Best List of Inspiring Running Books for marathoners 

Books are the best! But what's even better?

Inspiring running books! 

Books are such a wonderful outlet to get outside one’s head and live experiences through another’s lens.

Inspiring Running Books

Quick motivational/mental tip:

Keep a stack of inspiring running books on your coffee table or out in the open so that you can have a visual motivation in front of you!

Your brain will think, want and be motivated by what you see which is also why building a running dream board can be so powerful

On this page, I want to share:

  • How to access great books for free
  • Some of my favorite running stories
  • Some favorite unrelated running book titles
  • A couple of great podcasts
  • How to access books for free

How to access great books for free

I love the solitude of running in silence but  I also love reading and learning.

One of my favorite ways to spend time running is by listening to an audiobook. 

Listening to a story or podcast is a wonderful way to spend your time running as it’s almost like being with a friend.

It also gets you excited to go out for a run and keeps you motivated to continue running!

Most people are familiar with Amazon’s Audible service for listening to audiobooks.

They have a huge selection!

However, I have only ever used free audiobook services. You can access literally thousands of titles for free through two of my favorite platforms.

The two free platforms you can use to access free audiobooks, ebooks, and music are:



Both of these platforms do require you to have a library card to your local library. Once you set it up in your account though it's very easy to download the titles you want. 

With Hoopla, you are allowed 5 downloads per month which depending on the length of the audiobook is usually plenty for me.

If I do need more downloads in one month or can’t find a certain book on Hoopla, I turn to the Libby app and more often than not can find what I need.

One more tip:

When  I would prefer to have the physical copy of the book, I always check my local library for the titles. 

If I can't find the book, or a certain book really resonated with me then I usually check eBay to add it to my personal library.

I always love reading others book list recommendations so here are a few of my favorites that you can find in audiobook format or hard copy. 

list of the best Running Books

There are some great books running books out there to read.

Even if you don't consider yourself a reader they are very beneficial to forming your mental attitude when training for a marathon. (This is one of the things I talk about in the Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners

They will psych you, pump you up, hold you to your chair just as much as giving you a strong desire to actually jump up and go out for a run, if you aren't already running. 

Here are some of my favorite running books with just a brief synopsis as I don’t want to give away the greatest points and surprises of the books. 

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek

This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in endurance sports. Jurek is an ultramarathoner who shares his experience of aiming to break the speed record of running the Appalachian Trail in 46 days.

He pushed the limits of human endurance and shared it with us in this fascinating and incredibly inspiring running book!

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson and Malcom Gladwell.

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson and Malcom Gladwell.

Hutchinson is one of two reporters who were granted access to Nike's Break 2 Hours in the Marathon Training and he lays out the scientific research in this book.

This is a fascinating read for any endurance athlete who is interested in being able to go farther and become better!

Let Your Mind Run

by Deena Kastor

Run the Mile You're In: Finding God in Every Step 

by Ryan Hall

26 Marathons: What I learned about Faith, Identity, Running and Life from my Marathon Career 

by Meb Keflezighi

Born to Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher Mcdougall.  

Two Words: Excellent Book. Two More Words: Read it.

This book focuses on joys of running and a look at the Tarahumara Indians that run incredibly long distances, without breaking a sweat, without shoes.

This is what natural running is all about. The Tarahumara tribe is one of the most running-obsessed nations and we have so much to learn from them and their unique running culture.

Young at Heart: The Story of John Kelley, Boston's Marathon Man

Almost as legendary as the Boston Marathon itself, is John A Kelley, a man who ran 60 Boston Marathons.

It is a book of his accomplishments but also of his humble personality. It is very personable going into many of his different experiences and relationships with people.

A very inspiring story for runners and one that you will wish you had picked up sooner.

Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women's Running Revolutionary by Rachel Swaby

This is the story of Maureen Wilton who broke the women's world record in the marathon at age 13 and the struggles and triumph she endured in the midst of controversy.

Once a Runner: A Novel 

Acclaimed to be one of the best running books, this book focuses on the training of a collegiate athlete as he tries to break his goal in the miler.

The grueling training he undergoes shows his dedication, perseverance and makes you cringe at the thought as he tries to gain his dream.

Again to Carthage - The sequel to Once a Runner and it's just as good!

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running -

The great writer, Haruki Murakami chronicles his love for running and writing while training for the New York City Marathon. 

This is a great book if you want to be in tune with the relationship between your mental health and physical health

Pre: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine

Prefontaine is one of those elite runners who has left behind an undying legacy even if his life ended in tragedy the running world will remember him.

Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World 

The story of Bill Rodgers 1975 Boston Marathon win in 2:09 and how it inspired thousands of people to start running. If any race is responsible for you being a runner this might be the one!

Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom -

Some call the 1970's the Golden Era of running. With these three greats and rivals, it's easy to see why. They gave heart and soul to this sport. 

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon G reatness - another great read by Scott Jurek

A recent record holder in the 24 hour ultra marathon shares his secrets on mental endurance while fueling on a plant-based diet. He was also one of the professional runners that were profiled in Born to Run.

General Running Books

The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know-and Then Some 

Have questions about running?

Does the running sport even have rules?

Of course!

This hilarious running commentary and rules handbook is for anyone in love with the sport. Witty, humorous and knowledgeable, this book knows it all.

Meb For Mortals: How to Run, Think, and Eat like a Champion Marathoner 

This book shows how Meb, a three time Olympian, and one of the greatest distance runners of all times prepares for the marathon.

The best part: it shows how ordinary runners can implement his tactics!

Running & Being: The Total Experience 

Some call it the 'Runner's Bible' and it truly does piece the puzzles together. If you are a runner this is a motivational must read.

The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life 

This running book by Amby Burfoot talks about 15 life lessons that he has learned along his 35 years of running journey. Running World Magazine calls it "one of the best books ever written on running".

I Run, Therefore I Am--Nuts! 

Why do runners do the things they do and still love every minute they are doing it?

This book looks at all the humorous personalities, rituals, and running scenarios that runners find themselves in.

The Runner's Literary Companion: Great Stories and Poems About Running 

One of my favorite running books, this is for any runner and reader.

It features inspiring short stories and poems from many different authors that all have to do with running!

Anything by Adharanand finn

Adharanand Finn has given us runners some of the most inspiring reading books to help us become a better runner.

Here's a list of his best running books:

  • Rise of the Ultra Runners: a great book on what it takes to be or become an ultra marathoner
  • The Way of the Runner: This is a treasure of a book in which Adharanand tells us of his own experience of moving to Japan and immersing himself in their running culture.
  • Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth - This is an amazing book that gives not only practical advice but also lessons and experiences from an avid runner who moved his family to Kenyan to run with the fastest people on earth!

Other Excellent Books for the Runner:

  • Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes (the king of ultramarathon running!) If you are an aspiring ultramarathoner, this is a must read. His epic adventure that the shares in his 50 Marathons in 50 Days: Secrets to Super Endurance is also incredibly inspiring!
  • Running the Edge: Discover the Secrets to Better Running & Better Life by Olympian Adam Goucher - this is perfect for a new runner or advanced runners!
  • Rise and Run: Recipes, Rituals and Runs to Fuel Your Day: A Bestselling Cookbook for runners by Shalane flanagan
  • The Vegan Cookbook for Athletes - If you are an endurance runner and also follow a vegan diet you might enjoy this book that contains recipes and meal plans!
  • Running On Veggies is cookbook for those who follow a plant-based diet while also enjoying long distance running.
  • How She Did It: Stories, Advice, and Secrets to Success from Fifty Legendary Distance Runners by Molly Huddle. The personal narratives from these female athletes is a valuable resource on the science of running and the female runner.
  • Me, You & 26.2: By Running Coach Denise Sauriol - this is a collection of inspirational stories from runners who shared their experience running their first marathon

Running Magazines

Runner's World Magazine 

Ok, so this isn’t really a book but it has been one of my greatest joys of checking the mailbox since I was about 15.

It is a great motivational booster as well as it gives great tips, stories and just a punch of good wholesome running reads and news. You will love it!

Women's Running Magazine

some of my favorite Un-Related Running Books 

  • Unbroken – such an excellent story!
  • Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile  - if you love history, this story is remarkable.
  •  Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: a Memoir – authored by and read by Dick Van Dyke – I found this one very enjoyable but then again, I loved all of his works.
  • I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
  • The German Midwife: The Mandy Robotham - If you are a mother, love babies, and history this is a fascinating historical fiction story.
  • Steps for a more fulfilling life: by Dale Carnegie 
  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins - Especially if you are in need of motivation or have no desire to really do anything the 5 Second Rule is a simple practical concept that can transform your life in...5 seconds. Really!
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - This is a charming story with twists and turns. If you are looking for something lighter and a book that anyone would enjoy then this is a classic that everyone should read once.
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande - another interesting book on how our mortality and how we should handle it and help our loved ones when their time draws near. This is one I would love to re-read at some point and that I think everyone would benefit reading. Gawande presents in a way that wants you to read everything he has written. Another wonderful book of his is The Checklist Manifesto.
  • The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Change Your Life by Hal Elrod - There is power in waking up early. You can change your life and make a difference in your lifestyle! This book is a fun, quick, and very inspiring read. You will love it….even if you are not a morning person.
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams - This is one of my all-time favorite stories which is surprising because it is a story about rabbits! I don’t read a lot of fiction but this is one fiction book that I highly recommend! 
  • Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog - if you are a dog lover...and even if you are not...this is a charming story! It’s fun, light, and heartwarming...who doesn’t need that?

If you want even more audiobook recommendations, Amazon's Best Sellers List is always interesting to scroll through. 

Some Podcasts I enjoy while running

Podcasts are another wonderful way to spend your time running.

I listen to them on Apple’s Podcast app that comes with the iphone but Spotify is another popular place to listen to podcasts. 

 favorite running podcasts:

My 2 favorite running related podcasts:

Two unrelated-to-running podcasts I enjoy:

Do you love to read as well? Do you wish you read more? Or perhaps you never really considered yourself a reader? 

I hope you find something on this list to enjoy on your next run or to read during your downtime! 

Please share your favorite book or running books!

Pages related to running books

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