Words, put in the right order by people who actually know what they’re talking about, have the potential to inspire and astonish us. And when it comes to well-written running books, you’ll find no shortage of stories out there to remind you why you love to run.
Regardless if you’re sitting in a chair after a hard workout with a paperback or listening to an audiobook on a phone strapped to your arm while you run, these five books will renew your appreciation for the written word — and the art and discipline of running.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is a celebrated author, whose work is both surreal and written with a style of prose (translated from Japanese) that’s a joy to read. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running is a departure for Murakami, as it’s essentially a memoir taken from his journals on running. A good portion of the book is about how he got ready for the New York Marathon. But this is Murakami, so we also get into his philosophy on running and life, as well as how his approach to running evolved as he aged — although the importance of running for this lion of the literary world never changed.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super-Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall
Born to Run, a New York Times bestseller, details author Christopher McDougall's dive into the human biology of running, and why so many of us go about it the wrong way. On his distance-running journey, McDougall learns how to run from the Tarahumara Indians (famed for their long-distance running tenacity) while living in Mexico’s Copper Canyons. He trains for a fifty-mile race in Tarahumara country and also examines the evolutionary reasons behind why humans are designed to run incredible distances — and how to do it better.
Runner: A Short Story About a Long Run, by Lizzy Hawker
Runner: A Short Story About a Long Run, tells the remarkable tale of British ultra-runner and record-holder Lizzy Hawker. Her engrossing narrative goes from working with the wrong kind of running gear, worrying if she can complete a race, to eventually dominating France’s Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. Hawker is an exceptional endurance runner. For Lizzy, who has raced through the Himalayas — and mountain ranges all over the world — the sky is literally the limit as she shatters alpine distance-running records.
Summits of My Life: Daring Adventures on the World's Greatest Peaks, by Kilian Jornet
Spanish ultra-runner Kilian Jornet, who grew up in the Pyrenees Mountains, is the world's fastest mountain climber. In essence, he runs up mountainsides and bags peaks, like Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc and more in record times. Summits of My Life describes Jornet’s fascinating and often grueling journey to run to the top of the planet's highest peaks faster than any other person alive. And yes, he summits Everest with the fastest known time (FKT), and does so without ropes or bottled oxygen.
Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory, by Deena Kastor
Beloved American long-distance runner Deena Kastor can teach you something about running and mental toughness. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory is part memoir and part wildly entertaining guide about the mind game behind running. Kastor’s book covers recuperating from injuries, preparing for some of her most important races, how world-class runners approach their discipline as time marches on and much more. This book is a must-read for any runner, whether a novice or a seasoned pro.