20 Must-Read Running Books

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Our editorial team came together to create the ultimate reading list for runners, and it's safe to say we're psyched about the result.

Whether you're looking for inspiration, entertainment or training tips, our comprehensive list has something for everyone.

Here are our top 20 picks for the best books about running:

1. Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

By Alexi Pappas

Alexi Pappas has taken the running world by storm in her first ever book, Bravey. She talks everything from Olympic dreams, building confidence, mental health and being a bravey. Written in a series of essays, Pappas explores her own struggles and achievements and draws sharp, insightful lessons from them that are sure to inspire anyone– runner or not.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:


2. Mind Gym

By Gary Mack

Gary Mack is a noted sports psychologist who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympic hopefuls to strikeout pitchers. In 'Mind Gym', he shares how mental game is just as important as physical, and the impact of psychology on performance.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

3. Running With Sherman

By Christopher McDougall

You've heard of running with your dog, but running with a donkey? Christopher MacDougall shares the heartwarming story of his decision to adopt a rescue donkey, and training to run with it in one of the wildest races in America. You're sure to hug your nearest furry friend a little closer while reading.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

4. 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. 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.

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5. Born To Run

By Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall shares the story of his time with the Tarahumara people of Mexico's Copper Canyons, and their running-centered culture. McDougall's narrative explores the science behind running, and why all of us were, in fact, born to run.

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6. The Comeback Quotient

By Matt Fitzgerald

Sports writer Matt Fitzgerald explores how athletes stay mentally tough and engaged when making a comeback. He defines these individuals as "ultrarealists", men and women who ultimately succeed by fully accepting, embracing and addressing the reality of their situations. Fitzgerald teaches us that we all have the capacity to do this in any facet of our life. Besides– who doesn't love a good comeback?

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

7. The Perfect Mile

By Neal Bascomb

History nerd? Runner? This book is for you. Read about the three athletes who stared down the 4-minute mile barrier, and broke it. Whether you love reading about sports history or are looking for inspiration, Bascomb's novel will leave you motivated to overcome your own personal barriers on and off the course.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

8. Run Forever

By Amby Burfoot

Marathoner and life-long runner Amby Burfoot shares advice and wisdom on developing a healthy relationship with yourself and your training, so you can enjoy running year after year. He provides clear, easy-to-follow guidance that you can incorporate into your daily life, no matter your level of experience.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

9. Strong

By Kara Goucher

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher shares advice to building self-confidence and conquering doubt, on the run and in life off the track. She sources experiences from professional runners Emma Coburn and Molly Huddle, as well as sport psychologists and other experts in the field to provide tools you can implement in your daily life.

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10. Running the Rift

By Naomi Benaron

This novel unveils the amazing true story of Jean Patrick Nkuba, Rwanda's first Olympic medal winner in track, and his fight for survival as a Tutsi during the Rwandan Genocide. Nkuba holds fast to his love for running, and it ultimately saves his life.

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11. 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.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

12. The Runner's Kitchen

By Emma Coburn

Whether you're looking to cook up a mean Butternut Squash Gnocchi, or are searching for resources about sports nutrition, Emma Coburn's cook book offers something for everyone. She shares her favorite recipes, built to fuel your runs and taste even better. Plus, they're super fun and easy to make.

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13. Run Fast. Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for 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 cookbook offers balanced, delicious recipes 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.

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14. Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand

Hillenbrand’s book chronicles the incredible true 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. During his service in the Air Force during World War II, he is aboard an airliner that 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.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

15. 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.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:


16. How Bad Do You Want It?

By Matt Fitzgerald

You've heard of mind over matter, but it's easier said than done. Sports writer Matt Fitzgerald explores over a dozen pivotal races and breaks down the ways elite athletes build their mental strength. He reveals cutting-edge, psychobiological principles that guide endurance performance, and are sure to make an impact on your mindset as you go about your next run.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:


17. North

By Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek shares his mind-bending experience as he attempted to break the speed record of the Appalachian Trail. As an accomplished trail runner and ultramarathoner, this endeavor pushed his limits, physically and mentally. However, he came away with a new self-understanding, and an inspiring story that is sure to motivate runners and non-runners alike.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

18. Epic Runs of the World

By The Lonely Planet

Caught the travel bug? We have too. The Lonely Planet invites you to deviate from the typical vacation by instead running through your next trip. Read about the world's greatest running routes, through cities and over expanses of wilderness, and plan your next trip on the run. And, we've got to admit, it's going to look great on your coffee table.

Buy now on Amazon, or from your local bookstore:

19. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

By Haruki Murakami

Murakami offers an up-close and personal look at his journey as both a runner and a writer, and how he finds himself as the intersection of both his passions. His story provides sobering, yet playful, insight to the fine line between motion and art form.

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20. 26 Marathons

By Meb Keflezighi

If you're interested in learning about marathons, why not hear it from one of the greats? Meb Keflezighi shares the development of his identity, faith, and life through the lens of running.

Buy now on Amazon, or at your local bookstore:


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