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7 Must-Read Running Books

Person wearing pink Balega socks

In the days of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us are spending more time at home. With stress and uncertainty all around, it’s a good time to pick up a book and read. Here are our seven favorite books about running to bring you inspiration, entertainment and new ideas.

1. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way To Victory

By Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

Kastor’s memoir is an inspirational journey into using positivity and gratitude to fuel success. It’s also a coming-of-age story about Kastor's life as a woman and elite athlete. In it, we glimpse her life from childhood to a mature athlete, as she begins to shift her attitude and learn that mindset and determination can be more important than talent.

Kastor weaves together her experiences as an elite athlete with valuable life lessons about the power of gratitude and positivity. Her transition from running with fear to running with strength, power and courage, is one of the narrative’s defining moments.

2. Running With the Buffaloes

By Chris Lear

Voted one of the top three books about running from readers of Runner’s World Magazine in 2009, this is a classic and true story about University of Colorado's 1998 cross country team. As Olympic Hopeful Adam Goucher, aimes for an individual NCAA title, and the team strives for their first win, the group is tested with injury and devastated by the death of a teammate.

Author Chris Lear gives an inside peek into the lives of elite-level collegiate runners, and their legendary coach Mark Wetmore, while exploring what it means to pursue a dream in the face of adversity.

3. Once a Runner

By John L. Parker, Jr.

The fictional story was inspired by the author’s experience as a collegiate champion. Protagonist Quentin Cassidy, has the dream of becoming a four-minute miler. He's less than a second away from his goal, when the Vietnam War throws his dreams into a tailspin.

After engaging in an athlete’s protest against the war, he is suspended from the track team. He withdraws from life as he knows it to train for the race of a lifetime against one of the best milers in history. It’s an inspiring, and funny insider’s account of top-level racing.

4. Running with Sherman

By Christopher McDougall

If you enjoyed Born to Run, you'll love McDougall's latest book, too. It's a heartwarming tale of an unlikely running partnership between the author and a donkey that he rescues from the verge of death.

Donkeys have a need for purpose. And McDougal gave his donkey, Sherman, a reason to live as they train together to compete in the world championship burro race in Colorado.

5. Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand

A New York Times Bestseller and top nonfiction book of the year by Time Magazine in 2010, Hillenbrand’s book chronicles the incredible story of Louis Zamperini. A delinquent as a child, who then channels his energies into running, Zamperini qualifies for the Olympics in the 5000 as a teenager, having only raced the distance four times.

When World War II begins, he joins the Airforce. He is aboard an airliner when it crashes into the ocean, leaving him drifting on a raft struggling for survival.

This staggering, true story of the power of the human will is a well-written, inspiring page-turner.

6. Running Rewired

By Jay Dicharry

Recommended by physical therapists and running coaches, the book breaks down research-derived exercises to help overcome injury, break unhealthy patterns and create positive habits for a strong running foundation.

If you find yourself stuck at home with a need for some new exercises, Running Rewired is rich with ideas to improve your stride.

7. Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. Quick Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes

By Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

According to Kopecky, the most important thing an athlete can do, aside from training, is learn to cook. This is the second cookbook created by the authors, and the recipes are quicker to make than the first (hence the title), without sacrificing nourishment or flavor.

Recipes are balanced, nourishing and delicious. Recipes are divided into meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, treats), and the book is packed with smart ideas to save time and minimize waste in the kitchen. Suggested meal plans, budget tips and kitchen tools all make this a go-to cookbook for anyone looking to eat healthy.

The book also offers suggestions for tweaking recipes and getting creative with what you have, a helpful tip if you don't have access to your full grocery supply right now. For example, the bowls section can help you throw together what you have in the fridge, and jazz it up with sauces and other toppings.

By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine. She is the Content Production Coordinator for Fleet Feet.