Though some athletes claim that the internet is a source of distraction, a generation of distance runners credit it with helping to make them better runners.
Jenny Simpson, who will be racing in London as the world champion and a top contender in an event in which no American woman has ever won a medal, is one of the exceptional elite American runners that includes the likes of Olympians Matt Tegenkamp, Alan Webb and Galen Rupp.
AdvertisementAll of them started their careers just as the internet became an inextricable part of daily life.
Running-specific sites made the often solitary pursuit of running a communal endeavour, creating a national network of top runners from which they could draw guidance, friendship and inspiration.
Before the late 1990s it was difficult for a high school student to know what runners were doing in other cities, states and countries. The internet provided benchmarks to aspire to and ideas to draw from.
"The Internet kind of opened up my eyes," Wined News quoted Simpson as saying.
Over the next nine days many runners who came of age in the internet era will run in the 2012 Summer Games. Tegenkamp, Dathan Ritzenheim and Galen Rupp will compete in the 10,000-meter race.
Simpson, a high school runner when she hit the national scene in 2003, says sites like Dyestat and Milesplit allowed her to see for the first time what runners beyond her home state of Florida were doing.
Even as she continued racking up state titles through high school, knowing how she ranked against others motivated her to work harder so she might beat the fastest 5,000-meter cross country runners in the nation.
"I wanted to break 17 minutes" she said.
"I wanted to run certain times and the internet played a paramount role in that," she added.
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