at the races Reid Coolsaet racing the marathon in Ottawa: on A goals, ageing, and...

Reid Coolsaet racing the marathon in Ottawa: on A goals, ageing, and how the fire still burns

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Michael P. Hall/@mphcentral

Reid Coolsaet is a two-time Olympic marathoner and the third fastest Canadian marathon runner of all-time. Today, it was announced that he’ll be returning to racing 42.2K next month at the Ottawa Marathon, where he made his debut ten years back. We talked to Coolsaet, who turns 40 this summer, about his decision to race Ottawa, his current fixations—goals and training—and asked him about how racing changes after having two kids.

iRun: Your goal is making the 2020 Olympics. Why is Ottawa putting you in a position to achieve that goal? 

Coolsaet: Ottawa is a good course and one that I know fairly well. With the new Olympic qualification rules it could be important to have a good world ranking. Ottawa is an IAAF Gold Label race and therefor if you place well it can help your world ranking.

iRun: Can you talk about what your A, B and C goals are for this race? 

Coolsaet: Something around 2:13 and a top 8 would be my A goal. Achieving one of the two would be a B goal and after that I’ll fight to be as close as I can to either mark.

iRun: Why this course, why now?

Coolsaet: When choosing a Spring marathon I had originally considered Ottawa but preferred to race in late-April. With a few hiccups in training I needed extra time and Ottawa was a perfect fit.

iRun: How are you feeling? Hamburg was originally the goal race but that didn’t happen. Your back was bothering you and you got sick. What’s your current prognosis? 

Coolsaet: Getting sick in mid-March was a little setback but I didn’t feel as though I lost too much training. Having my back act up on me in late-March also wasn’t a huge deal but the combination was too much time-off to feel ready for a late-April race. Since, early-April training has been going well.

iRun: Do you feel like the same guy who was chasing 2:10? 

Coolsaet: No, I don’t feel as though I’m operating at the same level as when my main goal was sub 2:10. However, I still feel I can run a good marathon, even if it’s not 2:10, or 2:11.

iRun: Sleep has to be the trendiest topic in life right now. You’re now a father of two. So you’ve run more marathons and have experience, but life is demanding more from you then it once did. Does the experience even out for the other effects of getting older?

Coolsaet: Getting sleep is essential to running at a very high level and I feel that most weeks I get enough sleep. It helps that my wife is supportive and that I run full-time and can make up sleep with a nap.

iRun: Seeing Cam break the record at STWM, something you thought earlier on he might be able to do. Seeing something like that—does that psych you up on your own runs? Of course you don’t need motivation but I mean, does that motivate you? 

Coolsaet: Seeing Cam come back after foot surgery and a sub-par year and run well is what motivates me most in that narrative. Seeing him break the Canadian record was the icing on the cake.

iRun: If you had to recommend one running book, one pair of sneakers, and one workout for our readers, what would each of these things be? 

Running book: Kings of the RoadShoes: NB 1500. They can do it all.Workout: 15-20′ warm-up, 5 x 4min/ 90″ rest, 15-20′ cool-down.

iRun: Lotta our readers are also running Ottawa, or else certainly races this May. Can you give us a sense of your training leading into the race? When’s your last long run, for instance? 

Coolsaet: My last long-run will be two weeks out and will be about 30km. I will maintain one interval and one marathon-pace session per week until the race, the length of the sessions will slowly decrease as the race approaches.

iRun: Since we have you, also, forget about your crazy mileage, and help us regular people. Say I’m training for the half marathon and it’s my first one, what distance would you say I need to top out at in my training, and when do I need to reach that goal? 

Coolsaet: For you very first half marathon I would say if you can run around 16km in training that you’ll be able to get to 21.1km on race day. If you’re aiming for a serious goal time in the half you’ll want to have run the distance (and longer) several times in your build-up.

iRun: After all these years, after the Olympics, after all these races, what is it you still love about our sport? 

Coolsaet: I like the process of setting goals and working towards them. When I have a goal that is highly motivating then training with a purpose is very meaningful. And heck, it’s a lot of fun.