5. No Bugles No Drums by Peter Snell and Garth Gilmour
Ok, this one may be very, very hard to find. It's no longer in print, but original copies still do exist out there in the ether (Amazon) for copious amounts of cash.
I searched long and hard for this book in my search to simplify my pursuits. Eventually, I was able to nab a first-edition - printed in 1965.
Side note: No, I will not sell this book to anyone, for any amount.
I'll be honest, it's not necessarily the most creatively written book, but the topic is what's enticing - it's an autobiographical tale of Peter Snell, and his rapid rise to stardom in the early 60s. It reads like a journal at times, but if you're eager to get into the mind of one of the best distance runners ever, chasing this book down is worth the time, and the cash.
Snell takes the reader through the long hard road of becoming a successful distance runner - there's no glamour, only grind. But it's worth reading about how drastically training has changed over the past sixty years.
If you're a student of the sport, I'd highly recommend reading No Bugles No Drums.
4. The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb
"Three athletes, one goal, and less than four minutes to achieve it."
That sums up The Perfect Mile, perfectly.
My sister bought me this book for christmas in college, and it's been one of my favorites ever since.
Before high schoolers were breaking four-minutes in the mile nearly every year, the barrier was something deemed impossible. Death would result in the pursuit. But barriers were meant to be broken - Roger Bannister, John Landy, and Wes Santee knew that much.
I enjoyed this in-depth look on these three battling not each other, but the clock, so much that I even named my dog after - in my opinion - the best second-placer ever, John Landy. (My dog's name is Landy). The idea is to have a daily reminder to always, always strive - train with the hunger of someone who is second-best.
The Perfect Mile is the story of the chase for the first sub-4 mile. And it'll likely make you want to become a four-lap specialist.
3. Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
Kenny Moore has got to be the best person write the story of Bill Bowerman and the dynasty of Oregon, having been there himself in those golden years. It's beautifully written, and a well-packaged tale.
Ironically enough, this book now holds even more prestige, because the famous Hayward Field is now being demolished as I write these words, and you read them, and rebuilt for the 21st century.
Bowerman and the Men of Oregon takes a very historic dive into the man behind Nike, and the distance-running boom in America. Of course there's tidbits on The Pre, as well as many others.
If you're into the history of the sport, this is a must-read.
2. Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear
A cross-country favorite, and come on, it's the University of Colorado.
This book found its way into my library after I found a $20 bill on the side of a deserted road during a lonely winter run my junior year of high school. With no one around to claim it, and no one in sight, I picked up the $20, and tucked it in the pocket of my shorts where I had my car-key. I knew exactly what I would do with the cash. When the run was over, I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up my copy of Running with the Buffaloes.
This might be my second favorite running book, but it's my favorite about cross country. Additionally, the trails and places can easily be retraced - I know, because after moving to Colorado I sought them out to run on them myself.
Chris Lear's behind-the-scenes take on one of the most trying seasons in CU history is full of insights into some of the best collegians in Colorado, as well the man behind the ponytail: Mark Wetmore.
I even went on to read Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test because of Wetmore.
Next Page: The Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials