20 books every runner needs to read


From inspirational books from the sports greats to training guides and diet advice there are many books on the market that cater for runners needs.

In no particular order we bring you 20 books every runner should read.

Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession

by Richard Askwith

Feet in the Clouds by Richard AskwithThe concept of fell-running is simple: it’s a sport that involves running over mountains – sometimes one, sometimes many. It’s also immensely demanding. While running uphill is a stamina-sapping slog, running pell-mell down the other side requires the agility – and even recklessness – of a mountain goat. And there’s the weather to contend with.

This is a portrait of one of the few sports to have remained utterly true to its roots – in which the point is not fame or fortune but to run the ancient, wild landscape, and to be a hero, if at all, within one’s own valley. Feet in the Clouds is a chronicle of a masochistic but admirable sporting obsession, an insight into one of the oldest extreme sports, and a lyrical tribute to Britain’s mountains and the men and women who live among them.

Feet in the Clouds is a must read for any fell runner, whether you are new to the sport or have been running as long as you can remember this book is a must.

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Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run by Christopher McDougallAt the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world’s top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe’s secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long.

With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while asking what the secrets are to being an incredible runner. Travelling to labs at Harvard, Nike, and elsewhere, he comes across an incredible cast of characters, including the woman who recently broke the world record for 100 miles and for her encore ran a 2:50 marathon in a bikini, pausing to down a beer at the 20 mile mark

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Runner: A short story about a long run

by Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker - RunnerThese nervous moments before the race signal not just the beginning of nearly twenty-seven hours of effort that saw Lizzy finish as first woman, but the start of the career of one of Britain’s most successful endurance athletes. She went on to become the 100km Women’s World Champion, win the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc an unprecedented five times, hold the world record for 24 hours road running and become the first woman to stand on the overall winners’ podium at Spartathlon.

An innate endurance and natural affinity with the mountains has led Lizzy to push herself to the absolute limits, including a staggering 320 kilometre run through the Himalayas, from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu in Nepal. Lizzy’s remarkable spirit was recognised in 2013 when she was a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. These ultimate challenges ask not just what the feet and legs can do, but question the inner thoughts and contemplations of a runner.

Runner tells Lizzy’s story and in so doing, uncovers the journey of the physical, mental and emotional challenges that runners go through at the edge of human endurance. From the school girl running the streets of London to breaking records on the world’s mountains and toughest races, Lizzy Hawker is an inspiration to anyone who would like to see how far they can go, running or not.

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Run or Die: The Inspirational Memoir of the World’s Greatest Ultra-Runner

by Kilian Jornet

Run or die - Killian JornetShortlisted for the 2014 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2014
Marca Legend Award 2014

‘This man can run 100 miles. Up and down mountains. Without stopping. After skipping breakfast. Meet Kilian Jornet, the world’s greatest ultra-runner’ The Times

At 18 months he went on his first hike. At 3, he climbed his first mountain. At 10, he entered his first mountain race. At 26, he plans to run up Everest – without an oxygen mask.

Kilian Jornet has conquered some of the toughest physical tests on the planet. He has run up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro faster than any other human being, and struck down world records in every challenge that has been proposed – all before the age of 25. Dominating ultra marathons and races at altitude, he has redefined what is possible in running, astonishing competitors with his near-superhuman fitness and ability.

In Run or Die Kilian shares his passion, inviting readers into a fascinating world rich with the beauty of rugged trails and mountain vistas, the pulse-pounding drama of racing, and an intense love for sport and the landscapes that surround him. In turns inspiring, insightful, candid, and deeply personal, this is a book written from the heart of the world’s greatest endurance runner, for whom life presents one simple choice: Run. Or die.

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Training Food: Get the Fuel You Need to Achieve Your Goals Before During and After Exercise

by Renee McGregor

Training Food by Renee McGregorWhen you’re in training, aiming to beat personal goals, what you eat can make all the difference to your performance. This is the book every athlete needs to fuel their training a practical, enjoyable, real diet that fits in with your everyday life. Renee McGregor works with elite athletes to enhance their performance, and in Part 1 of the book she shares the cutting edge science behind sports nutrition in an accessible way, so that you can achieve the results you want, whatever your sport and regardless of what level you train at. To help you incorporate the advice, Renee also provides plans to follow, to show you what and when you should be eating during your training regime.

In Part 2 you’ll find over 100 delicious recipes, including nutrient-packed breakfasts such as Sunflower Seed and Chia Porridge, or lunches that will keep you fuelled up throughout training. Great recovery dinners include Coriander Lamb with Quinoa, while there are plenty of options for portable snacks to eat on the go and even desserts such as Potted Lemon Cheesecake to help you achieve optimum nutrition for your training.

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Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance

by Matt Fitzgerald

Racing weight - how to get lean for peak performance“Racing Weight” is a proven weight-management programme designed specifically for endurance athletes. Revealing new research and drawing from the best practices of elite athletes, coach and nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald lays out six easy steps to help cyclists, triathletes, and runners lose weight without harming their training. This comprehensive and science-based programme shows athletes the best ways to lose weight and avoid the common lifestyle and training hang-ups that keep new PRs out of reach. The updated “Racing Weight” programme helps athletes improve diet quality and manage appetite; balance energy sources; easily monitor weight and performance; time nutrition throughout the day and train to get, and stay, lean. “Racing Weight” offers practical tools to make weight management easy. Fitzgerald’s no-nonsense Diet Quality Score improves diet without counting calories. Racing Weight superfoods are diet foods high in the nutrients athletes need for training. Supplemental strength training workouts can accelerate changes in body composition. Daily food diaries from 18 pro athletes reveal how the elites maintain an athletic diet while managing appetite. Athletes know that every extra pound wastes energy and hurts performance. With “Racing Weight”, cyclists, triathletes, and runners have a simple programme and practical tools to hit their target numbers on both the race course and the scale.

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The Art of Running Faster

by Julian Goater & Don Melvin

The Art of Running FasterAny runner can tell you that the sport isn’t just about churning out miles day in and day out. Runners have a passion, dedication, and desire to go faster, longer and farther. Now, The Art of Running Faster provides you with a new approach to running, achieving your goals and setting your personal best. Whether you’re old or young, new to the sport or an experienced marathoner, this guide will change how you run and the results you achieve. The Art of Running Faster challenges the stereotypes, removes the doubts and erases the self imposed limitations by prescribing not only what to do but also how to do it. Inside, you will learn how to Overcome the obstacles that prevent you from running faster, more comfortably, and with greater focus Customize your training program to emphasize the development of speed, strength, and stamina Shift gears, reach that next level of performance, and blow past the competition. In this one of a kind guide, former world class runner Julian Goater shares his experiences, insights and advice for better, more efficient and faster running. Much more than training tips and motivational stories, The Art of Running Faster is your guide to improved technique and optimal performance. Let Julian Goater show you a new way to run faster, farther and longer.

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Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth

by Adharanand Finn

Running with the Kenyans
Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
Winner – Best New Writer category at the British Sports Book Awards

After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world’s biggest long-distance races, Runner’s World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover what it was that made them so fast – and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family, he moved to Iten, Kenya, the running capital of the world, and started investigating. Was it running barefoot to school, the food, the altitude, or something else? At the end of his journey he put his research to the test by running his first marathon, across the Kenyan plains.

This edition includes a new chapter covering the 2012 Olympics.

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It’s a Hill, Get Over It: Fell Running’s History and Characters

by Steve Chilton

Its a Hill, Get Over ItThis book offers a detailed history of the sport of fell running. It also tells the stories of some of the great exponents of the sport through the ages. Many of them achieved greatness whilst still working full time in traditional jobs, a million miles away from the professionalism of other branches of athletics nowadays. The book covers the early days of the sport, right through to it going global with World Championships. Along the way it profiles influential athletes such as Fred Reeves, Bill Teasdale, Kenny Stuart, Joss Naylor, and Billy and Gavin Bland. It gives background to the athletes including their upbringing, introduction to the sport, training, working life, records and achievements. It also includes in-depth conversations with some of the greats, such as Jeff Norman and Rob Jebb.

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Keep on Running: The Highs and Lows of a Marathon Addict

by Phil Hewitt

Keep on RunningMarathons make you miserable, but they also give you the most unlikely and the most indescribable pleasures. It’s a world that I love – a world unlocked when you dress up in lycra, put plasters on your nipples and run 26.2 miles in the company of upwards of 30,000 complete strangers. Phil Hewitt, who has completed over 25 marathons in conditions ranging from blistering heat to snow and ice, distils his personal experiences into a light-hearted account of his adventures along the way from Berlin to New York, and explores our growing fascination with marathon running. This story of an ordinary guy’s addiction to running marathons – an addiction hundreds of thousands share – looks at the highs and lows, the motivation that keeps you going when your body is crying out to stop, and tries to answer the ultimate question, ‘Why do you do it?’

“>Buy now from Amazon


Why We Run

by Robin Harvie

Why we runEveryone can run.

Whether it is a jog around the park on a Sunday morning, or lining up with 40,000 other people at the start of the London Marathon, all it requires is a pair of trainers and the open road. But where does that road lead and why do we run at all?

Robin Harvie ran his first marathon after a bet, but it wasn’t until he had ventured 6,000 miles into the extreme world of ultra-distance running to the start line of the oldest and toughest footrace on earth, that he found an answer. As a hobby turned into a 120-mile-a-week obsession, so a way out of his daily routine evolved into a journey to discover who he was and what he was really made of.

Through the scorching heat of the desert and into the darkest hours of the morning, Why We Run reveals the beating heart of the brutal and profoundly intoxicating experience of running. If you have ever wondered what makes you lace up your trainers, and why you keep coming back for more, this is your story too.

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Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

by Dean Karnazes

Ultra Marathon ManAs an athlete, ultrarunning legend (Men’s Journal) Dean Karnazes has run 350 miles without rest and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. As an author, he has inspired countless couch potatoes to get off the couch, cancel the cable, and start running. In September, Karnazes embarks on his most monumental feat ever, The North Face Endurance 50. Beginning September 17 (at the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Charles, Missouri), Dean will run fifty marathons (each marathon is 26.2 miles) in fifty states on fifty consecutive days. The North Face Endurance 50 will culminate with Dean’s run in the New York City Marathon on November 5.Promotional blow-in cards for this unprecedented run, sure to receive extraordinary media coverage, are inserted in this paperback edition of Ultramarathon Man, which also includes a new epilogue with Dean’s diet and training tips.

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Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

by Scott Jurek

‘Run until you can’t run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.’ The words of Scott Jurek, a dominant force – and darling – in the gruelling and growing sport of ultrarunning for more than a decade. In 1999, as a complete unknown, he took the lead in the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile jaunt over the Gold Rush trails of America’s Sierra Nevada. He went on to win that race seven years in a row. Jurek was also one of the elite runners who travelled to Mexico to run with the Tarahumara Indians, as profiled in the international bestseller Born to Run. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary.

In Eat and Run, Jurek opens up about his life and career as an elite athlete, and about the vegan diet that is key to his success. From his Midwestern childhood of hunting and fishing to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, to his epic, record-breaking races, Jurek’s story shows the power of an iron will and the importance of thinking of food as fuel.

Full of stories of endurance and competition as well as practical advice and some of his original recipes, Eat and Run will motivate people to go the distance, whether that means getting out for a first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of human potential.

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No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest Self

by Brendan Brazier

No Meat AthleteCombining the winning elements of proven training approaches, motivational stories, and innovative recipes, No Meat Athlete is a unique guidebook, healthy-living cookbook, and nutrition primer for the beginner, every day, and serious athlete who wants to live a meatless lifestyle. Author and popular blogger, Matt Frazier, will show you that there are many benefits to embracing a meat-free athletic lifestyle, including:

– Weight loss, which often leads to increased speed
– Easier digestion and faster recovery after workouts
– Improved energy levels to help with not just athletic performance but your day-to-day life
– Reduced impact on the planet

Whatever your motivation for choosing a meat-free lifestyle, this book will take you through everything you need to know to apply your lifestyle to your training. Matt Frazier provides practical advice and tips on how to transition to a plant-based diet while getting all the nutrition you need; uses the power of habit to make those changes last; and offers up menu plans for high performance, endurance, and recovery. Once you’ve mastered the basics, Matt delivers a training manual of his own design for runners of all abilities and ambitions. The manual provides training plans for common race distances and shows runners how to create healthy habits, improve performance, and avoid injuries.

No Meat Athlete will take you from the start to finish line, giving you encouraging tips, tricks, and advice along the way.

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The Running Revolution: How to Run Faster, Farther, and Injury-Free For Life

by Nicholas Romanov & Kurt Brungardt

The Running RevolutionFrom a two-time Olympic coach who has trained the running elite, an essential guide for all runners seeking to go faster and farther without injury

Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run—and the wildly popular natural running trend it sparked—changed the way we think about running, but it has also prompted many questions: Have we been running the wrong way? And, have we been running in the wrong kind of shoe? What is the safest type of foot strike? How many types are there? And what is a foot strike anyway? No existing guide has clearly addressed these concerns—until now. The Running Revolution provides both beginning and experienced runners with everything they need to know in order to safely and efficiently transition to and master a safer and more biomechanically efficient way of running that is guaranteed to improve performance and minimize wear and tear on the body.

More than a one-size-fits-all guide, The Running Revolution will provide readers with clear instructions that they can easily integrate into their unique running histories in order to run safely, intelligently, and efficiently for many years to come.

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The Way of the Runner: A journey into the fabled world of Japanese running

by Adharanand Finn

The Way of the RunnerA journey into Japan’s fabled running culture from the award-winning author of RUNNING WITH THE KENYANS

Welcome to Japan, the most running-obsessed nation on earth, a place where…

A 135-mile relay race is the country’s biggest annual sporting event

Thousands of professional runners compete for corporate teams in some of the most competitive races in the world.

Marathon monks run a thousand marathons in a thousand days to reach spiritual enlightenment.

Adharanand Finn – award-winning author of RUNNING WITH THE KENYANS – spent six months immersed in this unique running culture to discover what it might teach us about the sport and about Japan. As an amateur runner about to turn 40, he also hoped to find out whether the Japanese approach to training might help him run faster.

What he learned – about competition, team work, form, chasing personal bests, and about himself – will fascinate anyone keen to explore why we run, and how we might do it better.

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Natural Born Heroes: The lost secrets of strength and endurance

by Christopher McDougall

Natural Born HeroesWhen Chris McDougall stumbled across the story of Churchill’s ‘dirty tricksters’, a motley crew of English poets and academics who helped resist the Nazi invasion of Crete, he knew he was on the track of something special.

To beat the odds, the tricksters – starving, aging, outnumbered -tapped into an ancient style of fitness: the lost art of heroism. They listened to their instincts, replaced calories with stored bodily fat and used their fascia, the network of tissue which criss-crosses the body, to catapult themselves to superhuman strength and endurance.

Soon McDougall was in the middle of a modern fitness revolution taking place everywhere from Parisian parkour routes to state-of-the-art laboratories, and based on the know-how of Shanghai street-fighters and Wild West gunslingers. Just as Born to Run got runners off the treadmill and into nature, Natural Born Heroes will inspire casual athletes to dump the gym membership for cross-training, mud runs and free-running.

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Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run

by Dave Urwin

Everything will work out in the long run“What does a gang-related murder in the 14th century have to do with a missed job opportunity in the early 80s, or an intense panic attack by the side of the A303 in February 2003, or a spontaneous decision in the midst of a failing relationship? Well these are all occurrences that to some degree led to Dave Urwin lining up at the start of the Caesar’s Camp 100 Mile Endurance Run in October 2013. In ‘Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run’ these events and many more are elaborated on, telling the story of how Dave looked for a way to cope with a world that made little sense to him from a very young age. This led him down the slippery slope of drug and alcohol dependency and to a point of total burn-out, the overcoming of which and the desperation not to return to would characterise everything he did for years afterwards. He never knew if he was running away from something or running towards something, but it was through running that he gradually began to piece back together the person he truly was. Running led him to some awe-inspiring places, and to meet some amazing characters but most importantly of all, it ultimately led him to discover what truly allowed him to believe that everything will work out in the long run.”

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Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond

by Hal Koerner & Adam W. Chase

Field Guide to Ultra RunningUltramarathon doesn t leave much room for mistakes. Don t learn the hard way get a jump on training for an ultramarathon with Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning a comprehensive handbook to running 30 to 100 miles and beyond, written by one of the most experienced and recognized athletes in the sport.Hal Koerner is among America s best ultrarunners with podium results in more than 90 ultramarathons. In his smart, down-to-earth handbook, Koerner shares hard-earned wisdom, field-tested habits, and insider tips to help you prepare for your ultra. You ll find guidance on exactly what you need to know to prepare for ultramarathon, including: best gear for ultrarunningfueling and hydration guidelines choosing an ultra trail-running technique first-aid advice beating altitude, storms, and heat race-day game planscrew and pacer tips mental strategies to get you to the finish lineThe guide offers three detailed training plans to prepare for 50K, 50-mile to 100K, and 100-mile ultramarathons. Start your ultra with confidence and finish it strong with Hal Koerner s Field Guide to Ultrarunning!

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Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon

by Ira Rainey

Fatman to Green ManDespite believing he was bionic as a child, Ira Rainey was far from an elite athlete with superhuman running abilities like the ones he read about in books. He was in fact an overweight and unfit slacker who felt a bit sorry for himself because he had sore feet. Sure he ran a bit, but he also sat around a lot and ate and drank too much. Why? Because he could, and because he was a delusional optimist who thought everything would always be just fine.

That was until a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live. It was an event that would push Ira to tackle his apathy towards life and take on the challenge of becoming an ultramarathon runner, pushing himself to go further than he had ever gone before.

Award winning, Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon is a warm and humorous account of one man’s quest to uncover his true super powers as he journeys from fat to fit, and taking in everything that came between the two. It is a story of fields and friendships; mud and maps; but more importantly learning how to push yourself to achieve what you would never believe you could – and how to deal with the consequences.

Fat Man to Green Man won the silver award for running books in The 2014 Running Awards, an award voted for by runners.

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2 Comments

  1. 24th November 2016
    Reply

    Any favourites from these Jason? I’m looking for inspiring reads as opposed to guides for Christmas.

  2. 24th November 2016
    Reply

    Any favourites from these Jason? I’m looking for inspiring reads as opposed to guides for Christmas.

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