Monday, June 29, 2009 exclusive interview: Reid Coolsaet "I can do more pullups than most girls."

Reid Coolsaet is one of the Canadians getting ready for Worlds in Berlin. He’ll be racing the marathon. Last weekend he became Canadian 10,000m champion for the first time (read his report on his website).

Reid, thanks for your time. Please give our readers some background about you. Where did you grow up, when did you start running, did you do any other sports before that, PRs, goals etc.

I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I started running at a sports camp around the age of 10 where we would do a trail run every day before lunch. I got more involved with running when I attended Westdale Secondary School which had a massive Cross-Country program of up to 125 kids. I also competed in downhill skiing and spent most of my time skateboarding. My running really improved when I went to the University of Guelph in 1998 and met my present coach, Dave Scott-Thomas.

My PRs:
1500m: 3:40.38, Mile: 4:00.08, 3000m: 7:53.51, 5000m: 13:21.53, 10 000m: 27:56.92m, Marathon: 2:17:09

I’d really like to take down my 10 000m PB next year and then focus on the marathon after that.

What kind of races are you planning to do this summer?

After the National 10 000m I’m going to run the Boilermaker on July 12th and then the World Championships Marathon in Berlin on August 22nd. After that I’m due for a little rest.

What's your daily training at home like? Do you have a good group at home?

I’ve been training with the Speed River Track Club in Guelph for the past 11 years and that has been great. Lately I’ve been doing most of my training in Hamilton with another marathoner, Josephat Ongeri. I still go to Guelph once a week or so for specific workouts but the group there is focused on 1500m through 10 000m. Most of the Speed River guys are off to Europe for July.
I’m really new to marathon training and because I was coming off an injury this year my training involved a lot of cross-training up until a couple weeks ago when I finally ran over 160km for the first time this year. Now I’m running twice a day and I’d like to get my mileage up to 170-200km/week through July.

What’s your favorite workout?

My favorite workout would have to be a progression run through the Dundas Conservation trails, getting down to marathon race pace towards the end of the run.

What's your favorite track workout?

I like doing 5-6 X 1km, but if I’m not in shape this can also be my most dreaded workout. I find that this particular workout, with 2.5-3 minutes rest, is a great indicator of 5000m times.

Are you doing any running drills?

I do drills 2-3 times/week. High knees, butt kicks, lunges, squats, hops etc.

Are you doing any crosstraining?

For the first two months this year I could only cross-train because I had a broken foot. I would pool run, stationary bike, elliptical and XC ski when there was snow. As I started running more I decreased my x-training but I still pool run a couple times a week.

Is stretching important to you?

Stretching is an important part of my daily routine. Every morning I do the Whartons’ AIS (Active-Isolated stretching) routine. After most runs I do the typical stretches.

How about physical therapy?

I try and get a massage every other week when I’m competing and see a chiropractor about once a month to make sure all is well. In Guelph we have a great medical team that works with Speed River.

You were injured last year. Please share what happened, how you coped with it and how you got it fixed.

Last April I pinched my sciatic nerve in my back which was the result of slipping and falling on ice. It hurt for a few days and then after that my left leg simply didn’t work that well for a few months. Whenever I went to run faster than a jog my left calf couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t do any speed work and my calf got very sore after every effort. The nerve just took time to regenerate and by the fall I felt I had my stride back. After a couple months of solid running I twisted my foot and broke my fifth metatarsal. I couldn’t walk for six weeks and I was off running for three months. I started running in February and was only able to complete a 10km run by March.

The first injury was very devastating because I was in the best shape of my life and was less than a week out from my first outdoor track race. I was cross-training in the attempt to run at the Olympic trials but with a week left to go and still no signs of being able to run fast I had to call it quits. It was my first injury in 10 years that prevented me from running (and the first one was a sprained ankle) and it came at a very bad time. Injuries are part of the sport and you just have to re-adjust goals and stay motivated.

When I broke my foot it really put a big question mark on my 2009 season. I was preparing to be back racing on the track for the early season 10 000m races in California and when I broke my foot I wasn’t sure if I’d be racing until June or July. Luckily the marathon standard for Worlds is quite easier than track times so I took a shot and got it done on the last day possible for selection.

What does a typical marathon prep week look like for you, say 5 to 6 weeks out from the race?

I’ve only done one marathon and that was off of less than ideal training. In preparation for the World Championship marathon I’ll be doing five workouts each two week period. Mostly tempo and marathon pace work with maybe one track session in each two week period. Most of my weeks will be between 160-180km.

What’s your highest mileage before a marathon say 5-6 weeks out from the race?

I’d like to get up to 200km one week during this build-up. I never got over 146km (88 miles) last time which is much less than I used to train even for 5000m. I had to be careful building my mileage because my foot was still sore coming back.

What does your taper week look like?

My last week, including the marathon, will be about 110km of running. I do one easy track workout a touch faster than marathon pace four days out and a few days before that I do a progression run.

How are your easy runs compared to your marathon pace?

I typically run about 35 to 70 seconds slower per km than race pace. 3:50/km to 4:25km/km. I often run on hilly trails so a 4:25km might be similar to a 4:00km effort on flat pavement.

How long is your longest run?

I did a 39km run leading up to the Ottawa Marathon which had a 15km hard effort in the middle. I don’t plan on going any longer than that leading up to Berlin but I’ll have a few more runs above 33km than I did last build-up.

What’s your pace at that, say 4 weeks out of the marathon?

Including the warm-up and cool-down I think it averages to be around 3:35/km. Depending on how long the hard section is I run anywhere from 3:09-3:20/km for the tempo portion.

Which is your favorite race?

National XC champs in Guelph. I won in 2007 (Bairu was hurt) and watched with a broken foot in 2008. It will be in Guelph again this year and next. Cross-country isn’t my strongest discipline but I find it more interesting and fun than road or track.

Which races are on your lifetime to-do-list?

Ones in which I haven’t done, New York City Marathon, a big European XC race, Around the Bay 30km, London Marathon and Oslo 5000m.

What are you drinking during a marathon?

PowerBar Strawberry-Banana gels mixed with water and PowerBar C2Max endurance formula.

Are you using supplements?

I take Nutrilite Double X, iron, and vitamins.

What’s your diet like? Are you meticulous with your diet?

I’m pretty strict with my diet as far as trying to eat all the good things. I make sure I’m getting plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grain and protein. Once I get the good stuff in I save room for cookies and chocolate.

When the going gets tough in a race, what’s your mental strategy?

It’s a bad thing to do but at first I usually start talking myself out of the race. I have to remind myself that I’ve trained hard and I’m only going to be happy with the performance if I give it everything. Basically I just remind myself that I owe it to myself to give’r. I’ve been able to decrease the amount of negative self-talk in the past few years. I used to always want to drop out or start jogging, but I’ve never done either so it’s not even worth thinking about.

Is there a phase in the marathon where the going gets tough in particular for you?

In the Ottawa marathon my quads started to really hurt with 5km to go. I simply didn’t have enough miles in my legs to be really strong. I’m sure it’s going to hurt next time too but I’ll be better prepared for it this time around.

Do you have any interest in triathlon?

I’d like to try a triathlon but I don’t think I’m a good swimmer and I don’t have the passion to learn to swim well. At this point I wouldn’t want to do a tri unless I was going to be competitive, maybe that will change once I’m done competitive running. I also don’t feel like wearing visors just yet.

If you wouldn't be a pro runner, would you still run? Do you intend to continue after racing pro?

I would definitely still run but I would mix in more biking and XC skiing. Once I’m done competitive running it’s only going to be trail running. Last September when I was coming back from injury I was just running, no specific workouts. All on trails and if I felt good I’d pick it up, nothing like a tempo run but faster than typical easy runs. I really enjoyed running that way, plus it was much nicer than a few months prior when I was scrambling to get ready to race while injured.

How much can you bench?

I really don’t know. I remember doing reps of 110 pounds a few years ago.

How many pull-ups can you do?

More than most girls can.

Tell us about the skateboard mile!

I thought I could skateboard a mile faster than I could run and many of my training partners didn’t believe me. There is an asphalt track in Guelph and I went there and skated a 3:49 mile. I’m sure I could go much faster with bigger wheels and a longer deck.

Do you still skate? What else are you doing outside running?

Since I broke my foot in November I haven’t skated. This is the longest I’ve been off my board in 15 years, maybe even 20 years. I’m too paranoid about breaking my foot again. I’ll roll around a bit after the World Championships. This summer I’ve been going to the local skatepark with my friends. Watching isn’t nearly as fun but it’s better than watching television.

I’ve always liked biking and lately I’ve been riding a fixed gear to get around the city and mountain biking in the trails. I read books, watch movies and listen to music to fill my days between running sessions.

Thank you so much for this great interview Reid and best of luck in Berlin. We will certainly watch out for you!