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10 Running Books That You Need to Read to Get Started or Do Better at Running

The 10 best running books as chosen by running experts and the running community at

Running – a word that can spark both joy and trepidation. Whether you’re a newcomer lacing up for the first time or a seasoned pavement pounder looking to shave some seconds off your personal best, there’s a treasure trove of wisdom awaiting in the world of literature. Here are 10 must-read books that will kick your running up a notch, presented in a friendly, factual, and absolutely fun way.

1. “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall – £4.74 Amazon

“Born to Run” is a gem. McDougall takes us on a thrilling adventure to the highlands of Mexico, where the Tarahumara Indians run ultra-distances with ease and joy, barefoot or in simple sandals. The stories are compelling, the science fascinating, and the message clear: we are all born to run. It’s a stirring narrative that will make you reconsider the limits of human endurance and the joy that can be found in every step.

Paperback: £8.32 from Amazon

Kindle: £4.74 from Amazon

Born to run by Christopher McDougall - running book voted best value by

2. “Running Like a Girl” by Alexandra Heminsley – £3.99 Amazon

Offering heaps of practical advice wrapped in humour and humility, “Running Like a Girl” is Heminsley’s journey from sofa-slug to marathon runner. Beyond the practicalities of running, it delves into the mental resilience developed through the sport. A humorous, honest, and hugely motivational book, it’s a perfect read for those dipping their toes into the world of running.

Paperback – £8.99 Amazon

Kindle – £3.99 Amazon

Run like a Girl - a running book by Alexandra Heminsley that is £3.99 on Amazon Kindle and £8.99 paperback on Amazon.

3. “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek – £6.99 Amazon

Scott Jurek, one of the greatest ultramarathon runners of all time, documents his life journey and the critical role of a plant-based diet in his success. “Eat and Run” provides fascinating insights into the world of ultra-endurance, from the physical toll to the emotional highs and lows, all the while offering delicious, energy-packed vegan recipes. A riveting read, it’s an inspiration for anyone looking to push their limits.

Paperback – £6.99 Amazon

Kindle – £7.07 Amazon

"Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness" by Scott Jurek - £6.99 from Amazon

4. “The Lore of Running” by Tim Noakes – £19.99 Amazon

An absolute classic, “The Lore of Running” is like the encyclopaedia of the running world. This comprehensive book covers everything from the science of running to injury prevention and treatment. With insightful tips on training and performance, it’s a wealth of knowledge that every runner should have on their bookshelf.

This is a meaty book and we think it has something for everyone. Although the cover says it is for serious runners, we think it would be greeat for every level of runner.

Hardback: £19.99 Amazon

The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes MD - £19.99 from Amazon

5. “Once a Runner” by John L. Parker Jr. – £6.99 Amazon

In “Once a Runner,” Parker gives a vivid depiction of the dedication and commitment required to excel in distance running. With its engaging plot, this fictional tale offers a peek into the world of elite collegiate running and the trials and tribulations that come with it. It’s a compelling read that will resonate with those striving to achieve their personal best.

Paperback – £9.35 Amazon

Kindle – £6.99 Amazon

once a runner - a book by John L Parker - £6.99 from Amazon

6. “26.2 Miles to Boston: A Journey into the Heart of the Boston Marathon” by Michael Connelly – £11.16 Amazon

This is an inspiring and detailed account of the Boston Marathon from its humble beginnings to its current status as one of the world’s most prestigious races. “26.2 Miles to Boston” captures the essence of this historical event, the spirit of the runners, and the emotion and energy that make it a race like no other. A compelling read for any running enthusiast!

Paperback – £18.96 Amazon

Kindle – £11.16 Amazon

26.2 Miles to boston Michael Connelly - £11.16 from Amazon

7. “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami – £4.99 Amazon

Murakami interlaces his life as a novelist with his passion for long-distance running in this enchanting memoir. “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” offers profound reflections on life, writing, and running. It’s a thought-provoking and poetic read that even non-runners will find engaging.

Paperback – £6.99 Amazon

Kindle – £4.99 Amazon

What I talk about when running - Murakami - £6.99 from Amazon

8. “Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth” by Adharanand Finn – £4.99 Amazon

Why are Kenyans so good at running? Finn seeks the answer to this question as he moves his family to Kenya to train. “Running with the Kenyans” is not just about running; it’s a story of passion, resilience, and cultural understanding. This inspirational narrative will motivate you to hit the ground running!

Paperback – £9.05 Amazon

Kindle – £4.99 Amazon

Running with the Kenyans - £4.99 on Amazon - Adharanand Finn

9. “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory” by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton – £4.49 Amazon

Deena Kastor, an Olympic medallist, reveals how she harnessed the power of her mind to improve her running. “Let Your Mind Run” is a journey of personal growth and self-discovery, highlighting the transformative power of positive thinking. A captivating read, it offers valuable insights for those looking to improve their mental game.

Hardback – £17.59 Amazon

Kindle – £4.49 Amazon

let your mind run - Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton - £4.49 Amazon

10. “The Complete Book of Running for Women” by Claire Kowalchik – £8.99 Amazon

Written exclusively for women, Kowalchik’s guide covers everything from nutrition and preventing injuries to balancing running with work and family. The book is filled with useful advice, motivational stories, and women-specific considerations. It’s an empowering read that supports women of all ages and abilities in their running journey.

Kindle – £8.99 Amazon

Hardback – £12.49 Amazon

The complete book of running for women - Claire Kowalchik - £8.99

Running specialist and acclaimed sprint trainer, Mark Robinson, shared with us his insights on the value of running books: “For every stride on the track, there’s a wealth of written wisdom that can help make it better. Novices will find these books as a beginner’s manual, simplifying the nuances of the sport, providing guidance on essential equipment, and outlining strategic plans for starting their running journey safely and efficiently. But their benefit is not limited to the newcomers. Even for the veterans of the track, there’s always something new to learn, be it refining their technique, enhancing their training regimes, or delving deeper into the science that governs their every step.”

“What these books offer is akin to pocket-sized mentorship. They encapsulate years of knowledge and experience from world-class athletes, experienced coaches, and leading sports scientists. Reading these books is like gaining access to their thought processes, learning from their accomplishments, their missteps, and perhaps more importantly, understanding that even the most decorated athletes face struggles and uncertainties akin to your own.”

Mark Robinson – Running and Sprint Personal Trainer

Wrapping up his insights, Mark asserts, “Running is not just a physical exertion; it’s a mental challenge. Books that explore the mental aspects of running help in forging mental strength, instilling the virtues of persistence, and inspiring us through shared experiences. Reading about running can rekindle our love for the sport, motivate us to scale new heights, and serve as a timely reminder of why we started running in the first place.”

Whether you’re just starting your running journey or have clocked up countless miles, these books offer rich insights into the world of running. From memoirs and novels to guides and encyclopaedic references, there’s something for every running enthusiast. Happy reading and happier running!

Andy Barr
the authorAndy Barr
Editorial Lead
Andy was late arriving into the world of fitness, running and training. He did not really take up regular gym going until he was in his late 30's. He lost over 7 stone in weight since starting and completed an olympic length triathlon in June 2018. He enjoys playing football, boxing and outdoor running.

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