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Sub 4:00: Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile Hardcover – July 18, 2003

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Alan Webb was just 18 when he broke a 36-year-old record by running the fastest mile ever for a high-school athlete, breaking Jim Ryun's mark by two seconds. Lear spent most of the 2001-02 school year with freshman Webb and his teammates at the University of Michigan, where many of America's best distance runners gather to learn from legendary coach Ron Warhurst. Though there have been any number of books chronicling the ups and downs of seasons in major sports, this may be the first to follow a group of world-class distance runners through a competitive cycle. The focus is on Webb as he juggles the challenges of college academics, injuries, and media attention along with the rigors of competition, but Lear also examines group dynamics as the other runners adjust to the presence of a track wunderkind in their midst. The best books take us to places or situations we are unlikely to experience firsthand. Lear succeeds admirably as readers experience vicariously the fiercely competitive, often anonymous lives of modern distance runners. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“Alan Webb's pursuit of the 4-minute mile as a high school senior ws one of the most compelling stories in recent U.S. track history. Chris Lear's insightful work picks up the tale where many dropped it, following Webb to college and exposing the sub-4:00 as not just a blessing, but a burden as well.” ―Tim Layden, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

Sub 4:00 provides an insightful look into the life of a high school phenom and the resulting pressures at the collegiate level. It focuses on two of the most important ingredients in successful running--health and the chemistry between coach and athlete.” ―Suzy Favor Hamilton, Olympic miler

“It's rare to have an athlete like Alan Webb in our midst, rarer still to have an insider's look at the drama, uncertainties, training, and racing of a track season. Sub 4:00 gives us the highs and lows, triumphs and defeats of the season that ended with Webb's decision to turn pro. What John Feinstein did for collegiate basketball with a A Season on the Brink, Lear does with Sub 4:00. This dramatic story of personal and athletic growth is the literary equivalent of a 4-minute mile.” ―Mike Sandrock, sports writer, The Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, and author of Running with the Legends


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (July 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157954746X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579547462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael DENNISUK VINE VOICE on July 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Alan Webb story is an intriguing one. He flashed on the running scene and broke Jim Ryun's high school mile record. Those of us in Michigan were excited by his arrival at U of M. But after one year he's gone. Lear does an excellent job of telling the tale of that year. Webb's intensity, immaturity and lack of patience come through loud and clear even though Lear does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the arguement. This one does not quite measure up to "Running with the Buffaloes" but that is a classic. Great, quick read if you are a runner or a fan of the sport.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A S B on January 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A great read for anyone interested in Track & Field or runnng in general. This books brings to life the trials and tribulations of Webb and the Michigan track team in the spring of'02. What makes it especially interesting are the behind the scenes stories of Webb, his teammates and coach that Lear delivers, as only he can. Warhurst and Brannen also emerge as very intriguing characters. I can't wait to see how Webb and Brannen do in the years to come, as they are huge talents with speed to burn. Any competitve runner can tell Lear has been there before and writes like he is with Webb every step of the way. He has definitely developed a knack for capturing the emotion and drama of competition. A very impessive second book that was tough to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy R. Sullivan on September 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Chris Lear has done it again! Following an exellent debut with "Running With the Buffaloes" he comes back with "Sub 4:00" -- a great account of Alan Webb's first and only season at the University of Michigan.

Lear is the only guy out there writing about the collegiate running scene as most books in the running section at your bookstore revolve around training logs or how to run your first 10K. It's about time someone took a different path and I'm glad Lear has done so.

Webb's tumultuous season at UM is well-depicted. The tough workouts, the injuries, and most importantly, the hot and cold relationship Webb has with his collegiate coach. Webb is pulled in a couple of different directions, whether to turn pro and go back and train under his high school coach, where he had great success; or stay at UM where he has friends and training partners. After awhile one can tell where Webb is going to end up.

What makes Lear's books so good is he gets right into the action. Just like his first book, he has intimate access to the team, it's workouts, meetings, and private moments. He's with Webb in the residence halls, on solitary and team workouts, at the meets, and even on the road in his car. Lear isn't an outside observer, he's right there. Also, the main supporting character, Brannen, gets his fair share of coverage.

This isn't just a book for runners, but anyone interested in athletics, particularly college athletics and how the system works and how coaches are under pressure to win -- yes, even so-called minor sport track and field coaches.

I highly recommend this excellent book and hope Lear has more coming down the road.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Meril on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
at the end of the book i actually disliked Webb. it was a story about someone who was not patient enough and thougt of himself as above everyone, i actually think him running such great times as a highschooler hurt him,he did not give the coach at michigan a fair chance and found ways to make everything a drama. the part i did enjoy though was reading about the other people from michigan and the fact that chris lear is such a great writer and really connects with the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JK on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most people have only so much time and money to devote to pleasure reading. So, in that light, I would not recommend this book. It's not terrible, by any means, but I think your time and money would be better spend on another book. I would, however, recommend his other book, Running with the Buffaloes.
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Format: Paperback
This is an exciting book about two young track stars by Chris Lear, author of "Running with the Buffaloes". This book is more concise than Buffaloes but I think Lear does a more articulate job strengthened by his excellent race coverage and detailed observations of the super workouts that the super freshman, Brannan and Webb run as teammates and as quiet rivals. The book also frames the efforts of famed miler head coach Warhurst to make his runners elites through gradual build-ups along with quick studies of the premier pro athletes he coaches such as Tim Broe, Kevin Sullivan and the great horse, Paul McMullen. many of the runners, Webb and Brannan included run the fine line between superb conditioning to injury and in fact both battle injuries through their freshman year struggling to over come these pitfalls as they quickly approach the NCACC finals their first year. Lear captures well not only their personal feelings while tackling their frustration with trying to get back in their elite shape and particular Webb who is under pressure as the next super miler. Lear underlines all this frustration with the growing speculation that Webb will turn pro and leave Michigan, which increases the overall team tension. In the background, never confirmed, are pressures to leave from Webb's former HS and now current coach Raczko to Raczko's mentor, John Cook who has great disdain for college programs. Cook is a noted professional coach, still today (Shalane Flanagan) known for his great George Mason teams and not mentioned by Lear but also a highly successful HS coach at Edison in VA. One of Cook's HS multi-state champions is the current distance coach at Tennessee today.Read more ›
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