Determined Runners by Justin Lagat, A Review

In Determined Runners, Justin Lagat penned a nice synopsis of the advantage that Kenyan runners enjoy. The book, a compilation of articles published elsewhere and bound by the thread of experience, takes just an afternoon to read.

If you're looking for that one killer workout that will make a difference, you need to head over to Runner's World instead. What Lagat has put forth is not the specifics of training, though some of those are certainly present, but the mindset necessary to run like a Kenyan.

Lagat is, as with it seems every other fit young man in Kenya, a distance runner who has trained with the best in the world. A writer as well, he contributes to under the column The View from Kenya, offering the perspective of a professional athlete in a region where running is neither a recreation nor a sport. It is very much a business, and the athletes treat it as such.

For fans of the sport, Determined Runners gets the inside scoop of the running camps, the efforts of the athletes, and a sincere desire for Westerners to compete on their home turf. In discussing the running camps, he makes the point that many of the best athletes left, not because of training differences but of the attitudes of the camp managers, who sought to treat adults as high school athletes to the extent that there were bed checks and asking permission to be away from camp on personal business. It's hard not to hear an echo from Keyna's colonial past in this, with the big camps assuming entirely too much control of the life of the athlete. Being held out of completion was a close second on the list of camp complaints. Access to races and sponsorships is critical if you want to earn a living on your legs.

Justin Lagat also runs a website called which is devoted to news from Kenya. Lagat, an outspoken critic of doping, also uses the site as a means of disseminating information regarding the various issues plaguing the sport. Per Lagat, "I want to be part of a clean sport and Kenyan athletes to be known throughout the world as those who can achieve greatness in our sport without the aid of drugs." The turmoil in the sport of running grows with each with positive test of a marathon winner, the accusations hurled at the Nike Oregon Project, and the apparent corruption of the Russian Federation. Lagat toils in support of a clean sport, writing that the doping problems in running hurt the youngest runners most as companies back away from sponsorships.

I recommend that for runners who want an understanding of the Kenyan perspective, Determined Runners makes for a great entry point. You can purchase Determined Runners at Smashwords.