Reid Coolsaet On Training And Living In Kenya

By now I shouldn’t have to tell you that Reid Coolsaet is one of Canada’s greatest runners…EVER! Some folks know Coolsaet as a marathoner, but Coolsaet made his name known in running circles well before he stepped on the line in Ottawa for his debut marathon. Coolsaet was a standout at The University of Guelph and helped Dave Scott-Thomas build the dynasty that is The Gryphons Cross Country Program, before taking to the track and running some blazing fast times.

A quick look at Coolsaet’s personal bests should tell you that this guy has some serious wheels. And, I am not talking about serious wheels for a marathoner. Try and run one lap at Coolsaet’s 1500m pace.

Personal Bests

1500m: 3:40.38
3000m: 7:53.51
5000m: 13:21.53
10 000m: 27:56.92
1/2 Marathon: 62:42
Marathon: 2:10:55

Not only is Coolsaet fast, he is a loyal and longtime member of The Speed River Track and Field Club. He recently donated his winnings from The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in an effort to help build a world-class track in Guelph.

Learn More About The Guelph Track Project

Perhaps Coolsaet can tell the kids 20 years from now that the only reason they ran faster than him is because they have a real track. Furthermore, Coolsaet took home the honour of being named Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year in off-track events. As if that wasn’t enough, Coolsaet thought he would prove his dominance by racing and beating an Astin Martin.

We chat with Coolsaet about life in Kenya, including what he misses about home, and where his next stint of altitude training will take place.

RF: What does a day in the life of Reid Coolsaet look like in Kenya versus Canada?

There are less distractions in Kenya. I’m often waiting to do my run, you rarely have to “fit in” runs here. Mostly it’s similar except that I wake up earlier here.

RF: Do you have a Kenyan nickname?

The same as any other foreigner, Mzungu.

Watch a 25 minute video of Coolsaet speaking at The 2011 Rock The Road 10K

RF:  What do you do in your spare time in Kenya?

I’ve been reading a lot here. So far three good books, The Englishman’s Boy, Life (Keith Richards) and Island Beneath the Sea.

RF:  What is the biggest misconception about Kenya?

That all Kenyans run a ton. While I’ve heard that the top marathoners are running a heck of a lot, many of the half marathon and marathon runners here run much less than I do.

RF:  What do you miss most about home?

A fresh chocolate chip cookie.

RF:  What do you think about the way North Americans train after two stints in Kenya?

The way Speed River and the Kenyans train is actually very similar. In general North Americans and Europeans are concerned about things Kenyans don’t think twice about, such as heart rate and blood lactate levels.

RF:  What kind of sunscreen do you use?

SPF 45.

RF:  Shami Dawit just ran 4 minutes faster in Dubai. Ryan Hall ran 2:04:58 after you beat him at The NYC Half Marathon last spring…do you think it is a matter of time before you run that kind of ‘perfect race’?

There’s no doubt that perfect weather and good competition will help any marathoner. However I’m just focusing on taking care of the things that I have control over, proper training and racing hard. Hopefully the rest falls into place if I pick the right race.

Ryan Hall had an off-day in NYC last year, I finished 15 seconds behind him later in the year in a half marathon.

Watch the Runners Feed Live interview with Coolsaet a couple days after he ran 2:10

RF:  Will you train at altitude in the summer?

I’ll go to Flagstaff, Arizona for four weeks starting at the end of March. After that I doubt I’ll go to altitude again this summer.

RF:  Will you be running another Marathon before April 22nd?

No marathon, the Around the Bay 30km and Toronto Yonge Street 10km will be the races I focus on this Spring.

RF:  What shoes will you wear for the Olympics?

New Balance 1400’s.

RF:  How has your life changed since running 2:10?

My life hasn’t changed but my confidence in the marathon has improved since that race. Not because I ran 2:10:55 but because I mixed it up in the lead pack and ran through 37km with a 2:05 and 2:07 guy. Feeling good through halfway in 63:58 has changed the way I feel about the marathon.

RF:  Are speed goggles real?


If you are not reading Coolsaet’s blog, we suggest you start. Here is a brief excerpt:

“Once again I met up for one of the famous Iten fartlek sessions which goes down each Thursday morning at 9am. I leave the camp at 8:30 and follow the masses heading over to the start 5km away. As usual there are over 200 runners conglomerating at the meeting point getting ready for the session. A guy gets up on top of rock to give the day’s instructions.” Read More

About the Author: Brandon Laan is a runner, coach, and entrepreneur. He spent his undergraduate days at The University of Western Ontario where he captained the Cross Country Team before fleeing to Hawaii Pacific University for graduate school. He is a Level II Certified USATF coach and holds personal bests of 1:06 and 2:21 in the Half Marathon and Marathon respectively. He also enjoys running to eat, not eating to run…and always will.