Best Running Books for 2021

Coach Casey · August 31, 2021

With the onset of more and more streaming television and movie options, reading books may be falling by the wayside. For those of us that still love the written word though, there’s no shortage of great reading options out there. As runners, of course, all we want to read about is more running. Right? Well, if you’re like all the Charge coaches, and that is in fact the case, we’ve got you covered. We’ve polled far and wide (within the confines of our coaching staff of super-runners) and compiled the ultimate list of running books, updated for 2021.

So, sit back, put your feet up, and crack open any one of these masterful running books and enjoy! Then you can get back to watching the latest season of Nailed It!

8 Best Running Books for 2021

Note: We’ve made sure not to repeat from our previous running book suggestions so also read our previous list!

1. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

A truly engaging work of fiction that perfectly captures the role of running as an escape for so many from so many real life challenges. Running the Rift follows the life and dreams of a young Rwandan runner as he maintains his Olympic dreams and hope while his home country devolves into civil war around him. A truly beautiful representation of the power of running on and individual level within a larger context. 

2. Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

An “Honorable Mention” in our 2018 edition of the best running books, Running with the Buffaloes moves up to the top list as it’s become truly ageless even after 23 years. An epic true story of teamwork, struggle, strife, and success told within the context of a group of college runners on the Colorado Cross Country team. This book honestly holds up year after year without fail.

3. Bravey by Alexi Pappas

A newer addition to the ranks of great running books, Bravey arrives with a BANG! As dynamic as Olympic athlete Alexi Pappas is in real life, her memoir brings every amazing element of her to the page. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and very real, the book is an engaging and deeply enjoyable read page after page. A runner, director, actor, and now writer, Pappas is quickly becoming the voice of the young running generation.

4. Run Forever by Amby Burfoot

Amby Burfoot is a running legend and has had his status as such cemented for decades now. As a Boston Marathon Champion and college teammate of legends Bill Rodgers and Jeff Galloway, he’s had plenty of experience training at the highest level. In his practical and inspirational book, Burfoot shares a myriad of ways for runners to continue running with joy and health for a lifetime. 

5. Epic Runs of the World by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet, the pre-eminent travel guide publisher, has created the perfect companion guide for all runners. Their list of the world’s most epic and incredible runs includes marathons, ultras, base running routes, and cross country tales from every corner of the globe. 200 running courses provide the perfect catalyst for your next running vacation!

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

Another promotion from our previous “Honorable Mentions” category, Murakami’s beautiful memoir probably never should have been anything but one of the best running books. The grace and poetry of the novelist comes through as a resounding promotion of the meditative and healing properties of running. As an avid runner himself, Murakami combines a true runner’s experience with the inspiration and impact of his magnificent writing. 

7. The Comeback Quotient by Matt Fitzgerald

If you liked The Sports Gene by David Epstein, you’ll love The Comeback Quotient. Fitzgerald takes a look at why some athletes seem to have an uncanny ability to succeed against impossible odds. Through a combination of excellent real-life stories and plenty of accessible science, the book seems especially relevant now. As more athletes achieve seemingly impossible feats and conquer immense challenges (Molly Seidel anyone?) this book is a great read at just the right time.

8. Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

While not exactly a “running book,” Hillenbrand’s epic, true tale of survival and the indomitable human spirit deserves a spot on this list. Unbroken follows the story of Louis Zamperini. A young Olympic distance runner turned Air Force pilot during World War 2. After surviving a plane crash (47 days at sea!) Zamperini endures a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for years. Through it all, Zamperini relies on his unbreakable spirit, resilience, and his endurance skills as a distance runner to survive. An epic and unbelievable tale. 

Become part of the greatest virtual running community (and running book club) on earth by joining Charge Running! Sign up now and enjoy all that professional coaching has to offer along with runners from around the world!

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