Runners love to run. Runners love to talk about running. Runners love to plan and analyze their runs. Runners love to dream about running. Runners love to read about running, too. In this list of running books we love, you will find humor, practical advice, adventure, and some insight into what pushes us to the boundaries of our mental and physical limits.
If you’re looking for motivation, inspiration, a good laugh, or a thoughtful gift for your running bestie… read on!
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek
After years of success in the ultra running world, Scott Jurek decided to up the ante and run the Appalachian Trail. This book tells the story of the emotional and physical strength needed to conquer this Herculean task as well as the personal transformation that resulted.
Mike Cooke, a runner who spoke with us says this about any Jurek insight: “I love Scott’s books because he has every right to brag about being an amazing ultra runner, but comes off in this, and other books that talk about him, as a very humble down to earth person. He makes it easy to believe that everyone can achieve greatness if they do the work. He doesn’t claim to have the heart of a champion or say he’s blessed, gifted, or special, as a way to set himself above the people he competes against. He’s great because he worked hard and enjoyed doing it. Hearing someone speak passionately about their craft, in a way that urges people to just try things, is fantastic. I read about him winning races and then standing on the line to welcome every runner until the last one had crossed. I don’t care if it happened once, or a hundred times, that’s a class move. He strikes me as a “me vs me” guy and not a “me vs everyone” guy.”
The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn
The author, Adharanand Finn, was challenged by his editor to run an ultramarathon after writing two successful running books. He got hooked and decided to write this book which examines the question many have about this extreme form of running… is it an antidote to modern life, or a symptom of a modern illness? He talks about what it took for him to become an ultramarathoner and offers insight into what pushes people to test the boundaries of what the human body can handle. Expect to find interviews with “many colorful characters” as well as descriptions of the highs and lows that come along with ultra running. A can’t miss for anyone considering an ultra race!
Running & Being: The Total Experience by Dr. George Sheehan
This is a book is as much about running as it is about life. It provides a philosophical outline for a lifetime of fitness and joy, showing how the body helps determine our mental and spiritual energies.
DC Lucchesi has been running (and writing) for a minute, as the kids say. This book still holds a special place on his shelf. “Sheehan is the runner’s writer, or perhaps the writer’s runner. Depends on from which angle you’re looking. Regardless, the 1978 classic still holds up in many respects. Most notably in Sheehan’s philosophy on why runners must run. Would you take training advice from a 40-plus-year-old manual? Most likely not. Sheehan (almost) predicts the shelf life of this part of the book in pointing to the constantly changing and sometimes conflicting information about diet and exercise. In the end, he says, it is all still a practice and we’re all really just an experiment of one. Those of us who embrace the opportunity to keep “play” — whatever that looks like — as part of our lives, will finish with a life fully-lived and completely experienced. It is play that keeps the body and the mind young and in balance with the intellectual, the labor, that is our work.”
If you know, you know, and if you don’t this book will tell you. It’s not just about hitting the portajohn before a race, though. “Despite the title, this book really does have a ton of super helpful information. From nutrition tips to racing strategies, Kita has done her research and lays out simple pointers from experienced runners, physicians, dieticians and coaches. It’s a great reference,” says Lisa Landrum of Forward Motion and runCLTrun.
In addition to the entries above, check out these fan favorites that have been staples for years:
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
If you are looking for a story of triumph over adversity, this is the book for you. The author endured poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse during his childhood but managed to transform himself from a depressed, overweight young man into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. This book is chock full of inspiration for pushing past the pain to reach your full potential. The advice applies to running and to life. A can’t miss if you are looking to not only be motivated but to be inspired!
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
Tired of dealing with running injuries and eager to know the secret to avoiding them while training? Look no further than this story centered around the Tarahumara Indians. This tribe resides in Mexico’s Copper Canyons and has honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. The author brings you along on his journey across North America as he researches what gives ultra runners the ability to push their bodies to the limit. The book ends with 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.
Marathon, Revised and Updated 5th Edition by Hal Higdon
Hal Higdon is a household name when it comes to running. He progressed from running in college, to the Olympic trials, to placing fifth in the Boston Marathon. He is the longest-lasting writer at Runner’s World and has written more than 3 dozen running books. Countless runners of all levels have used this book as a manual for how to start training, how to maintain motivation, and how to improve their marathon performance. Marathon running has changed in the seven years since the fourth edition—there are more runners than ever before, the popularity of half-marathons has grown immensely, and guidelines for best recovery and diet practices have changed. This revised fifth edition includes a new chapter on ultramarathons, along with material on recovery techniques, several new training programs, and advice on how to win a Boston qualifying race and improve your personal record. If you are looking for advice and training plans that are tried and true- this is the book for you!
So there you have it. From practical advice to inspiration and everything in between. Enjoy these books about running that will stoke your love for the sport, and fill you with the desire to stay moving!