The 14 Best Running Motivation Books for Runners to Buy in 2019

Motivational and educational running books

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Inspire, entertain, and educate the runners on your gift lists with some of these running books. Or, pick one up for your own collection.

Our Top Picks

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Well-known for making the barefoot/minimalist movement more popular, this bestseller explores the running habits and secrets of Mexico's Tarahumara Indians, who can run hundreds of miles without resting or getting injured. McDougall's well-written narrative will make you question and re-examine everything you've thought and learned about running up to this point. Even if you're not a runner, it's tough to not be inspired to go for a run after reading it.

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run
Courtesy of

If you or a fellow runner love running and humor, you'll love this book from New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Inman, also known as The Oatmeal. This hilarious, beautiful, poignant collection of comics and stories about running, eating, racing and one cartoonist's reasons for running until his toenails fall off.  With more than 70 pages of never-before-seen material, including "A Lazy Cartoonist's Guide to Becoming a Runner" and "The Blerch's Guide to Dieting," the book also comes with Blerch race stickers.

Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners

Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right from the Start
Courtesy of Amazon

Although this book is geared toward new runners, it's really the perfect book for any runner, beginner or experienced, looking for nutritional guidance. Get information on daily nutrition and what to eat before, during and after runs, as well as weight loss advice.

Kara Goucher's Running for Women

Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons
Courtesy of Amazon

Written for women of all different running levels, professional runner Kara Goucher’s book is packed with training and racing tips, sample training programs, ​and nutrition plans, as well as special sections on running during and after pregnancy and maintaining a balance with running, work, and family life. Goucher, a new mom herself, writes about her own triumphs and setbacks and shares advice in such a real and honest way, it’s hard not to be motivated to run.

The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David A. Whitsett

The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer
Courtesy of Amazon

This book is for anyone who wants to run a marathon but doesn't think of themselves as a runner or even an athlete. The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer is based on the highly successful marathon class offered by the University of Northern Iowa and follows the class's 16-week, four-day-a-week workout plan. It's a great training program for real people who have busy jobs and families, and can't dedicate their lives to marathon training.

The Runner's Rule Book

The Runners Rule Book
Photo courtesy of Rodale Books

Running can feel overwhelming to a beginner because of its many unspoken rules. The Runner's Rule Book provides answers to runners' burning questions about etiquette, lingo, gear, and behavior. From the practical ("Run against traffic") to the humorous ("Post-race bagels must be dry and taste like aspirin"), author Mark Remy addresses more than 100 "rules" about running. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned runner, you'll love Remy's witty commentary about running and undoubtedly find yourself quoting his axioms to fellow runners.

The Athlete's Palate Cookbook

The Athlete's Palate Cookbook: Renowned Chefs, Delicious Dishes, and the Art of Fueling Up While Eating Well
Courtesy of Amazon

The Athlete's Palate Cookbook is a collection of 100+ recipes from renowned chefs, who also happen to be runners. Many of the recipes were featured in Runner's World magazine's monthly "The Athlete's Palate" column. The book also includes 60 new recipes for breakfasts, entrees, soups, salads, sides, desserts, and beverages.  Each recipe includes labels indicating quick-and-easy, training, and recovery meals, so you can plan your meals and time them properly.

Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running

Complete Book of Women's Running

This updated guide is written specifically for women runners who are looking for advice about the challenges and problems faced by women when running, from clothing, injuries, safety, and nutrition to running during pregnancy and menopause. It includes expert advice on nutrition, weight loss, body image, and more for women of all fitness levels.

The Competitive Runner's Handbook by Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn F. Glover

Competitive Runner's Handbook

Acclaimed coaches and best-selling authors Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover give runners everything they need to take their running to the next level. The Competitive Runner's Handbook includes training schedules for all different distances and levels of runners, a speed-training section as well as information on weight training, stretching, proper nutrition and hydration, cross-training and treadmill running. The book also covers the mental aspects of competitive running: goal-setting, motivation, race day preparation and race strategies.

ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running
Courtesy of Amazon

Ultramarathoner Danny Dreyer shares his secrets for running techniques that help you heal and prevent injuries, as well as run faster, farther and with much less effort at any age. Beginning runners or seasoned competitors can benefit from the book's step-by-step program of ChiRunning, which uses the core muscles of the trunk and focuses on harnessing our "chi", or inner energy.

The Quotable Runner

The Quotable Runner: Great Moments of Wisdom, Inspiration, Wrongheadedness, and Humor
Courtesy of Amazon

Need some running inspiration? This book of quotes will help runners get through their toughest workouts or races. The Quotable Runner is full of inspirational, practical and humorous quotes about running. Mao, Bill Clinton, Churchill, and George Sheehan are among others quoted in this book.

Running for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield

Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running
Courtesy of Amazon

John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield, authors of the popular Marathoning for Mortals, explain how beginning-level runners can easily implement running in their lives. Their book covers topics, such as starting a running habit, proper nutrition and hydration, and training for speed and endurance.

Runner's World Guide to Running and Pregnancy by Chris Lundgren

Runner's World Guide to Running and Pregnancy: How to Stay Fit, Keep Safe, and Have a Healthy Baby
Courtesy of Amazon

If the female runner in your life is a Mom-to-be, she'll definitely welcome this encouraging and informative book about how to stay fit, be safe and have a healthy baby.

Running Within by Jerry Lynch and Warren A. Scott

Running Within

For runners looking for a competitive edge, this book provides an in-depth look at the physiological and psychological aspects of running, with strategies and tools for maximizing the mental side of performance.


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