The 12 Best Running Books of 2022

From beginners to marathoners, these books will guide your running journey

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Whether you’re a beginning runner who needs help getting started, a more experienced runner looking to get to the next level, or someone who needs a little inspiration to get in your daily miles, a high-quality running book will do the trick. Learning more about your favorite sport can help you get the most of your runs and build mental and physical endurance.

Reviewed & Approved

Amby Burfoot's "Run Forever: Your Complete Guide to Healthy Lifetime Running" is a top pick for runner's of all levels that want to stay healthy and moving. The "Beginning Runner's Handbook: The Proven 13 Week RunWalk Program" is everything you need to know to start and stay running.

Running books can range in content from personal memoirs to general advice to specific training plans. Consider what you want to get out of it when choosing a book on running. If you're looking for detailed running programs or information on certain running methods, be sure to check the credentials of the author so you know you're getting quality content. We reviewed running books for our list based on style of content, author credentials, and runner's goals.

Here are the best running books to give your motivation and knowledge a boost.

Run Forever: Your Complete Guide to Healthy Lifetime Running

Run Forever
Courtesy of Amazon.

One of our top picks is by Boston Marathon winner and former Runner's World editor-in-chief Amby Burfoot, who shares his practical advice and timeless wisdom on how runners can enjoy a lifetime of healthy running. Part training guide and part inspirational perspective, Run Forever appeals to the new runner just getting started as well as the long-timer who needs the motivation to continue their healthy habit.

The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-Week RunWalk Program

The Beginning Runner's Handbook

Courtesy of Amazon

Getting started with running can feel completely overwhelming to newbies, but this easy-to-use, practical guide demystifies the process. With a blend of expert advice and testimonials from runners of all ages, The Beginning Runner's Handbook is a step-by-step road map for starting a healthy running habit.

From tips on choosing the right gear and avoiding injuries to advice on proper nutrition and building endurance, it covers everything beginners need to know.

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory
 Courtesy of Amazon

In this insightful and captivating memoir, running legend and Olympic silver medalist Deena Kastor explains how positive thinking helped her overcome self-doubt and become more resilient. Using personal race experiences and training anecdotes, Kastor shares the mental strategies anyone can use to achieve a competitive edge and reach their potential.

Let Your Mind Run is an inspiring story of achievement as well as a helpful guide on how to make your mind your greatest asset.

Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries

Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries
 Courtesy of Amazon

Many running books focus on mental strength and training, but very few cover the emotional aspects of dealing with an injury. A practical guide to improving resilience and confidence, Rebound contains more than 45 mental skills and drills that can be used at every phase of the injury recovery process.

The book weaves together personal stories from athletes, scientific research, and the expertise of leading mental skills coach Carrie Jackson Cheadle, giving runners the tools they need to recover and use to their advantage in the future. 

 

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
 Courtesy of Amazon

Whether you’re thinking of running your first marathon or you already have a few under your belt, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide is an essential tool to help you take the guesswork out of training.

This completely updated and revised edition includes best-selling author and running expert Hal Higdon’s comprehensive advice, tried-and-true methods, and effective training programs to help you avoid injuries and achieve peak performance.

The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life

The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life

Courtesy of Amazon

Why do some athletes triumph over seemingly impossible odds and immense challenges? Best-selling sports journalist and running coach Matt Fitzgerald examines this question, as he shares stories of athletic comebacks and speculates on what makes them so remarkable.

With a combination of fascinating stories and relevant science, The Comeback Quotient gives you the tools and motivation you need to achieve your own personal comeback, whether in running or other areas.

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail



North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Courtesy of Amazon

This thrilling memoir from best-selling author and accomplished ultra-runner Scott Jurek recounts his grueling experience breaking the speed record for running the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. As he chronicles the dangerous conditions, punishing terrain, and unavoidable injuries during his arduous challenge, he also reveals the personal transformation he underwent along the way.

Even if you’re not an ultra-runner, it’s hard not to be inspired by Jurek’s extraordinary journey and ability to push himself to his physical and mental limits.

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero

Courtesy of Amazon

Most runners already know journalist Christopher McDougall as the author of the best-seller Born to Run, and he continues to share his gift of witty and inspiring storytelling in his latest book. It’s about his experience adopting a neglected donkey, nursing it back to health, and ultimately running with it in preparation for an annual burro race.

Strong: A Runner's Guide to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You



Strong: A Runner's Guide to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You

Courtesy of Amazon

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher shares her secrets and strategies for conquering self-doubt and improving running performance using proven tools from sports psychology.

Through tips and real-life examples, Goucher offers practical advice that runners of any level can appreciate and apply to their training and life in general. Strong also includes perspectives from experts in the field, including Kara's own sports psychologist.

Easy Running Plans: Total-Body Training for Speed, Strength, and Endurance

Easy Running Plans: Total-Body Training
 Courtesy of Amazon

New runners as well as experienced ones looking to step up their running game can all benefit from this comprehensive, practical guide. With easy-to-follow training schedules for all different abilities, you can choose one that best suits your needs and goals.

Easy Running Plans also includes fundamentals about proper running form, injury prevention, and recovery, as well as stretches, exercises, and drills to help boost your performance.

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
 Courtesy of Amazon

Runners who are looking for insight into how their mental strength affects their physical performance will appreciate the best-seller Endure. Award-winning sports journalist and former elite distance runner Alex Hutchinson deftly analyzes the latest research about running and fitness to help runners understand how the human body reacts to various conditions.

With riveting stories about athletes who have pushed their own limits, Hutchinson inspires readers to think about their mind’s influence on their ability to push themselves, in running and beyond.

Run Fast: How to Beat Your Best Time Every Time

Run Fast: How to Beat Your Best Time Every Time
 Courtesy of Amazon

Another comprehensive running guide from best-selling author Hal Higdon, Run Fast can help runners of all abilities improve their speed and achieve running goals. It includes training plans for novice runners to help them get started and challenging workouts for more experienced runners.

Filled with advice and techniques from coaches, elites, and average runners, this book can help you stay motivated and have fun while reaching new running milestones.

What to Look for in a Running Book

Inspiration

You will most likely identify with and be inspired by a book that's similar to your own running experiences or personality. For example, are you an adventurer who loves to explore new places? A book about running adventures around the world could make you want to lace up your shoes.

Finding a book written by someone who you identify with in terms of personality, needs, and goals can be inspiring. Check out reviews and a few sample pages of a book to see if you like its vibe.

Credentials

For books that are about running methodologies, workout programs, and training regimes (such as how to prepare for a marathon), look at the author's credentials and expertise. What is their background in running? What kind of training programs have they completed? Do they have a degree in a related field? This information will most likely be included in the "About the Author" section in the back of the book, as well as in the credentials after their name (for example, John Smith, NASM-CPT, indicates that Smith is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine).

Goals

Look for a running book that is specific to your needs and goals. If you're a beginner, you probably don't need a super-technical manual. Instead, you'll want the basics presented in a format that you can readily understand and follow. And similarly, if you are quite experienced, you can skip books that cater to new runners and look for those that are more tailored to your goals, whether that's improving speed, adding distance, coming back after an injury or something else. Or, maybe you want to learn about running from another person's perspective. Whatever your goal, there is a book that can help.

Cost

Running books can range in cost. Know your budget for book buying and stay within your financial means. Shopping around online and in brick-and-mortar stores can help you get the best deal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can you expect from a running book?

    A running book should make you feel inspired to run, whether the book's contents are about a particular training method, running programs/regimes, how to progress in the sport, or setting goals, or the book is simply a tale of the author's own running experiences. Whether it's a memoir, a biography, or a training manual, every running book should leave you with a desire to either start or keep at the sport.

  • What are the benefits of reading a running book?

    Running is a challenging sport, both physically and mentally, and it requires you to reach deep inside you to find motivation and grit. Running books can help by providing expert-level advice, workout regimes, tips for running's mental game, and insight from others' experiences with running. The best running books can help you identify your "why" to get you inspired to start running, or keep at it.

  • How should you read running books and get coaching?

    If you want coaching from a running book, look for one that provides reasonable, effective, and—above all—sustainable training methods. Make sure the training is evidence-based and that the author is a professional with credentials to back up their advice.

    Author credentials to look for include personal training certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and a running certification from the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA).

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Running coach, health and fitness writer, and avid runner Christine Luff has been collecting running books for years and currently has nearly 100 of them on her bookshelves.