5 Best Running Books for Motivation

As an avid runner and certified running shoe specialist, I’ve logged countless miles and devoured my fair share of running books. While some provided technical tips on form and training, others burrowed deep, igniting a fire within. These are the books that remind us why we lace up, push through the discomfort, and chase that runner’s high.

So, if you’re seeking that extra spark of inspiration, look no further. Here are my top 5 picks for the best running books for motivation:

1. Find Your Inner Ultra-Athlete with “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall

“Born to Run” isn’t just a book; it’s a phenomenon. McDougall’s thrilling narrative transports you to the Copper Canyons of Mexico, home to the Tarahumara, an indigenous tribe renowned for their incredible long-distance running abilities. Through their story, we discover the joy of natural movement, the power of community, and the potential that lies dormant within us.

Why it’s a must-read: This book will challenge your preconceived notions about running and inspire you to reconnect with the primal joy of the sport.

2. Embrace the Power of Grit with “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

While not strictly a running book, “Mindset” is a game-changer for any runner seeking to break through mental barriers. Dweck’s research on growth mindset highlights the transformative power of believing in our ability to improve. Through engaging anecdotes and scientific evidence, she demonstrates how a growth mindset fosters resilience, perseverance, and ultimately, success.

Why it’s a must-read: This book will empower you to reframe challenges as opportunities for growth and unlock your full potential as a runner.

3. Discover the Transformative Journey of Running with “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami

In this intimate memoir, acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami reflects on his passion for running and its profound impact on his life and writing. With characteristic wit and insight, he explores themes of discipline, self-discovery, and the pursuit of creative fulfillment through the lens of long-distance running.

Why it’s a must-read: This book offers a poignant and relatable exploration of the runner’s mindset, reminding us that the journey is just as important as the destination.

4. Fuel Your Fire with “Run or Die” by Kilian Jornet

Prepare to be awestruck by the extraordinary story of Kilian Jornet, one of the greatest endurance athletes of our time. This captivating autobiography chronicles his journey from a childhood spent in the mountains to becoming a world champion skyrunner and ultrarunner. Jornet’s relentless drive and deep connection with nature are truly inspiring.

Why it’s a must-read: This book is a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and pushing the boundaries of human potential.

5. Find Strength in Shared Experiences with “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way Out of Madness” by Matt Fitzgerald

In this raw and honest memoir, renowned running coach and writer Matt Fitzgerald shares his personal struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and how running became his lifeline. Through his journey, we discover the incredible power of the mind-body connection and the transformative potential of running to heal and empower.

Why it’s a must-read: This book offers a powerful message of hope and resilience, reminding us that running can be a source of strength and solace even in the darkest of times.

These five books offer diverse perspectives on the transformative power of running. Whether you’re seeking adventure, self-improvement, or simply a renewed sense of motivation, these pages will inspire you to lace up and hit the pavement with newfound purpose. Remember, the most important step is the next one. Happy running!


Q: I’m new to running. Will these books still motivate me?

Absolutely! Many of these books cater to runners of all levels, from beginners to seasoned marathoners. They explore the transformative power of running, offering inspiration and practical advice regardless of your experience. Look for books that specifically mention beginners or focus on the mental and emotional aspects of running rather than just training plans.

Q: I don’t enjoy reading long, drawn-out stories. Are there any books on the list that are more concise and to-the-point?

Definitely! Some runners prefer quick bursts of inspiration. Look for collections of essays, quotes, or books with shorter chapters that you can easily digest in one sitting. I often recommend these types of books to my clients who are short on time but still crave that motivational boost.

Q: I’m training for a specific race. Are there any books that focus on the mental aspect of competition?

You bet! Several books delve into the mental toughness required for racing. They explore strategies for staying focused, overcoming self-doubt, and pushing your limits. Look for titles from experienced coaches or athletes who have been there and done that.

Q: I’m more of a visual learner. Are there any documentaries or films you recommend that offer similar motivational stories?

There are some incredible running documentaries out there! They can be a powerful source of inspiration. Look for films that profile inspiring athletes, showcase stunning scenery, or explore the emotional side of running.

Q: I’ve read a lot of running books already. Are there any unique or unconventional options you recommend?

Certainly! The world of running literature is vast and diverse. Don’t be afraid to venture beyond the typical running narratives. You might find inspiration in memoirs by people who use running to overcome challenges, explore new cultures, or connect with nature.

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