22 Terrific Non-Fiction Running Books
What better way to relax after a run than curling up with a good running book? Well, except for maybe beer and a good running book.
1. “The Perfect Mile” by Neal Bascomb
A page-turning account of the quest of England’s Roger Bannister, Australia’s John Landy, and the US’s Wes Santee to become the first man to break the four-minute mile.
2. “Jogging” by Bill Bowerman
This book by legendary track coach Bill Bowerman introduced running as healthy recreation to Americans. Out of print, but available from used booksellers and some libraries.
3. “Duel in the Sun: The Story of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon” by John Brant
The story of the 1982 Boston Marathon, and the almost stride-for-stride race for first between Salazar and Beardsley. Lots of great background information on both runners, including what they’ve done since the ‘82 marathon.
4. “Strides: Running Through History With an Unlikely Athlete” by Benjamin Cheever
A fun and often informative memoir that threads the history of running through Cheever’s own experiences as a runner.
5. “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond ‘the Wall’” by Matt Fitzgerald
The strength of Fitzgerald’s book is taking the science of sports nutrition and presenting it in an understandable and practical way to runners of any experience or fitness level.
6. “Complete Book of Running” by Jim Fixx
The book that, along with Bowerman’s “Jogging,” started the running boom of the 70s. Considered by many to still be the Bible of running. Easily available from libraries and used booksellers.
7. “Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run” by Alexandra Heminsley
Heminsley’s book is relatively new to running bookshelves, but her journey from barstool potato to marathoner is one many of us can relate to. It’s not always chia fresca and runner’s high.
8. “4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners” by Hal Higdon
Where were you when the bombs exploded in Boston on April 15, 2013? How many of you think of that day every time you cross a finish line? Running icon Hal Higdon has put together a wonderful book that celebrates the quiet heroes of that day, and shows how the running community’s worst day brought out the best in many people.
9. “Unbroken” by Lauren Hillenbrand
Louis Zamperini’s story of evolving from a troublemaking kid into an Olympian is inspirational enough, but his story doesn’t end at the Berlin Summer Games. As a WWII Airman, Zamperini survived a crash landing at sea, over a month adrift in the ocean, and then over two years as a POW at a brutal Japanese camp outside Nagano. On his 81st birthday, he was asked by the people of Nagano to run a leg in the Olympic torch relay.
10. “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek
Ultramarathon legend Jurek’s book is part running memoir, part vegan cookbook, and part training manual.
11. “Running with the Buffaloes” by Chris Lear
Great story of one of the best cross-country programs, and the young athletes who made up the squad during the year Lear followed them.
12. “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall
Love it or hate it, it introduced us to chia, barefoot running, and lots of hours of debate.
13. “Running with the Mind of Meditation” by Sakyong Mipham
Mipham teaches us how to combine meditative practice with running, improving both our minds and our bodies. An interesting and surprisingly pragmatic read.
14. “Bowerman and the Men of Oregon” by Kenny Moore
An insider’s look at legendary coach Bowerman’s life, both on and off the Oregon track. Along the way, Moore shows us the rise of Pre, the start of Nike, and Bowerman’s later battles with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
15. “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami
Every runner has internal dialogues with themselves when they run, and acclaimed novelist Murakami wrote a charming book detailing some of his.
16. “Lore of Running” by Tim Noakes
Tim Noakes isn’t only an experienced runner, he’s also a physician, and he puts both to good use in explaining the WHY and HOW of training and sports psychology.
17. “A Race Like No Other” by Liz Robbins
It’s as close to racing the NYC Marathon as you can get without actually running it.
18. “Swoosh: Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There” by J.B. Strasser
Phil Knight started Nike with little more than a car trunk, drive, and his old Oregon teammates and Coach, Bill Bowerman. A bit dated, but still an entertaining read.
19. “Marathon Woman” by Kathrine Switzer
Switzer was the first female to ever run Boston as a registered runner, although the RD didn’t realize she was a woman until after the marathon started and she was almost physically removed from the race. Switzer finished Boston that day, and became a literal trailblazer for women runners. She was instrumental in women’s marathon becoming an Olympic event.
20. “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes” by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim
Written by two of the founders of Skratch Labs, “Feed Zone Portables” gives runners an alternative to gels or bars for on-the-run fueling. Try the Sea Salt and Chocolate Sticky Bites.
21. “Fixing Your Feet” by John Vonhof
A must have for long distance runners.
22. “My Life On the Run” by Bart Yasso
The man who invented Yassos also wrote this terrific memoir. Along with running advice, he shares some of his favorite races and running moments with us, as well as his struggles with Lyme Disease.
Add your favorite non-fiction running books in the comments!