Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Feb 21 - News and Notes

Welcome back for another weekly installement of Going Pro!

Last time, I introduced you to arguably the two best American runners in Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat! This week...
  • I'll be shedding light on the current world 5,000m champion, who is also Rupp's training partner, UK's Mo Farah.
  • Of course, I'll keep you up to date on the all of the Canadian Content in the week that just passed.
  • Plus, I'll let you know what elites are running the upcoming Boston Marathon & New York City Half Marathon in preparation for the summer Olympics in London.


The running 'Mecca' of the United States is located in Eugene, Oregon. That's where prolific names like Bill Bowerman, Pre, Kenny Moore, Bill Dellinger, & Galen Rupp made a name for themselves. Currently, the professional runners who train in Eugene run for the Oregon Track Club (OTC) - with the premier athletes coached by the legendary Alberto Salazar (all sponsored by Nike).

 Alberto today.                                                            The Golden Boy back in the '80s.

Galen Rupp has been training under Salazar for the last ten years and in 2011 he gained a significant training advantage when the UK's top distance runner Mo Farah decided to move to Oregon to train.

Farah doing what he does best...screaming at camermen.

Now just who is Mo Farah you ask? Well with great pleasure I'll introduce you to the 2011 5,000m World Champion. (Not a bad title to have eh?)

The 28-year old Somalia-native moved to England at age 8 not speaking a word of English. At age 13, he entered his first high school XC race, finishing 9th and then won the next 5 years in a row... obviously!

With such a positive start to his running career, he continued his domination through College and eventually turning pro. In 2005, the extraordinarily hardworking Farah moved in with a bunch of other pro runners including many Africans. On this, Farah said: "They sleep, eat, train and rest, that's all they do but as an athlete you have to do all those things... If I ever want to be as good as these athletes I've got to work harder. I don't just want to be British number one, I want to be up there with the best." That pretty much sums up how and why he is the current world #1.

He, like Rupp, is so incredibly impressive because of his range of his running ability. Last week, I told you that Rupp ran 60:30 in his half-marathon debut at last year NYC Half Marathon. What I didn't tell you was that Rupp finished 3rd in that race, Farah won in his own debut in 60:23 (4:36/mile or 2:52/km).

Rupp and Farah in the 2011 NYC Half Marathon

Since last March he has been utterly demolishing competition*, check out these stats:
  • European XC & 3,000m champion
  • Broke European indoor 5,000m record in a time of 13:10 (4:14/mile or 2:38/km)
  • Broke European 10,000m record in a time of 26:46.5 (4:19/mile or 2:41/km)
  • Broke British National 5,000m record with a time of 12:53 (4:08/mile or 2:34/km)
  • World 5,000m Champion (beating Bernard Lagat)
*Last week, I told you of Rupp's new 2-mile record in 8:09.1. Well... on Saturday in Birmingham, England, Farah beat his training partners time running 8:08.1 (4:04/mile or 2:31/km) - breaking the European record!! Amazing time and all, however he did not win! He was beaten by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge who ran 8:07.3!

 Farah is well on his way to an Olympic Medal in the 5,000m in his home country! He has his work cut out for him to get gold, but he is a strong favorite and certainly has my vote!

Below is the video of Farah's 2011 World Championship victory! Fast forward to 6:00 to see the last lap! You can literally seem him change gears at least 3 times. Also note how in control he is when he is looking around at the start of the last lap!


 Up next is the Canadian Content of the week past.

Canadian Content

Our Canadian honourable mentions this week are a bit less than normal (at least from what I could find / what I heard about). But lets get at it anyways:

First and foremost, I need to give a little love to our local superstar - who I introduced last week - Ryan Brockerville. 'Brock' is one of, if not thee, the top track (and XC) runners for Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia. This year SFU has begun competing in the NCAA which upped the competition level dramatically.


This weekend, Brockerville and SFU were down in Idaho at the Great Northwestern Athletics Conference Indoor Championship.

Brockerville competed in the Mile and the Distance Medley Relay (which consists of 4 runners taking on legs of 1200m, 400m, 800, & 1600m respectively.

In the mile Brockerville finished 2nd overall by 0.2 seconds in a time 4:12.7. While his SFU distance medley relay team won by beating their previous meet record by 1 second!

Back in Canada, there was a big Ontario University Athletics (OUA) meet at the University of Toronto. Some notable performances:

I always find the 1,000m to be an incredible event. As runners everything we do is broken down into 1km splits. I have never run a single kilometer as hard as I possibly could, but I always wonder what I could do. However, I can promise you that it isn't as fast as these guys (and many professional females):

Guelph's Rob Jackson
Men 1,000m:

1 Jackson, Rob Guelph 2:25.77
2 Boulay, Benoit Guelph 2:26.29

3 Holmes, Steve-o Guelph 2:26.36

4 Armstrong, Ryan Western 2:27.27

5 Sayers, Trent Western 2:27.00 2:27.64

6 Stevens, Evan Guelph 2:27.66

Women 1,000m:

1 Jewett, Tamara U of T Varsity  2:52.91
2 Phelan, Jaimie Laurel Creek  2:54.713 Sawyer, Kailee Laurel Creek 2:54.934 Housley, Katie U of T Varsity  2:56.225 Maher, Paulina U of T Varsity  3:05.006 Thompson, Lindsay Windsor 3:07.167 Van Hie, Carrie Trent University 3:10.65
** I had the pleasure to run with Carrie at Trent! Super athlete! Keep up the awesome running!!

 Men 1,500m

1 Davenport, Ethan U of T Varsity 3:51.79
2 Bowes, Graham McMaster University  3:54.803 Parker, Kaelan Guelph 3:58.824 Denault, Alex U of T Varsity  3:59.205 Hynes, Brendan U of T Varsity  3:59.50

Megan Brown at it again!

Women 1,500m

1 Brown, Megan Athletics Ontario  4:20.762 Thompson, Carise Guelph 4:31.173 Frost, Nadine Guelph 4:31.394 Hennessy, Colleen U of T Varsity 4:33.115 Malleck, Julia U of T Track Club 4:42.91

More Canadian Results can be found here

Reid Coolsaet's Road to London

Speaking of Canadian Content! Hello...



Canada's top marathoner has long since cracked the 2:11:29 Olympic standard time. In fact, he's dipped under that mark twice: 2:11:22 and 2:10:55 at the 2010 & 2011 Toronto Waterfront Marathon, respectively.

He's just returning from a training phase in Kenyan where he ran countless miles with some of the best in the world - even doing some races against them! On February 12th, Reid raced the Diekirch Cross Country race in Luxembourg on a 10.2km course. In a deep field with both young and experienced runners Reid placed 4th in a time of 31:17 (4:56/mile or 3:04/km).

Over the last year Reid has documented his 'Road to London'. In his non-running, eating, and sleeping hours, he has edited together what looks like it going to be an epic montage of his training.

Check it out here.

2012 Boston Marathon Elite Field

It's almost that time of year again. Ahh... April! Where us in Newfoundland are still shovelling while most marathoners fly across the pond (i.e. Atlantic Ocean) for the London Marathon or south for the Boston Marathon or N.Y.C. Half Marathon.

If you, or someone you know, are making the trip to any of these prestigious races I guess you should know your competition. Keep in  mind that this is an Olympic year so those with a trip to London will be cautious in racing a spring marathon, you might not see ALL the big names.

Let's start with the most famous of all

Monday, April 16, 2012

Elite Men
In the order I think they'll finish!
*12 elite  men have personal bests faster than 2:08:00 (4:53/mile or 3:02/km)
1. Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - Unofficial world's fastest marathoner & 2011 Boston Marathon winner
                                            - PB = 2:03:02 (4:42/mile or 2:55/km)

2. Gebre Gebremariam (Ethiopia) - Winner of the 2010 NYC Marathon, 2nd at 2011 NYC Half
                                                       - Always wears sweet hats!                                                      
                                                       - PB = 2:04:53 (4:46/km or 2:58/km)

3. Robert Cheruiyot (Kenya) - Winner of the 2010 Boston Marathon
                                               - PB = 2:05:52 (4:48/mile or 2:59/km)

Elite Women
In the order I think they'll finish.

1. Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia) - Winner of the 2012 Dubai Marathon
                                                    - PB = 2:19:31 (5:19/mile or 3:18/km)

2. Caroline Kilel (Kenya) - Winner of the 2011 Boston Marathon and 2010 Frankfurt Marathon
                                           - PB = 2:22:36 (5:26/mile or 3:23/km)

3. Sharon Cherop (Kenya) - 2nd in 2011 Boston Marathon (she's in the above picture behind Kilel)
                                              - Winner of the 2010 Toronto Waterfront Marathon
                                              - 2:22:42 (5:26/mile or 3:23/km)

Up next is the NYC Half Marathon Field

Monday, 20 February 2012

2012 N.Y.C. Half Marathon Elite Field

Last year, the N.Y.C. Half Marathon produced some lightning fast times. As mentioned Mo Farah and Galen Rupp ran 60:23 for 1st & 60:30 for 3rd, respectively, in their debuts. Canadian men also burned up the streets of New York with Dylan Wykes in 62:14) & Reid Coolsaet in 62:42.

This years race on March 18 brings a fresh crop of talent, although the names are far from new to you, or the running world. It seems as though the majority of the American Olympic marathon squad is using NYC Half as a training race.

Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher will lead the way for the women's field.

From left: Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Hasting,
and Desire Davila. (The top 4 US female marathoners)

Meb Keflezighi and Dathan Ritzenhien will set the pace for the men's field.

The remainder of the elite field has not been published yet. Although Half Marathon's rarely get the same 'elite' draw to their events as marathons do. But in any case this is a star studded field! Should be a good indicator of what is to come in London!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Feb 14 - News & Notes

Welcome back for another rant on Going Pro!

Happy Valentines Day... get ready to fall in love with Track and Field! I wish I could spend more time here with this disgustingly romantic introduction but there are wayyy too many incredible races and results from this weekend to talk about - with a lot of Canadian content!

Also this week,
* why you should never celebrate until AFTER you cross the finish line
* why running a 63 minute half marathon is not good enough

Since I started writing this blog I was wondering when I would get to introducing you all to the top 2 American runners (arguably at any distance): Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat. What these two men achieved this weekend is almost inconceivable, but given their outstanding careers I'm not even remotely surprised! Lets begin this lovefest....

Galen Rupp
Galen Rupp - Potentially my hero.

The 25-year old Portland, Oregon Native is quite simply the best American runner at the moment (based on his age and his potential over the next 10 years).

Rupp has been coached by the famous Alberto Salazar for the last 10 years and together they have literally set track running in America on fire.

Before we get to what he was up to this weekend, here are some of the ridiculous highlights of his career (remember he's only 25!):

- In high school, he ran 13:37 for 5,000m (4:23/mile or 2:43/km) and 29:09 for 10,000m (4:41/mile or 2:55/km)
- He ran for the University of Oregon during his collegiate career where he racked up a multitude of awards: Winner of the 2008 NCAA XC championship, breaking 4 American records in various distances, and being a 14-time All American.
- In his first half marathon ever, he ran 60:30 (4:37/mile or 2:52/km) - the 3rd fastest American half marathon time!
- Last summer, he became the fastest American, and non-African (i.e. white man), when he ran 26:48 for 10,000m (4:19/mile or 2:41/km)
- By far, Rupp's most impressive quality is his incredible range, from 1 mile in 3:57 to a 60:30 half marathon! I can't wait until he runs a marathon! By then it will take him like 20 minutes!

Before we get to Rupp's result this weekend, allow me to introduce his fellow countryman and fierce weekend competitor...

Bernard Lagat
Bernard Lagat - The man.

The 37-year old Kenyan emigre is, believe it or not, still getting faster.

Before becoming a naturalized American citizen in 2004, he competed for his native Kenya in the Olympic 1,500m event winning the bronze in 2000 and silver in 2004.

Since wearing the red, white, and blue Lagat has been a 2-time world champion in the 1,500m & 5,000m (in the same year no less), 2-time silver medallist in 5,000m at world championships, indoor world championship at the 3,000m, AND has set SEVEN North American records (two of them occurred after the age of 35 making them World Masters records).

Oh right, I was so mesmerized I forgot to mention some of his personal bests:
- 1,500m in 3:26.4 (2nd fastest ever)
- 1 mile in 3:47.28
- 3,000m in 7:29 (4:01/mile or 2:30/km)
- 5,000m in 12:53.6 (4:09/mile or 2:35/km)


Now lets get to what happened this weekend. First off, these two superhumans didn't compete against each other in person BUT they did race against each other's American Record.

Saturday night at the USA Track and Field Indoor Classic at Madison Square Garen (MSG), NY, Rupp hoped to break Lagat's current 2-mile American indoor record, 8:10.07 (4:05/mile or 2:32/km) set last year .

Just moments before Rupp started his race, Lagat was chasing after Rupp's 5,000m American indoor record of 13:11.44 (4:15/mile or 2:38/km) literally up the road at 105th Millrose Games - which was moved to another NYC location after 97 years at MSG (a bone of contention for the die hard trackies)!

Lagat and Rupp had two very different races. Lagat's 5,000m record attempt had him up against some of the fastest collegiate runners (Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu) in the world and the fastest American high schooler in Edward Cheserek. Throughout the race, Lagat exchanged the lead with Lalang on numerous occasions but when it came down to the last 400m there was no question that it was Lagat's race AND Lagat's record. He crossed the finish line 4 seconds faster than Rupp's previous record in a time of 13:07.15 (4:13/mile or 2:37/km)!!

*Note #1: In this race the Galen Rupp's American collegiate record was lowered by 10s by Lawi Lalang, in the process also lowering the 33-year old World collegiate record by 0.2 seconds to 13:08.2.

*Note #2: The American high school record of 14:06 was also annihilated, thanks to a ridiculous 13:57 Edward Cheserek!

Video of this race: (I suggest you watch the introductions and fast forward to the end!)

Now, back at MSG, Rupp, not knowing that his 5,000m indoor record was just destroyed, set off in basically a solo attempt at Lagat's 2-mile record, as none of the other competitors could come near such a pace. Rupp and a pace maker went through the first mile in 4:06.7 which meant to break the record he needed to run the last mile in 4:03! That would be a huge negative split... Not to mention when you are running entirely by yourself. Rupp didn't disappoint as he ran the last 200m in 28.5s to secure his new...
No video yet! I can't wait to see this!
Absolutely an amazing weekend in racing... Up next is the Canadian Content!

Canadian Content

I wish I could say that I'm sick of talking about them... but Cam Levins (left) and Taylor Milne (right)were at it again this past weekend.That makes 3 weekends in a row of top notch racing. Saturday past, they both were invited to the previous mentioned world-famous Millrose Games to run the 'Wanamaker Mile' (1,600m) against some of the best milers in the world, including the world championship bronze medalist at 1,500m in American Matt Centrowitz and the top NCAA miler from Brigham Young University (BYU) Miles Batty.

Centrowitz with Batty nipping his heels!

Only a week previous both of these gazelles were setting the New Balance Games track on fire where Milne ran 3:56 for the mile and Levins ran 7:45 in the 3,000m! However, this week they went head to head in the same mile event.

Immediately Milne went to the front - which is more often than not going to end well - and stayed there for 3/4 of the race. Levins tucked into the pack and held the pace with best of them. Just after 1200m, the cream rose to the top. Centrowitz and Batty effortlessly surged past Milne to take the lead. Unfortunately, Milne's front running took a major toll on him as he faded for a 4:00 finish (still incredible, but not what he was hoping for I can only imagine). In the end, Centrowitz seemingly jogged across the line in 3:53.9, with Miles Batty setting the American College record with 3:54.5! Levins ran a consistently smart race and finished with an impressive 3:57.1, given his recent race schedule.

Check out the video here, fast forward to 2:50 into the race and just watch how smooth Matt Centrowitz is. Do you think he was maxed out? I don't think so. Scary stuff

Simultaneously, on the opposite side of America, the University of Washington had their own invitational track meet that brought some of the top collegiate athletes head to head, including many Canadians.

In the Men's 3,000m:
- Quebec native Stephane Colle, attending University of Idaho, ran an impressive 8:08 (4:22/mile or 2:43/km) for 8th in his heat (5 heats in total) finishing 25th out of the out of the 96 collegians who ran

- Newfoundland's own Ryan Brockerville from Simon Fraser University in B.C. ran a impressive 8:20 (4:28/mile or 2:47/km) for 6th place in his heat and 61st overall out of the 96.

In the Men's 5,000m:

Prince George, B.C. born and bred, Geoff Martinson threw down a tremendous 13:55 (4:29/mile or 2:47/km). Martinson was the 3rd fastest 1,500m runner in Canada in 2011 with a 3:37.5 thus allowing him to represent Canada at the 2011 World Championships, making it to the 1,500m semi-final! Check out his blog here.

As for the women in the mile ,

Canada's elite track and field club, Speed River, sent both Malindi Elmore (left) & Hilary Stellingwerff  (right) to compete in the elite one mile race with one of the WORLD's best runners Sally Kipyego from Kenya. Both Canadian females had incredible races with Stellingwerff finishing 3rd in a time of 4:29.7 and Elmore in 5th with 4:32.7.

Here's the link video for this awesome race! Go Canada! 
(It's not on youtube, so I can't attach the video, sorry)

Why running a 63 min half marathon isn't fast enough...

This is unquestionably the stat of this week's blog, despite the dominance of Lagat and Rupp.

Alistair Cragg - The 31-year old South African - who runs under the Irish flag since 2003- is one of the world's top non-'East African' (Kenya, Ethiopia, & Eriteria).

The 2008 Olympian holds 4 Irish national records, including a blistering 13:03 for 5,000m (4:12/mile or 2:35/km) and a 27:39 for 10,000m (4:27/mile or 2:46/km).

My point is that this guy can move, especially for a white boy!

Now let me ask you a question... actually two:
1) How would I feel if I said that you had the potential to run a 63:39 for a half marathon? That means a pace of 4:51/mile or 3:01/km. That would be good enough to win about 98% of all half marathon races. I'm sure you would be quite content with such a performance.

Note: before I ask you question #2, a bit of trivia for you: only 17 Americans beat that time in 2011.

2) How would you feel about running THAT incredible time but only finishing 65th OVERALL in a race!?!?

Well that's precisely what happened at a Japanese Half Marathon last week! Alistair Cragg ran 63:39 and placed 65th! In fact, I've never seen a race so deep. 178 runners ran faster than 70 mins for a half marathon (5:20/mile or 3:19/km)!! Just incredible!

Just when you thought you could be satisfied with a performance... back to the drawing board.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Reasons why you should never celebrate early

Always, always, always... cross the finish line before celebrating! Here's why...
This weekend at the USA XC championships. Molly Huddle, on the left, American 5k record holder) thinks she has triumphed over Sara Hall, on the right, (Marathoner Ryan Hall's wife). However, the celebrations were in vain as Hall surged past her literally at the line. Here's what the photos from the finish line showed:

"Victory is mine...

oh wait...


This isn't good...

This completely reminds of this video. Make sure you cross the line first!!!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Feb 7 - News & Notes

Welcome back to another edition of Going Pro!

This week we have a bit of a hodgepodge: I introduce you all to one of Canada's top runners: Sheila Reid; I briefly describe 5 of my favorite running books; and introduce you the bittersweet world that is Track and Field!

Let's start it off with some news and notes of the week just past:

1) Last week I said, 'remember the name Cameron Levins'. Well, he was at it again this week past at the New Balance Grand Prix indoor track meet in New York. Cam ran the 3,000m against 11 other men - some of whom were the biggest names in the track world, including the silver and bronze medallists from the 2011 track and field World Championships.
O CAMada!
7 days after his 5,000m and 3,000m wins (within 24 hours) he ran yet another personal time for 3,000m - 7: 45.75 (4:10/mile or 2:35/km) placing 5th overall. Some people might be upset with a 5th place finish, however, when you are only 4 seconds behind the 10th fastest 1,500m runner of all time you can live with it!

*World 3,000m record is 7:24.9 (3:59/mile or 2:29/km)... W.T.F.

2) Two weeks ago I briefly introduced Taylor Milne, who ran 2:20 for 1,000m and setting the world's best for that distance this year. At the same meet as Levins - New Balance Grand Prix indoor track meet in New York - Milne took on the mile (that's 1,600m for you metric folk).

Milne ran tremendously well to placed 2nd with what I believe is a personal best time of 3:56.4 (2:27/km). The mile is truly one of the most amazing race distances. What is incredible was that many thought that a runner could never break the 4:00 per mile barrier. However, England's Roger Bannister did just that in 1952 with his 3:59.4 clocking on the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England. [Which is beautifully captured in the book The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb... see the list of my recommended running books]

Since then, over 1200 men have run sub 4:00, including over 350 Americans and ~50 Canadians (Levins and Milne are in the pretigious club). So to go from a time period where that time seemed improbable to now have up to 3-5 guys breaking it a single race, it's a truly spectacular experience.

3) I'll give you three guesses as to which race distance the following photo finish was for:
800m? 1 mile? 3,000m? 5k? 10km?

Time's up... These 3 men (plus one other just out of the frame), crossed the finish line within 1 second in the Hong Kong MARATHON!!  Can you imagine running 26.2 miles and losing by literally one foot! Aye yi yi... But this is the world of marathoning these days. Expect many more of these close finishes as more and more Africans go after the big money that comes with winning marathons.

Seeing how I'm still speechless by this, I'll leave it up to Jerry Seinfeld to explain it to you:

Let's continue on here with an introduction to one of the most amazing female runners to come from Canada... Sheila Reid. 

Sheila Reid

Allow me to introduce you to, in my humble opinion, the most exciting Canadian female runner at the moment... Sheila Reid.

Canada's Sheild Reid Dominating

Sheila dominating... again.
This week... 'Remember the name Sheila Reid'. The 23-year old (her birthday is tomorrow actually!) Newmarket, Ontario native all but owns the NCAA running world from the 1,500m to XC. Allow me to brag on behalf of Sheila... and Canada.

Sheila is in her senior year at the renowned Villanova as an english major, according to the varsity cross country webpage. After a redshirting (which means you can practice with the team but not race/compete under the school's name, and doesn't count as a year of eligibility) two seasons in 2008 she has been crushing competition in almost every race she has entered.

Since 2009:
2 x 1st place in NCAA National Championships (2010, 2011)
     *this year she won by 6 tenths of a second!!
     *254 of the BEST collegiate runners are in this race
3 x 1st place in Mid-Atlantic regional XC championships
3 x 1st place in BIG EAST conference XC championships

While on the track having personal bests of:

1 Mile: 4:35
3km: 8:56.9 (4:48/mile or 2:59/km)
5km: 15:37.5 (5:02/mile or 3:07/km)

The scary thing about Sheila is her potential, she's already running outstanding times at such a young age. After her collegiate career, she'll undoubtedly be scooped up by one of the major professional training teams in the US. If/when she builds a big mileage base - with her track speed - she is going to be a competitive force for the next decade!

Now, for a change of 'pace'... here's my top 5 favorite books.

Must Read Running Books

I started my running career in March 2009 when I worked at the Running Room in St. John's, Newfoundland. At the time when I applied for a job, I wasn't more than a 'summer runner' who ran 2-3 times a week and did the famous Tely 10 Mile race - leaving myself sore for weeks. I never thought the job would literally change my life, but it certainly has and then some.

Quite frankly, the best part of working at the Running Room was when I got to work with the legendary Art Meaney - the 67 year old who is one of the fastest men in the world at his age group - heck, he still runs his age for 10 miles every year! I can promise you a full write up on this running guru. He was the one who truly opened my eyes to not only my own potential in running but also to the professional world. His knowledge of running history is second to none. It was both inspirational and motivating.

The man, the myth, the legend - Art Meaney

He also introduced me to running books, which truly got me addicted to it the sport. Here is a list of what I believe are MUST READS for any runner as well as some honourable mentions which are well worth a spot on your bed side table.

#1) Duel in the Sun - John Brant

This epic work of prose allows you to run in the shoes of the Cuban-American world record holder Alberto Salazar (now coach of the top US distance runenrs) and Dick Beardsley, the blue collar farm-hand from Minnesota. You get to follow them before, during, and after the 1982 Boston Marathon.

All I will say about this book is:
a) I could NOT put this book down

b) The race was won by two seconds

c) This race single-handedly changed both the lives of both of these two men forever. I kid you not.

#2) Running With the Buffaloes  - Chris Lear

This book follows the 1998 Cross Country season for the University of Colorado Buffaloes. You literally feel as though you are a part of the team as you running every workout and race with them. As well,  all of the trials and tribulations that accompany the team such as 20 mile runs at 8,000ft of elevation, injuries, cuts, losing, winning, and much more that I'll let you read to find out.

The protagonist of this book is the stand out runner Adam Goucher - the husband of famed US female marathoner Kara Goucher - and his quest to be #1 in NCAA.

Note: Reading this book will pump you up. I suggest reading before a race!

#3) Once a Runner  - John L. Parker Jr.

This novel follows the fictional character of Quenton Cassidy, a mile runner at, the also fictional, Southeastern University in Florida in the 1970s. Many people believe this book is based on the collegiate years of famous American marathoner Frank Shorter!

You become intimate with the prodigious Cassidy through his interactions with teammates, relationships, workouts, races, and his eventual big decision to take the 'next step'. Not to mention the most insane workout I have ever heard of in my entire life.

Not spoiling anything here, but my favorite part of the book comes when at a party/social gathering someone asks him "why do you run?"

Favorite quote from the book: "You can remember it [the past], he told himself, but you cannot experience it this way again. You have to be satisfied with the shadows."

#4) Born to Run - Christopher McDougall

At first, I wasn't expecting much from this book as I thought it would be preaching about why barefoot running is superior to 'normal' running.

However, I was blown away with the incredibly interesting storyline that flows through about 70% of the book. The author, McDougall, makes his way to the Copper Canyons of Mexico to find a man named 'Caballo Blanco' (the White Horse) who moved from the US down to live with the ancient, indigenious tribe called the Tarahumura [Tara-oo-mara]. Along the way he discovers how running - barefoot - is the culture with the Tarahumara. Their story is absolutely spellbinding.

The remaining portions talk about the pros and cons of traditional running form, running shoes, and barefoot running in a very easy to understand and humorus approach. A definite must read.

#5) The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

Bascomb chronicles the stories of the fastest men in the world in the early 1950s: England's Roger Bannister, America's Wes Santee, and the Australian John Landy.

Each of these men have their own incredible saga to follow as they try to find a way to break the elusive 4 minute barrier for 1 mile. Whether it be Bannister's self-coached training at lunch hour while attending medical school, Santee's trouble with the track and field authorities, or Landy's eccentric coach, this book embodies the blood, sweat, and tears of these 3 amateur running heros.

Just wait until you read about the races where they go head to head! Hard to put down!