21 Best Running Books: Keep Up With These Top Reads

Discover our guide with the best running books that will inspire you to hit the road with your running shoes.

Newbie runners and familiar marathoners have one thing in common: they’re both trying to better themselves through physical activity. With many benefits for both physical and mental health, running has become a go-to form of exercise for many people. However, sometimes, runners can hit a wall with their training and look for insights from experienced runners and coaches. 

Reading some of the best running books can help you become a better runner, improve your form and stamina and even better your mental health. This list includes the best books for you to read, particularly if you want to write a great sportsbook or become a sports writer.

Contents

1. Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchingson

Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchingson
Alex Hutchinson is a bestselling author and sports journalist

Canadian sports journalist Alex Hutchinson is the author of the New York Times best-selling Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. In his early twenties, Hutchinson competed with the Canadian Athletics Team while training as a physicist. 

As his running career ended around 2006, he transitioned into sports journalism. The book blends Hutchinson’s passion for running with his scientific training to probe the link between the human body and mind in top athletes. Listen to our interview with Alex Hutchinson.

“You judge what’s sustainable based not only on how you feel but on how that feeling compares to how you expected to feel at that point in the race.”

Alex Hutchingson

Check out Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance on Amazon; click here.

2. Daniels’ Running Formula By Jack Daniels

Daniels’ Running Formula By Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels is a prominent figure in the running community

Today, we’ve access to more fitness data than ever before. But do you know how to use this data effectively to improve this sport?  Jack Daniels’ book covers these issues. It’s arguably the most data-driven running book available, and Daniels adopts a scientific approach to training. Learn more about Exercise and Creativity.

He examines the current fitness levels of individuals. The author also defines the exact speed and intensity for individual running workouts. No matter your experience, speed, or distance, this book offers good insights into the sport. Check out Daniels’ Running Formula on Amazon; click here.

“Don’t compare yourself to other runners; focus on your own fitness and performance.”

Jack Daniels

3. The Art of Running Faster By Julian Goater

The Art of Running Faster By Julian Goater
Julian Goater shares his insights and advice for more efficient running
As a runner, you should train regularly and occasionally push yourself to run farther, faster and in new environments. At the same time, train intelligently. Some questions to ask about your practice include: 
  • How often do I need to take a day off? 
  • When is it okay to scale up or scale back? 
  • How often should I run hills? 
  • What is interval training? 
  • Does the time of day matter when I am trying to go out for a run? 

This book, written by a formal professional runner, answers the above questions and covers running tactics. Check out The Art of Running Faster on Amazon; click here.

“If presidents and prime ministers can find time to stay fit, others of us can find ways to do it, too.”

Julian Goater

4. Advanced Marathoning By Pete Pfitzinger

Advanced Marathoning By Pete Pfitzinger
Advanced Marathoning is an ideal guide for aspiring marathon runners

The selection of running books below will help you become a better runner

There are all types of running competitions to compete in. Some runners sprint. Others prefer triathlons. Some runners opt for Tough Mudders or Spartan races. But the marathon endures as a gold standard. If you’re running your first marathon, it’s a tough but fun challenge. Most running books can help with that. 

But what if you want to treat a marathon as a race? You need a different mindset. How can you shave those crucial minutes off your marathon personal best? That is where Advanced Marathoning is helpful.

This book is for seasoned runners who’ve completed several marathons. As well as offering advanced training programs, the book guides recovery, hydration, nutrition, peaking, and tapering. Check out Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger on Amazon; click here

“Mind is everything; muscle, pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.” So said Paavo Nurmi, the Finn who won nine Olympic gold medals at distances from 1,500 meters to 10,000 meters.”

Pete Pfitzinger

5. Running Form: How to Run Faster and Prevent Injury By Owen Anderson

Running Form: How to Run Faster and Prevent Injury By Owen Anderson
Running Form: How to Run Faster and Prevent Injury advises one of the world’s best running coaches

This book contains insights about how far you should travel with every step and where to position your knees, feet, and ankles. It isn’t enough to push yourself harder and farther. Proper running form reduces injury and increases efficiency. The book covers how to get it right via various prompts and techniques.

It also covers strength training, finding ideal running shoes, and improving posture and foot strike. Check out Running Form: How to Run Faster and Prevent Injury on Amazon; click here.

“After toe-off, masters runners tend to have less hip extension compared with younger runners, and the movement of the swinging leg when it is behind the body tends to be more lethargic in older runners.”

Owen Anderson

6. The Lost Art of Running by Shane Benzie

The Lost Art of Running by Shane Benzie
The Lost Art of Running follows Shane Benzie as he runs and trains across five continents

This excellent running book covers Benzie’s journey as a long-distance runner and later a teacher of the sport. It also describes how you can improve your running form and technique. Check out The Lost Art of Running on Amazon; click here.

“After leaving America and deciding very early in my coaching career that in order to unearth the secrets of how our species is designed to run I would need to analyze and film athletes from all over the world.”

Shane Benzie

7. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
Born To Run tells the tale of an epic running adventure

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall is an engaging read that explores the most extreme side of running. McDougall, an award-winning journalist and avid runner, covers the remarkable story of the Tarahumara Indians, some of the most naturally talented runners on the planet.

The thrilling journey covers a combination of the philosophy and the science behind running. Learning about the Tarahumara people from the first-hand experience of McDougall is enthralling, as their sheer physical capacity inspires runners worldwide. 

If you need inspiration to try and beat your personal best or want to learn about a culture where running is a part of everyday life, this is a great read. Check out Born to Run on Amazon; click here.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle—when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Christopher McDougall

8. Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.
Once a Runner is inspired by the author’s experience as a college champion runner

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is a classic novel that documents the story of Quenton Cassidy, who grew up in the complex and stressful world of elite college running. Parker captures the highs and lows of elite running and the huge amount of physical and psychological pressure it exerts on people. 

Arguably, what makes this book so exciting and valuable for runners is its exploration of a runner’s mentality. It’s a bizarre hobby whereby pain becomes enjoyable, and a constant need to get faster can dominate above all else. 

Whether you’re a runner or not, this book will draw you in with its brilliant storytelling about a unique runner’s early life. 

Read Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. on Amazon; click here

“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.”

John L. Parker Jr.

9. Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry

Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry
Anatomy for Runners helps runners avoid injury from running

Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention by Jay Dicharry is a practical book that examines the biology behind running. It’s especially popular with injury-prone runners who want to understand what causes injuries and how to prevent them. 

Understanding your body is extremely important if you’re training for a marathon or working on your personal time. Even though running offers numerous health benefits, it also exerts massive pressure on joints and muscles. 

Dicharry’s book is a great resource for all levels of runners. It’s a valuable source of information that can help you become a healthier runner with improved longevity and fewer injuries. Check out Anatomy for Runners on Amazon; click here.

“Running is a simple sport. But it is not easy. By better understanding how your body is designed to run, you will be able to get the most out of your running.”

Jay Dicharry

10. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running tells the story of the author’s experience with marathon training

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by the legendary Japanese writer Haruki Murakami explores a long-distance runner’s thought process. Murakami explores the connection between thinking, running, and writing, making it an extremely relatable book if these hobbies interest you. 

The book follows Murakami along his train of thought during long-distance runs. In the process, he explores themes of self-discipline, dedication, and pain, all familiar to runners. 

Murakami’s books are globally popular, and it’s interesting reading him on a topic that at first appears mundane compared to some of his more fantasy-style books. However, this is far from a mundane read, especially if you’re a runner. Check out What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on Amazon; click here.

Read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami on Amazon. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Haruki Murakami

11. ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer
ChiRunning teaches runners how to run faster and farther

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer is almost like a user guide to a form of running that incorporates the main pillars of Tai Chi into running. According to the authors, Chi Running can make you faster more efficient and reduce the chances of injury. 

An extra benefit of this book is that it explains the details of running techniques. If you need help with your form, then there’s valuable information in this running book. The book explores all the active muscle groups during running, which helps build a complete understanding of your body. 

Check out ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer on Amazon; click here

“Running has the ability to transform not only your body but also your mind and spirit.”

Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer

12. Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes
Ultramarathon Man answers all the questions fans and fellow runners ask ultrarunning legend, Dean Karnazes

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes is a first-hand story of an ultramarathon runner. Karnazes is an extreme runner who has participated in some of the most grueling runs in the world. 

The book covers one of Karnazes’ most ambitious running adventures that saw him run 50 marathons in 50 days across the United States. It’s a brutal story that forces readers to question how far human endurance can be pushed. 

The author effectively conveys the physical and mental elements of running repeated marathons and offers readers plenty of opportunities to reflect on their running experiences. It became a best-seller shortly after being published and has received great reviews from The New York Times. Check out Ultramarathon Man on Amazon; click here.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

Dean Karnazes

13. The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb
The Perfect Mile tells the story of three world-class athletes who each broke the four-minute mile

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb is a biographical book about three athletes who dedicated their careers to breaking the four-minute mile. The story takes place in the 1950s and covers how the bitter rivalry between the athletes drove them to their limits. 

The gripping narrative shows how brutal athletes’ lives become when they set their minds on goals that appear physically impossible to most. The achievements of the three young athletes in this book continue to inspire runners for decades since they last competed. 

If you’re looking for a historical book that covers the experiences of three pioneering runners, then this is a great read. Understanding the pressure and pain athletes suffer is admired by all runners, and Bascomb does justice to the three athletes who gave everything to run the four-minute mile. 

Check out The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb on Amazon; click here

“It is a race against time and other human beings; a battle of strength, belief, and will.”

Neal Bascomb

14. My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso and Kathleen Parrish

My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso and Kathleen Parrish
My Life on the Run is a humorous memoir about the challenges of running

My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso and Kathleen Parrish is an account of Bart Yasso, an exceptional runner and adventurer. The book details Yasso’s craziest adventures, including running in Antarctica and Nepal. 

The book is a refreshing change from the general seriousness of most running books, as Yasso’s humor and wit are present throughout. His ability to find reasons to smile even when he’s at his limits is endearing and inspirational. 

Beyond telling a great story, the book is a practical guide. It gives plenty of tips on becoming a better runner and a happier person. Check out My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso and Kathleen Parrish on Amazon; click here

“Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually, and of course, physically.”

Bart Yasso

15. Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession by Richard Askwith

Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession by Richard Askwith
Feet in The Clouds is a classic running book that has been in publication for over ten years

Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession by Richard Askwith is all about fell running, a niche form of mountain running. Arguably, it’s one of the most challenging and visually stunning forms of running. 

Askwith tells the story of various well-known fell-running figures and, in the process, uncovers some of the traits required to succeed in this challenging branch of running. Beyond providing a great introduction to fell running, the book admires runners who often find themselves in remote places with little more than a pair of trainers and their willpower. 

Fall running could be your next challenge if you want adventure in your running routine. It’s also a brilliant book for non-runners who enjoy reading about faraway places of immense natural beauty. Check out Feet in the Clouds on Amazon; click here.

“Running – real running – had always been a bigger pleasure, more beautiful and more sustaining, than anything I had done in my life.”

Richard Askwith

16. The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximise Your Performance by Steve Magness

The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximise Your Performance by Steve Magness
The Science of Running is ideal for those serious about learning how to run

The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximise Your Performance by Steve Magness is a fairly science-heavy book about the biology of running. Like some of the other science-oriented books in this list, this one will help you improve on your personal bests. 

The book offers several approaches to improving as a runner; they are the following: 

  • Science: A deep dive into the biology and chemistry behind running. 
  • Training: A guide to optimizing your training methods with practical advice and professional insights. 
  • Injuries: Injury recovery and prevention are also covered by the book. 
  • Data: Several ways of logging data and analyzing it to improve training and running are outlined by Magness. 

This is an excellent read for serious runners. If you love the science behind running and take training seriously, then Magness’ practical guide will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf. 

Check out The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximise Your Performance on Amazon; click here

“Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.”

Steve Magness

17. Runner’s World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Run for Weight Loss, Fitness, and Competition by Amby Burfoot

Runner's World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Run for Weight Loss, Fitness, and Competition by Amby Burfoot
Runner’s World Complete Book of Running is the ultimate guide for runners

Runner’s World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Run for Weight Loss, Fitness, and Competition by Amby Burfoot may have a somewhat exciting title, but it is a valuable resource for runners. Burfoot has collated a considerable amount of information in this book that is helpful for beginners and seasoned runners. 

 

Burfoot covers several aspects of running and fitness that can be leveraged to improve your personal best and avoid injuries. Three valuable areas covered by the book are: 

  • Nutrition: The book offers detailed advice on developing a suitable nutrition plan. 
  • Training: Training plans designed for both beginners and experts. 
  • Weight: Information on how to lose weight healthily and sustainably.

This complete guide to running is excellent for anyone looking to get an overview of the sport in one place. It’s full of expert advice and covers the most important pillars of running. 

Check out Runner’s World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Run for Weight Loss, Fitness, and Competition on Amazon; click here

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself.”

Amby Burfoot

18. The Lore of Running by Timothy Noakes

The Lore of Running by Timothy Noakes
The Lore of Running covers everything from physiology to training and health considerations

The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes is one of the most successful running books. It covers just about every aspect of running, from physical to biological. Noakes combines storytelling with the science of running like few others have managed. 

Interestingly, unlike similar titles, Noakes also takes a deep dive into the history of running, which helps the title avoid taking on a textbook feel despite containing plenty of science chapters. 

In addition, it’s also full of practical advice related to training and nutrition. 

This book is widely considered a must-read for runners. It’s packed with practical advice and offers a brilliant historical running narrative. Check out The Lore of Running on Amazon; click here

“Running is real and relatively simple… but it ain’t easy.”

Timothy Noakes

19. Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald

Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald
Racing Weight looks at running nutrition to help runners lose weight while training

Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald is a training manual that focuses on optimizing training, nutrition, and recovery. The book is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their training plan and minimize injuries. 

The book is broken down into sections that guide you in reaching your peak performance. These are some of the areas covered by Fitzgerald:

  • Nutrition: The book highlights the relationship between your body and what you eat, and detailed guidance on improving your diet is provided. 
  • Weight: Unlike some weight-loss books, this title highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy weight without sacrificing good nutrition. 
  • Plans: Various tools help you create your training plan. 

Racing Weight is an excellent book for anyone who wants to take control of their weight while maintaining a healthy diet and balanced training program. As with most training plans, it could be a more exciting read, but it contains masses of helpful information. 

Check out Racing Weight on Amazon; click here

“The pursuit of peak performance demands a lifestyle that is as deliberate and dedicated as it is balanced and happy.”

Matt Fitzgerald

20. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton
Let Your Mind Run looks inside the mind of an elite athlete

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton is a personal memoir about Deena Kastor, a legendary US runner. She traveled the world participating in some of the most challenging long-distance events. 

The book explores Kastor’s mindset. It efficiently portrays the mental strength required to compete at the highest levels for years. Kastor’s story combines pure mental power with humor. 

The book drives home the idea that a positive mindset is critical for long-distance running, and Kastor’s ability to find joy even in the most challenging circumstances goes home. If you’re looking to be inspired before your next marathon or race, Kastor’s story won’t disappoint. Check out Let Your Mind Run on Amazon; click here

“I had discovered that happiness is possible not in spite of hardship but because of it.”

Deena Kastor

21. Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink by Nita Sweeney

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink by Nita Sweeney
Depression Hates a Moving Target is a story of running therapy and beating depression

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink is an inspiring story about how one woman overcame her mental health struggles by running with her dog. Sweeney’s story is an inspiring insight into how she dragged herself out of a crippling depression by pushing her physical limits. 

This book is often deeply sad as Sweeney’s brutal honesty about her mental health issues takes the reader to some very dark places. However, it’s also truly inspiring to read about her journey and how running helped her survive by giving her purpose and direction. 

Sweeney’s story is a fascinating account of human resilience. As you follow her through her struggle, you find yourself in awe of her mental and physical strength. Check out Depression Hates a Moving Target on Amazon; click here

“On the road, I found solace in each step, and my dog became my constant, unjudging companion. Together, we outran the darkness.”

Nita Sweeney

Author

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