There are literally hundreds of books about running. From training manuals to autobiographies, fictional works to real-life adventures, you could fill the rest of your days reading about running.
But because there is so much out there, it’s pretty hard to know where to start. Between us, we’ve read a LOT of running books, so here we have rounded up our favourite titles to date.
The Pants of Perspective
By Anna McNuff
If you’ve been following Anna’s recent journey around the UK (Barefoot Britain – 100 marathons around the country, completely barefoot), you’ll already know what an amazing runner this inspiring woman is. In her book, you can read about one of her previous adventures, running 3,000 kilometres through New Zealand! It’s open, honest, engaging and funny – and makes you feel like anything is possible.
The Rise of the Ultra Runners
By Adharanand Finn
We’ve already reviewed this book in detail on this website, but it’s worthy of a mention as one of our favourite running books too. Whether you run ultramarathons, fancy giving it a go or it’s not for you, Adharanand’s journey into the sport is worth following. He is honest about his own views on ultra running before giving it a go – views that many of us will have heard before – and it’s the way his opinion develops along the way that is inspiring. Plus, he introduces you to plenty of other amazing runners along the way.
By Matt Fitzgerald
The idea that we need to run slower most of the time is nothing new, but it’s a hard concept for those of us used to only training hard. This book is a great introduction to why it’s so important to run slow for the majority of your training and lays it out in a way that makes sense. It’s easy to take on board the advice – and it actually works too! You just need to get out of your own head and trust the process, but you will see the benefits.
Running Up That Hill
By Vassos Alexander
Vassos has a real way with words. His books are just so easy to read that you can get through them quickly and be left feeling uplifted. The books tells the story of a tough 153-mile ultramarathon called Spartathlon, but it twist and turns through Vassos’ previous endurance events, as well as his meetings with ultra-running legends.
Outrunning The Demons
By Phil Hewitt
This is not a single story about running; rather it is a book that collects together lots of stories about running. The short stories each explore how different people have found perspective and peace through running. Each story is raw and real, and features people from all walks of life. Some of the stories are a little hard to read due to their sensitive nature, but they are all ultimately positive, looking at the transformative power of running.
By Markus Torgeby
This is something really different for a book about running. It doesn’t contain advice or tips. It won’t make you a better runner. But it tells a story like no other. Markus, struggling with the chaos of life, retreats to a remote Swedish forest at the age of 20, where he lives completely alone with only the bare essentials, for four years. During this time, he runs and he survives. He writes his thoughts as they come; it’s not polished, but it’s raw. It paints a beautiful picture of what happens when a man gives in to his true nature, leaving everything else behind.
By Richard Askwith
If you find running too much dictated by the laid path, the beep of your Garmin and the constraints of technical kit, then this book gives you the alternative. To run naturally and free, with no real plan and no route plotted. This book will leave you itching to lace up your trainers and get outside, running wherever you fancy for however long you want. Richard sells the fun of this kind of running and shares many great adventures of his pursuit towards natural running.
The Runner’s Handbook
By Bob Glover, Jack Shepherd and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover
Sometimes the oldies are the best! Our copy of the book is from 1996, but it was first published in 1978 and it’s still going strong. We often thumb through the pages gleaning words of advice. Due to its age, it has become a timeless instruction manual for new and intermediate runners. It doesn’t have all the modern technology and training ideas – it’s simple and effective. It covers literally everything there is to know about running.
By Mimi Anderson
if you’re feeling a bit down on your running, then this is the prescription to get your mojo back. Mimi didn’t start running until she was 36, on a treadmill, as a mum to three kids. She has a long history with an eating disorder, which she is honest about throughout. This book tracks her journey from that first run, to finding a natural talent, to her achievement of getting the Guinness World Record for a woman running from John O’Groats to Land’s End. On her way, she also sets herself ever-more impressive challenges in the hottest (Death Valley) and the coldest (the Arctic) places on earth. Inspiring indeed.