There are countless books about running, racing and marathons. Some provide helpful tips on how to train for a race, while others recount personal experiences running in races or completing marathons.
No matter what type of runner you are, or what level of experience you have, there is likely a book out there that can help you improve your running skills and knowledge.
Here are 55 noteworthy books about running, racing, and marathons that we recommend checking out.
Written by: Rich Roll
In one of the most famous books on running, Rich Roll tells the story of his own mid-life transformation from an out-of-shape desk jockey to one of the world's fittest men. In 2005, at the age of 40, Rich was unmotivated and overweight. Diagnosed with severe joint pain and grappling with chronic fatigue, he knew he had to make a change if he wanted to see his children grow up.
This book shows that you have much more inside you than you can imagine. Realizing that he needed to change just about everything in his life, Rich completely overhauled his diet and began an intensive training regimen. Within two years, not only had Rich lost weight and regained energy, but he'd also completed multiple endurance challenges, including a 320-mile race including swimming, cycling, and running.
Written by: Scott Jurek
If you're looking for an engaging, outdoor read, look no further than this incredible book by Scott Jurek. In this book, Jurek documents his journey along the famed Appalachian Trail – a 2,189-mile path that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Beautifully written and thoughtfully edited, North is an apt reflection on the transformative power of trail running and nature. It is also a journey of pain, self-doubt, and personal beliefs.
It also serves as a powerful source of motivation for anyone looking to push their boundaries both physically and mentally. So, if you're itching to explore the great outdoors – or just need some inspiration to get your feet moving – be sure to check out this inspirational book. Jurek is also well-known for his earlier book, Eat and Run: My unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness.
Written by: David Goggins
David Goggins has basically built himself into an indestructible human being. Goggins shares the secrets to mastering your mind and achieving seemingly impossible goals in this book. Drawing on his own experiences as a world-class endurance athlete and special operations soldier, Goggins offers readers a no-nonsense guide to success.
According to Goggins, anyone can learn to thrive under pressure and overcome any obstacle by harnessing the power of their mind. If anyone knows it, it is him being that he's almost died numerous times, including from kidney failure, while doing these incredible races. If you're looking for inspiration to achieve your own goals, then this book is worth reading.
Written by: Alison Mariella Désir
In her book, Running While Black, Alison Mariella Désir talks openly about the racism she's experienced while running. Désir is a Haitian American runner who has dealt with everything from being told to "go back to your own country" to having people cross the street to avoid her. She has persevered and continued to run through it all, both for herself and as an advocate for racial justice.
In her book, Désir shares stories of the racism she's encountered as well as advice on how runners can become allies in the fight against racism. Whether you're a reader who is passionate about running or just looking to learn more about race relations in America, this book is worth a read.
Written by: Hillary Allen
As you've seen already, most people on this list are almost superhuman in their abilities. That being stated, Hillary Allen may just be the strongest one yet. Allen was competing in a 50-kilometer race in Norway when she fell off the edge of a cliff. She went down over 150 feet and ended up fracturing her back, breaking both legs, both of her arms, and numerous ribs.
However, Allen decided that nothing would hold her back from the goal of recovering and racing again. To do this, she needed to build up her physical strength, as would be expected, but also her mental stability.
She also had to realize that it would often be two steps forward, then 1 step back, or even a step backward, before she could master her body and mind and eventually return to the sport, she loves so much.
Written by: Richard Moore
In 1988, Carl Lewis was the man everyone expected to win the 100-meter dash at the Seoul Olympics. At that same time, the world was introduced to Ben Johnson, a cocky Canadian sprinter with a lethal combination of speed and attitude. He obliterated the competition to win gold in the 100m final at the Seoul Olympics.
The story of that race is one of controversy, betrayal, and heartbreak, with perhaps the two most prominent names in athletics at its center. However, just days after his victory, Johnson was stripped of his medal when it was revealed that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. Lewis was awarded the gold but then is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Written by: Adharanand Finn
Whether it's watching the Olympics or reading about runners in the news, most people are fascinated by the idea of running as fast as possible. But what does it take to be a world-class runner? Finn attempts to answer that question by following elite runners from Kenya and observing their training methods.
Kenya is a country known for its love of adventure, and its people are fiercely proud and passionate, and they want to make their fellow citizens and country proud. To truly delve into the world of the Kenyan long-distance runners, he moves his family of five, including three kids, to find out in their country. He discovers a culture driven by passion and adventure, where running is seen as both a means of personal achievement and a way to help others. But what's more interesting is the cultural backdrop against which they train and race.
Written by: Dean Karnazes
There are very few runners that can compete at the level of Dean Karnazes. Simply stated, he's run 50 marathons, in 50 days, in 50 states. He's also run in Death Valley in heat so intense that his shoes melted around his feet. And these are just a few of the "feats" he's accomplished throughout his life. Famous for his other book, Ultramarathon Man, this is an excellent update to his accomplishments and life.
However, even superhumans like Dean can have issues with their bodies as they age. This book follows him as he sets his sights on finishing the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in his mid-fifties. His body has been beaten down from years of running and training, his career ideals have changed, and the choices he's made during his life are all part of the story of this story.
There is not a second in this book that is boring or slow, which is just how Dean would have wanted it to be.
Written by: Ed Caesar
What does it take to run a marathon in less than two hours? This is an essential question for runners and anyone who wants to understand what is possible with human performance. That is the question at the heart of Ed Caesar's new book. Through interviews with runners and scientists, Caesar explores the physical and mental limits of the marathon and what it will take for someone to break the two-hour barrier.
As Caesar says, "The sub-two-hour marathon may be the last great barrier in athletics, one that has always tantalized athletes and fans alike." However, many doubt this is humanely possible since the speed would be incredible over that distance. However, with so many top runners coming closer and closer to this elusive goal, we may soon see someone shatter this record.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald
Most of us will never be like the mile-munching monsters on this list, but you can still be the master of your miles out on the road. One of the best ways to accomplish this is the 80/20 method. Renown trainer and runner Fitzgerald argues that runners can achieve better race times by training slower during the bulk of their mileage buildup. So instead of going all out or even doing the popular HIIT workouts, you go your average speed 80% of the time and then push hard the other 20%.
According to Fitzgerald, slowing down your training pace will make you a more efficient runner overall and help you conserve energy for races. In other words, runners can achieve great results by focusing on a small number of high-quality runs instead of logging lots of mediocre miles. Try it out for yourself and see if following the 80/20 Rule can help you shave seconds or minutes off your next PR!
Written by: Alexi Pappas and Maya Rudolph
Bravey is a powerful book by professional runner and actress Alexi Pappas. It tells the story of her life, from the suicide of her mother at age 4 to chasing her dreams to enduring the pain that comes with them to other big ideas she's learned along the way. Alexi shares never-before-told stories about growing up in Greece and her experiences as an elite athlete becoming an Olympic champion.
She also writes about her battles with depression and anxiety, which she has been open about to help break the stigma around mental health. Through it all, Alexi shows us that being brave doesn't mean being fearless—it means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. This book is sure to inspire anyone who reads it to chase their dreams, no matter what stands in their way.
Written by: Christopher McDougall
The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is an engaging read that takes you on a journey to find the secrets of the Tarahumara Indians, who are expert distance runners. McDougall tells the story of how he became obsessed with running and set out to learn why the Tarahumara are able to run for hundreds of miles without getting injured. He discovers a wealth of information about running and healthy living that applies to anyone.
He also talks to scientists, other endurance runners, many others to get advice and information about the human body and what is possible for it. Whether you're a hardcore runner or just looking for ways to get more active, this book is jam-packed full of information and suggestions to help you become your best.
Written by: By Neal Bascomb
If you're a runner, the name Roger Bannister is likely familiar. On May 6, 1954, Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. His achievement was and continues to be celebrated as one of the most remarkable athletic feats of all time. In this book, Neal Bascomb tells how Bannister's historic run was made possible with the help of two other runners: John Landy and Wes Santee.
Drawing on extensive interviews with athletes and coaches who were part of the milers' circle in the early 1950s, Bascomb provides a compelling account of the rivalry between Bannister and his competitors. This rivalry pushed all three runners to break new ground.
Written by: Tom Jordan
In Corvallis, Oregon, a plaque in Pioneer Park reads, "Steve Prefontaine - A Great Son of Oregon." It is a fitting tribute to one of America's most legendary runners. Pre was born on January 25, 1951, and raised in the small town of Coos Bay. He was a natural athlete and began running track at age 11.
“Pre," as he was known, quickly rose through the ranks, setting national records and becoming one of the most sought-after runners in the world. He was so talented that he was the first athlete to win four NCAA titles in one event.
In 1972, he became the first American runner to win a gold medal in the Men's 5,000 Meter Run at the Olympic Games. Sadly, his story ended much too soon. This remarkable story is sadly cut short as Pre died after crashing his sports car at the young age of just 24 years old.
Written by: Dick Schaap
In 1936, the Olympic games were hosted in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler had big plans for these games - he wanted to show the world that his Nazi party was powerful and superior. But one man had other plans. Jesse Owens, an African American athlete, showed the world that the Nazis and hatred could be overcome with talent and athleticism.
By destroying the Nazis in every single race, Hitler was embarrassed and ashamed in front of the world. Owens ended up winning the Gold Medals in all four of his races. Because Owens would not allow racism to stand in his way, his triumphs at the Olympics are a story that should be remembered more than seventy years later.
Written by: John Brant
In 1982, two of America's greatest marathoners faced off in one of the most famous races in history. Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley battled it out at the Duel in the Sun, with Salazar ultimately emerging victorious. Their story is one of heartbreak and heroism, and their showdown is a testament to the power of human endurance.
If the story had ended there, it would have been enough. However, it was just the beginning…of the end for both these men. Beardsley quickly became involved with drugs and almost overdosed. Although he won the race, Salazar soon began to fall into depression and a loss of will to run or compete. This book is touching, enlightening, and powerful beyond all imagination.
Written by: Amby Burfoot
Are you looking for advice on how to maintain a healthy running lifestyle for the rest of your life? Look no further than Amby Burfoot's new book, Run Forever. This comprehensive guide offers tips and tricks for beginners and experienced runners alike on how to stay injury-free and keep pushing your limits.
Whether you're looking to break a personal record or just maintain your current fitness level, this book will help you achieve all your goals. And, in case you were wondering, Amby isn’t some newbie who just decided to give advice. He won the Boston Marathon in 1968 and wrote this book when he was in his 70s!
Written by: Laura Hillenbrand
The story of Louis Zamperini has captured the hearts of millions of readers across the world. It would be easy to just focus on his running, in which he made the Berlin Olympics and almost broke the four-minute mile, but this is about so much more than just running. This book about Zamperini's life is a tale of strength and determination that never fails to inspire.
He then joined the military when World War II started and was shot down during a flight. He ended up floating for over 40 days, dealing with sharks, thirst, enemy aircraft, and more, and yet he survived. Not only that, but he also prospered. This is one of the most amazing stories you will read about anyone, sports or otherwise, in your life.
Written by: Lonely Planet
Are you tired of the same old route and routine? Well, then Lonely Planet, which is famous for its travel books, has something perfect for you. This book continues fifty of the world's most fantastic routes, ranging from short to long distances, from around the world. And, even beyond that, there are 150 more courses so that anyone can run them anywhere you live or travel to during your life.
Just a few of the routes that are in the book include the Lewa Safari Marathon in Kenya, the Illuminating Ascent in La Paz in Bolivia, and the Great Wall Marathon in China. With Lonely Planet being one of the most respected travel guidebook companies over the last 40 years and with over 150 million books published, you are sure to find something that makes you feel energized and happy you took that first step.
Written by: Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery
As two professional athletes, Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery know a thing or two about hard work. In this impressive book, the pair offers readers insights into achieving success both professionally and personally. Drawing on their own experiences and interviews with forty successful women runners, Huddle and Slattery provide an all-encompassing guide to achieving one's goals.
Although this book is primarily focused on female runners, the advice and information will help anyone, regardless of your level of ability or skill. Whether you're looking for tips on how to stay motivated or advice on dealing with difficult times, this book has something for everyone since it focuses on what women have had to overcome during the years, how they’ve fought for equality, and how the movement continues today.
Written by: Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton
Have you ever wondered how elite athletes can achieve such superhuman feats? Deena Kastor's book reveals the secrets behind her success. Drawing on her experiences as an endurance athlete and a mental health advocate, Kastor provides readers with a blueprint for achieving their personal bests.
In this inspiring read, she explains how she was burnt out on running after college and pessimistic about her mindset towards it. She then shares the techniques that helped her transcend her physical and mental limits and achieve extraordinary accomplishments. Some of these include reframing her negative thoughts, trusting herself to bounce back from workouts, and more.
Written by: Andrew Kastor
By now, you might be thinking, "I'm tired (pun intended) about reading about other people running! I want to get out there and do my thing!" Well, if so, then you are going to want to use this fantastic book.
It's designed for beginner runners looking to complete their first marathon. The plan starts with walk/run intervals and gradually builds up to longer runs. You'll also incorporate strength training and cross-training into your routine to help improve your overall fitness level. You'll be well prepared to run your first marathon by following this plan. So start reading, start training, and get ready to crush the competition!
Written by: Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas
Meb Keflezighi, professional marathon runner and Olympic medalist, has written a new book that details his Christian faith, meeting his wife, and becoming one of the best marathon runners in the world. Meb was born in Eritrea and then moved to the USA at age 12 as a refugee. Meb's story is an inspiration to runners and non-runners alike, as he has overcome incredible odds to achieve success.
In his book, Meb shares how running has paralleled his life journey and helped him grow both physically and spiritually. If you are looking for an inspiring read that will make you rethink your notions about running, religion, and your connection to the world, this is a book you will love.
Written by: Scott Douglas
There's something about running that just makes you feel good. It could be the endorphins, the sense of accomplishment, or simply the escape from reality. Whatever it is, running can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. And it's not just anecdotal evidence—science backs up the claim that running is good for your mental health.
Author Scott Douglas, who also wrote the book above 26 Marathons, examines how running helps you feel better. Some doctors are now prescribing it along with, or instead of, depression or anxiety meds. Grab this book, learn about all the benefits of running, and hit the pavement or the hills and feel better right now.
Written by: Tianna Bartoletta
This book is about the journey of an Olympic track & field athlete. Tianna Bartoletta tells her story of perseverance and how she has overcome many obstacles in her life. In this book, Tianna shares the ups and downs of her career, from being a junior Olympics champion to becoming an Olympic gold medalist. Her story will inspire you to never give up on your dreams.
Once you read what Tianna has gone through in her life, you will realize that you also will have the ability to survive and advance no matter the odds! She also reveals the personal struggles that she has faced, including depression, an abusive marriage, and a suicide attempt. Through it all, Tianna's determination and positive attitude have helped her achieve success. If you are looking for motivation, then this book is for you!
Written by: Lopez Lomong
Lopez Lomong is a man with an unbelievable story. He was born in a village in Sudan, which at the time was being torn apart by civil war. When he was just six years old, he and his young brother were kidnapped by rebel soldiers and forced to become child soldiers. They eventually escaped and fled to Kenya, where they lived as refugees for ten years.
Lopez Lomong ended up finding his way to the United States, becoming a citizen and competing for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing in 2008. He tells his incredible story and reflects on how running has helped him overcome some of the most horrendous events in his life. If this weren't nonfiction, it would be hard even to imagine it being true.
Written by: Meghan Kita
Whether you're a runner or just looking to improve your daily routine, Runner's World has some great tips for you. In their latest book, How to Make Yourself Poop and 999 Other Tips, authors Meghan Kita and Stephanie Eklund offer a compilation of wisdom from the publication's 40-plus years of covering the sport.
Beyond just figuring out how to make yourself poop, you will find more information on finding the right running shoe for your foot type to advice on fuel and hydration; this guide has something for everyone. This book is written with a sense of humor, so don't worry if you make a mistake. Well, other than pooping while you are running since you'll have no excuse after reading this book.
Written by: Kate Fagan
Madison Holleran was an all-American high school track and field star destined for a successful collegiate running career. When she started at Penn, she succeeded and was loved by everyone. But in January 2014, Maddy's body was found at the bottom of a gap in a Philadelphia train station--a suicide that rocked her tight-knit community.
However, little did people know that Maddy had been battling depression and struggling with an eating disorder in the years leading up to her death. Therefore, the question is, what made Maddy run? This is what her family, friends, and teammates have been asking ever since she died. As Kate Fagan was writing this book, she found more and more college athletes were dealing with undiagnosed mental health issues and how they were or weren’t dealing with them.
Written by: Bill Pierce and Scott Murr
Are you a runner? Are you looking to become a runner? If so, you need to read Runner's World Train Smart, Run Forever. This book is written by two of the most respected runners and coaches in the business, Bill Pierce and Scott Murr. In it, they share their decades of running experience and expertise with readers, giving them the tools that they need to train smart, run forever, and stay healthy for years to come.
They also show scientific evidence and data that proves the 7-hour workout week will keep you healthy and running longer and faster than you could have ever imagined. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced marathoner, this book has something for everyone.
Written by: Chris Lear
If you're a runner, there's a good chance you know the name, Mark Wetmore. Coach of the legendary Colorado Buffaloes track team and recent inductee into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Wetmore, has achieved remarkable success with his athletes – including Olympians Jenny Simpson and Adam Goucher.
In it, Lear takes readers inside the University of Colorado program, offering an intimate look at one of the most accomplished coaches in athletics history. This includes winning six NCAA Championships from 2001 to 2015. It also investigates the training schedules, the dietary choices, and how they could prevent injuries through new training methods and ideas. His philosophy on track and running is not to be missed as it will motivate and excite you when you feel tired and worn out on your run.
Written by: Rachel Swaby and Kit Fox
Maureen “Mighty Moe” Wilton was one of the world's most impressive young women runners. In 1967, at just thirteen years old, she became a national running champion and record-holder. But Mighty Moe's story is about more than just her athleticism – it's about how she used her talent to fight for social justice and equality.
Facing discrimination and skepticism from both the running community and the general public, Moe left the sport and the limelight. However, when her daughter became a runner, Mighty Moe persevered and became an inspiration to others worldwide. Her story is a testament to the power of determination and courage. Today, Mighty Moe remains an icon in the history of women's athletics – and a true pioneer for social change.
Written by: Kilian Jornet
Can you imagine running a race that is over 100 miles long? That is what ultramarathon runners do regularly. Kilian Jornet shares his story of becoming one of the world's best ultra-runners. From his first race at the young age of 14 to winning some of the most prestigious races in the world, Jornet's memoir will inspire you to push your limits.
Regarding the ability to overcome any physical feat possible, Jornet will amaze you beyond anything you can imagine. As mentioned above, many ultramarathoners have done amazing things, but how about running a race where you go up to the tippy top of Mount Everest…all without a mask? Beyond that, Jornet is also an expert climber and ski mountaineer. Trust us, when you finish this book, you'll be a bit sad since you will have wanted it to go on and on and on, just like Jornet does with his life.
Written by: Christopher McDougall
We’ve already written about a book by Christopher McDougall in this list, but this one is far and away one of our favorites. Why? Well, the name sort of explains it all as McDougall decides to start a race where people are only allowed to run with donkeys. Yes, you read that correctly. And donkeys, unlike horses, can be stubborn, inflexible, and mean-spirited whenever they want to be, so this is no easy feat.
In this hilarious, inspirational story, McDougall finds a rescue donkey, and they start to run together. As they learn more about each other, they become fast (pun intended) friends and help motivate each other. You can see how much he loves Sherman and how, although he saved Sherman, Sherman helps save Chris. Chris also discusses how running can help with depression, living around the Amish people, and more.
Written by: Haruki Murakami
Throughout his life, running has served as both a physical and mental sanctuary for acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami, The Japan Times running shares colorful stories of how the activity has helped him through both good times and bad. Haruki Murakami delves into the personal benefits he's gained from running. The renowned author and runner offer a unique, insight-filled perspective on the activity that has helped him.
In this intimate look at one man's relationship with running, Murakami details how pounding the pavement has improved not only his physical well-being but so much more. This includes being able to see yourself taking one more step or being able to bring that peace and silence while running into your everyday life.
Written by: Bob Babbitt
Are you an IRONMAN enthusiast? Do you hope to complete an IRONMAN race someday? If so, you'll want to read this book! The author, bob babbitt, has basically been doing triathlons since the sport first began in the 1970s when people thought it was a race for crazy people…and to be honest, many still think so. However, for those who want to try this incredible race, you will definitely want to pick up this book and put into action everything that Babbitt writes in it.
In this guide, you'll find detailed information on all aspects of the race, from training and nutrition to mental preparation and race strategy. You will see that no matter your level of training and racing, you will learn something new and innovative from this guide. And if you work hard enough, you will become an IRONMAN.
Written by: Sakyong Mipham
Have you ever wished you could run and just let everything else just fade into the background? Even if you're not an athlete, learning to run with the mind of meditation can make running (and other activities) more enjoyable and rewarding. In this book, Tibetan Lama Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche shares insights and techniques from his experience as a marathon runner and meditation master.
Drawing on traditional teachings and presentations from recent scientific studies on athleticism, mindfulness, and the brain, Sakyong Mipham provides runners of all levels with a unique perspective on how to train both body and mind. This is one of the most relaxing books here, and you will enjoy learning the ability to fuse the meditational and physical skills in a way you have never done before.
Written by: John Carlin
In February of 2013, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door at his home in Pretoria, South Africa. In the aftermath of the shooting, Pistorius claimed that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and fired in self-defense. For many observers, it was difficult to believe that an athlete of Pistorius' stature could be capable of such violence. The ensuing trial would provide answers—and more questions.
In this amazingly in-depth book, you can see both sides of Pistorius, with one side being happy, proud, and perfect for the media part, and then the other is a person full of anger, rage, and fear of anyone who disagreed with him. This book provides a detailed account of the trial and its dramatic twists and turns. People still wonder if he killed Steenkamp deliberately or if it was a mistake. You'll have to read it to find out.
Written by: Michael Crawley
Running a marathon is no easy feat but running one in the highlands of Ethiopia is something else entirely. Author Michael Crawley takes readers on a journey to this unique and mystical region, where he discovers the secrets to running success. Training with the Ethiopians for over 15 months and getting up to run at 3 AM, you will see why these men hold six of the ten fastest marathon times in the world.
From learning to embrace the locals' belief in magic to adopting their approach to running steep hills, Crawley provides an insider's look at what it takes to run well in one of the world's most challenging environments. Whether you're a seasoned runner looking for new inspiration or just someone who loves a good adventure tale, Out of Thin Air is sure to captivate and entertain.
Written by: Kathrine Switzer
Kathrine Switzer is a marathon woman. Switzer's story is one of strength and determination in the face of adversity - from facing down opposition from officials who believed women should not run to dealing with a significant physical setback during her running career.
She has completed more than 30 marathons and ultra-marathons, including the famed Boston Marathon. In 1967, she became the first registered female runner in the race's history after entering under her initials "K.V. Switzer."
Her book Marathon Woman tells her whole story and offers advice for aspiring runners on everything from training to nutrition. She has been called the Susan B. Anthony of women’s marathoning and that says everything you need to know about her: She will not stop until equality in the sport of running is broken.
Written by: Katie Arnold
Katie Arnold was not your usual ultra-marathon runner, which isn't an ordinary person in the first place, but an extreme athlete beyond that. Without any safety gear, she would walk tightropes over a thousand-foot crevice. Sadly, her father died of cancer, and she fell apart physically and mentally. Her father was also an athlete, and she realized that she would fall into a deadly depression and worse unless she started running again.
Instead of running with others, since she needed to clear her mind and body, she would run in the forests, where she was raised by her father to go and be free from society. As she became the best of herself, again, she realized that her memories of her father and their relationship weren't as it seemed. So, this book about running is just as well about life, regret, and hope.
Edited by: David Wiley
Edited by David Wiley from Runner’s World Magazine, you will be sure to get a fascinating take from this book dedicated to all the weirdos of the running world. One of our favorites is Steve Friedman's "Dogged," where a dog saved a runner's life. There are also many heartwarming stories, such as Matt Long, who was a New York Fire Department and was critically injured. Instead of just giving up, he learned how to run again.
The other stories are just as compelling, and you will find out more about what drives these athletes, how they accomplished their goals, and how some of them came close to dying because of their drive to succeed. The stories are so varied that you will find something for everyone and every mood.
Written by: Becky Wade
What does the world's most popular form of exercise look like from country to country? In Run the World, author, and runner Becky Wade takes readers on a fascinating journey through running cultures around the globe.
This includes visiting nine countries, learning how each culture looks at the meaning and history of running, and how she traveled over 3,500 miles to get to her home.
From high-altitude trails in Ecuador to coastal tracks in Australia, Wade provides a unique glimpse into how running is used as a physical and spiritual practice in diverse communities worldwide. It is also delightful since you may not know some of the people or places she visits, but others, like her taxi ride with Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt, will make you feel as if you are there with them both.
Written by: Richard Askwith
Have you ever felt an inexplicable compulsion to do something? That's what fell running is for Richard Askwith. In Feet in the Clouds, he tells the story of his obsessive journey from novice runner to champion fell runner. He takes us on a fascinating tour of the sport's history and culture with humor and insight. Because Askwith is British, you'll get a whole different insight into running from that part of the world.
If you've ever wondered what drives people to push themselves to the brink of self-destruction in the pursuit of athletic excellence, this book will provide some answers. But it's also a story about friendship, camaraderie, and the simple joys of running through nature's most beautiful landscapes.
Written by: James Lawrence
James Lawrence is an inspiration to all. He is known as the "Iron Cowboy" for his fifty-plus ultra-marathon rides across the United States, which have included a bike ride from San Francisco to New York City and a run from Boston to Miami.
What's even more amazing? He never stopped pushing for perfection despite suffering nerve damage, crashes, internal bleeding, hypothermia, and more. Because of this, James continues to redefine the impossible and motivate others to push their limits.
For those of you who don’t know what an IRONMAN Triathlon is, let us explain: It is an open water 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile cycling race, and then to finish it off, a 26.2-mile marathon. Even one of these would be enough for any normal human being. However, the “Iron Cowboy” is not a normal human being.
This book chronicles his challenge to do 50 Iron-Man races, in 50 states, in 50 days. This basically meant he’d have to finish one, immediately get to the next state, and start all over again for 50 straight days.
Written by: Susan Lacke
If you're like most runners, you probably have a comfort zone—a set of races or running routes at which you feel confident and in control. But what if you push beyond your comfort zone? What new adventures could be waiting for you? In her book, Running Outside the Comfort Zone: An Explorer's Guide to Racing and Training, Susan Lacke takes readers on a journey to discover the rewards of venturing beyond their usual territory.
Now, we've all read the "this is how to achieve your goals" books, but this one is on a different level. Why is that? Because some of the races that Lacke enters include ones where you run naked (YIKES), run up ski jumps, and do other runs that will blow your mind.
Whether you're a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, this book will help you find your inner adventurer and discover the excitement of running outside your comfort zone. And we do mean out of your comfort zone.
Written by: Matt Hart
Nike has been a household name for over 50 years, becoming one of the most recognizable brands in the world. This company makes billions upon billions every year and grows larger each year. However, this success is not without controversy. In his book, author Matt Hart takes an in-depth look at the inner workings of Nike and its culture of deception.
Hart alleges that Nike has knowingly deceived customers and employees alike to create a winning company culture. Nike’s Oregon Project, and the head coach Alberto Salazar who was banned from the sport for four years, shows how Nike did everything it could to come right up to the edge of breaking the doping rules.
It also shows how he abused his athletes, used worthless “science," and basically lied so that Nike could always be on the cutting edge. Or more likely the doping edge.
Written by: Bella Mackie
As you’ve seen, a decent number of runners seem to have had mental health issues during their lives, and by taking up running, they often seemed to have healed themselves. Bella Mackie is no different as she had a failed marriage and a deep depression in her 20s. After a while, she decided that she no longer wanted to be a couch potato and put on some running shoes. Starting slowly but being deliberate, she became more content and faster at the same time.
The beauty of this book is that she is also honest about pulling herself up by her bootstraps. She needed the help of family, friends, and especially doctors and psychologists. And, if you are one of those people who think they have to give up all their vices to become a runner, you don’t have an excuse anymore since Mackie continues to drink alcohol and eat ice cream while mastering her depression and her running.
Written by: Jay Dicharry
This is a book on training to run and race any distance you want. However, it is so much more than that because this book will help you build or rebuild your body to have fewer injuries, run faster and more accessible, and truly love your movement and flow as you glide through the air.
Dicharry is a physiologist and running coach who understands precisely how a body should move. He has also studied biomechanics and has numerous photos of how you should run. It truly feels as if you have him running beside you and guiding you on each step. As he suggests, it may take a bit of time to learn how to run, but it is worth buying, reading, and starting as soon as possible.
Written by: Bruce Grierson
The question is simple, but the answer is a bit harder to figure out. At 93 years old, what makes Olga run is partly because she wants to prove to herself and others that age is just a myth. Her desire to run allows her to look at all aspects of her life and find out every single thing that will enable her to continue breaking records throughout her life.
Not satisfied with just keeping her records of what she eats, how long she sleeps, the races she does, and how she trains, she does tests with the best scientists in the world so they can also understand her. With over twenty-three world records when this book was published, her story will inspire you to go farther and live longer in better shape mentally and physically than you could have ever imagined.
Written by: Usain Bolt
As one of the fastest human beings to have ever lived, Usain Bolt's autobiography is a must-read for any sports fan. In Faster than Lightning, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist tells his story from humble beginnings as a skinny kid in Jamaica to becoming the face of track and field. As you read this book, you will start to see him build to become the fastest man on Earth and the winner of nine Olympic gold medals.
Bolt shares never-before-told tales of his training, races, and competition mindset, providing readers with an intimate look at the incredible drive and dedication that has made him an international icon. With never-before-seen photos and insights into his training methods, this is an inside look at the greatest runner of all time.
Written by: Mo Farah and T. J. Andrews
In August 2012, Mo Farah made Olympic history when he won the 10,000-meter race and the 5,000-meter race in back-to-back events. This effectively made him the first man to hold both titles at once. The Guardian proclaimed him "the greatest distance runner of all time." For most people, this would be the pinnacle of their career. But for Mo Farah, it was just the beginning.
In his autobiography, Twin Ambitions: My Autobiography, Mo Farah tells his story of becoming one of the world's best athletes. From growing up in a housing project in Mogadishu to becoming an international icon, Mo shares how he has achieved his unparalleled success.
However, success doesn't always come easily, and this is also part of the story as Mo left his twin brother back in Somalia. Instead of just being triumphs in his life, Mo also had difficult choices and complex outcomes.
Written by: Damian Hall
There's something special about setting a record, whether in running, cycling, or any other endurance sport. When you break a record, you're not just beating your own time or distance – you're proving to yourself and the world that you have what it takes to be the best. And there's no better way to achieve this than by going after a Fastest Known Time (FKT).
In this book, Damian Hall decides he wants to have the FKT for the incredible 261-mile Pennie Way run in July of 2020. Initially set in 1989 in two days and seventeen hours without sleep by Mike Hartley, Hall wanted to destroy that time.
He also wanted people to see that our climate mattered, and the destruction we are causing will also destroy us. To do this, he ran without using plastic waste; he and others collected trash along the way and raised money for Greenpeace.
The result? He decimated the record and ran it in 58 hours and 4 minutes, almost 7 hours faster than Hartley.
Written by: Chrissie Wellington
If you are a male athlete and you are in a race against Chrissie Wellington, there is a very good chance that you'd be "chicked" by her. What does that mean? It means that a woman has passed you, and you are dusted. Starting with her childhood, then doing social work in Nepal dealing with bulimia and anorexia, she realized that she likes running and completed her first marathon.
However, that isn't enough for her. She starts to desire more and enter the IRONMAN Kona World Championship race. Amazingly she won three in a row, from 2007 to 2009, and then again in 2011. And being that she ended up 8th overall in both the men’s and women's competition at the IRONMAN South Africa race.
Not only that, she had the best marathon split for either men or women. You can bet she "chicked" almost everyone and blew their minds and bodies away as she finished.
By the way, being "chicked" is nothing to be ashamed of since it is just the sport's terminology.
Written by: Matt Long and Charles Butler
In The Long Run, marathoner Matt Long tells the story of his comeback from a devastating bike accident. Doctors told him that he would never run again, and if he did walk, it would only be with a cane. They told him, without question, he would never be an athlete and would just have to accept his fate. Because Matt had to endure over forty surgeries, they were just trying to help him stay rational and survive the ordeal ahead.
He slowly regained his fitness and returned to competition through hard work and determination. Amazingly, just three years later, in 2008, Matt ran the New York Marathon. It took him seven and a half hours, limping and in pain the whole way, but nothing would stop him from achieving his goal.
Trust us, and you will have more than a few tears running down your face when you read this incredible autobiography. This book offers a unique perspective on the dedication and commitment necessary to be a successful long-distance runner.
Written by: Cory Reese
This is probably the perfect book as it is the back of the pack of our list. This book will make you laugh, cry and have every emotion in between as you read it. This sadly starts from the day when Cory’s dad committed suicide when he was just a youngster.
Because of this event, he is open to admitting that there is fear, pain, and suffering in your life and when you run. It isn't all just fun and perfection, which is why we all end up at the back of the pack at one time or another in our life.
That being stated, this book will inspire you since you'll see that Cory can overcome these issues and use them as a starting point and basis for his life. His sense of humor, and irreverence for things that happen along the way, will make you laugh no matter the circumstances.
He also gives excellent advice on how to start running or running already how to prepare to run longer and more challenging distances. Without question, when you read this book, you'll feel like you are out with a running buddy, talking about the ups and downs and finding your way along a path together.