I am a bit of a bookworm who would prefer to spend my days reading. I’m interested in all kinds of literature, but most of all, I read so-called non-fiction books such as autobiographies and inspirational literature on economics and self-development. In this post, I’m sharing the best books on running that I’ve read over the years.
Best Books On Running 2023
It wasn’t until I read Born to Run that I really got inspired by books about running. After that, I started searching high and low for good running-themed books.
Below I have compiled a list of the best books about running that I think are worth reading.
1. Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall is a non-fiction book exploring the world of ultrarunning and the Tarahumara people, a remote indigenous population in Mexico known for their remarkable endurance and ability to run hundreds of kilometres without rest. The book follows McDougall’s journey to learn the secrets of the Tarahumara and understand how they have managed to maintain their running ability over generations.
The book is a captivating and engaging read that not only delves into the history and culture of the Tarahumara but also explores the science behind running and the evolution of humans as runners. McDougall also includes stories of other ultrarunners and their struggles and achievements, adding to the depth and diversity of the book.
Overall, “Born to Run” is a fascinating book that inspires readers to push their limits and provides insight into the importance of running and man’s connection to nature.
It is not without reason that this book has had the international impact it has. Whether you believe in the theories of barefoot running or not, this is among the best books on running with its captivating stories.
2. Running with the Kenyans, Adharanand Finn
“Running with the Kenyans” is a captivating book written by Adharanand Finn, an avid runner and journalist who decided to move his family to Kenya to immerse himself in the running culture and learn the secrets of the world’s best runners.
The book provides a fascinating insight into Kenyan athletes’ lives and training regimes, who have dominated long-distance running for decades, breaking world records and winning countless Olympic medals. Finn’s narrative style is engaging and informative, bringing to life the people and places he encounters during his journey.
Throughout the book, Finn explores the factors that contribute to the success of Kenyan runners, including genetics, diet, lifestyle and the cultural reverence for running. He trains with local athletes, interviews coaches and scientists, and attends races, gaining valuable insights into becoming a world-class runner.
Along the way, he confronts his own preconceptions about running and discovers the transformative power of immersing himself in another culture. “Running with the Kenyans” is an inspiring and thought-provoking book that will appeal to runners and non-runners alike, offering a glimpse into a world where running is not just a sport but a way of life.
3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” is a memoir by the famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami. In the book, Murakami reflects on running and how it has become an important part of his writing routine and lifestyle. Through his personal experiences, he explores the relationship between running and writing and how both require discipline, perseverance and a sense of purpose. For me, as a creative person, this is very interesting reading.
The book takes the reader through Murakami’s life, from his beginnings as a novelist to his current status as an acclaimed author and long-distance runner. He reflects on his challenges, the joys he has experienced, and the lessons he has learned from his running and writing projects.
The book could be said to reflect on the connections between body, mind and spirit and how following your passions can lead to a more satisfying and meaningful life.
4. Eat and Run, Scott Jurek
“Eat and Run” is a memoir by Scott Jurek, one of the world’s most successful ultramarathon runners ever. The book details Jurek’s journey from his childhood in rural Minnesota to becoming a record-breaking athlete who has won numerous ultramarathons, including the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, seven times in a row. However, “Eat and Run” is not only a book about running but also about Jurek’s love of food and his plant-based diet.
A firm believer in the benefits of a vegan diet for athletic performance, Jurek shares his experiences of switching to a plant-based diet and the challenges he faced in maintaining it while training and competing. The book includes a number of vegan recipes that Jurek developed himself, and he emphasizes the importance of eating whole, nutritious foods to fuel the body for peak performance.
Alongside Jurek’s personal journey and philosophy, the book provides insight into the world of ultramarathon running, with its gruelling challenges and intense mental and physical demands. “Eat and Run” is an inspiring and informative read for anyone interested in running, veganism, or pursuing excellence.
5. Once a Runner, John L. Parker Jr.
Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is a classic novel hailed as one of the best sports books ever, published in 1978, it tells the story of Quenton Cassidy, a talented but rebellious runner who dreams of becoming an Olympic champion. Cassidy is a fictional character, but Parker’s vivid and detailed descriptions of the running world make it clear that the author knows the sport inside out.
The events are set in the early 1970s and provide a nostalgic look at the running scene. Protagonist Cassidy is a college student known for his unconventional training methods and his refusal to conform to the rigid rules of his coach and teammates. As Cassidy’s ambitions grow, he begins to focus all his energy on training and competition, often at the expense of his relationships and academic career.
The book is not only a compelling story of a runner’s quest for perfection but also of the sacrifices athletes must make to pursue their dreams.
6. Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner is a memoir by Dean Karnazes, an American ultramarathon runner. The book is an inspiring account of Karnazes’ journey from a sedentary lifestyle to becoming a world-renowned endurance athlete who can run ultra-distances. Full of interesting anecdotes from Karnaze’s personal and professional life, the book provides a detailed insight into the mindset and preparation required to become a successful ultramarathon runner.
Throughout the book, Karnazes shares his experiences running some of the most gruelling races on earth, such as the Badwater Ultramarathon, which stretches 135 miles through Death Valley in California, and the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile race through the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Karnazes also describes his motivation for running these races, including his love of pushing the boundaries of human endurance, his desire to explore the limits of his physical and mental capacity, and his passion for nature. Overall, “Ultramarathon Man” is an inspiring book that will motivate readers to push their limits and pursue their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.
This a classic book and still one of the best Books On Running 2023.
7. Running with the Buffaloes, Chris Lear
Running with the Buffaloes is a non-fiction book by Chris Lear that chronicles the 1998 season of the University of Colorado Buffaloes men’s national team. The book provides a fascinating and in-depth look at the competitive world of cross-country running, from the gruelling workouts and training routines to the emotional highs and lows on race day.
Lear’s writing style is engaging and compelling, taking the reader on a journey as he follows the team throughout the season. He provides vivid descriptions of the races, the team’s training routines, and the personalities of the individual runners, giving readers a real sense of what it takes to compete at the highest level of collegiate running. In addition, the book provides insight into the relationships between team members and their coaches and the mental and physical challenges they face along the way.
It is a compelling account of what it takes to be a successful distance runner and a tribute to the dedication and determination of those athletes who push themselves to the limit in pursuit of their goals.
8. The Perfect Mile, Neal Bascomb
“The Perfect Mile” by Neal Bascomb is a compelling account of one of the greatest sporting achievements of the 20th century. The book recounts the quest of three runners – Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee – to become the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. The story provides an insight into these athletes’ mindset, training regimes and tactics as they relentlessly pursued their goals.
The book not only focuses on the races themselves but also delves into the personal lives of the runners, their coaches and the political climate at the time. Bascomb’s detailed research provides a fascinating insight into the world of 1950s sport and the science of running.
He also skillfully creates a sense of suspense as the three runners came tantalizingly close to breaking the barrier, each with their unique approach and strengths. Overall, “The Perfect Mile” is an exciting and inspiring read for anyone interested in sports, history or human achievement.
9. The Long Run, Matt Long
“The Long Run” is a memoir by Matt Long, a New York firefighter who was seriously injured when hit by a bus while cycling to work. The book describes his recovery process, which was long and arduous, and his life before the accident. Long was an accomplished athlete who had completed several marathons and triathlons, and his dedication to fitness played a crucial role in his recovery.
Long’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination. Despite many setbacks and obstacles, he refused to give up on his recovery and eventually returned to running and competing in endurance events. “The Long Run” is an inspiring book that gives readers an insight into a person who has faced unimaginable adversity and come out stronger on the other side.
10. Run or Die, Kilian Jornet
“Run or Die” is a memoir by Kilian Jornet, a legendary ultrarunner and mountain athlete. In the book, Jornet shares his personal journey and experiences as an athlete, from his childhood in the Pyrenees to his many victories in some of the world’s toughest trail races. Jornet’s writing style is raw and honest, allowing the reader to feel the physical and emotional highs and lows of his sporting endeavours.
Jornet’s passion for the mountains and endurance sports is evident throughout the book. He writes about the joy and freedom he feels when running in the mountains and the enormous physical and mental challenges he faces during the races. Jornet also shares his approach to training and nutrition, offering valuable insights for runners and athletes alike.
“Run or Die” is an inspiring read that will motivate readers to push their limits and pursue their passions.
These were my favourites for the best books on running in 2023. Please comment below if you have suggestions for good books on running.