Best Ever Running Books Collection

Posted by Filed Under: Books, Gift Ideas for Runners, Our Best Running Articles

running booksIf 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 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 Marathon of Hope 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 Tim Noakes 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 Daniels Running Formula by Dr. Jack Daniels

Daniels formula explains – like no other – the science behind your runs.

Advanced Marathoning Pete Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger

Take your marathoning to that next level.

Heroes & Heroic Performances

Terry Fox Marathon of Hope 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 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

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.

The Four Minute Mile - by Roger Bannister Roger Bannister The Four Minute Mile

From the legend who ran the first four minute mile.

The Perfect Mile - Bannister Landy The Perfect Mile
The Perfect Mile - Bannister Landy 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 - FIRST Institute Run Less, Run Faster

The book that professes you can maximize your training into a few key workouts per week.

Brain Training for Runners Brain Training For Runners by Matt Fitgerald

Get your head in the game!

Explosive Running 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
Breakthrough Running 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 Runners Yoga Book The Runner’s Yoga Book

Yoga is all about breathing, relaxing, core strength and more – all good stuff for runners.

Core Performance 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 Arthur Lydiard 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 Arthur Lydiard Running With Lydiard
Running To The Top - Arthur Lydiard Running To The Top by Arthur Lydiard
Jogging by Bill Bowerman Jogging by Bill Bowerman

One of the books that started it all.

Bios of Elite Runners & Coaches

Pre - Steve Prefontaine Pre

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 Book 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 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 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 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 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 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 Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham

John leads you through your first marathon.

No Need for Speed No Need for Speed by John Bingham
Galloway's Book of Running 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 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 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 Beginning Runner’s Handbook
Jeff Galloway's Marathon: You Can Do It! Jeff Galloway’s Marathon: You Can Do It!

Famous Races & Amazing Places

The Boston Marathon - A Century of Blood, Sweat and Cheers The Boston Marathon – A Century of Blood, Sweat and Cheers
Boston - A Century of Running Boston, a Century of Running : Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Boston Athletic Association Marathon
A Race Like No Other New York Marathon: A Race Like No Other
The Essential Guide to Running the New York Marathon
London Marathon: The History of the Greatest Race On Earth
Olympic Marathon Centennial
The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon

Very cool!

Great Races, Incredible Places: 100+ Fantastic Runs Around the World

This book goes on my wish list.

From Fairbanks to Boston: 50 Great U.S. Marathons


Once a Runner by John L. Parker 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.

Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Again to Carthage Again to Carthage by John L. Parker

The follow up to ‘Once a Runner’. Also highly reviewed.

Running With the Buffalos 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 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.

Born to Run Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Currently the number one selling running book on Amazon.

strides Strides: Running Through History With An Unlikely Athlete
Running Through the Ages
Why We Run: A Natural History Why We Run: A Natural History
Running Cultures: Racing in Time and Space
Runner’s World The Runner’s Body: How the Latest Exercise Science Can Help You Run Stronger, Longer, and Faster

Quotes & Inspiration

The Quotable Runner The Quotable Runner
The Quotable Runner Gigantic Book of Running Quotations
The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life 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 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!

Running Form/Mechanics/Technique

Pose Method of Running by Nicholas Romanov 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

Running and Fatburning for Women
Runner’s World Guide to Running and Pregnancy
Running & Walking for Women Over 40
Women Who Run
The Silence of Great Distance: Women Running Long
Complete Book of Running for Women
Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running
Joan Benoit Samuelson’s Running for Women

Who doesn’t love Joannie?

The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training

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!

Trail Running

The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running: Everything You Need to Know About Equipment * Finding Trails * Nutrition * Hill Strategy * Racing * Avoiding Injury * Training * Weather * Safety The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running: Everything You Need to Know About Equipment * Finding Trails * Nutrition * Hill Strategy * Racing * Avoiding Injury * Training * Weather * Safety
Runner's World Complete Guide to Trail Running Runner’s World Complete Guide to Trail Running
Trail Running: From Novice to Master (The Mountaineers Outdoor Expert Series) Trail Running: From Novice to Master (The Mountaineers Outdoor Expert Series)

Ultra Running

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 Dean Karnazes 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

Running Fast and Injury Free by Gordon Pirie 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 Bowerman and Phil Knight 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 Nike Out of Nowhere
Swoosh Unauthorized Nike Story Swoosh: The Unauthorized Nike Story
Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports 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.

About Mark Iocchelli

Also known as the "Running Blogfather", I'm a 40-something marathoner who has beaten stress fractures and terrible shin splints. Now I'm running double the mileage with no pain - and I'm getting faster. I love to talk about running form and Arthur Lydiard. I also enjoy taking photographs, have a beautiful (and very patient!) wife, and am the proud father of two crazy kids. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the site.

  1. Marcus on June 16th at 5:28 am

    Awesome post! I’d definitely add Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” to it, though.
    .-= Marcus´s last blog ..DexCom 7 – The Insurance Story =-.

  2. Mark Iocchelli on June 16th at 8:03 am

    Thanks Marcus – I’ve added it to the list. Thanks for your suggestion!

  3. Infostyx on June 16th at 11:01 pm

    Thanks for this post. Im a newbie to running but have fallen in love with it and added a couple of books to my wishlist. Good job!

  4. Mark V. McDonnell on June 18th at 8:50 am

    Um, “Running With the Buffalos” is a work of nonfiction.

    I would propose just one addition: Brad Hudson’s “Run Faster From the 5K to the Marathon.”

    Thanks for this valuable list!

  5. Blaine Moore on June 18th at 2:01 pm

    I’d add “Coast to Coast” by Ryan Pancoast to the list – great story about a 12 day relay from the pacific to the atlantic.

    Google Books has the first 30 pages or so online:
    .-= Blaine Moore´s last blog ..2009 Weekly Back Cove Race Series » Week 6 =-.

  6. Duff on June 19th at 4:50 am

    What a collection. I have only read 9 of the but I would say that “I Run, Therefore I am nuts” is a tie for Bart Yasso’s book. I have met him three times since the book was published and have yet to get it signed. Eitherway, I need to keep this list to work through. Thanks.
    .-= Duff´s last blog ..Catch a Leprechaun 2009: The Defense (Race Report) =-.

  7. Mark Iocchelli on June 19th at 8:50 am

    Thanks Duff!

  8. Mark Iocchelli on June 19th at 8:50 am

    Thanks Blaine! I will get that one added. 🙂

  9. Karen in Calgary on July 3rd at 9:20 pm

    I’ve recommended the Beginning Runner’s Handbook to everyone I’ve ever heard think about learning to run. In fact, it’s out on loan again… to my boss! Must check on getting it back.

    This is a fantastic resource, Mark. Bookmarking it for future use. It should keep me busy and motivated for quite a while.
    .-= Karen in Calgary´s last blog ..Happy Canada Day! =-.

  10. Chrissy on July 15th at 5:16 pm

    This is a huge help. Thank you so much. My favorite running book is by authors Warwick Ford and Nola Ford. In their recent book I read, “Fun on Foot in New York”
    This book will give readers a variety of interesting places to run or walk which helps time pass faster and they run or walk more.
    .-= Chrissy´s last blog ..ChrissysKorner: Running Running Running…gotta keep in shape. Especially for Summer! Fun on Foot is the book 2 read! =-.

  11. on August 17th at 3:51 am

    The Best Ever Collection of Running Books…

    Search for running books on Amazon and 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. This list will help you find the best, most interesting…

  12. Michael on September 4th at 8:18 am

    Throwing my vote in for Born To Run, I’ve never read something so compelling, and the story of the native Tarahumara runners makes me seriously rethink my attitude towards running. We should all feel the joy from it that they do.
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..Small Miracles =-.

  13. Joan Geraghty on September 23rd at 2:22 pm

    Hello there,

    thank you for your great list on the best running books out there. Sadly I note mine is not included! Last year (2008) my book, ‘Anyone Can Run’ was published in Ireland by Currach Press, documenting my story of developing a passion for running at 40 and featuring interviews with other ‘oldie’ runners declaring their passion for the sport.
    Earlier this year my second book, ‘Fit For Success’, was published, detailing how regular hard-core fitness training (mostly running), helps business people become more successful!
    If you have a little time to look at or read either/or both of my books, I would be delighted to have my publishers forward you copies.

    Please keep up the good work

    kind regards

    Joan Geraghty
    .-= Joan Geraghty´s last blog ..The Warm-Up =-.

  14. Dave from Running Tips on March 5th at 7:00 pm

    I just read a relatively new running book called “An Honorable Run.” It is fantastic. I have read many of these books and this one ranks right up there with the best. If you have ever had a great coach, you need to read this book.
    .-= Dave from Running Tips´s last blog ..An Honorable Run Review at =-.

  15. will kimbrough on March 14th at 8:40 pm

    “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall changed my 37 year running life (I’m 45; began running at 8). Chronic achilles tendon pain, sore knees…you know the drill. But by changing my technique, doing a lot of barefoot walking and running, I can now run up to 7 days a week without pain. Besides, it’s a great read.

  16. Runners Passion on June 8th at 1:08 pm

    This is a great collection of running books! Certainly a few on there that I haven’t seen before but I will be looking into them in the near future as I can’t seem to get enough of running books. One that I would add to your list because it is one of my favorites that I find inspirational is “Running With the Legends” by Michael Sandrock. It’s basically small bios of 21 of the most famous runners of all time. It’s amazing to read how these runners trained which gives me inspiration to push harder in my own training.

  17. ajay tiwari on July 9th at 9:49 pm

    i am really impressed by the collection of books which u have on your website

  18. Best Running Gear on July 30th at 10:59 pm

    I read Born to Run. It is a good inspirational book which keep me on track.

  19. chaco on August 6th at 5:54 am

    Those running books are awesome…I guess I will start collecting them…I love to run and that books may guide me…I know…

  20. Brianna on October 14th at 10:25 am

    That’s quite a collection! I was wondering if you’d consider adding a Children’s section. What better way to share your passion than by passing it along to the next generation?

    Like Ms. Geraghty, I’d be happy to forward a copy of my book your way for review. We Are Girls Who Love to Run/Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr is a children’s picture book that celebrates girlhood and the ways running enhances life and interpersonal relationships.

    I also suggest Carol Goodrow’s books: Happy Feet, Healthy Food, Kids Running: Have Fun, Get Faster & Go Farther, and The Treasure of Health & Happiness.

    Happy running and reading!

    Brianna Grant