If you search for running books on Amazon, you’ll be confronted with hundreds of results. That’s quite a collection – a collection that can be a little daunting (and time consuming) to browse through.
So I’ve done the work for you. What you see below is a week’s worth of searching, culling and categorizing of the best, most interesting, most informative, most inspiring books from the vastness of Amazon. In developing the list, I tried to represent most aspects of distance running, while also paying attention to popular items that frequently make it on Amazon user Listmania lists. There’s a little here for everyone. Training, heroes, women’s running books, history books, coffee table books, and much, much more. I’m hoping a few items on the list even surprise you.
I’ve intentionally gone lean with book descriptions (amazon’s already got that amply covered). Think of this list as ‘Amazon-lite’ or ‘Amazon Concentrate’ – a very focused collection of the best Amazon has to offer on the subject of running. I hope you like this list, and I’d love to hear if you’ve got a favorite book that’s not here.
So, without further ado, on to the books!
Best Coffee Table Books
|26.2 Marathon Stories by Katherine Switzer
I absolutely love this book. It sits proudly on my coffee table. It’s such a beautifully inspiring page turner. Lovely photos with evocative writing. A must have.
|Terry Fox & His Marathon of Hope
I’ve given this book to many runners as a gift. The story of Terry Fox is becoming well known but his legend is one that should continue to grow.
The book is emotionally charged. There are pictures of Terry running, of the prosthetic leg he ran on, of letters he received from children all over the world. It’s a beautiful tribute. If there is one book you should have, it’s this one.
The Trifecta of Training Bibles
These three books are widely regarded as absolute essentials for runners looking to ‘take it to the next level’ in their training and knowledge about running. All are highly recommended.
|The Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes
Arguably the book that says you’ve arrived at the ‘serious’ running scene. Lore’s got it all.
|Daniels Running Formula by Dr. Jack Daniels
Daniels formula explains – like no other – the science behind your runs.
|Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger
Take your marathoning to that next level.
Heroes & Heroic Performances
|Terry: Terry Fox Marathon of Hope
I know this appears in the ‘Coffee Table’ section of this post but it’s just that good. Terry was, in every sense of the word, a hero.
Buy this book as a two-part purchase for the amazing pictures and scrapbook images.
|Terry Fox: His Story
This is the official biography of Terry Fox. It’ll put words to all the pictures you’ll see in the first book shown above.
|Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports
Katherine Switzer is famous for being the first woman to (illegally) run the Boston Marathon. She broke down barriers for women’s running.
Duel in the Sun Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon
From Amazon: Within the running community, the 1982 Boston Marathon is arguably the most memorable race in the modern era. It was a neck-and-neck battle between the favorite, Alberto Salazar, and an upstart at what would be the zenith of a sudden, meteoric rise, Dick Beardsley. Brant, a contributor to Runner’s World since 1985, re-creates the principals’ careers leading up to the race, describes the race itself, and, most significantly, analyzes its aftermath. Neither runner was ever the same again.
|Roger Bannister The Four Minute Mile
From the legend who ran the first four minute mile.
|The Perfect Mile|
|Alan Webb & the Quest for the Sub-Four Minute Mile
Follow high school phenom as he sets out to smash Jim Ryun’s high school mile record.
More Training Resources
|Run Less, Run Faster
The book that professes you can maximize your training into a few key workouts per week.
|Brain Training For Runners by Matt Fitgerald
Get your head in the game!
|Explosive Running by Michael Yessis
Lots of great stuff for building strength and power into your running.
|Treadmill Training for Runners
How to train when you’re stuck indoors.
|Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard
Arthur Lydiard’s principles written in today’s layman terms.
|Total Heart Rate Training
Get the most out of your heart and heart rate monitor. Learn the perfect method for identifying how hard you are working.
|Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon
Hal Higdon is legendary in getting people to finish the distance.
|Running To Win by George Sheehan
Another legend of running teaches you how to get the most out of your training.
|Alberto Salazar’s Guide to Running
Boston winner and current U.S. running coach. You can’t go wrong listening to what Alberto has to say.
|Alberto Salazar’s Guide to Road Racing|
|Running Times Guide to Breakthrough Running
A great deal of information packed into a fairly small package. That’s khalid khannouchi on the cover.
|The Runner’s Yoga Book
Yoga is all about breathing, relaxing, core strength and more – all good stuff for runners.
|Core Performance by Mark Verstegen
Excellent, excellent excellent book on building core strength. Terrific descriptions with fantastic photo illustrations and training programs. Highly recommended.
|Runner’s World Guild to Cross Training|
|Ultimate Weight Training for Runners|
|Jumping Into Plyometrics
Plyometrics = power = speed. ’nuff said.
By Arthur Lydiard & Bill Bowerman
|Jogging With Lydiard
Many people credit Bill Bowerman with starting the jogging movement in the US. However, it was Arthur Lydiard who taught Bowerman about jogging. The rest is history.
|Running With Lydiard|
|Running To The Top by Arthur Lydiard|
|Jogging by Bill Bowerman
One of the books that started it all.
Bios of Elite Runners & Coaches
If you don’t know who Pre was (Steve Prefontaine), you owe it to yourself to find out. He, like no other American athlete, has inspired millions of aspiring runners.
|Paula Radcliffe Paula: My Story So Far
Paula is the world record holder for the women’s marathon. She’s got guts, determination and talent. She also tells a great story.
|Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Cofounder
I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s absolutely packed with US running history. It covers (among many things) Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine, the birth of Nike and so much more.
|The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story
It’s very easy to call Haile the greatest. He’s set more records than seems possible – including the last two world records in the marathon. He’s also an amazing, gracious human being. His is a wonderful story of triumph.
|The Perfect Distance – Ovett and Coe: The Record-Breaking Rivalry
Ovett and Coe were dominant in a very special competitive way that elevated the sport of running in their generation. This book covers this story, as well as bios of each runner.
|The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat
Tom Longboat was a native Canadian runner from the early 1900s. He was the dominant runner of his age having won Boston and races too numerous to mention. He is still regarded as a role model for First Nations people in Canada.
|Barefoot Runner: Abebe Bikila
Abebe is famous for having won the Rome Olympic marathon while running barefoot. His emergence really opened the door for African distance runners who are today, still dominant on the world stage.
For Beginners & The Back of the Pack
|The Courage To Start by John Bingham
One of many books by self-professed ‘Penguin’ John Bingham. If you have doubts whether you can run, John will erase them.
|Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham
John leads you through your first marathon.
|No Need for Speed by John Bingham|
|Galloway’s Book of Running by Jeff Galloway
It’s possible Jeff Galloway has been responsible for getting more Americans running than anyone else. He’s famous for his run-walk method.
|Running: From Start to Finish by John Stanton of the Running Room
John Stanton is the Galloway of Canada. An excellent book covering all the basics of running.
|Absolute Beginners Guide to Half Marathon Training
A nice addition to the ‘beginner’ stuff since it focuses on running a half marathon – a great intermediary race to do before tackling 26.2.
|Beginning Runner’s Handbook|
|Jeff Galloway’s Marathon: You Can Do It!|
Famous Races & Amazing Places
|Once a Runner by John L. Parker
Unquestionably the most famous piece of running fiction and very highly rated by all who’ve reviewed it.
|The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner|
|Again to Carthage by John L. Parker
The follow up to ‘Once a Runner’. Also highly reviewed.
|Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men’s Cross-Country Team|
|Life at These Speeds
A young runner must overcome tragedy to win.
History & Reference
All of the following books are fascinating takes on the history of running.
Quotes & Inspiration
|The Quotable Runner|
|Gigantic Book of Running Quotations|
|The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life: What 35 Years of Running Has Taught Me About Winning, Losing, Happiness, Humility, and the Human Heart by Amby Burfoot|
|Runner’s Book of Daily Inspiration|
|What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Murakami’s latest is a nonfiction work mostly concerned with his thoughts on the long-distance running he has engaged in for much of his adult life. Through a mix of adapted diary entries, old essays, reminiscences and life advice, Murakami crafts a charming little volume notable for its good-natured and intimate tone. While the subject matter is radically different from the fabulous and surreal fiction that Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) most often produces, longtime readers will recognize the source of the isolated, journeying protagonists of the author’s novels in the formative running experiences recounted.
|My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso
Many people are familiar with the Yasso 800 workout. Bart created those but he’s done much, much more. Trust me on this!
|Pose Method of Running by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
I am a follower of the Pose Method. It’s changed everything I thought I knew about running. Highly recommended.
|Chi Running by Danny Dreyer
As passionate as I am about Pose, others are equally passionate about Chi Running.
Books For or About Women
Injury Prevention & Treatment
|Runner’s World Guide to Injury Prevention|
|Fixing Your Feet: Prevention And Treatments for Athletes|
|The Runners’ Repair Manual: A Complete Program for Diagnosing and Treating Your Foot, Leg and Back Problems|
|I Run, Therefore I Am –Nuts!
Very funny stuff!
|Ultra Running With Scott Jurek
Scott Jurek is legend in ultra-running. If you were to buy one book on the subject, it should be one written by/about him.
|Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner
Dean Karnazes is either famous or infamous depending on your view of his ability to self promote. That aside, Karnazes has done some pretty cool things and he also has some very positive messages to share.
|50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days — and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!|
|The Extra Mile: One Woman’s Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness by Pam Reid
Pam Reid is just an unbelievably talented ultra runner. She should be an inspiration to anyone involved or interested in the sport.
|Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon
For those who find the 26.2-mile marathon just not enough, there is the ultramarathon. What makes ultra-runners tick? What goes through their minds at mile 93? How can you train for such a colossal undertaking? These questions and many more are answered in Running Through the Wall, an inspiring collection of 39 personal stories from ultramarathoners.
Free Downloadable Running Book
|Gordon Pirie Running Fast and Injury Free
Note: This ebook is not on Amazon. Throughout the 1950s the most talked about athlete in Britain was Gordon Pirie. Part of the explanation was that Gordon kept talking about himself and what he might and might not do. Making statements, for example, like the one when he predicted he would smash the world 5000m. record with a time of around 13min. 40sec. some 18 seconds below the then world record. He knew how to ruffle the feathers of his fellow competitors, but he did have talent in abundance.
What’s cool about Pirie’s book are his discussions about running form. He was clearly a visionary thinker. Definitely worth a read!
Nutrition, Diet, Weight Management
|Runner’s World Runner’s Diet: The Ultimate Eating Plan That Will Make Every Runner (and Walker) Leaner, Faster, and Fitter|
|Endurance Sports Nutrition|
|Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes|
The Corporate Face of Running
|Building the Nike Empire by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight|
|Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
Very prominent sections of this book are devoted to Bowerman’s role in the building of Nike. A fantastic read.
|Out of Nowhere|
|Swoosh: The Unauthorized Nike Story|
|Adidas/Puma Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports|
More Book Resources on Complete Running
Check out our archive of running book reviews.