Good Reads for Runners

In addition to my annoying running obsession, I also suffer from a severe reading addiction.

Though I normally spend my bookworm time in fiction novels, there are some incredible books on running that have educated and truly inspired my athletic pursuits. I’m a little too impatient to dive into training theory and coaching books. Instead I prefer good old fasioned stories that detail historical feats, share wisdom and inspire me to continue to get my butt out the door. I highly recommend you check these out if you can!
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
I have mentioned this book in an earlier post, but can’t say enough good things about it. In his quest to learn why he is always suffering running injuries, McDougall visits an ancient tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners living in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Alongside sound research, unwieldy terrain, a barefoot runner and lots of inspiration, a brilliant story unfolds telling us that as humans, we are truly born to run. Be warned – after reading this book you may find yourself doing something crazy like signing up for an ultramarathon.

Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore.
Sportswriter and U of Oregon alum Moore tells the story of Oregon’s legendary coach Bill Bowerman and co-founder of Nike. The story showcases the rich history of American running in Eugene, OR on a collegiate and Olympic level. Bowerman is an incredible character in our running heritage.  


once_runnerOne a Runner by John Parker.
Parker tells the story of Quentin Cassidy’s obsession-driven quest as a world-class runner. Training details, inspiration and wisdom fill the book that Runner’s World has called “the best novel ever written about running.” Need I say more?

duelDuel in the Sun by John Brant.
The Story of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon
The 1982 Boston Marathon was like no other. Salazar and Beardsley battled each other, themselves, and the course of the legendary marathon step for step over 26.2 miles. Duel chronicles in exacting detail the two hours and nine minutes that changed the lives of two men. Be prepared for your blood pressure to rise with the suspense.


Pre by Tom Jordan.
The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine
A must-read for people who love the legendary University of Oregon distance runner. Honestly a rather dry biography, but interesting insight into the life of the inspiring and tough as nails runner nonetheless. Pre, whose life was cut short in 1975 at the age of 24 from a car crash, is one of those pieces of running history that continue to inspire runners on a daily basis. Though he owned 25 consecutive wins in U.S. distance races, he never could seem to bring home a medal when competing on the international level. He was cocky. He was tenacious. But he was a fantastic inspiration.

running-with-the-buffaloesRunning With the Buffaloes by Chris Lear. 
Lear follows the 1998 men’s cross country team at the University of Colorado led by team captain, elite runner and NCAA individual champion Adam Goucher. Through intense 100-mile weeks, the tragic death of a teammate in a cycling accident, and the trials of trying to regain the NCAA team title, the incredible hard-work of these young men becomes endearing. Head coach Mark Whetmore doesn’t mince words and shows great insight into the world of collegiate cross-country.


On my to-read list are The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb which details three men’s pursuit to break the four-minute mile and pop novelist Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Are there any other great running books that you’ve read that we should check out?

One comment Add your comment

Daniel Norton

May 17th, 2010
2:20 pm

Wow, you list all of my favorite running books. “Born to Run” completely changed my perception of running shoes and got me into a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for building arch/achilles/calf strength. I don’t recommend going completely barefoot, but I think there are some great benefits to running in minimal shoes.

I also have “The Perfect Mile” on my to-read list, but you can skip “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” It’s not a very inspiring book in my opinion.

If we can include actual training books, I loved “Brain Training for Runners” by Matt Fitzgerald.