10 must-have books on running to keep you motivated

19 Mar 2020
Many of us currently find ourselves at home, and in need of some entertainment, so we decided to compile a list of books about running to keep you mentally motivated.

Although you are probably quite busy trying to juggle a new daily routine with an array of responsibilities; whether you are working from home, taking up a new career as your children’s teacher or becoming a master-chef, you have a lot on your plate. For this very reason, we think it is important to take some time to wind down at the end of the day. While some may turn to an online yoga class or a meditation session, we have compiled a list of books for those who prefer to sit down and read. We have come up with a variety of books on running, some are purely for entertainment purposes, while others go into the technical aspects of running and how to improve your performance.   

So, even though you may not be pounding the pavement these days, how about dreaming of that good old feeling? Let your imagination run wild as you flick through the pages of one of these books. 

1. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall  

For those who are always after the latest trends, from chia seeds to celery juice, this book will come as no surprise. Being a runner himself, McDougall is on a quest to answer one simple question: why does my foot hurt? He comes across the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, who are known for their techniques and ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. It is one of the most notable running books not only because McDougall promotes the idea of running barefoot, but also because it happened to coincide with the development of a new, minimalist running shoe by many sports brands.   

2. Running with Buffaloes by Chris Lear

When Chris Lear got behind-the-scenes access to a top collegiate cross-country team by legendary coach Mark Wetmore, he immediately packed his bags. Lear shares a fascinating story from the preseason camp, through the tragic death of one of the teammates, and their ultimate triumph at the NCAA Championships. This book, filled with ups and downs, will give the reader an inside look into the training and commitment required to succeed.  

3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Huraki Murakami 

All runners are probably familiar with the meditative state you can reach during a run; however, this feeling may be hard to put into words. Fortunately, Murakami is not only a great author, but he also happens to be a passionate runner, which makes him the perfect person to describe this deep stream of thoughts. His memoir reveals his four-month preparation for the 2005 NYC Marathon, which is brought to life by what can only be described as both a travelogue and training diary.  

4. The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren

A love story describing the relationship between an athlete and his coach. The book depicts an accurate description of the everyday life of an elite runner, which includes countless hours of training and mental focus. The book was first released in 1974 and made famous for portraying a gay relationship. 

5. Running the Lydiard Way by Arthur Lydiard

This is one of the many books by the famous New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard. Arthur Lydiard revolutionised distance running in the 1960 and is still considered to be one of the most outstanding athletic coaches of all time. Even though this book dates back to 1978 it can still provide you with many useful training tips. 


6. Running Up That Hill by Vassos Alexander

This book follows sports presenter Vassos Alexander and his exploration into what keeps people hooked on running. He shares how the astonishing highs that come from endurance running ultimately compensate for the inevitable lows. He takes on challenges one would never even dream of - such as the 153-mile Spartathlon. He also includes interviews and conversations he had while running alongside legends such as Dean Karnazes.  

7. North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek is one of the greatest ultra-runners of all times, renowned for his endurance and speed, he’s finished first in almost all of ultrarunning's elite trail and road events. In his second book, Jurek decides to take on a gruelling challenge: to smash the world record for running the Appalachian Trail. A story of extreme physical and mental exertion, Jurek gives an insight into the process of self-discovery during the trial that nearly crushed him.  

8. Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith

Emil Zátopek, also known as the “Czech locomotive” is best known for winning five Olympic medals, setting eighteen world records, and going undefeated in the 10,000-meter race for six years. Despite his victories, he paid a high price for supporting “socialism with a human face.” After the 1968 Prague Spring, when the Soviet tanks crushed the uprising, he was expelled from the army and stripped of his role in national sport. Askwith dives into the myths behind one of the most inspiring and greatest runners of all times. 

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

Originally self-published in 1978 and sold from the trunk of the author’s own car during road shows, this novel has become a cult classic for many runners. It follows the life of a runner called Quenton Cassidy who’s determined to run a four-minute mile, after being kicked out of his track team for taking part in a protest. Following advice from his mentor, a former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his whole life to pursue his lifelong dream. It encapsulates every aspect of training and sacrifice that comes with being a competitive runner.  

10. The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton

Anyone who has read Born to Run will recognize this author’s name, Eric Orton, also known as McDougall’s coach. Based on his belief that any achievement is within our reach, Orton offers a program to help all runners boost their performance. This book is written in a unique narrative style, as if you were having a conversation with your coach. The premise is that the reader is visiting Eric in Wyoming for one week and training with him, and just like any running partner, he promises to help you improve your stride.  

If you enjoyed any suggestions from this list, don't hesitate to share it with your friends and family!