Ron Marinucci: August Column - Doug Goodhue

Ron Marinucci: August Column - Doug Goodhue

Doug Goodhue is known throughout Michigan and the entire US as one of the top American age-group runners. He holds a number of national records, with several more still pending. But there’s more to Goodhue’s running than eye-popping times and championships. He gives back to the sport in big ways.

Over the years, he’s directed or helped organize races and club teams. Among them are the National Masters Championship 10K at the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, the Kensington Challenge, and the recent Ann Arbor Track Club Senior Cross Country Team that snatched the USATF Grand Prix title.

And, since 2008, Goodhue has coached and taught a number of running classes. He said, “In January 2008 I decided to retire from the wholesale cabinet business.” He was approached about coaching some of the popular Running Fit classes, which were looking to expand. That spring, he recalled, “Kathleen [Gina] contacted me and invited me to a coaches’ orientation meeting. At that meeting I met Suzi Stock for the first time. [We] decided to combine our coaching skills and the Running Fit 501 programs for the [Running Fit] Novi and Northville stores.” The 501 course is for runners preparing to run a half or full marathon.

“The motivation to coach after I retired came quite easy,” he remembered. “With the confidence I gained from all my personal successes and the huge passion [I have] for the sport, it only made sense for me to try and help others.”

This past June marked the completion of the fourth year of the winter/spring sessions, while Goodhue and Stock are teaching the summer/fall courses for the fifth year. The classes are well-attended. The winter/spring course regularly attracts an average of 60 runners, while the summer/fall sessions balloon to an average of 100 “students.”

In 2009, “Because of the early success of the Running Fit 501 program, I was invited to coach the ‘Running 101 & 102—From Couch Potato to 5K’ for the Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education program,” Goodhue said. The runners in this class are generally beginners and are looking to complete their first 5Ks and 10Ks. He started the first class that September and, since, he’s taught four seven-week sessions each year to about 15-18 students per class.

Goodhue is quick to share the credit for these classes. Important in the success of all of the classes is the coaching of Stock in the 501 (“co-head coach”) and his wife, Cindy, who’s also an accomplished runner and helps in both the 501 and “Couch Potato” courses. He enthused, “Suzi, Cindy, and I all run with our students!” He also cited the help of 501 assistant coach Lee Mamola.

The two classes have runners with different goals and therefore require different planning and training. Goodhue said, “The 101/102 runners join the class to train and finish their first 5Ks and 10Ks. No past running is required. The training schedules over the seven-week class max out at either three or six miles [a run].” He continued, “We meet with the 101ers on Mondays only for about one to one and a half hours at Milford High School on either the indoor track or outdoor track.” Goodhue prepares “a work manual for each runner that includes a training schedule, information sheets on getting started, goal-setting, shoes and gear, and a race-day checklist.”

He acknowledged that “The 501 program is much more structured,” given the loftier goals. “Seventy-five percent of the runners are repeats. We help them pick and design plans that are achievable for their future long distance destinations.” Using technology, Goodhue and Stock have created a social media team page site. Posted there are “updated calendar dates, educational information, training schedules, race results, etc.”

“The 501ers want to either finish their first half or full marathon [perhaps from their ‘bucket lists’] or to improve from their last races. To join the program we ask that each new runner be able to run at least three miles without stopping and be running at least 15-20 miles per week. Our half marathon schedules usually max out at 40 miles per week and the marathon schedules at 52 miles per week.”

“All runners are asked to own a runner’s watch, not necessarily a GPS, to help them learn and understand pacing.” He added, “I have access to a large digital clock and we use it for many of our track workouts.”

This class meets twice weekly. On Wednesdays, at the Novi or Northville Running Fit store, on tap are “speed work, hill repeats, and education.” Saturdays include scheduled long runs at Kensington MetroPark.

For the 101/102 course, Goodhue admitted, “I handle all the educational topics.” “Expert speakers” are occasionally featured for the 501 program. Some “favorites,” he noted, include Kirk Vickers, a personal trainer; the manager of Running Fit Northville, Rachel Ingle; Running Fit’s chief operating officer Steve Angerman; and Jeffrey Kong, a massage therapist and trainer.

Graduation rates are not the concern of only the public schools. “One of my biggest challenges,” Goodhue noted, “is to hang on to and inspire new runners to stay with the beginner class. The ‘graduation rate’ is much lower in the 101/102 program, 70%, than the 501 program, 90%. The 10% we lose with the 501ers is usually because of injury. If it’s a long-term setback, we usually comp them into the next session.”

But both classes are about more than training. Fun is planned, too. Again sharing credit, Cindy and Lee, Goodhue said, “work on special projects and events for the group [such as] ‘After Glow,’ an end of the session party, a Tiger ball game bus trip, Crim teams,” and more.

“I think most of the runners like to hear about my unique experiences,” he mused. “I also think they like to brag a little about the fact that I’m their coach. They like to use some of my past times as benchmarks to see how they match up!” And you could almost hear Goodhue chuckle as he related, “When I’m running with some of my younger, faster runners, I like to remind them to continue to work hard because you don’t want to have to go home and tell your kids that you got beat at your next race by your 70-year old coach! [That] usually gets lots of laughs. But,” he added, “I also notice that the pace always seems to pick up after that!”

Goodhue obviously enjoys this newer chapter of his running life. “The smiles, the hugs, the new friendships, the camaraderie, the PRs, and the BQs are just part of the joy of coaching.” He also relishes imparting the wisdom he’s accumulated over the years. No doubt his students hear more than once these two favorite quotations Goodhue has picked up: “Regular physical activity might be the cheapest and most effective preventative medicine yet discovered” and “When you find that you’re disappointed with your latest success, you probably can look to the fact that you have lost your passion to prepare.” Spoken like, well, a national champion and record-holder now turned teacher.