This is a review of Mark Coogan and Scott Douglas’s publication of Personal Best Running. I have known both for three decades. Mark Coogan was a nice, quiet running dude, and Scott worked at Running Times. I would see Scott at many events and read his writings, seeing a kindred spirit. 

Jeff Benjamin reviewed their book for us. 

Mark Coogan is one of the most impressive coaches that I know. Mark keeps it simple, and his enthusiasm for his athletes is pretty inspiring. 

“Personal Best Running” By Mark Coogan & Scott Douglas

A Review By Jeff Benjamin

There are so many ways to get to the top of the running world.

Just ask Olympic Mile World Record Legends Seb Coe (low mileage with high quality and weights) or John Walker (High Mileage with a mix of paces and no weights), and one can sure walk away dazed and confused!

Yet, there is one component in every successful runner that comes with following a coach’s program.

The true all-out belief in oneself and the program.

So, when Mark Coogan & Scott Douglas got together to publish “Personal Best Running,” the reader will no doubt be drawn in with both curiosity and perhaps skepticism for another book on training.

Personal Best Coaching, by Mark Coogan and Scott Douglas

After a few pages, however, the curiosity for the reader will remain, but the skepticism will fly out the window!

Coogan, a world-class runner who competed in the 1996 Olympic Marathon, and Douglas, a running lifer who was also a top writer for Runners World & Running Times magazines, lays out foundational viewpoints that, if followed and believed in, can make a runner, whether recreational or elite, achieve their best!

The interesting point of the book, with its thorough training details provided for distances of the 5K up to the marathon (as well as a link to videos detailing strengthening drills and exercises) is that Coogan makes it fun.

The New Balance Boston Elite Coach unassuming and encouragingly stresses not only balance in both the physical & psychological departments but also has the ability to stress his training philosophies in anecdotes and not in a singular style, as Coogan gives credit to other competitors and coaches who helped shape his philosophies.

Coogan does, however, stress two important points for success – patience & building up aerobic capacity (“aerobic monster”), qualities that, sometimes, many runners and coaches skirt by.

As a runner or coach from the youth level all the way to world-class elites, one can nit-pick and skirt by many of these important components of Coogan’s training programs.

Elle St. Pierre, Mark Coogan, posted on twitter July 5, 2022, photo by Elle St. Pierre

Yet, look at the success of Coogan-Coached runners like Elle Purrier St. Pierre, Heather MacLean,  Abbey D’Agostino (7 NCAA individual championships – the most decorated Ivy Athlete of all time), Ben True, Sam Chelenga, Kemoy Campbell.

Add into that stable 800-meter Tokyo Olympian  Siofra  Cleirgh Buttner.

Emily Mackay, who just ran a  3:59 1500.

2021 Olympian Julie Anne Staehli raced the 5,000m in Budapest!

A final stat of interest is that Coogan’s Team New Balance is the first team to have 3 (!) sub-4 1500 runners on one team!

After looking at the results one would wonder why a hungry runner and/or coach would want
“Personal Best Running” not only on their bookshelf but also on their clipboard.

Jeff Benjamin and Mark Coogan, 1996, Mark made the US Olympic team at the marathon in 1996, photo by Jeff Benjamin.