Whether you’re looking to tackle your first marathon or simply want to stick to your New Year’s resolution of jogging every morning, books are one of the best ways to improve your performance and find the right mindset.

After all, they say that “running is 90% mental,” which means building up your mindset can prove to be a deal-breaker for your next run! 

And reading a book for runners doesn’t mean that it should only be about proper form and other technical aspects. We believe that books about health, nutrition, and learning from the experiences of other runners are important additions to any runner’s To-Be-Read (TBR) pile. 

13 of the Best Books for Runners 

We have collected a variety of books, ranging from fiction to nonfiction to memoirs, which we hope will help you improve your running. 

1. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall 

McDougall sets out to answer the very simple question of why our feet hurt. He shares stories of meeting some of the greatest runners in the world: a tribe of Mexican Indians living among the canyons and known for running with the barest footwear. 

2. The Runner’s Kitchen by Emma Coburn 

World champion middle-distance runner Emma Coburn is known on the track and in the gym, but she also loves spending time in the kitchen, whipping up elaborate dishes for her teammates, friends, and family.

This book features 100 of her favorite recipes, and is part of her effort to open people’s eyes to the joy of cooking and eating a wide variety of foods. 

3. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Former Navy Seal David Goggins has been defying the odds since his childhood. Written in a poignant, transparent tone, Can’t Hurt Me details his experiences and shares the mindset he used to overcome challenges in every aspect of life, including the physical hurdles he faced while completing one of the toughest training programs in the world. 

4. The Comeback Quotient by Matt Fitzgerald 

Matt Fitzgerald mixes scientific findings with actual experience to help athletes “become mentally fitter.”

He draws from the experiences of triathletes, ultrarunners, and road runners, including Olympic marathon qualifier Molly Siedel, to share a three-step process that helps athletes adapt to adversity. 

5. The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook by Heather Mayer Irvine

In this cookbook, you’ll find 150 delicious recipes, all meatless but promising the nutrients you need to boost your performance.

Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice your nutrition or performance, and can instead use these whole food meals to bring you to your peak fitness and health. 

6. The Genius of Athletes by Noel Brick and Scott Douglas 

What do world-class competitors know that you don’t, and how can knowing that secret change your life?

Dr. Noel Brick,. an expert on the psychology of endurance, partners with a contributing writer to Runner’s World, Scott Douglas, to deliver a book that can help regular athletes develop the thinking skills used by top sportsmen to succeed. 

7. Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden 

Science writer Christie Aschwanden wrote this book focusing on the science of recovery, a very important topic for any aspiring athlete to understand.

She objectively looks into the latest recovery trends, often trying them out herself, to help other athletes decide which practices or products are worth their money and time. 

8. Mighty Moe by Rachel Swaby and Kit Fox 

This is the true story of 13-year-old Maureen Wilton and how she aimed to break the world record for a women’s marathon with a time of 3:19.

During a race near her home in a Toronto, Canada suburb, she competed against one other woman and 28 men.

9. Range by David Epstein 

David Epstein is the bestselling author of The Sports Gene, but in this book, he challenges the idea that specialization is needed in order to succeed.

He uses scientific research and actual experiences from the world’s top performers to advocate for generalization over specialization. 

10. Endure by Alex Hutchinson 

Alex Hutchinson used to be the columnist for Runner’s World’s “Sweat Science.” In this book, he takes a deep look into how we as human beings can train our brains to forego preconceived limitations and push past what seems possible.

11. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami 

Did you know that Japanest bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami is also a runner? This memoir includes his contemplations on long-distance running, which hopefully will inspire readers to take up the sport themselves.

In this book, Murakami describes running as creating a “cocoon” that you can go to even at moments when you’re not on the track. 

12. North by Scott Jurek 

Written by ultrarunner Scott Jurek, who advocates a plant-based lifestyle, this book details his journey to breaking the speed record for running all 2,189 milles of the Appalachian Trail. Read how this challenge nearly broke him. 

13. Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton 

In this memoir, Olympic medalist and marathon record holder Deena Kastor shares how optimistic thinking and positive psychology helped her to manage her thoughts and enabled her to run her way to victory. 

Reading Books for Runners 

As a runner, you need to invest time in strengthening your resolve and control over your mind because, as they say, when you conquer your mind, the race is half won. 

Consider adding some of these books to your reading list. You can even multitask by listening to the audiobook versions on your daily run!

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!


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