I love to read a good story, especially if it’s about running. Unfortunately, there aren’t many reads on running and even fewer really good ones. Here is a short list of books I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
1. Run or Die, Kilian Journet (translated to English from Correr o Morir) – This book tops my list and gives a beautiful and poetic insight into the mind of one of today’s best ultra runners. Kilian, a Spanish ultra runner who has won such storied races as UTMB and WS100, was raised in the Pyrenees Mountains of Catalonia, Spain, to live in harmony with the land around him. His autobiographical book takes the reader to some of the amazing places he has run and explains how he pushes through the pain of long, hard races. This book is easy and pleasant to read and definitely gets my recommendation
2. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall – I would say reading this book marked (and triggered) a turning point in my running life and offered a great pass time during a time when I needed one. Not only is Christopher McDougall an excellent writer and story teller, but the message of minimalist running and the emphasis on a more natural running form enabled me to push my running to the next level. Runner or not, you should read this book!
3. Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, Dean Karnazes – I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding Dean, but I like him and think he tells a great story. This book is inspirational and he shows how the human body can be pushed well beyond normal limits. As a family man, I also appreciate his insight into balancing the rigors of running with raising a family. There are definitely faster and more accomplished runners than Dean Karnazes. When they learn to write as well as him, I’ll read their books, too.
4. Running Through The Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon, stories compiled by Neal Jamison – A close friend of mine lent me this book when I was first considering running an ultramarathon. As I turned the pages and read about “normal” people accomplishing such incredible feats, I was blown away. I think it may have been the first time I actually realized I could successfully run distances further than 26.2. This book contains essays from 40 different ultra runners, including some legends like Ian Torrance, Ann Trason and Tim Twietmeyer. Through the essays you see pain and suffering, training and nutrition advice and one common thread: a love of running. This book is great if you’re looking to learn more about the sport. Many of the stories are set on the courses of well-known races like Western States 100 and Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run. You’ll learn about the Grand Slam of ultra running and how to cope with blisters, black toe nails and how to keep going after 24+ hours of running. Whether you’re new or old to the sport of ultra running, you should give this book a read.
5. Eat and Run: My Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, Scott Jurek – As a health-conscious, (mostly) plant-fueled athlete, I had to pick this book up. Unfortunately, it was pretty easy to put down. This autobiography/cookbook/plant-based-athlete’s handbook tries to cover too many aspects and falls short on the story-telling. That said, it’s a book by and about Scott Jurek, an ultra running legend It’s interesting to hear him tell about the roots of his running as a high school cross country skier, to learn about his obsessive and insane training regimen and his vegan recipes look amazing (I’ve only tried one or two, but they’ve been good). This book tries too hard to combine the threads of “the Jerker’s” life with his evolution into a plant-fueled athlete. Still, it’s worth a read, so check it out.
I’d love to hear your comments and your top five running reads. Please leave them below!