5 Books Every Runner (Actually,  Everyone) Should Read Buy Buy Buy

Running is not just a way to keep fit. It is also fantastic for building up your inner strength. 

Running is one of those activities that polarises people – you either love it or loathe it. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who’s ambivalent towards the sport. I used to be one of those people who hated running. I found it both tedious and physically demanding. However, a few years ago, after being coerced into signing up for a mass run, I started running more often and for longer distances. As my stamina grew, so did my mental resilience. If you’ve ever taken part in endurance sports, you’ll know this to be true. The strength you build up in the sporting arena spills over to your personal life, and you find yourself becoming more confident and less easily anxious.

Because running is largely a solitary sport, you often find yourself alone with your thoughts for long stretches of time. These moments of solitude are fecund with opportunities to reflect and get introspective. If you’re someone who enjoys taking a breather from life every now and then (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), running is a great way to clear your mind and refresh your soul.

Need inspiration get off your couch? Here are five books that will recharge your spirits:

1. Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

born to run

Although this book is non-fiction, it has all the elements of a great narrative in that it keeps you asking, “What happens next?” In this bestselling book, the author goes in search of the elusive Tarahumara tribe, a group of Native American people who live in Mexico’s Copper Canyons and are renowned for their incredible running ability. Along the way, McDougall befriends other famous ultra-marathoners and learns their secrets. Written in an engaging and easy-to-understand style, this book captivated me from start to finish. Every time I start to feel winded from a long run, I picture scenes from the book and I somehow find a way to dig deeper into my reserves to run that much further or faster. #TrueStory

Quote from the book: 

That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. 

2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami


As most runners know,  there are many philosophical insights that emerge from a regular running practice and in this autobiography of sorts, Murakami explores the relationship between running, writing, and life. Like a lot of Murakami’s books, this book is likely to leave you in a quietly contemplative mood. It’s one of those books that you read in bed on a rainy day and still feel inspired to go for a run after. Compared to his other works, this is a relatively slim volume but is chockfull of memorable and soul-stirring quotes.

Quote from the book:

I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running, the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

3. The Terrible And Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman

the terrible and wonderful reasons why i run long distances

Okay, so this is more of a comic than a book but it’s still spot-on in its observations about running. Written and illustrated by Matthew Inman (better known as The Oatmeal), this funny yet highly relatable comic brings to life the many obstacles we face when it comes to running. For example, there’s The Blerch (that voice in your head that tells you to laze around/pig out/anything but run) and of course, there’s The Wall (the point in the run where you feel physically and emotionally defeated). You’ll find yourself alternating between laughing and nodding along in vigorous agreement to Inman’s astute perceptions about long-distance running.

Quote from the book:

I run very fast because I desperately want to stand very still. I run to seek a void.”

4. Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

once a runner

This is the only work of fiction on this list, but it has been described by Runner’s World as “the best novel ever written about running.” Published in 1978, this is one of those hallowed books that is on every serious runner’s bookshelf. Drawn from the author’s own experience as a collegiate runner, this story captures the fiery intensity of what it takes to be a professional runner. Even if you’re running just for leisure, this book will definitely inspire you to up your game and strive for personal excellence.

Quote from the book:

Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.”

5. Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run by Kristin Armstrong 

mile markers

Here’s one for the ladies. Written by Runner’s World contributing editor Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers is a thoughtful and contemplative book on the parallels between running and life. In this book, Armstrong describes how running is the unwavering constant in her life, seeing her through hard-fought races with a close-knit group of friends to watching her children participating in the sport for the first time. These experiences, Armstrong says, fill her with hope that “every moment is a chance to become a stronger, wiser, and more peaceful woman.”

Quote from the book: 

As I get older, I see that running has changed for me. What used to be about burning calories is now more about burning up what is false. Lies I used to tell myself about who I was and what I could do, friendships that cannot withstand hills or miles, the approval I no longer need to seek, and solidarity that cannot bear silence. I run to burn up what I don’t need and ignite what I do.”

For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *