Home > Runs & Races

What a decade of marathoning has taught Reid Coolsaet

Reid Coolsaet takes a look back on his career as he gets ready for this Sunday's Ottawa Marathon

Reid Coolsaet

When Reid Coolsaet started running marathons, he was a 29-year-old who was oscillating between the track and the roads. On Sunday, 10 years later, he’s running the Ottawa Marathon which is the same place his marathon career began.

Coolsaet, who’s among Canada’s best-ever marathoners, says he always knew that he wanted to try his hand at the distance, but his debut came a little earlier than expected. “I always knew the marathon was something I wanted to try. The years leading into 2009 I was consistently improving at the 5K, so I was interested in chasing those 5K and 10K personal bests. In 2008 I got injured twice, and when I came back from injury in 2009 I was doing a lot of cross-training, and the longer stuff came back much quicker than the speed. It was only six weeks before Ottawa when I decided my best chance of making worlds was going to be in the marathon, so I ran one.” Coolsaet had to run under 2:18 to make worlds. He ran a 2:17 debut and secured himself a spot on the team.

RELATED: Canadian Reid Coolsaet in top 10 at cold, rainy Boston marathon


After Coolsaet’s debut marathon, he wasn’t ready to completely leave the track. “My plan was to do both, I was going to do track in the spring and a marathon in the fall. Both 2010 and 2011 I had track seasons, and 2011 went alright, but by then I knew my best races were going to be in the marathon. I won the 10,000m and 5,000m that year at nationals, but I knew that 2011 would be my last full track season.” Coolsaet says he doesn’t miss the track. “I like the roads better–the track was so fun, but I did it for a long time.”

View this post on Instagram

All aboard the struggle bus. I wasn’t expecting a huge performance at #STWM but still thought I’d have a solid time. The wheels fell off at 30km and I struggled home in 2:17:37. However, I had a great experience, finished 10th overall and 2nd Canadian. It was cool to run in the same race in which @camlevins broke the Canadian record (running 2:09:25). Also good to see a solid crop of Canadians (@cooperaa @captainmorganruns @taylorkraayenbrink) run some impressive PB’s and @kinseymiddleton with an impressive debut (2:32). . I wrote much more about the race and my thoughts on my marathoning abilities at www.reidcoolsaet.com (link in bio). . #TeamNB #everybodyrun #Fuelsimply #howirun

A post shared by Reid Coolsaet (@reidcoolsaet) on

After a long and successful career, Coolsaet says the most important thing he’s learned about the distance is the necessity of fueling. “I’m lucky that I had Trent Stellingwerff guide me for my first marathon, so I was prepared. There have been times that I haven’t been able to fuel the way I’ve wanted to, and you pay the price when that happens. In training you don’t always need to fuel, but in a race you do.”

Coolsaet’s goal on Sunday is to make the Olympics. “I’m going to try to run as fast as I can on the Ottawa course, which will hopefully give me a solid placing and some points to help with my world ranking. I’m realistically aiming for a 2:13 on the weekend.” The world championships in Doha this fall are also on Coolsaet’s radar. “Worlds would actually be a great setup for the Olympics. If you finish well at worlds the points could qualify you for Tokyo. It will be very hot in Doha, which will be good training for Tokyo as well.”

Coolsaet is coming off his longest altitude stint yet. “Boulder was really great. I got good training in and I had great people to train with. My son liked it too–any time we did some technical mountain climbing he got really into it.” The Ottawa Marathon goes Sunday morning at 7 a.m. ET.