My Training With Kilian & Coros: Month 1 Recap
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Trail reviewer Matt trains with Coros and Kilian Jornet over the course of 12 weeks
Coros Apex 2 Pro premium GPS watch, Nnormal Kjerag trail footwear
Secure a Western States lottery entry at the Laurel Highlands Ultra in June
Last fall, Coros released updates to its core GPS watch models in the Apex range: the Coros Apex 2 and Coros Apex 2 Pro. Both watches featured formidable battery life, optimized GPS accuracy, and updated design details, among many other features.
Shortly after the release, Coros announced a limited edition version of the Apex 2 Pro designed in partnership with Coros athlete Kilian Jornet, the greatest mountain athlete of all time.
From setting the UTMB course record to executing two mind-blowing speed climbs up Mt. Everest within a week, Kilian holds some of the most prestigious titles in ultrarunning. Inspired by his deep connection to the mountains, Kilian’s limited edition APEX 2 Pro delivers world-class training technology in addition to global offline mapping, checkpoints, custom route planning, and more.
With the release of the watch, Coros also offered a training program whereby they would select 25 lucky customers to work with Kilian one-on-one for a 12-week training block. Only 5,000 units of the watch were produced, so getting a seat at the table meant winning the trail running version of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory golden ticket.
As a trail reviewer for Believe in the Run, I was lucky enough to be granted a media slot for the training, and– as fate would have it– it lined up perfectly with my 12-week training block leading up to the Laurel Highlands Ultra, a 70.5-mile race in Pennsylvania. The point-to-point race in southwestern Pennsylvania features rugged single track, with plenty of steep grades and climbs. It’s also one of the few non-100 milers that are Western State Qualifiers, so I needed all the training help I could get to ensure I finish under 20 hours and grab myself a lottery entry.
Now, let me just say up front– getting this opportunity blew my mind. As a huge fan of running and ultrarunning, could there be a bigger flex than calling Kilian Jornet “coach?” I couldn’t wrap my head around a world where Kilian Jornet is sitting back looking at my 5-mile recovery run through the suburbs of Baltimore and leaving me comments. Poor guy.
To be honest, in the beginning, I thought it was gonna be one of those things where Kilian just sends out a group email each week: “Hey gang, looking good! Keep up the great work!” After all, I wouldn’t get real feedback from the greatest trail runner of all time… right?? I was pleasantly proved wrong.
The training camp started on March 6 and runs until May 28. This left me with a two week taper that I could navigate myself, to get me to the start line at Laurel Highlands on June 10. It really couldn’t have lined up much better, and if Kilian Jornet couldn’t get me in peak form for race day then who could?
Welp, we’re one month in, let’s dig into how everything has been going over that time.
Below are the key pieces of gear I’ll be using for my training block, notably the Coros Apex 2 Pro GPS Watch and the Nnormal Kjerag trail running shoe, developed in part by Kilian Jornet.
• Next-generation accurate heart rate sensor
• Connect with all five major satellite systems
• 30 days of regular use/75 hours of full GPS
• 1.3″ sapphire screen and titanium bezel
• Free global offline maps for on-wrist navigation
• Full training plan and workout support
Over the last couple years, I’ve watched with jealousy as a number of my training partners rave about their Coros watches. In my past training, I’ve used a number of Garmins, and most recently a Wahoo Element that I enjoyed. But I really didn’t realize what I was missing out on until I put this Coros Apex 2 Pro on my wrist.
Of course, I’m using it to record all my workouts, and it integrates seamlessly with the custom training plan from Kilian, maintained in the Coros Training Hub.
Aside from the stunning design and looks, it has so many features, and is super intuitive to use (so intuitive that it doesn’t come with a manual, much like an iPhone). The Next-Gen heart rate sensor has been by far the most accurate and consistent in comparison to other devices I’ve used. Coros has been known for their battery life and the rumors are true– it’s insane. It goes so long between charges that I forget what the charging cord looks like or where I left it!
The GPS connection is super fast thanks to compatibility with all five major satellite systems and the watch offers a ton of display customizations. If course, it comes with full training plan and workout support, which is vital for the training camp. The integration between the watch, the Coros app, and the online Training Hub is seamless.Shop The Watch
• Trail shoe built for high-speed comfort, extreme grip and stability
• Matryx® Jacquard upper woven from individually coated polyamide and Kevlar® yarns
• EExpure midsole with 6 mm drop
• Vibram Megagrip and Vibram Litebase outsole
I chose the Kjerag model as it is their max-performance trail shoe. Nnormal also offers the Tomir, which is more of an all-arounder trail shoe that can handle training and racing in comfort. It was a tough choice as both model designs are beautiful and unique, but Kilian’s tagline for the shoe (“Kjerag makes you uncatchable”) sold me on it, and also made me feel like the rarest of Pokémon!
The Kjerag is a stunning shoe, and I was hesitant to dirty up the light green and white colorway I picked out. I’ll also be doing a full shoe review of the Kjerag in typical BITR style, but for now here are some highlights:
I love the Vibram Litebase Megagrip outsole and lugs; there isn’t a better outsole combo out there so this was a huge selling point. The upper is super breathable and lightweight. I really enjoyed the EExpure midsole and how it molds the footbed (i.e. isn’t buried beneath a layer of insole material like most shoes). More miles to go, but so far, so good.Shop The Shoe
My training with Kilian, or as I now call him– Coach (no big deal)– kicked off with an intro Zoom session that served as an icebreaker/get-to-know-us type thing. Coros coordinated a couple kick-off sessions for the athletes, as well as Kilian and representation from Coros, to go over the details of the training camp, set expectations, and allow for some Q & A. While I likely had a million things I would like to have asked Kilian, I sat there pretty much paralyzed trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was on an actual Zoom call with Kilian Jornet.
Nevertheless, the whole thing was very well thought out by Coros, and I would already tell this was going to be an exceptional experience for all involved.
The basics of the 12-week training camp were this: after gathering some background info on the athletes and learning about our race schedules and goals, an initial training plan was loaded into the Coros Training Hub.
For those unfamiliar, the Training Hub is essentially Coros’s proprietary creation that rivals tools like Training Peaks or Final Surge. It’s a web-based portal that syncs directly to the Coros app on your smartphone, and subsequently, your Coros watch. There are multiple dashboards within the Hub that are essentially Business Intelligence (BI) tools driven by all of the data that Coros collects from your device.
There is a home summary dashboard, the EvoMetrics dashboard, an activities list, and finally a calendar where your training plan is located. The Training Hub contains way too many features for me to provide a comprehensive review here, but I will try to call out some of the functionality that I have found most valuable so far.
Of course, the technology is cool and all and allows me to see the in-depth metrics related to my training, but what really makes this experience special is the human element.
Kilian and the team at Coros are adamant about communication. The athletes are asked to leave post-workout commentary, as well as providing updates to any race or schedule changes.
Point being, this is not just a copy pasta, cookie-cutter training plan with Kilian’s name slapped on it. Within the first week of training I was shocked at the amount of interaction and feedback provided by Kilian.
I knew the first week or two would be a learning and adjustment period for everyone, so I wasn’t concerned when the workload in week one was actually less than what I was currently averaging. I held my breath when I realized I was doing more than prescribed on a few runs and wondered if the GOAT himself was going to scold me. I had to laugh when his reply to me was something along the lines of: “Doing more miles is never a problem, Matt.” Talk about being on brand.
One of my favorite features of the Apex 2 Pro, when combined with the Training Hub, is that not only are your workouts automatically fed to the device each day, but any time a training adjustment is made, you can tap one button in the Coros App on your phone and the plan re-syncs with your device in real time.
This has been huge for me because within a given week I may move a track workout from Tuesday to Thursday, or my long run from Sunday to Saturday, and I can make these adjustments on the fly.
The device gives you the option to break down the workout and have it walk you through, or you can simply tell it to start the workout and just let it run. For me, it’s been case-by-case. On most continuous runs it’s simple enough to just hit start and go, but for track workouts or hill repeats the workout prompts can come in handy.
Speaking of workouts, would it shock you that the greatest mountain runner of all time is a big believer in hill repeats and climbing?? Can confirm: he loves them.
What did surprise me a bit was the consistent mix of elevation climbing and speed workouts on flat ground. I say this only because you don’t typically see ultra athletes training at the local track, but maybe that’s something I have been doing wrong (or maybe it was just my excuse for staying far away from that painful 400m loop).
Post-workout is a breeze. If an activity is linked to a workout on your device, it automatically uploads and syncs in the Training Hub calendar, where both Kilian and I have access and can comment. I should mention that I did have to create a quick connection between my device and the Coros app when I set up the training hub, but this was a one-time action, and afterwards your data will automatically flow.
At this point we’re weeks into the training camp and this is when the workouts are really starting to ramp up. At the same time, our training is starting to get fine-tuned and personalized even more, as Kilian has had a chance to start to learn about us, get a baseline, and have a solid set of data to start analyzing.
I had a 50K about three weeks into training, which was my first real test of applying some stress to the training plan. I was really impressed with Kilian’s input and quick adaption of the plan to accommodate the event, while giving me adequate recovery time, all while minimizing any negative impact to the long term plan.
That race was a success, as I finished a half an hour faster than my time in 2022 at the same race. The plan is working and I can’t wait to see what the next two months holds.
So far this has been a really interesting and exciting experience. I believe that things are going to start to ramp up as we get closer to my 70-miler, and that should mean more work and a more demanding workload, which should make my next update pretty interesting.
While I have been super impressed with the Coros Training Hub and the Apex 2 Pro, the real treat has been the direct human interaction with Kilian, which is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I should add, as a nice bonus at the end of each week, the Coros team supporting the program sends out a recap email with a weekly theme and advice from Kilian to the group. I really look forward to these and look at them as wise words from the mountain Yoda. No joke, at the end of this journey I’d like to pull them all together and make an inspirational coffee table book, but knowing my ability to procrastinate I’ll be lucky to just make sure the emails don’t end up in my phone’s trash can. Who knows, maybe being trained by a Jedi will make me more disciplined in ways outside of running.
See, I will.
You can read part two of my journey here.
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Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Atreyu The Artist, Speedland SL:PDXMore from Matt
Not an ultra-runner, but this is cool to read about! (Although I am a COROS user and love it as a replacement for my dead Garmin) Can’t wait for your next entry!
Thanks for reading! We’ll have a lot more details on Kilian’s feedback and our progress for the month 2 entry.