Ten Top Books For Runners

Ten books about running that inspire, entertain and thrill

runner books

Christmas is coming – hooray! As a runner, you’ll be used to getting gifts related to your well chosen hobby. This year, as well as getting a pair of running tights in your stocking (if that sentence makes any sense at all), consider getting some reading material. Here is a list of some brilliant books about running. Please feel free to message with more suggestions as quickly as you like; I’m only 50 pages from the end of my current book!


Feet in the Clouds
Richard Askwith

If you only buy one book about fell running, make sure it’s this one; the history, the legends, the insanity and how you can train for fell races whilst living in London!

Endurance, the Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zatopek
Rick Broadbent

Even if Zatopek’s only achievement had been to win four Olympic gold medals, his life would be worth reading about. The fact that he won three of them over 5000m, 10000m and the marathon, in the space of a week, makes this achievement even more remarkable. Then came his refusal to remain silent about the undemocratic behaviour of the Czech communist party. This put them in an awkward position: How could they silence a national hero? His struggles against the regime, and the measures they took to stop him, are discussed at captivating length in this book.

Race Against Me
Dwain Chambers

A controversial choice for some. However, in order to win the war against drugs in sport, I think we need to understand the mindset of an athlete who transgresses. Chambers’ book allows us to do just that. It should be given to every young athlete to show them the immediate and long term regret and devastating consequences of taking illegal drugs. It’s not nice to read, but it’s fascinating and educational.

Running My Life
Seb Coe

Now the most powerful man in world athletics, it’s easy to forget what a varied and eventful life he’s had. Guided by his dad, a completely inexperienced coach who applied engineering principles to his son’s training regime, he broke world records, won Olympic gold medals and was part of the most talked about rivalry in sport, at the time. After retirement he became an MP and then there was the small matter of bringing the Greatest Show on Earth to London. Plenty to read about.

Running with the Kenyans
Adharanand Finn

An expose on how the Kenyans are so good at distance running. Nothing controversial, but plenty of useful and interesting information. I applied some Kenyan principles to my long runs when training for my most recent marathon and set an 11 minute PB!

The Way of the Runner
Adharanand Finn

After immersing himself in Kenyan distance running life, Finn did similarly in Japan, revealing the reasons for their incredible strength in depth in marathon running.

The Ghost Runner
Bill Jones

This is the best running book you’ve never heard of, about the best runner you’ve never heard of. In the days when athletics was an amateur sport, John Tarrant paid the price for his honesty, when he disclosed an expense payment paid to him in his previous career as a boxer. Banned from entering races, he turned up in a large overcoat, which he’d throw to one side and jump into races, where he’d often do extremely well. This is story of his fights to overturn his ban and rewrite the record books.

Daniels Running Formula
Jack Daniels

A book all coaches need to own. Lots of numbers, and maths in general, to get your head around, but the most complete guide to running training, especially for those who race across various distances. You will never be without a target time for any rep ever!

Just a Little Run Around the World
Rosie Swale Pope

A 57 year old woman who ran 20,000 miles around the world. Crazy adventures. Ridiculous temperatures. The kindness of strangers and the wildness of animals. I’ve read the book and I still can’t get my head around it.

A Life Without Limits
Chrissie Wellington

One of Britain’s greatest ever sports stars, Chrissie Wellington won the Ironman World Championship three times and still holds the world record (she finished that race with a 2:44 marathon, by the way). An intelligent, down to earth, lady with a lovely way with words.

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