10 Great Running Books

I broke this list in to 3 categories. Instructional, motivational/stories, and fiction. The first category will be technical information on things like running form, nutrition, training plans, race plans, gear review, etc. The second category will be true stories that are both informational and inspiring. Some of the books in this category outline a particular athlete’s story and includes information about running, while others are more of a true story where running is involved, but may not be the focus. Finally, I threw one classic running fictional book out there that I believe most runners will really enjoy. All of these books are well loved by me, and have helped me along my running journey. So, without further ado, and with a nod to Nicole M. for the idea, here are 10 great running books and an extra…


Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury Free Running – Danny & Katherine Dreyer

This is without a doubt, my favorite book on running form. In my opinion, a must read for distance runners.

The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition – Matt Fitzgerald

My favorite book on nutrition because Matt breaks it down in a simple way and discusses food as fuel. He also explains the concept of caloric density of food, which for me was a real eye opener in regard to eating and not being hungry.

Daniel’s Running Formula – Jack Daniel

This is the bible of training and training plans from one of the world’s best running coaches. Be warned, there are complete sections of this book that get very technical and may not be of use for the casual runner, but if you are trying to improve your times, this is the book. Jack discusses races all the way up to marathon distance.

Running Your First Ultra – Krissy Moehl

A very good book for those thinking about moving up to Ultra distances. Krissy discusses everything from training, nutrition, gear, race day, etc. She even has a chapter specific to women and their specific needs. I loved this book as I prepared my first ultra because it gave me one source for all of my needs.


To Be a Runner – Martin Dugard

Matt shares stories of the various crazy races that he has done throughout his career, and touches upon so many things that every runner can relate to, in regard to what it means to be a runner. How being a runner changes the way that we live life.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner – Dean Karnazes

This is the autobiography of one of the craziest distance runners alive! If you are thinking of running ultras and want a fun filled motivational story, read this book about Dean Karnazes’ life.

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek

Another one of my heroes who wrote an autobiography. Again, this is a great book to get your juices flowing if you are thinking of running an ultra! Even if you’re not, there are some great stories here.

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall

A great inspirational book filled with all sorts of characters and stories, culminating in the “Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” I couldn’t put this down because it was such a fun read. Caballo Blanco… that’s all I’m saying.

Natural Born Heroes – Christopher McDougall

Chris is a master story teller, and this is a follow up to Born to Run, where he tells the story of Greek resistance fighters on the island of Crete during WWII, and how they used endurance athleticism to outwit the German army.

The Long Run – Matt Long with Charles Butler

This is an amazing story of a New York City firefighter who was hit by a bus and critically wounded, and how he coped with going from an extremely fit person to someone who had to overcome severe injuries and ultimately run the New York City Marathon. Truly an inspirational story!


Once a Runner – John L. Parker

This is a completely fictional story about competitive collegiate running that was written in 1978. Although it is fiction, give it a read if you’re a runner, because you will relate to so much of what the book is about. Plus, it’s a love story, war story, and human story. It truly is a classic.

There it is, my list of 10 plus one extra! I would love to know what you think of the books, or any that you feel I missed. Leave it in the comments below!

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6 Replies to “10 Great Running Books”

  1. I will have to admit….. JoeTheRunner is someone to check out when it comes to running. Not only he is a runner…. he is an educator. I love learning from others and so far, I have learned a tremendous amount from him so far. Many people can blog but he is a great one!

    He tells his story as it is. An incredible story may I add. I guess for me, I respect him because of his journey from where he started to where he is now. He worked hard to get where he is at today. What an inspiration to us all!! So when I read his blog about “Chi Running” I immediately drawn to his recommendation. I went ahead and ordered my copy and have already started reading it. Then the question popped up on what other good books are out there. And sure enough, he blogs on his top 10 books recommendations which I cannot wait to check out. I feel if they are recommended by him they have to be good!! Thanks JoeTheRunner for your time and dedication to the running community! You have helped me and I am sure you have helped many others! Looking forward to your next blog!

    1. Nicole, thank you for the feedback! It is so humbling to hear that what I am doing is being enjoyed by others and that in some small way it is helping them in their journey. Seeing the people in our running “community” who are out there everyday, working hard to get, and stay, fit is so inspiring to me. They are mothers, fathers, students, and people with full time jobs, who are so dedicated to the sport, that they make time and NOT excuses to get out there and do their thing. You are all AMAZING!!! Thank you so much, and as long as people are reading, I’ll keep writing! Peace, Joe the Runner

  2. I am so glad to see these recommendations as I know they will be winners. I recently read “The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life” by Travis Macy which I enjoyed despite the mixed reviews. Macy’s account of the Leadman 100 was enough to make the reader feel pain! Something that I took away from this book however, was his advice on commitment. Once we have set the alarm clock the night before he comments, that commitment is cast in stone. I try to remember this when my phone sounds a very early pre-dawn start. Thanks Joe for all you do, you inspire more than you know my friend. Much love to you and yours.

    1. Shereen, I will check that book out, sounds like my kind of read! Thank you for the kind words, as you and I have exchanged e-mails for a while now, you know that I am just trying to spread positivity in to the world! People like you are the true inspirations and your willingness to share your story so that others can see that they are not alone is such a selfless act. Your story is being read and helping hundreds of people. Thank you for everything! Joe the Runner

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