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Running Books: 23 Of The Best Books For Runners

Here are 23 of the best running books for those beginning out with running or even the most professional of runners.

Running books: 23 of the best books for runners

Our recommended collection will cover everything from motivational memoirs, grueling training regimes, and also some more lighthearted approaches to the typical running book.


Jog On: How Running Saved My Life

First on our list is a funny yet thought-provoking, self-help book that entails author Bella Mackie relaying her experiences with mental health and how running really pulled her from the depths of despair and gave her hope for the first time in years.

The book is not so much a memoir of Mackie’s experiences, but a reflection and accumulation of inspirational stories from doctors, sportspeople, and friends who share their tips and show how not only running, but exercise can be the first step in turning your life around. 


Marathon Woman

Katherine Switzer is a key figure in one of the most iconic sporting moments of all time.

She was the first woman to run what was at the time, an all male-based Boston Marathon, managing to avoid being physically removed from the race by organizers and going on to finish the race.

The book is overwhelmingly inspirational, not just for women but for all who read it as Switzer recites her determination for changing the image of running despite huge opposition from the public and sporting bodies.

Switzer is witty and candid whilst she commentates on her experiences but also gives great insight into her training routines, motivations, and how to overcome obstacles to achieve success. 


Advanced Marathoning

For marathon buffs or just long-distance runners, this book needs to be part of the furniture in your home and is more so a literary personal trainer than a mere 300 pages of a collection of words.

The book is complete with detailed training schedules, nutrition, and recovery information to guide you to run the complete 26.2 miles and push through boundaries that have held you back before.

Ideal for both mature marathon runners and also amateurs, Advanced Marathoning implements up to date cutting edge science and strategies to optimize performance through the expertise of former Olympic marathoner Pete Pfitzinger.

For those seeking to indulge in running for leisure, this book may be too scientifically and numerically advanced. 


Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes: A Cookbook

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow encompasses the expertise of both four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and author/chef/nutritionist Elyse Kopecky to deliver a book that contains nutrition focussed recipes that are still exciting and delicious.

From breakfasts, snacks, to post-run meals, the book features a variety of recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes.

This book is a gleaming example of how running nutrition can still be indulgent yet easy to make for those who lack skills in the kitchen. 

If you’re just looking to make some positive changes to lead a healthier lifestyle or you’re on the road to your next marathon, this book will be a well-needed addition to your kitchen shelves.


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Adharananad Finn’s immersive account and reflection of his time training alongside some of the best runners in the world definitely rank this book up there with some of the best running books that exist today.

In his book, Finn moves his family and himself to Kenya so he can permeate into the rigorous training and nutritional schedules of the fastest people on earth. 

This piece of work is inspiring from both a professional and personal standpoint as Finn undergoes the mentally demanding and physical process of learning and embarking on these schedules in an ode to finesse the art of running.

An enjoyable and thought-provoking read for those passionate about running or even those who let their curiosity wander. 


26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life from My Marathon Career

The insights and fascinating stories from the first person to win both the New York City and Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi makes this an alluring book for recreational runners and competitors alike.

As he touches on his running tips but also his exceptional outlook on family, faith, and his identity, Keflezighi guides us through the highs and lows of marathon runnings and takes us on a journey of his 26 marathons across his outstanding career.

Meb’s words will resonate with many among us and will spark inspiration for those seeking to improve and achieve in certain aspects of their life, some completely unrelated to running.

Meb’s openness whilst discussing financial and sponsorship issues in chapters will reevaluate people’s perceptions of the sport and in turn, help readers remember that every one of us is human. 


Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe

Becky Wade is a three-time Olympic trials competitor and has dedicated much of her life to the grueling training schedules required for long-distance running.

The pages of Run the World explores the story of Wade’s year-long expedition across 9 countries covering 3,500 miles to investigate and engage in the various cultural applications to the sport of running.

From the streets of Japan to the steep hills of Switzerland and the rough terrain of Ethiopia, Becky adapts to the approaches upheld by professional runners across the globe to incorporate her findings into her regime upon her return to the United States.

The book is more than just a depiction of running, but also an accumulation of adventure, cultural curiosity, and fearlessness that many of us long to embrace.


Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

The national bestseller Born To Run, Christopher McDougall proves wrong the hindering doubt that lives inside us that we’re just not meant to be a runner.

McDougall an award-winning journalist and avid runner who has been restricted by his injuries on numerous occasions embarks on a journey to the Copper Canyons and encapsulates the wisdom and grace of the minimalistic approach to running by the Tarahumara Indians.

Readers will be left in awe by this refreshing outlook on the sport that has changed the running industry forever, based upon McDougall’s findings that modern-day running shoes are a contributor to pitfalls in a runner’s life.

The book has connected those from the running industry and wider communities with the elusive landscapes of exotic countries and has triggered spirit in those who need a hunger for life and adventure again.

It’s a must-read for both runners and those who have zero interest in the sport. 


Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Best selling author, Dean Karnazes tells all in his book Ultramarathon Man, which defies all boundaries of the human body and mind.

Dean has run 262 miles without resting and through his light-hearted memoirs and renditions of his running, he inspires readers to push themselves beyond their limits and taste what life is all about.

The narration by Karnazes is very engaging and captivates us with his tales of unbelievable running feats of which he battles with the power of the mind and overcomes the pain induced by long-distance running.

A short chapter of the book is dedicated to answering his most frequently asked questions where he goes more in-depth into his training and regimes to upkeep his crazy running schedule.

If you need something to give you a gentle push to get outside and run then this book will do the trick. 


401: The Man who Ran 401 Marathons in 401 Days and Changed his Life Forever

In this book, Ben Smith recalls the remarkable story of his journey running 401 marathons in 401 days despite attempting to take his own life not long before.

Ben was on the brink of not existing anymore when he decided to embark on an adventure that would see him sell his possessions and run across 309 locations in the UK raising over $450,000 for charities.

This book will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions and will often break smiles upon the faces of those who choose to read it.

Inspiring people who stand in the face of adversity, this book endeavors to deliver inspiring and gut-wrenchingly honest descriptions of how even the most broken people can discover happiness. 


The Plant Based Runner: A Personal Guide to Running, Healthy Eating, and Discovering a New You

A raw and depictive story from Jonathan Cairns who journey of self-discovery or rediscovery has led to this guide for helping people become a healthier and better version of themselves.

The book incorporates an easy to follow nutrition and training plan which paves a feasible path for inexperienced runners to achieve positive outcomes in their life.

The narrative is authentically honest and recreates this fabricated image of marathon runners who have always been dedicated to fitness.

Cairns will help bring down the barriers that hold you back from running and will motivate you to even just go round the block for 5 minutes. 


Runner's World How to Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know

Meghan Kita’s book is an easy, pick up put down reference guide that covers nearly any running problem you may encounter.

The book is funny, lighthearted but yet truly an informative read for seasoned runners or those looking to take their first steps into the running community.

Kita covers nutrition, running gear, motivation, and training in a compact and well-structured manner to help readers implement tips to improve their running performance.

The cover may make some stay clear but what sits inside is some credible guidance for those who look beyond what sits directly in front of them. 


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Depression Hates a Moving Target illustrates the memoir of Nita Sweeney who overcame her chronic depression and managed to delve deep to discover her inner strength by using exercise with the added companionship of her lovely golden labrador.

Sweeney manages to relay the transformative power of running whilst avoiding the typical preaching tone that many narrators take in novels similar to hers.

Nita has proven how the discipline of a regular running routine has helped shape and focus on her day-to-day challenges in her life.

This will be a heart-healing read for everyone who is in search of the light at the end of the tunnel and also those looking to restate their position in life and have a vision for the future. 


Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Deena Kastor’s memoir is a motivational piece of work for anyone who is disenchanted with the progress that they are making in aspects of their lives.

The book is relatable and will alter even the toughest mentalities to have a new perspective on your overarching goals and outlook on even the most mundane things.

Kastor gives an intimate display of her struggles with overcoming barriers and gives a priceless insight into how taking small steps can cultivate positivity and make you go the extra mile.

The book would be well-loved and appreciated by avid runners or anyone who is just pursuing stimulation for their motivation. 


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (Vintage International), Book Cover May Vary

When anyone within the sports industry discusses books related to running, this memoir by Haruki Murakami is always one of the most highly recommended and talked about options.

Even if you have no interest in running, Murakami’s prose and engrossing thoughts from various settings across the globe will leave you feeling bewitchingly philosophical and also sobered by his honest yet comical depictions of his running journey.

The book doesn’t have a primary focus on his training schedule (of what we know isn’t that extreme anyway!) but shifts towards his correlations between running and writing.

It’s a good, short read and recommended for anyone interested in personal development. 


Lonely Planet Epic Runs of the World

If you’re a zealous adventurous and equal parts enthusiastic runner then this book will be right up your street. The book invites athletes or recreational runners to explore the views from routes of continents all across the world.

The runs vary with difficulty and length and will accommodate a range of skill levels, so whether you’re seeking a short city route or a mountainous challenge, there’ll be something for everyone.

Epic Runs of the World contains 200 runs in total and includes maps, photography, details of the location, and travel advice to help you get to the starting point.

If you’re not interested in running, then this book will still serve well by sitting comfortably on your coffee table for merely aesthetic purposes. 


Running Home: A Memoir

After losing her father to cancer, Katie Arnold turned to the one thing she’d always been good at - running.

Her book shows the transformation and transcendence of grief to how she soon found peace and made more sense of the world around her after the tragic loss of her father.

Without sounding too much like a broken record by now, the book is inspirational and fully strips back the emotions and grief upheld when someone close to you passes.

A perfect read for anyone looking to piece back together broken aspects of their life without having cliched quotes chucked at you to make your eyes roll. 


Lonely Planet Epic Runs of the World

If you don’t want some expert or a professional athlete's despair over struggling with perfection this Vassos Alexander’s book will help you take motivation from an average guy's standpoint.

The book contains various interviews with multiple sports stars who all share why their love of running is so prominent and what made them get into the sport.

Don’t Stop Me Now follows the highs and lows of Vassos over his running journey and also brilliantly honest and funny which will leave those not even interested in running feeling inspired to do more. 


80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower

This book is a hands-on guide for runners of all levels who are looking to decrease their PB times and improve their performance.

Author Matt Fitzgerald is a well-respected fitness expert who uses the 80/20 system (80% of runs at a lower intensity and 20% at higher intensities) to obtain results and also boost the morale of runners.

This method is scientifically proven to shave chunks of time off your personal best and will help you run longer, harder and faster without burning out.

A highly recommended book if you’ve plateaued in your running journey and are looking for a change of direction. 


Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run

If the name doesn’t scream the obvious already, this Alexandra Heminsley book is primarily focused on an audience of females, but can still be enjoyed by anyone embarking into running, if you can ignore the mentions of bras.

Alexandra dismisses the notion that ‘running is for everyone’ and is candid about the challenges that you will meet when you go on your first runs.

The book will be totally relatable for beginners with the comical anecdotes and self-deprecating humor, but more advanced runners may struggle to connect with the lack of elite runner prowess. 


The Art of Running Faster

If the name doesn’t scream the obvious already, this Alexandra Heminsley book is primarily focused on an audience of females, but can still be enjoyed by anyone embarking into running, if you can ignore the mentions of bras.

Alexandra dismisses the notion that ‘running is for everyone’ and is candid about the challenges that you will meet when you go on your first runs.

The book will be totally relatable for beginners with the comical anecdotes and self-deprecating humor, but more advanced runners may struggle to connect with the lack of elite runner prowess. 


The Run Walk Run Method

Jeff Galloway’s The Run-Walk-Run Method has opened up the possibility of running and completing a marathon to even the most amateur runners among us. J

eff’s practices within the book will allow runners to reap the rewards of running without having to occur frequent injuries along the way.

The positive attitude of Jeff permeates through his pages and the surprisingly three-day incremented running days which require you to run less, will still help you achieve PBs.

The book focuses on building your physical strength and stamina whilst still helping you achieve the mental capacity needed to withstand the stresses of a marathon.


North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Last but not least on our list of recommendations is Scott Jurek’s ‘North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail’.

The memoir captures the 46-day run along the Appalachian Trail to break a world record and also to strive and push himself to the limit.

The narrative puts forth the perception that humans can dig within themselves to overcome limits and achieve such things that could be warranted as superhuman.

The book will inspire runners and non-runners to keep pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and to strive for adventure. 


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