5 Inspiring and Motivating Running Books

Fancy some encouraging, motivating and inspiring running related reading? Here are 5 excellent running books to get you started.

A pile of running books

Over the years, I’ve developed a real interest in running books. Even at times when I can’t get into other books, running books grab my attention, hold my interest, and spur me on when it comes to my own running goals.

Admittedly, there’s loads of running books, training guides and trail endurance stories out there. It’s fair to say that I’ve a particular penchant for ultrarunning stories and how to tweak my diet to achieve optimal performance.

If you’re looking for some running inspiration and training advice, here’s 5 top running books I recommend for all runners.

Lore of Running book being held up on a beach

Lore of Running by Prof. Tim Noakes

When it comes to running books, Lore of Running is basically a running bible and has graced my shelf for almost 20 years. Written by Professor Tim Noakes, it covers everything a runner needs to know. As you can imagine it’s a hefty old book, and the time of its original publication, it came with an equally weighty price tag. 

If you have a running question, Lore Of Running will have the answer. I use it a lot to find out about injuries and evidence based recovery. There’s also training plans and plenty of chapters on physiology, stretching, and how to transfer your training to racing. Aside from being a timeless reference book, Tim Noakes reliably cites clinical trials, scientific experiments and outcomes to help you determine the best course of action. 

Lore of Running was first published in 1985, and has since been reviewed and updated several times. Tim openly says that despite its age, all information remains valid and applicable to running in the 21st Century. 

Is there anything he would change? Tim says we can rip out the chapter on carb loading. He’s now devoted to high fat, low carb eating in the form of Banting. He wouldn’t recommend carb loading to any athlete now and has plenty of evidence to back this up too!

Eat and Run book by Scott Jurek
Eat and Run and Beyond Impossible on a bookshelf

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

For me, Eat and Run was a book of firsts. The first autobiographical account from a runner. The first book about ultra running. And the first book on running that I couldn’t wait to read. After I read Eat and Run, I looked to find more running books to satisfy my need to hear different personal ultra running stories.

Eat and Run is Scott’s story of how he entered the world of ultra running, how he discovered the trails, and how he became one of the most prestigious ultra runners in the world.

Scott gives a most humble account of his achievements. He doesn’t ignore the financial struggle that comes with entering the world’s toughest events either. Scott also shares how his plant based, vegan diet has enabled him to fuel his long runs the right way. All this is told alongside his evolving friendship with Dusty, his training partner and pacer. That story almost left me reaching for the tissues. 

If you’re wanting some ultra running inspiration from a Cornwall ultra event, why not check out my post on being a valet at the Arc of Attrition?

Beyond Impossible by Mimi Anderson

Beyond Impossible by Mimi Anderson

I think I might love Mimi a little bit – what a totally incredible woman.

Mimi’s Beyond Impossible documents her attempt to break the women’s record for running from John O’Groats to Lands End, a mere 603 miles. This world record attempt serves as the backdrop for her running story, and how she entered the world of ultrarunning. Chapters hop between her journey to Land’s End and her early running experiences.

It’s a touching account. Mimi reflects on her childhood and the experiences that led to her becoming one of the UK’s most well known and accomplished female ultrarunners. Mimi meets endurance running head on and her running CV speaks for itself. 

You can find out more on her website, Marvellous Mimi. She has a new running book, Limitless, available from March 2021. I’ve got mine on pre-order and can’t wait to read it.

PRimal Endurance on Audible phone screen

Primal Endurance by Mark Sissons

Primal Endurance interested me, mostly due to Mark Sisson’s message on low carb, high fat eating. At the time of reading Primal Endurance, I’d been paleo for a few years. It was the perfect book to learn more about the impact of primal eating on long distance running and performance. 

For those who don’t know, Mark Sissons is now in his 60s. He’s an ironman competitor who achieved 4th place in the 1980s. Mark also finished in the Top 5 in the National Marathon Championships; his marathon PB is 2:18. He also earned a qualifying spot on the U.S. Olympic team. 

He now follows the paleo diet but markets his own version, the Primal Blueprint. I love his outlook on life in general, and his approach to eating. While Mark maintains that low carb and grain free eating is best for your health, gut and brain, he’s also of the mind that if you eat a bit of birthday cake, it isn’t going to kill you!

Primal Endurance is a running book, tying together his principles on diet, eating, and endurance training. As running books go, it’s comprehensive, thought provoking and encouraging.

Training wise, Primal Endurance is all about stepping away from long, exhausting runs. Instead, Mark advocates building an aerobic base through maintaining your optimal heart rate. Once this is established, sprints, speedwork and hill reps can be incorporated into training. There’s an emphasis on training periods and episodes, rather than endless running that can often lead to fatigue. He also talks about the need to have a break from running and self care.

Listening to, or reading, Primal Endurance will, if nothing else, pique your interest. I’m certainly a convert but I’ve yet to completely implement the training advice and cycles. 

If you’re interested, there’s the Primal Endurance podcast, also a good listen.

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll on audible phone screen with headphones

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

Finding Ultra is another autobiographical account. Rich Roll (yes, it’s his real name) takes listeners through his need to start running. A period of unhealthy living and struggling to walk upstairs, without being out of breath, served as the catalyst for finding ultra running. 

Rich was a childhood athlete though. He was a fantastic swimmer whose commitment to swimming waned once at University. Running came into his life many years later. From listening to his book, it sounds like it saved his life. 

Have you any running books you love and would recommend? I’ve a growing list and what’s great is, everyone’s experience is different. It’s truly amazing what any of us can achieve.

Author: plbedford

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