6 Books Every Runner Needs On Their Bookshelf

Books running

It’s no secret that all runners experience a kind of running fatigue. Your legs feel like lead, there’s a funny twinge in your hip, or you are just not motivated to put on your workout gear. Don’t worry, this is a pretty natural phenomenon.

To help you overcome these inevitable humps, I have 6 books that should be on every runner’s bookshelf. I like to collect and read a variety of books on running and have found reading them keeps me motivated.

Some other benefits of reading running-specific books:

  • Stay on top of the latest training information.
  • Learn proper technique so you can avoid injuries.
  • See running from different perspectives.
  • Become inspired by others’ stories.

So whether you are a casual runner or training for an ultramarathon, my top 6 books should appeal to your inner runner.

Joggers running outdoors

Top 2 Runner Training Books Every Runner Should Read

On the surface, running is one of the simplest sports you can participate in. But once you take your runs beyond the occasional jog at the gym, you’ll likely realize there is a lot more that goes into successful running. Such as what should you be eating, how quickly should you increase your mileage and other questions. With that in mind, I’ve chosen two of my favorite running-training books.

Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald

One of the best known coaches in the running world, Matt Fitzgerald has authored many fantastic books on the subject of running. He has pioneered some of the toughest and most effective plans which many runners use today.

My favorite of his books is Brain Training for Runners. While training for my first half-marathon, I realized by brain was my biggest hurdle. Utilizing Fitzgerald’s book, I was able to use the strategies he offered to help focus my brain into the running zone. So if you are dealing with a rebellious headspace, check out Brain Training for Runners and see if this book can help give your brain a boost.

Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell

Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell are the brains behind the running blog “Another Mother Runner”. These ladies have brought their years of running together to create a great resource other mothers (and non-moms!) can appreciate. I found them when searching through millions of running podcasts and my enjoyment of their podcast led me to check out their other offerings.

I was immediately charmed by their book Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity. They have an engaging style of writing that can appeal to everyone regardless of whether children are in the picture or not. Train Like A Mother covers everything from training plans, race day nutrition and more. So if you want a pep talk from runners who understand what it’s like to juggle many responsibilities, this may be the book for you!      

Books running

Inspiring Nonfiction Running Books

As I’ve become a bit older, I’ve found a great appreciation for nonfiction books. I especially enjoy partially autobiographical books as I feel like it is easier to connect with the nonfiction book. From battling emotional highs and lows to working through the pain, it can be cathartic to read about it from another person’s point-of-view. And when it comes to running, it is nice to know someone else shares your pain!

The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life by Amby Burfoot

Amby Burfoot is a Boston Marathon winner (1968), motivational speaker, and a Runner’s World editor. Over the course of his running career, Burfoot has helped and inspired many runners.

His first book, The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life, reviews 15 different life lessons he’s learned through running. Some resonated with me more than others, but the way the book is laid out you can skip around to the parts you feel are most applicable.

Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi

Multiple marathon winner and Olympic silver medalist, Meb Keflezighi is a champion in all senses of the word. He as overcome massive hurdles in his life, from immigrating to America when he was 12 years old while not knowing how to speak English, to conquering career-ending injuries.

Run to Overcome details Keflezighi’s journey to overcome a pelvic stress fracture during the 2008 Olympic trials. This kind of injury tends to spell the end of a runner’s career, but Keflezighi battled to recover. I found his story particularly inspiring, especially as I was recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. If you are having a hard time with your running, this may be a book you want to snuggle up with.

Reading while running

Boost Your Next Run With These Runner-based Fiction Novels

Bet you didn’t know there were works of fiction based on running! I admit, it does take some immersion into running culture to find the more fictional side of running books but once you find them, you will be happy you did.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The author of many successful books, The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen is another hit. The protagonist, Jessica, loses her leg in a terrible accident. Through this book, you can immerse yourself in Jessica’s emotional and physical battles as she challenges her new physical restrictions.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

With the Vietnam War set as the backdrop, this classic running book still resonates with readers today. Once a Runner follows a young man’s drive to succeed and overcome all odds, even at high costs. I did find some of the lingo outdated but overall, I enjoyed this book.

You don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy these motivation books. But if you are a runner, you need these in your life and on your bookshelf.

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