The idea of writing a book first popped into Nick Symmonds' head a few years ago, when he started reading Andre Agassi's autobiography "Open." It wasn't until he started blogging for Runner's World Magazine and editor Scott Douglas told him to put his story together that Symmonds believed his life should be put to paper.
"Looking back on it was a very cathartic exercise to put this all down," Symmonds said. "It brought back a lot of memories. Some were good memories and others were painful memories."
Symmonds said one of the toughest parts of the book to write was describing his time at Willamette University, where he became a national star but clashed with a coach. He believes Willamette was not ready to handle the training of an Olympic-caliber athlete.
"I hope that [Willamette] reads this." Symmonds said. "I hope that other Division III schools read this and realize that some athletes go to D-III schools because it's the right match for them. Even though they want to continue to be student-athletes, the athlete part of their character needs nurturing just as much as the academic side."
Shots are not just fired at his college coach and the former athletic director, Mark Majeski. Much like Symmonds has been when battling athlete sponsorship restrictions, he is vocal about his dealings with USA Track and Field within the 230 pages of his book.
"When I said I was going to throw some punches, I didn't want to call out individual athletes," Symmonds said. "I wanted to call out the governing bodies and I did that a bit in the book. It's always been a part of my brand and that is to say it is the responsibility of these governing bodies to look out for the rights of the athletes and so many times they fail to take care of their job."
USATF was not given an advanced copy of the book.
"They can buy a copy and I'll take my royalty," Symmonds said. "For them to filter all these funds coming down from the IOC and other revenue streams, peel off their share and let a little bit trickle down to the athletes is just not fair and doesn't make sense to me."
Symmonds had to be careful while firing away, and so with the help of a team of lawyers he found a good fit with Cindy Johnson and Cool Titles in Beverly Hills. Symmonds just had to agree to writing the book himself without a ghostwriter.
Balancing writing a book and training was not easy after a season in which the two-time Olympian brought home an 800-meter silver medal for the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. Cool Titles requested a first draft of the book in their hands by February 2014.
"I knew that I would be training with Olympic silver [medalist] Leo Manzano in San Luis Potosi [Mexico] in January and I would have a ton of time available there," Symmonds said. "Down in Mexico, with no distractions and free time in the afternoon, I'd try to spend two to three hours trying to get my story out."
Some chapters were easy and fun to crank out. Symmonds delves into the life of a professional runner on the circuit, addresses doping in the sport and even includes email exchanges between him and Paris Hilton.
"It started off as a publicity stunt and it ended up something that was really cool. I formed a relationship with this person that meant a lot to me," Symmonds said. "We had a really nice date, texted back and forth. Instead of viewing her as a public figure, I saw her as a friend."
At 30 years old, Symmonds still expects to run on one more Olympic team in 2016. He decided to publish the book at one of the highest points of his career and in a year in which there is no Olympic Games or World Championship to focus on. Symmonds ends his book with insight into the contract negotiations between Nike and Brooks in early 2014.
Sidelined by injury for all of the 2014 outdoor season, Symmonds has lost out on appearance fees and race winnings on the international circuit. In a sport in which some athletes make as little as $5,000 annually, Symmonds turned to coach and mentor Sam Lapray for advice.
"I went up to Coach Sam and I said, 'Coach, it's killing me each week to pass up this free money.' He said we just need to find a way to get that money back," Symmonds said. "Other sponsorship opportunities have been big. Having the guaranteed contract with Brooks has been a life saver. If I was probably with any other shoe company, I would've been dropped and that would've been my career."
Symmonds and Lapray are in the process of selling a tanning salon franchise and will launch a new nationwide product in the next two to three weeks. The chapters are still yet to be written on what's next for Nick Symmonds and Nick Symmonds, LLC.