The AT&F Interiew: Bernard Lagat, by Larry Eder


In early October 2008, as part of the NXN promotions we were working on, Josh Rowe was able to get about ten of their athletes to answer about ten to twelve of my queries. This is the response of Bernard Lagat.

I first interview Bernard in London at the Aviva London GP in 2006. Great interview, very thoughtful, quite relaxed. My thoughts on Bernard, and I still hold them: pound for pound, he is one of best middle distance runners in the world at 1,500 and 5,000 meters. His Osaka wins were excellent. Bekele pounded him in Beijing and he did not make the 1,500 meter finals--he was wiped out. Part of our sport is good days and bad days, and Lagat has had both.

Recently Bernard announced his goal to win an seventh Millrose Mile and tie the record of Eamonn Coglan, the Chairman of the Boards.

Special thanks to Josh Rowe, Nike and USATF biographical reports!

Bernard Kip Lagat

One of the most popular athletes in our sport, Bernard Lagat is a two time world champion, and is now representing the US. His victories at 5,000 meters and 1,500 meters in Osaka were true highlights of his career.

Events: Middle Distance
Height: 5-8
Weight: 134
PRs: 1,500m - 3:26.34 (2001); Mile - 3:47.28 (2001);
3,000m - 7:32.43iAR (2007); 5,000m - 12:59.22 (2006)
Born: Dec. 12, 1974, in Kapsabet, Kenya
Current Residence: Tucson, Ariz.
College: Washington State ‘99
Coach: James Li
Agent: James Templeton
Club: Nike

1. What was your first experience in cross country?

Lagat: It was during an inter-class tournament at our High School way back in 1992.

2. What was training like in high school?

Lagat: Training was not coordinated. There was nothing set for a particular day. A games master could just think of anything for that particular day and we could do it without asking any questions. We did mostly long runs and fewer track sessions. A few hill sessions were sometimes put in plan for a particular day.

3. When did you make a commitment to running?

Lagat: I made a commitment to pursue running during my sophomore year in HS. This was in 1992. A few boys my age had never seen a training shoe and ,since I was privileged enough to own a pair, thanks to my older sister Mary's generosity and encouragement, I then decided to incorporate running into my daily routine but making sure that my EDUCATION was my first priority.

4. What was college training like?

Lagat: CRAZY..... Seriously, it was my first time to really follow a set training programme. I had experience a little bit of a well laid out plan while training in Kenya after my High School, but when I joined W.S.U, my coach had a well structured weekly training plan, which comprised of long runs, tempo runs, hill sessions, drills, weight training, ice baths etc. Most of these were quite new to me, but I immediately got used to it and I truly enjoyed everyday I went out training.

5. What is difference between running in high school and running in college?

Lagat: For me, HS running was something I didn't take it seriously. I could skip training and still be ranked very high in my school, but when I joined college, I realized right away that in order for me to be anything useful in this, then I must be serious and dedicate more time to making sure that I prepare myself well for races/competitions. I also realized that in order to make it in college; first; I needed to have some goals for the season. And second, once I knew my goals, all I could ask of myself is the discipline and hard-work necessary to achieve those goals.

6. Tell us about your experience in the Olympic Trials?

Lagat: It was my best Olympic Trials EVER! I enjoyed every bit of my time while in Eugene as we all know that Eugene is the place to go if you're looking for real fun in Track and Field.

8. Tell us about your high school experiences in cross country? How was it in College and then open?

Lagat: It was during my sophomore year in High School when I participated at the Inter-Class XC event. I remember running hard against the seniors and those that were more talented that I was. In that competition, I was the first runner for my class and because of that, I was put in the official school XC team for the districts. 

The college XC experience is one of the lasting memories you'll always have for so many years after you graduate. You learn to be a part of a team and putting your team's interest first. In college, I was one of the strongest front runners in the team and since XC is a team event, I depended on my teammates for success as they depended on me as well. I established good relationships with all my teammates because I knew that a team united would be the toughest out there.

9. What keeps you sane during training? Favorite music? Favorite books?
Lagat: Thinking about running and imagining what my top competitors could be doing in their training. e they training harder than I am? And if so, are they more prepared than I am? These are silly stuff, if you come to think about it, but it gets me going even harder and faster than I'd like to in training!!

10. Do you train with a group or individually?

Lagat: Mostly alone, but in tougher days, I workout with my buddy ABDI a.k.a the Black Cactus.

11. Do you have a favorite quote or a favorite song that gives you inspiration?

Lagat: Training is hard. So, I firmly believe that hard-work leads to BIG SUCCESS!!

2008: 6th in 1,500m semifinals at Olympic Games (3:37.79)…Olympic Trials 5,000m and 1,500m champion (13:27.47,3:40.37)…1st in two mile at Nike Prefontaine Classic (8:12.45)...1st in 1500m at adidas Track Classic (3:35.14)…1st at Rieti (3:32.75)…bests of 3:32.75 & 13:16.29.
2007: World Outdoor 1,500m (3:34.77) and 5,000m champion (13:45.87)...USA Outdoor Champion 5,000m (13:30.73) and 3rd in 1,500m (3:35.55)…1st at Millrose Games (3:54.26WL)…1st in 3,000m at Birmingham (7:32.43iAR)…Runner-up at Reebok Grand Prix in mile (3:53.88)…2nd at Nike Prefontaine Classic in Bowerman Mile (3:50.56)...3rd in 1,500m at Sheffield (3:36.24)…1st in 1,500m at London (3:35.71)…3rd in 1,000m at Stockholm (2:16.25)…ranked #2 in world, #1 U.S. at 1,500m, ranked #3 in world, #1 U.S. at 3,000m, ranked #4 in world, #1 U.S. at 5,000m…bests of 3:34.77, 7:32.43i, 13:30.73.
2006: USA Outdoor 1,500m (3:39.29) and 5,000m Champion (13:14.32)… 2nd at adidas Classic (3:32.94)…1st at Nike Prefontaine Classic (3:51.53)…1st at Rieti (3:29.68U.S. Leader)…1st at Rethymno (7:34.41U.S. Leader)…1st at London (12:59.22U.S. Leader)…3rd at Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis (3:31.48)…3rd at Athletissima (3:32.19)…ranked #3 at 1,500m, #9 at 5,000m in the world and #1 in 1,500m, 3,000m, 5,000m in U.S. by T&FN…bests of 3:29.68, 7:34.41, 12:59.22.
2005: 1st at Rieti 1,500m (3:29.30, U.S. record, world leader)set U.S. Indoor records at Powered by Tyson Invitational (mile, 3:49.89 & 1,500m, 3:33.34)2nd at Oslo (3:48.38U.S. leader, #2 in world)#1 at World Athletics Final 3,000m (7:38.00U.S. leader)...1st at Wanamaker Mile in a Millrose and MSG record (3:52.87)...1st at Berlin 5,000m (12:59.29U.S. leader)...ranked #2 in world, #1 U.S. at 1,500m/mile, #5 in world (#1 U.S. at 3,000m)...bests of 3:29.30AR, 3:48.38 U.S. leader, 7:38.00 U.S. leader, 12:59.29 U.S. leader.
2004: Olympic 1,500m silver medalist (3:34.30)…World Indoor Champs 3,000m gold medalist (7:56.34)…1st at Brussels (3:36.24)…1st at Zurich ( 3:27.40WL)…ranked #1 in world at 1,500m/mile by T&FN…best of 3:27.40.
2003: World Indoor silver medalist (3:42.62)…1st at Millrose Games (4:00.36)…2nd at Zurich (3:30.55)…1st at Stockholm (3:32.99)…1st at Modesto (3:40.66)…ranked #4 in world by T&FN…best of 3:30.55.
2002: 1st at World Cup (3:31.20)…2nd at Grand Prix Final (3:30.54)…1st at Stockholm (3:31.38)…1st at African Championships (3:38.11)…2nd at Monaco (3:27.91)…ranked #2 in world by T&FN…best of 3:27.91.
2001: Silver medalist at World Outdoor Champs (3:31.10)…ran third-fastest 1,500m in history at Rieti (3:26.34)…ranked #2 in world by T&FN…best of 3:26.34.
2000: Olympic Games bronze medalist (3:32.44)…1st at Mt. SAC (3:54.97)…2nd at Grand Prix Final (3:36.88)…best of 3:28.51…ranked #3 in world by T&FN…best of
1999: NCAA Outdoor5,000m champ (14:01.09)…NCAA Indoor mile champ (3:55.65)…NCAA Indoor 3,000m champ (7:54.92)…3rd at Zurich (3:30.56)…ranked #4 in world by T&FN…best of 3:30.56.
1998: Best of 3:34.48.

Happy Holidays from

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