and lunch while he takes our two dogs out to play. I pour myself some Damn Good Brew iced coffee (black, no sugar or milk) that I made the night before, and I’m out the door to catch my train to the office.

8:15 a.m. — I get to my desk and heat up my Purely Elizabeth oats and egg whites and toss in some berries while checking my email. It sounds like a weird combo, but I promise it’s good!

10:30 a.m. — I have a few events for work this week, so I have a lot of meetings and prep work to do. I quickly eat a pear as a mid-morning snack.

Noon — A few of my coworkers planned to take a new colleague out to lunch, so we all head to Marathon Grill. I order the Control Freak Salad with kale, chicken, all the veggies, and balsamic dressing on the side ($15).

2 p.m. — I need an afternoon pick-me up, so I grab a No Cow vanilla caramel protein bar before heading into another meeting.

4 p.m. — Walk to City Hall to look at an event space for work and then grab the train home.

5 p.m. — I take the dogs out to get some exercise and eat a Huma Gel before heading to Planet Fitness for the usual Monday workout.

5:30 p.m. — Monday is for back and biceps. Mackie Root creates part of my program so I can do workouts and train properly on my own.

7 p.m. — I get home from the gym, drink some BCAAs, and begin to cook dinner. Most of our meals stay the same each week, so Monday is usually burrito bowls minus the burrito. The bowls consist of cauliflower rice, ground turkey (with various seasonings), orange and red peppers, guacamole and jalapeños. Delish.

8 p.m. — We didn’t watch Game of Thrones on Sunday night because we were so exhausted from our trip to Nashville, so we caught up on what we missed (OMG!), and I ate two squares of a Hu Kitchen dark chocolate bar.

10 p.m. — Lights out.

Daily total: $15


Push ups and planks for days. / Photograph courtesy Stacey Gross.

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I do not have to snooze today! I get ready for work and then take the dogs out for a quick run.

7:10 a.m. — I pack lunch for both me and my husband, pour some Damn Good Brew iced coffee, and am out the door to catch my train.

8:15 a.m. — It took me an hour to eat my breakfast (another bowl of Purely Elizabeth oats, egg whites, and berries) while I prepared for another busy day of meetings.

Noon — I step out of the office to enjoy lunch with a friend at Stock Rittenhouse. I ordered the Seasonal Salad with grilled chicken ($9.80).

1 p.m. — I know I’m going to need an extra boost this afternoon with all my meetings, so I pick up a black iced coffee from La Colombe ($3) on the way back to the office.

3:30 p.m. — I always try to eat a snack at the end of the day because I know I am going to work out after work. I put together one Lundberg rice cake, some Trader Joe’s crunchy peanut butter, and top it off with a few Trader Joe’s Golden Berries.

5:20 p.m. — I get home from work and throw the ball around with our dogs while I wait for my husband to get home.

6 p.m. — Core and cardio (2.5 miles) day! My husband and I do this workout together at Planet Fitness by using the ReadySetActive program that Mackie Root created for us.

7:30 p.m. — We both drink some BCAAs and put together a quick dinner: sautéed shrimp, brown rice, fresh mango, and green beans.

9 p.m. — I can feel that my muscles are a little tight, so I do some foam rolling before bed. A foam roller is a must for any runner or athlete.

10 p.m. — I scroll through Instagram before falling asleep.

Daily total: $12.80


To keep her fueled throughout the day, Gross enjoys No Cow protein bars. / Photograph courtesy of Stacey Gross.

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I get ready to go to Unite Fitness to train with Mackie Root. I may have hit snooze at least once…

6:10 a.m. — I gather my stuff for the day, take out the dogs, and quickly eat a banana before heading to my weekly session.

6:45 a.m. — Chest and triceps day! Strength training is so important for running. Working out with Mackie at Unite Fitness helps to give me that extra push as I am preparing for race season. He is also a runner, so it is nice to be able to talk about training and race strategies with him.

8:05 a.m. — I grab a cup of black iced coffee ($3) at Nook Bakery and Coffee Bar on my way to the office.

9 a.m. — My breakfast is usually the same, but since Wednesdays are early mornings, I have Purely Elizabeth oats, berries, and flax seed since I did not have time to pre-make some fresh egg whites before leaving.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch is very simple: kale salad, chicken breast, carrots, snap peas, roasted beets, Cava hummus, and some Mary’s Gone Crackers.

2:30 p.m. — I need something sweet, so a No Cow carrot cake protein bar it is.

4:30 p.m. — I was able to take an earlier train home and walked the mile back to my house from the station.

5 p.m. — I grab a Huma Gel before heading to the track to do a 3.1-mile speed workout.

6:30 p.m. — Help my husband mow the lawn, which is at least another 30 minutes of cardio!

7:30 p.m. — We usually pick one night of the week to not cook dinner, so today was the day! We decided to create our own salads from Honeygrow. I go with my usual: kale, grilled chicken, and all the vegetables, and add Tessemae’s balsamic dressing ($12.50).

8 p.m. — We wind down for the night by watching Survivor and snacking on a few Trader Joe’s almond butter cups.

Daily Total: $15.50


Gross stays fueled with iced coffee, whether home-brewed or made by the crew at Vault and Vine. / Photograph courtesy of Stacey Gross.

5:30 a.m. — I have an event after work, so I’m working out in the morning today. I get ready and eat a banana on my way to Planet Fitness.

6 a.m. — Second day of core and cardio (2.5 miles) with some hip-strengthening exercises to help with my running. I love going to Planet Fitness first thing in the morning because there is barely anyone there, and I can go between the treadmill and mat area without worrying about someone taking my treadmill.

7:30 a.m. — I make some fresh egg whites to add with my breakfast this morning (Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats) and finish off the batch of Damn Good Brew before heading to the office.

11:15 a.m. — Finally sit down at my desk after working on some last-minute things for our big event tonight and quickly eat a No Cow peanut butter protein bar.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch is another kale salad with all the same fixin’s from yesterday.

2:45 p.m. — I grab an iced coffee (and an oatmeal raisin cookie from Crust Vegan Bakery) at Vault and Vine Cafe on my way to tonight’s event space because I am going to need the extra energy ($5.45).

4:45 p.m. — On my way to the event, I snack on Enlightened‘s Bada Bean Bada Boom beans. These are so addicting and also come in numerous flavors, but I prefer the sea salt ones.

9:45 p.m. — I am FINALLY home, and my husband has dinner waiting for me when I got in the door. A few weeks ago, we picked up tuna burgers from Trader Joe’s, so he cooked them up with some Alexia fries. This meal hit the spot.

10:15 p.m. — My legs are so swollen from being on my feet in high heels for a long period of time, so I stay up to talk to my husband about my day and lay down with my feet up on the wall. Another long day of events awaits tomorrow.

Daily Total: $5.45


For about a year, Gross has been training with Mackie Root of Unite Fitness to build strength for marathons. / Photograph courtesy Stacey Gross.

6:20 a.m. — It is FINALLY Friday. This was the longest week that I was not sure would ever end. I actually woke up before my alarm today, so no snooze button today.

7 a.m. — My husband gives me a ride to work today. Because we have some extra time, we stop at Vault and Vine Cafe to grab some coffee ($2.50).

7:30 a.m. — I am in my office so early. I take time to enjoy my oats with apples and cinnamon before prepping for a large in office event today.

10 a.m. — I have a few seconds to myself, so I squeeze in a quick snack: a No Cow peanut butter protein bar.

12:40 p.m. — I finally have a chance to eat some lunch after setting up all morning for the lunch event we had in our building. Lunch is grilled chicken, kale salad, and some beets. Not a big lunch, but I’m going to be working out soon with Mackie and did not want to get an upset stomach.

2:30 p.m. — I’m absolutely exhausted from the week, but it’s no excuse to skip my workout. Mackie came up with a less intensive leg day so I am fresh for the Broad Street Run on Sunday.

3:45 p.m. — Give me all the post-workout smoothies! I stop at Sip-N-Glo to get the Tropikale smoothie with some added protein and peanut butter ($12).

4 p.m. — I log some miles walking over to the Broad Street Run Expo and then home from the train station. That smoothie really helped to give me a burst of energy.

4:30 p.m. — I grab a handful of Enlightened Bada Bean Bada Boom to hold me over until dinner.

6:30 p.m. — Friday night is pizza night in our house! We cut out dairy almost three years ago and honestly, I do not even crave cheese on my pizza now. We make our own with Simple Mills crust, Rao’s pizza sauce, Applegate turkey sausage, banana peppers and some pizza seasoning. Can’t forget to begin hydrating for Sunday’s race, so I have a Nalgene bottle of Nuun as well.

8:30 p.m. — I cannot keep my eyes open any longer after this very busy and long week. Lights out and off to sleep.

Daily Total: $14.50

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $63.25

Miles run: 10.6

Protein bars consumed: 5

Cups of coffee drank: 7

Kale salads eaten: 5

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