Kaitlin Gregg Goodman Believed She Could So She Did

Running towards a new personal best in the 10K.
Running towards a new personal best in the 10K.

Kaitlin Gregg Goodman has been methodically and meticulously plugging away for years. She’s weathered many ups and downs, but finally, over the last year-and-a-half, her persistence is paying off. Through consistent training, positive thinking, and with a supportive crew, she steadily chipped away at her old personal bests, but the biggest breakthrough came in 10,000 meters last year at the Stanford Invite where she earned her Olympic Trials “A” qualifier. Kaitlin achieved her big dream goal while juggling a full time job and coaching. Though Kaitlin may not be a household name (yet), she is already an inspiration to so many other women, including me.

Come July 2nd, she’ll be toeing the line among the country’s best 10k runners vying for her first Olympic berth. As of today, Kaitlin is one of only four women who have the Olympic “A” standard in the 10,000 meters and also competed in this past February’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. And she’s in some good company. The other three women? Amy Cragg, Shalane Flanagan, and Liz Costello. Kaitlin has proven over a successful road racing and track campaign that she is more than deserving to be on that list.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kaitlin about her running past, present, and future. Grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and get inspired! 

Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about why you started running?

I ran my first 5k at age 8 and started running competitively in junior high school. Growing up I was an active kid, swimming on the swim team and playing soccer, where I showed some potential running around the soccer field. My dad is the XC and track coach at my high school, Davis High School, so it was a logical conclusion that I’d give running a shot. I quickly fell in love with the sport and the rest is history!

You have personally inspired me to dream bigger than myself and to ask myself the question, why not me? Did you have anyone who inspired you to ask yourself that same question?

My parents have always believed in me and encouraged me, but I can’t say I’ve always had that faith in myself. As you can see from my high school and college PBs, I wasn’t a superstar runner (in fact I didn’t even make the top 7 in XC as a freshman in college). However, my brother Brendan (pro runner for Hansons-Brooks) had a great high school and college career and watching him succeed, I did begin to ask myself, why not me too? Brendan, like my parents, has always supported me, rooted for me, and challenged me to dream bigger.

How do you handle a long distance coaching situation?

I’ve been coached remotely for all of my post-collegiate career (first by my dad right out of college, from 2010-2013, and then by Dena Evans 2013-present). I won’t say it’s easy, but I do think it’s made me mentally stronger to do workouts alone. There are a lot of solo track sessions and lonely tempos, which are tough sometimes, but we follow them up with phone calls and text messages to stay in touch. We make it work!

When you qualified for both the Olympic Trials marathon and ran the “A” standard in the 10k, you were working full-time. How were you able to juggle both full-time commitments?

Yes, I was working full-time at a health and wellness startup when I ran both qualifiers. It definitely wasn’t easy juggling both work and running. I was taking client calls in the race hotel lobby two days out from my marathon qualifier and was sending work emails the morning of the race when I ran the 10k standard; not the most relaxing pre-race prep! I was fortunate to be able to work remotely, which enabled me to travel to races and juggle my workday hours so that I could get my training in. It’s definitely possible to have a career and run fast, with the blessing of your company, a supportive spouse, and the Whole Foods hot bar when you don’t have time to cook!

Photo by Kyle Gorjanc/Salty Running. All others courtesy of Kaitlin Goodman Gregg

Kaitlin Gregg Goodman

Hometown: Davis, CA
Current Home: Providence, RI
Sponsor: presently unattached; member of Strava Track Club
High-school PRs: 1600m: 5:19; 3200m: 11:27
College PRs: 5k: 16:21; 10k: 34:01
Current PRs: 5000m: 15:39; 10,000m: 32:09
Coach: Dena Evans
How big was her 10k PR at Stanford last year? 52 seconds!

You had a huge breakthrough at Stanford last year to secure your “A” standard for the Olympic Track Trials this July 6th. Tell me about how the race unfolded.

The race was one of those few-in-a-lifetime magical races where I felt amazing throughout. Those don’t come around very often, so when I felt so smooth and relaxed mid-race, I knew I had the opportunity to do something special. The race took off up front with the duo of Shalane Flanagan and Ghelete Burka, followed by Lanni Marchant. I settled into the back of the chase pack running 78s, comfortably coming through 5k in 16:17, on pace for a 30 second PR. But then our pack threw in some 79s and I got antsy. I knew it was still early, but I felt good and wanted to capitalize on that. So I went to the front (causing my mom some anxiety – sorry Mom!) and started dropping the pace to 77, then 76, then 75. Soon it was just me and Dom Scott, running in 4th and 5th, trading off positions with a mile to go.

I somehow still felt good (again, magical race!) and with a lap to go, I surged, determined not to get lapped by Shalane, as has happened many times in my career! I was looking ahead to Lanni, who we were reeling in. With 200 to go, she still had a lot of room on me, but thanks to the screams and cheers of the Stanford crowd, I was able to find another gear in the final 100 meters and pass her to finish 3rd in 32:09. Those final steps down the homestretch are ones I will forever cherish – a truly joyful moment!

Was there a moment where you knew you had it?

To be totally honest, before that race I didn’t even know what the Olympic Games standard was. I was just hoping to break 32:30! There was never a moment of realization that I “had it” because “it” (the standard) wasn’t even on my radar; I was just trying to compete. I think that’s a great lesson: if you simply race the people around you, the time will take care of itself. My dad has always told me this, but I often get too caught up in the splits. But at that race, I didn’t really comprehend that we were running 15:52 for our last 5k, which was a 5k PR for me at the time! I was just dueling with Dom and Lanni. It wasn’t about the time, it was about pure competition and that spurred me to a huge PR and the Olympic standard.

You are in select company of those who have qualified for both the marathon and 10k Trials. Do you feel any kind of pressure being in such company?

I wouldn’t say pressure, more a feeling of gratitude to have the opportunity to compete at both Trials. I’m honored to be part of such an accomplished group of runners.

Smiling and enjoying the US Olympic Marathon Trials despite the hot day.
Smiling and enjoying the US Olympic Marathon Trials despite the hot day.

Speaking of the Marathon Trials, how did you feel after your first Olympic Trials Marathon?

The marathon Trials unfortunately didn’t go as planned. Like many people, I struggled immensely in the heat. I ran a good 16 minutes slower than I was targeting, which was a bitter pill to swallow, especially on the final loop of the course as I was barely moving. I was disappointed, but simultaneously proud to have finished on a day when so many people were forced to drop out. The day after, I was already plotting my next marathon attempt! You will definitely see me giving it another crack in a fall marathon.

How is training going as you prepare for the track trials?

I’m not going to lie, the first couple weeks coming back from the marathon were ROUGH (I wrote a blog post about this called the Post-Marathon Hangover). In my experience, my body takes a few months to recover from 26.2, so March was a tough month of training. But it’s all about going through the motions and putting the work in, even when things don’t always go swimmingly. I’ve recently turned a corner and am back to feeling like my old self again and am looking forward to translating marathon strength into track speed this spring!

What are your goals at the track trials?

My goal is to put myself in a position to contend for an Olympic berth. That’s got to be the goal, right? There will be 24 extremely qualified women toeing the line, and I’m assuming a good portion of the field will have run the Olympic standard of 32:15. What it then comes down to is competing hard for ~32 minutes and finishing in the top three, so when I’m on the track in the middle of a tough track workout, that’s what I’m thinking about.

Doing any racing before the Trials? Where?
I’ll run a 5k at Payton Jordan on May 1 and again at Adrian Martinez on June 2, with likely a 1500 in there somewhere. No 10k for me until the Trials on July 2.

How do you get yourself out the door when you’re not feeling motivated?

Some days it’s the goal of making an Olympic team and knowing that my competitors are out there training just as hard. Other days what motivates me is the prospect of ice cream for dessert! Sometimes it’s the accountability of reporting back to my coach. We all have those times when motivation is lacking, so it’s good to have accountability measures in place. Having company helps too; no better motivator than meeting a friend for a run!

Which event do you enjoy more, the 10k or the marathon?

Absolutely the 10k. I LOVE the track. Hopefully the marathon will grow on me!

What is your favorite distance to race?

I really enjoy the 10 mile distance on the roads. I’ve run some really fun 10 milers (Pittsburgh, Sactown, Twin Cities) and hope to do Cherry Blossom someday.

What would you say are two keys to your success? 

One key component to my success is time. I’ve been at this a long time, six years post-college, and have been consistently putting in the miles for over a decade. Not all those years were great and I almost walked away from competing in 2013, but in sticking with it, I’m benefiting from years of mileage and cumulative training. Like a fine wine, I hope I’ll keep getting better with age!

The other big thing I attribute to my recent success is sleep. In high school and college, I regularly slept only 5-6 hours a night. I had a lot on my plate in school, with academics and a lot of extracurriculars; I know it wasn’t ideal for training, but I wanted to make the most of my student-athlete experience and I have no regrets about it. But out of college, I’ve put a premium on sleep, especially since I’ve stopped working full-time, and I think it’s made a big difference in my ability to absorb the training and recover.

Representing the USA in Scotland for the Great Bupa Edinburgh Cross Country race.
Representing the USA in Scotland for the Great Bupa Edinburgh Cross Country race.

What is the best training advice you’ve ever been given?
Similar to my above answer about time and having consistent training, the best advice I ever got about running was to “Just stay in the sport.” The great marathoner and ultra runner Magda Lewy-Boulet told me this back in 2012, and I’ve held onto it. I had unfinished business on the track and didn’t hang up my spikes after failing to make the Track Trials in 2012 and I’m so grateful that she encouraged me to stick with it. I encourage others to heed her advice too; the best is yet to come!

As a coach yourself, do you ever find yourself saying do as I say, not as I do? If so, about what?
Absolutely, haha! Sometimes in workouts I find myself doing a negative road and not having the most positive self-talk. I always tell my athletes to “treat yourself with grace” when talking to yourself mid-workout; no berating or negative self-talk allowed! Of course, this is much easier to say than do. I’m still working on this myself.

I enjoy following along with your training on Strava, and you were also a part of the Olympic Trials Project with them this past marathon Trials. When did they officially start sponsoring you?

Thanks! I love the social aspect of Strava, getting to see what other friends are doing, supporting them and simultaneously being inspired by them! I’m a member of Strava Track Club, so I’m not individually sponsored by Strava, but they have generously supported our team since 2015. I was lucky to be selected as part of the Strava Olympic Marathon Trials Project, which came with a grant that supported me in doing a California training camp prior to the Trials.

Do you have any advice for runners stuck in a motivation rut?

Grab some friends and do a relay race! When I was in a rut back in 2013, I did a Ragnar-type relay race, the Bourbon Chase Run with Team Nuun Hydration. Running three legs of a relay with mostly strangers, who quickly became great friends by the end of the race, running at all hours through rural Kentucky, and drinking bourbon at the end was just the ticket to get me re-motivated. I was so inspired by how everyone pushed themselves to do their best, whether that was 10:00 miles or 5:00 miles. I came back from that crazy relay totally rejuvenated and back in love with running!

⚡️Fun Facts⚡️

  • Favorite post race drink? And I don’t mean Gatorade. Champagne! Gotta celebrate!
  • Would you rather be an Olympian or a 3x World Champion?  Gotta say Olympian.
  • What is your spirit animal? A wildebeest! They are the marathoners of the Serengeti!
  • Who would you have dinner with, dead or alive? Meb
  • Pre-race pump-up jam? Lately, Florida Georgia Line
  • The one food you could eat for every meal the rest of your life? Almond butter
  • Ultimate vacation destination? The Serengeti. My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and it was just incredible.

Where can runners find information about your coaching services? Do you coach novices, elites, and everyone in between?

You can find more information about Training Joyfully, my personal coaching, at www.trainingjoyfully.com. I coach a range of athletes with a variety of goals, from people just getting started with running and trying to live a healthier lifestyle, to athletes qualifying for and competing at Boston and chasing top age-group finishes.

What’s your big dream running goal?

I think this will change as I go through the various seasons of life and get older. Currently, the ultimate achievement for me would be to make an Olympic or World Championship team. But later in life, I hope to be a top masters runner, set age group records, and be able to complete a marathon into my 80s! I’ll always be chasing big dreams, no matter the age.

A big thank you to Kaitlin Gregg Goodman for this interview and make sure cheer for her on July 2nd and beyond!

I'm running as fast as I can so I can continue to put off law school. I was 39th at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February, and now am focused on running some road personal bests. Further in the future, I’m looking forward to running a quick fall marathon. I mainly write about the physical and mental aspects of racing at an elite level, trying to navigate the post collegiate running world, and setting aside other life goals for one; running fast.

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2 comments

  1. Isn’t that photo from the Stanford 10k delicious?!? It is one of the all time greatest race photos ever. LOVE IT! And I absolutely love Kaitlin’s positivity and the fact that she weathered a rough year for her, almost quit and then came back better than ever … YESSSSSS! Thanks, Paprika! This is some gold!