If you love books and love running, you’re in the right place. In this article, we summarize the 17 best running books ever. Ready? Let’s go.
Running is a mental game
As we runners know, running is a mental game. If we can fill our minds with the right information, we stand a much better chance at succeeding in running. Both in terms of the physical act and in overall appreciation for the sport itself. I believe that reading running books can help fill our minds with this ‘right’ information.
Reading and reading for runners
Not everyone reads anymore, but I believe reading regular reading can make a huge difference to the quality of your life. Reading allows us to learn new information, explore new worlds and can also be a way to indulge in our passions. For these reasons, runners stand to gain lots from adopting a reading habit.
If you currently don’t have a reading habit, I’d seriously recommend you try and start one. 15-20 minutes a day will be more than enough. It might not seem like you’re learning at lot with your daily reading session but, over time, the results of a consistent disciplined effort accumulate and your life changes.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional marathoner, running books give you a collection of humor, inspiration, and experience move in the right direction. Books give you some ways to increase your understanding of optimum racing.
If you’re a runner who loves reading, chances are you’ve already read a few great running books. However, perhaps you have missed a few titles along the way or have some on the list which you haven’t yet read.
It is always great to be provoked, motivated, and inspired by the words of the great writers. We have compiled some of the best running books for you that are amazing at sparking your motivation and enthusiasm for your overall running goals.
Some books on the list focus on becoming a better runner. Others focus on historic journeys of the great names in the sport, such as Meb Keflezighi, explaining all of the big marathons in his prominent career and Scott Jurek Appalachian Trail journey.
Whatever your needs and tastes, you’ll find something in the following list of 17 best running books ever.
1. Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women’s Running Revolutionary
The true story is set in 1967, a difficult time for female runners. An era when the Olympic marathon distance for women was shorter than the standard marathon, at 25.6 miles, and women were discouraged from the running altogether.
On May 6, 1967, Maureen Wilton, tried to break the women’s marathon world record. Having excelled in running from the age of ten where she had accomplished many achievements in the sport, Maureen was confident she could do it.
In a small race competition a few miles from home, she completed five laps of a 5-mile course on a dusty road with one woman and 28 men. At a mere 13 years old, Maureen broke the record in a time of 3:19. Inspiring.
As incredible as this victory was, Maureen was greeted with accusations of cheating and chauvinistic disapproval. Sadly, Maureen quit running, as this unjust controversy took its toll within less than two years after accomplishing the record.
Decades later, Maureen finds her way back to the sport. In this excellent and inspiring biography for all racers and readers of all ages, we are shown an intelligent young athletes’ achievements and determination to get back onto the life-changing road of running.
2. Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery
In this fantastic research driven book, we learn how humans have tried to perfect the art of recovery after a workout to try and boost fitness in training and sports.
In recent years, recovery has turned into a huge industry. Any person who takes part in a competition or works out is bombarded with modern recovery services and products that range from shakes and drinks to sleep trackers, foam rollers, electrical muscle stimulators and compression sleeves. Christie Aschwanden takes readers through this strange world of recovery by enlightening and entertaining them.
The writer explores whether several drinks such as beer or Gatorade after training hinder or help runners or racers’ performance. She investigates recent sports recovery trends among famous sports stars, such as gymnast Simone Biles or NFL star Tom Brady’s.
Along the way, the author tests various controversial methods of recovery and healing such as infrared saunas, float tanks and cryogenic chambers. Do they work as the claims say they will? Read and find out.
3. Born to Run
Born to Run is the New York Times Best Seller that answers just one simple question. Why does my foot hurt? For this, the writer did significant research by meeting the world’s greatest runners; the Tarahumara who live deep in Mexico’s copper canyons.
If you are interested in the barefoot running community, Born to Run should be included in your list. In this book, McDougall tells the story about an incredible hidden tribe’s secrets for running hundreds of miles in one go, with smart observation and tremendous narrative.
It’s reported that shoe companies started to research this book for working on new minimalist shoes and the promotion of minimalist and barefoot. It’s argued that Christopher McDougall sparked a barefoot running craze from this book’s publication.
4. Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger From Sports Injuries
If you have any injury and are confused about recovery, then you are not alone. This book explores a range of personal narratives from formerly injured athletes and experts to give tips and tricks to help injury recovery.
The book is filled with factual evidence, opinions, and appropriate scientific research to make it a credible companion to injury prevention and (hopefully not) injury treatment.
5. Run the Mile You’re In: Finding God in Every Step
Ryan Hall was one of the most well-known runners of America until his retirement in 2016. ‘Run the mile you’re in’ is a complete book that explains the sports career of Ryan Hall from the start of his achievements as a teenager to his retirement.
A former Olympic athlete and American record holder in the half marathon (59:43), Ryan’s career has been nothing short from astounding. 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.
Ryan Hall speaks about the magic of running and the importance of being present. He explains how his faith helped him overcome all the obstacles on his path to running greatness.
6. Once a Runner: A Novel (fiction)
If fiction is your thing and you want some inspiration, I’d strongly recommend this book.
The story follows a university student (Quenton Cassidy) and his running team mates through a period of heavy training during which they are embroiled in a sporting controversy which leads to Cassidy being sidelined on the track just when the world mile record holder is going to be competing at a local meet.
7. Running up that hill
Ultra-running is a life changing, transformative experience.
The author of Running up that Hill, Vassos Alexander, recalls his time running through countries, across mountains, cities, and even in an ultra-run in Paris, in a powerful celebration of endurance running.
You will learn what keeps ultra-runners ticking week after week, day after day and mile after mile in this enthusiastic. If you’re an avid ultra-runner, or interested in running longer distances, you’ll love this book.
8. What I Talk about When I Talk About Running By Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author who has a special passion for running.
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and on his writing.
Equal parts travelogue, training log and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and settings ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston.
This book describes a revelatory and rich work that elevates the human need for motion to an art form by turning philosophical and playful. You won’t look at running the same way after reading this book. Greatly recommended.
9. Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race against Time
Age is just a number, and nobody incorporates that more than the Author of this book ‘Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race against Time.’
Ida Keeling lost her two sons, who were brutally killed, and she never found justice. Ida felt that she could not hope anymore and did not have the power to carry on. But, at some stage, Ida’s daughter encouraged her to begin to chase the paralyzing sorrow from her heart. How did she do that? With the power of running.
At 104 years old, Ida Keeling was still racing and was often the participant of her age group. In her memoir, she shares inspiring stories from her excellent running career which started at the ripe age of sixty-seven.
This book is all about the inspirational story of Ida overcoming multiple bouts of depression, pushing through societal struggles of the civil rights movement, raising four children as a single parent, and overcoming heart ache, with plenty of running along the way.
I love this book because it serves an as excellent example of the fact that age is just a number. If you want to start running, go for it. Don’t let age stop you! If someone can run at 104, you can run at whatever age you currently are.
10. What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
To everyone that knew her, it seemed that Maddy Holleran had it all. A 19-year-old in an Ivy League college, with plenty of friends, just recruited to the track team and smashing competitors in each race. However, it all changed one day when Maddy started to become withdrawn and lose interest in the world. I
In this touching book, we’re told the sensitive true story of Maddy’s life. How she started as a successful and prolific runner with bundles of academic talents, and tragically committed suicide after a bout of mental illness possibly caused by an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.
11. Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier
Running improves energy leaves, builds a healthier heart, and cultivates stronger muscles. But, for the people who are suffering from mental health issues, running works as an anti-depressant.
Using a rich body of scientific research and literature, the author Scott Douglas creates a compelling argument for running being the best natural tonic to mental health problems.
12. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron (fiction)
In this heartwarming novel, Jean Patricks longs to one day be in the Olympics. With tons of discipline and grueling training, he manages to beat a world qualifying time. However, his chances of becoming an Olympian are threatened by ethnic tensions erupting around him.
When Hutu violence against Tutsis finally crescendos and his homeland of Rwanda is wracked by unforgivable atrocities, Jean – a Tutsi – has no choice to run for his life, his family, and the women of his dreams. Will he ever find them again?
13. Daniel’s running formula
For runner’s who want a practical, step-by-step guide to becoming the best runner they can be, this is the right book.
In this book, Jack Daniels provides runners with his legendary ‘VDOT’ formula which acts as a guide for training at exactly the right intensity to run for stronger, longer and faster.
Whether your goal is to run 800 meters, 1500 meters, 2 miles, or even a marathon, Jack Daniel’s running formula can help you on your way.
Each program helps you to build endurance, speed and strength. Daniel’s running formula is the most accessible, comprehensive and instantly applicable edition available to date.
14. Summits of My Life: Daring Adventures on the World’s Greatest Peaks
Kilian Jornet is the world’s fastest mountain climber, ultrarunner, and ski mountaineer and his Summits of My Life project is his most ambitious achievement: the 29 year-old Spaniard challenged ascent and descent records for the world’s most important mountains including Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Mt. Elbrus, Denali, Aconcagua, and Mount Everest.
By using all his talent in ultrarunning, climbing, and skiing, Jornet made worldwide headlines with his jaw-dropping, superhuman climbs.
15. The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance
The award-winning author came up with the idea for the book upon noticing a huge global increase in the number of ultra-runners. What is ultrarunning?
Ultrarunning is typically running extremely long distances. In race terms, an ultra-marathon is any distance beyond the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Some ultra-marathons, like Bad water, last up to 130 miles! It’s not uncommon for an ultra-marathoner to train for at least 10 miles or more every single day.
In the book, Finn offers unique insight into those that test the boundaries of human endeavor, adding some of his own ultrarunning experiences along the way.
16. Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero
The second book on this list by barefoot running guru, Christopher McDougall. In Running with Sherman, McDougall takes in a neglected donkey and aims to get him back to decent health.
At first, Sherman is uncooperative and foul tempered. It’s clear his poor treatment, abuse and physical neglect has made him deeply fearful of humans.
Chris is aware that Sherman, as a donkey, will need a purpose if he is to feel motivated and excited about life again. That’s when he learns about the sport of Burro racing (running with donkeys!).
In the touching book, McDougall makes it his mission to become a Burro racer and give Sherman something worth living for. A touching tale of humans, donkeys, companionship and running.
17. 26 Marathons: What I learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From My Marathon Career
26 Marathons is The New York Times Bestseller book about the legendary career of Meb Keflezighi which brought American distance running back to its former glory, winning races all over the world.
When four-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi ran his final marathon in New York City on November 5, 2017, it marked the end of an extraordinary distance-running career. Meb will be remembered as the only person in history to win both the Boston and New York City marathons as well as an Olympic marathon silver medal.
Meb’s last marathon was also his 26th, and each of those 26 marathons has come with its own unique challenges, rewards, and outcomes for him.
Through focused narrative, Meb describes key moments and triumphs that made each marathon a unique learning experience and shows runners–whether recreational or professional–how to apply the lessons he’s learned to their own running and lives.
65 Marathons contains many practical tips gained from a life of professional running, including tips on nutrition, training, patience, discipline, identify and faith. You will love this book.