The Best Running Books


Reading good running books is a great way to educate yourself about running and also increase your motivation and dedication to the sport. I find that reading about the amazing training sessions and races of the world’s greatest runners really inspires me to go out and train. If you are currently experiencing a lack of motivation to run, definitely see a good running book will pump you up. Here is a list of some of the best running books that have meant the most to me in my life.

Born to Run is the most fascinating book I have ever read about the history and scientific aspects of running. This is an amazing book if you want to learn about how humans evolved into the efficient running machines that they are today, and also about the importance of running to various cultures.
In my opinion, Once a Runner is the best running book ever written. If you have not read this book, you are really missing out. Through the character Quenton Cassidy, John L. Parker, eloquently shows the hard work and dedication needed to be an elite runner. A must read.
Jack Daniel’s Running Formula is routinely regarded as the bible for distance training. Training hard takes up a lot of time and energy. By reading and applying the detailed priniciples found in this book, you can be assured that that time is not going to waste. Coach Daniels teaches you how to train the right way.
The Perfect Mile is about the race between three men, Wes Santee, John Landy, and Roger Bannister, to become the first man to run a sub 4:00 mile. The book is a remarkable account of the drama and excitement that surrounded the various attempts to break the “unbreakable” barrier.
Bowerman And The Men Of Oregon details the story of Bill Bowerman, the legendary coach of the University of Oregon. Bowerman created a running dynasty at the U of O, and coached such runners as Olympians Steve Prefontaine and Kenny Moore, among many many others. This book is a great account of one of the greatest coaches ever.
Coaching Cross Country Successfully was written by Joe Newton. Coach Newton is the coach at York High School in Illinois. His teams have won an amazing 25 state cross country titles. This book provides an inside look into his training and motivation principles. This is an essential read for any coaches and/or high school athletes who are looking to get the most out of their cross country seasons.
Running With The Buffaloes was written by former Princeton runner, Chris Lear, who was granted insider access to the University of Colorado cross-country team. This book is for anyone who is interested in learning more about the life of a college cross country runner. It is remarkable to see how hard Adam Goucher worked while he was at Colorado.
Better Training for Distance Runners was written by Peter Coe, the father and coach of Olympic champion runner Sebastian Coe. This book endeavors to explain the science behind training principles. I should warn you that the book is a bit technical, but if you are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of how to train, this book is a must read.
ChiRunning is a really unique book that connects elements of of the ancient Chinese martial art of Tai’Chi with running. The idea is that the stress management and other health benefits of Tai’Chi leads to fewer injuries and better running.
Training Young Distance Runners can be thought of as the younger cousin of Better Training for Distance Runners. This book is focused on training younger (high school) runners, and does not have the same kind of scientific detail that Coe’s book has. However, that’s not a bad thing. Training Young Distance Runners is a readable and detailed account of how to get the most out of your training.
Running Within is all about the psychology of running. As I detailed in my mental side of racing section, I believe that training your mind, as well as your body, is essential if you want to race well. This is the best book I have found on how to train your mind so that it doesn’t get in the way of your body’s ability to perform well. If you are having trouble relaxing or staying focused during races, definitely get this book.
Pre details the life of running legend Steve Prefontaine. In my opinion, this is the best book written on the man who has inspired generations of runners to acheive their dreams. If you want to learn more about Pre, this is the book to get.

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Eat and Run provides insight into the life of one of the most successful ultramarathoners in history, Scott Jurek. In the book, Scott talks about his incredible training regimen and his adherence to the vegan diet. Eat and Run is a great way to gain valuable insight on what makes an elite runner perform so well.
Hansons Marathon Method details the training principles of one of the most successful running groups in the United States. Coaching brothers, Kevin and Keith Hanson, explain their revolutionary running program that focuses on long term development to acheive maximum success. Learn the secrets of the Hansons success without having to join their running group.
The Greatest details the life of Haile Gebrselassie, who, arguably, is the greatest distance runner ever. The book details “Geb’s” incredible work ethic, as well as his humility. If you want to learn more about a legend of the sport, take a look at this book.
Sub 4:00 follows the life Alan Webb, the high school mile record holder, during his first year at the University of Michigan. Although Webb did not find much success at Michigan, the book provides a very interesting account of the life of a college freshman runner.
In “Chasing the Runner’s High”, Ray Charbonneau tells the story how he pushed his passion for running up to, and then past, his limits. It’s a memoir that shares what he learned, what he should have learned, and what he still has to learn from running.

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