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Where do we go now?

March 30, 2019

March flew by and I need to keep my 2019 resolution to blog at least 1 x month. But this isn’t a blog to simply check a box, lots to report here.

This month started off really well. On March 1st I did a session that involved 2km hard followed by 1km “float.” I did this for 20km straight and averaged 3:19/km for the whole thing (2km @ 3:08/km and 1km @ 3:42/km). This was over 8 weeks before Hamburg and I felt that I was in a great position to have a good marathon on April 28th.

Two weeks later I caught a flu (vaccine didn’t protect me from this strain) and was in bed for two days. I missed a big workout (6 weeks out) but only missing one workout isn’t a big deal. My first workout after being sick was compromised but I was improving and thought I might as well still race Papa John’s 10 Miler in Louisville, KY that weekend (March 23rd).

I flew to Louisville on Friday night and met my parents for dinner. Raced the next morning at 8am and was back on a plane at 3pm. I was only in Louisville for 20 hours.

The race itself wasn’t great. I could tell 1km in that I wasn’t running with full power and knew I should change my expectations. Those expectations kept getting slower throughout the race and I ended up averaging about 3:10/km for 50:42 (5th place).

Although I know I should have been faster than 3:05/km if I was feeling good it was still a solid effort and a good session to prep for Hamburg. My legs didn’t feel sore from the race but I think the downhills started to throw something off in my back.

I decided to get back on schedule right away and do my long-run Sunday. The run itself went well but that afternoon my back was stiff and sore. I didn’t think it was anything to worry about and was telling Marie that if everything fell into place I was confident I could have a good race in Hamburg. The next day things fell out of place.


Long Run with Luis Orta and Parker Stinson

The next morning (March 25th) I ran easy for 15km but I felt off right from the beginning. My back was sore and I felt I was protecting it each stride. After the run it started to tighten up really fast. Luckily I had a massage already lined up.

The massage loosened everything up and I left there feeling pretty good. But 10 minutes later I was in pain again. My friend told me about a good chiro I could get in to see. He concluded that my rib head was out of place and that my vertebrae was also mis-aligned. I had immediate relief but I could tell this wasn’t over.

The next afternoon I had brutal back spasms where my muscles around my rib head would tighten up and not let go. I’ve never felt much relief from ibuprofen in the past but it’s been a saviour for me lately. Without it I was pretty much immobile on Tuesday.

Wednesday I could tell that I was actually recovering. No more spasms and the ache was duller. I’ve run short and easy the past two days but it still hurts to breathe deeply. I’ve had my rib pop out before. About 13 years ago it happened and I recovered from it pretty quickly once I saw a chiro and had it adjusted. I’m hoping that this can be similar and by early next week be back into normal training.

However, I think that is just a little too late to have a legitimate shot at a good race in Hamburg. Missing a workout 6 weeks out, then having some compromised training and now missing all quality this week and likely just easing back into workouts next week is just too much. I won’t be racing Hamburg marathon. A bit of a bummer, but there will be other races.

In hindsight the long-run the day after my race may have been the culprit for putting my back out. Perhaps I had run easy and got proper recovery it wouldn’t have gotten so messed. Who knows?

At this point I’m training to qualify for the 2020 Olympics so I only want to race unless I have a good shot and making headway towards qualification. Qualifying for the Olympics is whole other topic. I wasn’t going to write about it because I know it will take a long time. But I’ll try and break it down without writing a novel.


The IAAF announced the Olympic standards for Tokyo 2020 this month. There is a new way to qualify that is different than past Olympics. This time there is a set of standards that are supposed to capture 50% of the field (2:11:30 for men’s marathon). The next 50% will be filled from the world rankings.

With the IAAF aiming to have 80 marathoners in each the men’s and women’s marathon (there were 155 and 156 in Rio for men and women) the standards will be quite harder for 2020. But not necessarily for Canadians.  In 2016 the IAAF standard for men was 2:19:00 and the Athletics Canada standard was 2:12:50. You can most-likely run slower than 2:12:50 and qualify for Tokyo via the IAAF qualifying process.

I calculated that in order to be ranked in the top 80 (3 per country) you’ll need to run about 2:14:00 twice, or 2:14:00 and 1:02:29 for the half (you need two results in the past 18 months to have a world ranking). Basically, your average time will need to be about 2:14:00. So a 2:12:00 and a 2:16:00 might be good enough. There are bonus points you can get from placing well at certain races (World Marathon majors and Gold Label races have good points for top 10).

Fot instance, if you place 8th at a Gold Label marathon (STWM and Ottawa are gold label btw) you get an extra 30 points. If you run 2:15:15 and get 30 points that is equivalent to running 2:13:31. So yeah, points can make a BIG difference when trying to get a good world ranking.

Also, if you finish top 5 at a Gold Label marathon or top 10 at a World Marathon Major you get an auto qualifier. If there are many athletes hitting the 2:11:30 standard and placing well at majors/gold label who aren’t ranked then you’ll need to be up higher than top 80 (3 per country) in the world rankings.

But the big thing for Canadians will be what Athletics Canada decides to do. If they go with the IAAF qualifying route then they might have to compare and choose between athletes who have qualified under different routes. Take this for example:

Athlete A: 2:09:30 (auto standard, only result = no world ranking)
Athlete B: 2:12:45 and 2:13:15 (ranked 65th in world rankings)
Athlete C: 2:14:30 and 1:01:45 (ranked 60th in world rankings)
Athlete D: 2:18:00 (8th at Boston) and 1:03:00 (ranked 75th in world)
Athlete E: 2:14:15 (10th at New York City, only result= no world ranking)
Athlete F: 2:14:00 and 2:15:00 (1st Canadian at STWM and ranked 78th in world rankings)

Here are 6 athletes who have met IAAF qualification for 2020 Olympics. Who do you pick? (Each country can only pick 3 who have met IAAF qualification).

I say you go off of fastest marathon time for those who have qualified, after you add the first Canadian at STWM (AC already announced that that athlete would get auto-selected given they meet minimum IAAF standard). It’s too hard to say what is better, a 10th at Boston or 8th at NYC.

And it might not be great to go off of world rankings because there might be a half marathon specialist who isn’t great at the marathon. Or, you might get someone who is 2 minutes slower but got an extra 35 points for a certain placing and therefor is ranked higher. Or, an athlete who isn’t even ranked because they only have one result but that result is a great marathon time.

Here are the three athletes I would pick:

Athlete F (due to first Canadian at STWM rule already in place)
Athlete A 2:09:30 is the fastest marathon
Athlete B 2:12:45 is next fastest time

I could go on and on about the new world ranking system. But I’ll say this: I don’t like it. It’s too confusing to the average fan and the way placing points are distributed isn’t going to be fair.


Boulder has been fantastic. There are so many great places to run here with lots of variety. I often end up driving 10-20 minutes to get to trails but it’s worth it. I still have yet to run Mags, but once my back is better it’s on the list.

We’ve been on some pretty cool hikes too. Our favourite was Rocky Mountain National Park. We weren’t expecting so much snow because we didn’t realize how high we were going. At almost 3000m (10,000 feet) of elevation you’re going to get a lot more snow! (As a note: I haven’t loaded Louis on my back, lifted weights or run many hills in the week leading up to my back injury because I was prepping for the 10 mile race, and sick the week before that).


Betasso Preserve


Rocky Mountain National Park


Top of Mt Sanitas, overlooking Boulder (hilly run)


  1. Phil VD permalink
    April 1, 2019 3:50 pm

    Hi Reid, Good to have more news from you. Be careful with your back…I injured it a week after Houston half (where I ran 67:45). So for me, that was a good race being for January and with the plan of running Rotterdam. But because of the marathon coming in two months I popped a lot of Ibuprofen and was able to run with mild pain. BUT…when I stopped…Pain was almost unbearable and because I compensated I now have no pain on my back anymore but everywhere on the hip region, etc…So I had to withdraw from the race. Anyway long message just to warn you to be careful…CHEERS man!

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      April 1, 2019 4:13 pm

      Thanks for the warming. I stopped ibuprofen before I really started back running on Sunday. So far the progress has been good.

      Good luck with your recovery, hope you’re able to get some good races in this Spring.

  2. Alex Cyr permalink
    April 1, 2019 6:10 pm

    Sorry to hear about the rib – best of luck with recovery and return!

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