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The Books All Runners Should Read


December 12, 2018 Buying Guides By

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely heard of Shoe Dog, the memoir by Phil Knight about creating Nike, and Born to Run, the story of ultrarunners. But these two books are far from the only required readings for runners and aspiring runners. If you check out Amazon right now (as of publish), there’s even a special section of books on the topics of running and jogging (under the health, fitness and dieting section). A handful of the books listed in the top 100 are in our list below. We asked a group of runners to share the books that they are reading about running, as well as books they want to read to help jump-start some running inspiration this winter. It also helps that it’s gifting season, so if there’s a runner in your life, consider your gifting complete.

Let Your Mind Run, Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

“If you’re interested in the power of positive thinking, give this a read. It’s an intimate look inside the mind of an elite runner, Deena Kastor, as she transforms her running career by transforming her mind and her way of thinking. Simple examples like ‘So I decided to approach the hill playfully. Hill, today, you’re mine’ made each practice more positive and made Deena a stronger person and athlete. I think every runner, from beginner to elite, can find a positive takeaway from Deena to incorporate into their daily practice.” — Jes Woods, Nike Run Coach

How Bad Do You Want It?, Matt Fitzgerald

“Continuing the theme of mental training, [this book] is all about mental toughness. We all have different coping styles and not one method is the ideal recipe to greatness, so Matt explores a dozen pivotal races and what gives these elite athletes an edge, mentally. There are countless quotable moments in this book, but the following is my favorite and helped me through my last race: ‘Sweet disgust is really the opposite of defeat. It is the determination to fight back, something that is hard to do effectively without anger.’ I think it’s fascinating to learn how mental fortitude can help you win over physically stronger competitors and [can be] used as your secret weapon out on the course.” — Jes Woods, Nike Run Coach

Finding Ultra, Rich Roll

“I love Rich’s podcast, and I think his story is so interesting. Finding Ultra follows his life: from all-star swimmer, turned lawyer, turned raging alcoholic to what he is now, an ultra runner, podcaster, dad, vegan advocate and so much more. I loved reading Finding Ultra, particularly in the height of my marathon training where the humidity was 1000% and runs felt like crap. Even though an ultra is much harder than anything I could imagine, hearing him talk about the ‘pain cave’ that is running was helpful for me.” — Lindsey Clayton, Barry’s Bootcamp Instructor

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

“I love this book because it’s a beautiful account of one man’s love and obsession with his two favorite things: running and writing. It’s vivid, and it brings the reader into his world. The way he writes about running is so eloquent; it’s almost like he writes about running the way you wish you could explain it, but can’t find the words.” — Lindsey Clayton, ran this year’s NYC Marathon

Essentialism, Greg McKeown

“This is the quintessential burnout survival book. In my experience, runners are often the Type-A, overly-ambitious, competitive types who are far more likely to take on more than they can chew at work and in relationships. This book really helped me slow down and create strict guidelines about how I choose to spend my time.” — Gabriella Kelly, Head of Brand at Satisfy Running

A Race Like No Other, Liz Robbins

“This is an epic book that I am so glad I read before my first marathon. It gave me an understanding of what to expect as I ran the NYC marathon: the crowds, what you’ll be seeing. And despite all this, it still didn’t prepare me fully for the day ahead!” — Dan Churchill, Chef of Under Armour and Co-Founder of Charley St

Two Hours, Ed Caesar

“Part history lesson, part compelling narrative, part discussion of physiology, geography and culture, and part commentary on the current challenges the sport of running is facing, this is the compelling true story of Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, one of the most dominating marathoners of our modern time and his pursuit of the 2-hour marathon. It’s educational, inspirational, aspirational and a must-read, whether you’re a passionate fan of the sport or not.” — Mario Fraioli, Running Coach and Founder of The Morning Shakeout

Hypoventilation Training, Push Your Limits, Xavier Woorons

“The one for the nerds. The first thing we do in life is breathe and the last thing we do is breathe. Don’t tell me that how we are breathing is not important. One of the things I concentrate the most on when I am running races is to get the air all the way down my stomach and not just in my lungs.” — Lars C. Pedersen, founder of Saysky

Endure, Alex Hutchinson

“Why — and how — do we keep going when every fiber of our being is telling us to stop? This is the great paradox of endurance sports and a question any runner, regardless of experience or ability level, is forced to confront. In short: Read it.” — Mario Fraioli, Running Coach and Founder of The Morning Shakeout

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

“This provides a firsthand insight into the natural state of running. It takes into account the runners of a native Mexican tribe and how their ancestors have been running epic distances for years, yet don’t get injured like we see today. This goes along with my own philosophy on minimizing, both when it comes to food, your routine and your lifestyle.” — Dan Churchill, Chef of Under Armour and Co-Founder of Charley St

Meditations From the Breakdown Lane: Running Across America, James E. Shapiro

“[This is] for the ‘Burningman’ runner. Shapiro’s account of running across the US in the 1980’s is kind of like the running biography version of Tom Wolf’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, capturing the ‘zen’ of long distance running with interjections of the weirdness that comes along with it.” — Gabriella Kelly, Head of Brand at Satisfy Running

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