In this article, we will discuss some of the best running books that are available. There are many great running books out there that can help you improve your running. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner, there is a book out there that can help you.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Are you ready to start running? Whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner, these are the best running books to keep you motivated and help you improve your performances. From training plans to motivating stories, these books will help you reach your running goals.
1. Best Running Books Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The astonishing and hugely entertaining story that completely changed the way we run. An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?
“Equal parts quest, physiology treatise, and running history…. The climactic race reads like a sprint…. It simply makes you want to run.” —Outside Magazine
Isolated by Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.
2. Best Running Books: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is an illuminating glimpse into the solitary passions of one of our greatest artists.
While training for the New York City Marathon, Haruki Murakami decided to keep a journal of his progress. The result is a memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid recollections and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, here is a rich and revelatory work that elevates the human need for motion to an art form.
3. Best Running Books: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor
New York Times Best Seller
Deena Kastor was a star youth runner with tremendous promise, yet her career almost ended after college, when her competitive method – run as hard as possible, for fear of losing – fostered a frustration and negativity and brought her to the brink of burnout. On the verge of quitting, she took a chance and moved to the high altitudes of Alamosa, Colorado, where legendary coach Joe Vigil had started the first professional distance-running team. There she encountered the idea that would transform her running career: the notion that changing her thinking – shaping her mind to be more encouraging, kind, and resilient – could make her faster than she’d ever imagined possible. Building a mind so strong would take years of effort and discipline, but it would propel Kastor to the pinnacle of running – to American records in every distance from the 5K to the marathon – and to the accomplishment of earning America’s first Olympic medal in the marathon in 20 years.
Let Your Mind Run is a fascinating, intimate look inside the mind of an elite athlete, a remarkable story of achievement, and an insightful primer on how the small steps of cultivating positivity can give anyone a competitive edge.
4. Best Running Books: Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.
The undisputed classic of running novels and one of the most beloved sports books ever published, Once a Runner tells the story of an athlete’s dreams amid the turmoil of the 60s and the Vietnam war.
Inspired by the author’s experience as a collegiate champion, the novel follows Quenton Cassidy, a competitive runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school’s athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes’ protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life against the greatest miler in history.
A rare insider’s account of the incredibly intense lives of elite distance runners, Once a Runner is an inspiring, funny, and spot-on tale of one individual’s quest to become a champion.
5. Best Running Books: Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force – and darling – in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. In 1999, as a complete unknown, he took the lead of the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile traverse over the old Gold Rush trails of the California Sierra Nevada. He won that race seven years in a row, setting a course record along the way.
Twice he won the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile “jaunt” through Death Valley. Recently he set an American record of 165.7 miles in 24 hours – 6 1/2 marathons in one day. And he was one of the elite runners who traveled to Mexico to run with the Tarahumara Indians, as profiled in the best seller Born to Run. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary, but that he has achieved all of this on a plant-based diet makes his story all the more so.
In Eat and Run, Scott Jurek opens up about his life and career – as an elite athlete and a vegan – and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family, to his early beginnings in running (he hated it), to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, to his world-spanning, record-breaking races, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart all the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance.
Chock-full of incredible, on-the-brink stories of endurance and competition, fascinating science, and accessible practical advice – including his own favorite plant-based recipes – Eat and Run will motivate everyone to “go the distance”, whether that means getting out for that first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of your own potential.
6. Best Running Books: Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear
In RUNNING WITH THE BUFFALOES, writer Chris Lear follows the University of Colorado cross-country team through an unforgettable NCAA season. Allowed unparalleled access to team practices, private moments, and the mind of Mark Wetmore–one of the country’s most renowned and controversial coaches–Lear provides a riveting look inside the triumphs and heartaches of a perennial national contender and the men who will stop at nothing to achieve excellence. The Buffaloes’ 1998 season held great promise, with Olympic hopeful Adam Goucher poised for his first-ever NCAA cross-country title, and the University of Colorado shooting for its first-ever national team title. But in the rigorous world of top-level collegiate sports, blind misfortune can sabotage the dreams of individuals and teams alike. In a season plagued by injury and the tragic loss of a teammate, the Buffaloes were tested as never before. What these men managed to achieve in the face of such adversity is the stuff of legend and glory.
With passion and suspense, Lear captures the lives of these young men and offers a glimpse of what drives a gifted runner like Adam Goucher and a great coach like Mark Wetmore. Like Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike, RUNNING WITH THE BUFFALOES is at once a glowing celebration of a sport and an inspiration to anyone who has ever had the courage to beat the odds and follow a dream.
7. Best Running Books: North by Scott Jurek
From the author of the best seller Eat and Run, a thrilling new memoir about his grueling, exhilarating, and immensely inspiring 46 day run to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.
Scott Jurek is one of the world’s best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he’s finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. North is the story of the 2,189 mile journey that nearly shattered him.
When he set out in the spring of 2015, Jurek anticipated punishing terrain, forbidding weather, and inevitable injuries. He would have to run nearly 50 miles a day, every day, for almost seven weeks. He knew he would be pushing himself to the limit, that comfort and rest would be in short supply – but he couldn’t have imagined the physical and emotional toll the trip would exact, nor the rewards it would offer.
With his wife, Jenny, friends, and the kindness of strangers supporting him, Jurek ran, hiked, and stumbled his way north, one white blaze at a time. A stunning narrative of perseverance and personal transformation, North is a portrait of a man stripped bare on the most demanding and transcendent effort of his life. It will inspire runners and non-runners alike to keep striving for their personal best.
8. Best Running Books: Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
In one of his most ambitious physical efforts to date, Dean Karnazes attempted to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days to raise awareness of youth obesity and urge Americans of all fitness levels to “take that next step.”
“UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons – 50 States – 50 Days”, a Journeyfilm documentary, follows Dean’s incredible step-by-step journey across the country.
Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of “what it feels like to be truly alive,” says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle.
9. Best Running Books: 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi
New York Times Best Seller
A world-class runner and four-time Olympian shares the life lessons he’s learned from each of the 26 marathons he’s run in his storied career.
“An athlete whose wisdom and lessons aren’t just for runners.” (The Washington Post)
When Meb Keflezighi – the first person in history to win both the Boston and New York City marathons as well as an Olympic marathon medal – ran his final marathon in New York City on November 5, 2017, it marked the end of an extraordinary distance-running career.
Meb’s last marathon was also his 26th, and each of those marathons has come with its own unique challenges, rewards, and outcomes. In 26 Marathons, Meb takes listeners on those legendary races, along every hill, bend, and unexpected turn of events that made each marathon an exceptional learning experience, and a fascinating story.
26 Marathons offers the wisdom Meb has gleaned about life, family, identity, and faith in addition to tips about running, training, and nutrition. He shows runners of all levels how to apply the lessons he’s learned to their own running and lives. Equal parts inspiration and practical advice, 26 Marathons provides an inside look at the life and success of one of the greatest runners living today.
Praise for 26 Marathons
“26 Marathons is a swift read, guaranteed to be popular with student athletes plus hard-core and recreational runners, who will undoubtedly agree that Meb is an American treasure and running ambassador who never fails to inspire.” (Booklist, starred review)
“26 Marathons gives great insight about the ups and downs in marathon running and how to cope with them. As Meb shows, dealing with these marathon experiences help us become better in our lives.” (Eliud Kipchoge, Marathon World Record Holder and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist)
“Meb’s 26 Marathons is like opening a treasure chest full of inspiring stories that give behind-the-scenes glimpse into the mental and physical joys and obstacles that elite-level racing can bring. His advice on training, overcoming injuries, and adversity is for everyone. It’s pure gold!” (Shalane Flanagan, 2017 TCS NYC Marathon Champion)
10. Best Running Books: Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Tupper Daniels
Train for your next race with the man who has been called “the world’s best running coach.” With more than 55 years of experience, Jack Daniels is a legendary figure in the running community. Named the National Coach of the Year by the NCAA and honored as the Division III Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Century, Daniels has mentored some of the greatest names in running, including Jim Ryun, Ken Martin, Jerry Lawson, Alicia Shay, Peter Gilmore, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom. In Daniels’ Running Formula, he has shared training advice with hundreds of thousands of runners. Now in this updated—and definitive—fourth edition, he again refines his methods and strategies to help you run faster and stronger.
Building upon his revolutionary VDOT system, Daniels incorporates new insights gained from studying participants in his unique Run SMART Project. You’ll be guided through the components that make the training formula work and then learn different types of training—including treadmill training, fitness training, and training at altitude or in other challenging environments—along with age-related modifications for runners from ages 6 to 80.
Everything comes together with expert advice on event-specific training ranging—for runs ranging from 800 meters to ultradistance events and triathlons. You will find advice on setting up your own seasonal plan, or you can follow one of Daniels’ 31 proven training plans and workouts. You’ll even find four fitness running plans, from novice level to elite level, to get in shape or regain conditioning after injury.
Join the thousands of runners who have relied on Jack Daniels to help them reach their peak running performance. Using the programs outlined in Daniels’ Running Formula, you too can achieve the results you seek every time you train and race.
11. Best Running Books: Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn
“Completely satisfying, as well-paced and exhilarating as a good run.”—The Boston Globe
Whether running is your recreation or your religion, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate and inspire you, as he ventures to uncover the secrets of the fastest people on earth. Finn’s mesmerizing quest combines a fresh look at barefoot running, practical advice on the sport, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream: to run with his heroes. Uprooting his family of five, Finn traveled to a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya—a mecca for long-distance runners, thanks to its high altitude, endless paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. There Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren, and meet a cast of unforgettable characters. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running—and about life.
12. Best Running Books: Endure by Alex Hutchinson
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell
Limits are an illusion: discover the revolutionary account of the science and psychology of endurance, revealing the secrets of reaching the hidden extra potential within us all.
“A voyage to the outer reaches of human capacity.” —David Epstein, author of Range
“Reveals how we can all surpass our perceived physical limits.” —Adam Grant
The capacity to endure is the key trait that underlies great performance in virtually every field. But what if we all can go farther, push harder, and achieve more than we think we’re capable of?
Blending cutting-edge science and gripping storytelling in the spirit of Malcolm Gladwell—who contributes the book’s foreword—award-winning journalist Alex Hutchinson reveals that a wave of paradigm-altering research over the past decade suggests the seemingly physical barriers you encounter as set as much by your brain as by your body. This means the mind is the new frontier of endurance—and that the horizons of performance are much more elastic than we once thought.
But, of course, it’s not “all in your head.” For each of the physical limits that Hutchinson explores—pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, fuel—he carefully disentangles the delicate interplay of mind and body by telling the riveting stories of men and women who’ve pushed their own limits in extraordinary ways.
The longtime “Sweat Science” columnist for Outside and Runner’s World, Hutchinson, a former national-team long-distance runner and Cambridge-trained physicist, was one of only two reporters granted access to Nike’s top-secret training project to break the two-hour marathon barrier, an extreme quest he traces throughout the book. But the lessons he draws from shadowing elite athletes and from traveling to high-tech labs around the world are surprisingly universal. Endurance, Hutchinson writes, is “the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop”—and we’re always capable of pushing a little farther.
13. Best Running Books: Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
“Finding Ultra blends Rich Roll’s story of superhuman personal transformation with an amazingly practical guide to plant-based living. It’s also an enlightened manifesto for anyone wanting to transform their life.”—Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Zones books
“An incredible story of mental, emotional, and physical endurance.”—Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Die
On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.
Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.
One of Men’s Fitness Magazine’s “25 Fittest Men in the World,” Rich has become one of the most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In this newly revised and updated edition, he shares the practices, tools, and techniques he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols. Rich reflects on the steps he took to shift his mindset and leverage deep reservoirs of untapped potential to achieve success beyond his wildest imagination, urging each of us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery.
14. Best Running Books: The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn
Marathons are no longer impressive.
Pain is to be relished, not avoided.
Hallucinations are perfectly normal.
Ultra running defies conventional logic. Yet this most brutal and challenging sport is now one of the fastest growing in the world. But is it an antidote to modern life or a symptom of a modern illness?
Adharanand Finn travelled to the heart of the sport to find out – and to see if could become an ultra runner himself. His journey took him from the deserts of Oman to the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, and from a 24-hour track race in Tooting to his ultimate goal, the 105-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
The Rise of the Ultra Runners is the electrifying, inspirational account of what he learned along the way. Through encounters with the sport’s many colourful characters and his experiences of its soaring highs and crushing lows, Finn offers an unforgettable insight into what can be found at the boundaries of human endeavour.
15. Best Running Books: Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon by Brad Hudson
Learn how to run faster, unlock your potential, and reach peak performance with training advice from a former Olympic trials marathoner and coach to Olympians like Dathan Ritzenhein.
Hudson is the most innovative running coach to come along in a generation. Until now, only a handful of elite athletes have been able to benefit from his methods. Now Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon shows all runners how to coach themselves as confidently and effectively as Brad coaches his world-class athletes. Becoming your own best coach is the ticket to running faster at any distance.
First, you will learn to assess your abilities. Then you’ll learn how to devise a training program specifically geared to you. Filled with easy-to-follow sample training programs for distances ranging from the 5K to the marathon and abilities ranging from novice to advanced, Run Faster is the cutting-edge guide for optimal performance.
With Hudson’s guidance, you can train smarter and more effectively—and avoid injury. And you’ll soon be running faster than you ever thought possible!
16. Best Running Books: Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan
Cook the recipes that Shalane Flanagan ate while training for her 2017 TCS New York City Marathon historic win!
IACP AWARD FINALIST
The New York Times bestseller Run Fast. Eat Slow. taught runners of all ages that healthy food could be both indulgent and incredibly nourishing. Now, Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky are back with a cookbook that’s full of recipes that are fast and easy without sacrificing flavor. Whether you are an athlete, training for a marathon, someone who barely has time to step in the kitchen, or feeding a hungry family, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. has wholesome meals to sustain you.
Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. is full of pre-run snacks, post-run recovery breakfasts, on-the-go lunches, and 30-minutes-or-less dinner recipes. Each and every recipe—from Shalane and Elyse’s signature Superhero muffins to energizing smoothies, grain salads, veggie-loaded power bowls, homemade pizza, and race day bars—provides fuel and nutrition without sacrificing taste or time.
17. Best Running Books: ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer
The revised edition of the bestselling ChiRunning, a groundbreaking program from ultra-marathoner and nationally-known coach Danny Dreyer, that teaches you how to run faster and farther with less effort, and to prevent and heal injuries for runners of any age or fitness level.
In ChiRunning, Danny and Katherine Dreyer, well-known walking and running coaches, provide powerful insight that transforms running from a high-injury sport to a body-friendly, injury-free fitness phenomenon. ChiRunning employs the deep power reserves in the core muscles, an approach found in disciplines such as yoga, Pilates, and T’ai Chi.
ChiRunning enables you to develop a personalized exercise program by blending running with the powerful mind-body principles of T’ai Chi:
-Get aligned: Develop great posture and reduce your potential for injury while running, and make knee pain and shin splints a thing of the past.
-Engage your core: Shift the workload from your leg muscles to your core muscles, for efficiency and speed.
-Add relaxation to your running: Learn to focus your mind and relax your body to increase speed and distance.
-Make it a Mindful Practice: Maintain high performance and make running a mindful, enjoyable life-long practice.
It’s easy to learn. Transform your running with the ten-step ChiRunning training program.
18. Best Running Books: Lore of Running, 4th Edition by Timothy Noakes
Lore of Running gives you incomparable detail on physiology, training, racing, injuries, world-class athletes, and races.
Author Tim Noakes blends the expertise of a physician and research scientist with the passion of a dedicated runner to answer the most pressing questions for those who are serious about the sport:
-How your body systems respond to training, the effects of different training methods, how to detect and avoid overtraining, and genetic versus trainable potential
-How to train for the 10K up through ultramarathon with detailed programs from Noakes and several leading running experts
-How to prevent and treat injuries, increase your strength and flexibility, and use proper nutrition for weight control and maximum performance
You’ll also find a candid analysis of supplements and ergogenic effects and training aids. The book includes new interviews with 10 world-class runners who share their secrets to success and longevity in the sport. Features on legendary figures and events in running history provide fascinating insights.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Lore of Running is not only the biggest and best running publication on the planet. It’s the one book every runner should own.
19. Best Running Books: How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald
The greatest athletic performances spring from the mind, not the body. Elite athletes have known this for decades, and now science is learning why it’s true. In his fascinating new book, How Bad Do You Want It?, coach Matt Fitzgerald examines more than a dozen pivotal races to discover the surprising ways elite athletes strengthen their mental toughness.
Fitzgerald puts you into the pulse-pounding action of more than a dozen epic races from running, cycling, triathlon, XTERRA, and rowing with thrilling race reports and revealing postrace interviews with the elites. Their own words reinforce what the research has found: Strong mental fitness lets us approach our true physical limits, giving us an edge over physically stronger competitors. Each chapter explores the how and why of an elite athlete’s transformative moment, revealing powerful new psychobiological principles you can practice to flex your own mental fitness.
The new psychobiological model of endurance performance shows that the most important question in endurance sports is: How bad do you want it? Fitzgerald’s fascinating book will forever change how you answer this question and show you how to master the psychology of mind over muscle. These lessons will help you push back your limits and uncover your full potential.
20. Best Running Books: Run the Mile You’re In by Ryan Hall
Journey with Olympian Ryan Hall as he reflects on the joys and trials of the running life and, along the way, shows you how his faith has helped him win in his workouts, races, and overall mindset.
Ryan Hall is an Olympic athlete and American record holder in the half marathon (59:43). But as a kid, Ryan hated running. He wanted nothing to do with the sport until one day, he felt compelled to run the 15 miles around his neighborhood lake. He was hooked.
Starting that day, Ryan felt a God-given purpose in running. He knew he could, and would, race with the best runners in the world and that his talent was a gift to serve others. These two truths launched Ryan’s 20-year athletic career and guided him through epic failures and exceptional breakthroughs to competing at the highest level.
Now a coach, speaker, and nonprofit partner, Ryan shares the powerful faith behind his athletic achievements and the lessons he learned that helped him push past limits, make space for relationships that enrich life on and off the running trails, and cultivate a positive mindset.
Lessons such as:
- Learning how to focus on your purpose and say no to distractions
- Select and strive for the right goals – goals for the heart and the body
- How to deal with defeat and disappointment
- How to endure immense pain and build resilience
- Running as if you’ve already won
Ryan’s story is one of encouragement and inspiration for listeners of any age and level of running ability – or none at all. It’s a story that shows that you, too, can change your outlook, see God’s hand in your life, and run the race that really matters.
The above list of running books is comprised of books that will help any runner, whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. These books offer advice on everything from how to start running to how to improve your time. Whether you are looking for a book to help you train for your first 5K or you are looking for a book to help you qualify for the Boston Marathon, there is a book on this list for you. If you are serious about taking your running to the next level, then make sure to check out at least one of these running books.