Running Books: Great reads for all runners!

Coach Casey · October 22, 2018

As simple as running may seem, there are numerous intricacies that make it a cerebral sports. Part of any good cerebral activity is digesting knowledge and information. Today we’re going to be talking about all things running books! Obviously there are a lot of all types of books out there and running books are no exception. However, below are a few of the absolute essential running books, polled from our panel of expert Charge trainers. These running books will engage, educate, and encourage. They’ll motivate you to lace up and hit the road. They’ll guide you through every step and nuance to becoming a happy, healthy and successful runner.

Reading a running book can the perfect supplement to your training

Best Running Books (in no particular order):

Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

This initially self-published fiction follows the trials and tribulations of a young protagonist, Quentin Cassidy, and his quest for the ultimate mile race victory. The author has noted that Cassidy’s character is loosely based off of his own experiences but really it’s enthralling no matter how much of it is founded in reality. The story is a perfect representation of a runner as an individual versus a series of results. This book has become a cult classic. Even the youngest of runners pay it homage by quoting “the trial of miles; miles of trials.”

NOTE: Parker Jr. wrote three additional books, two or which serve as a sequel and prequel to Once A Runner respectively. Don’t feel the need to read any of them…no offense John.

Run Fast, Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

A New York Times bestseller for quite a while when it was first published last year, this book combines the nutritional expertise of a certified nutritionist with the running expertise of an Olympian. The cookbook has a series of simple recipes that are great for runners looking to fuel or refuel with the proper caloric and macro-nutritional components. The cookbook covers snacks (personal favorite = 26.2 Trail Mix), all three meals, drinks, and desserts (check out the Ginger-Molasses Quick Bread). It also has a very handy and pretty fascinating section called “Runner’s Remedies” which lists their previous recipes in categories based on what common running injuries or illnesses they can help prevent.

NOTE: Flanagan and Kopecky wrote a sequel titled Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow which is a great bonus if you enjoy the first.

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

This may simply be one of the most engaging historical accounts of running that you can find on a bookshelf. The story tracks the attempts of three young runners, Wes Santee, John Landy, and Roger Bannister, to be the first human to break the 4 minute mile barrier in 1954. Separated by three continents, each man literally raced to running immortality. Spoiler alert: it was Roger Bannister. While the history of it all is fascinating, the real prize of the book comes in one of the final chapters. The chapter gives a beautifully detailed account of an epic mile race between Bannister and Landy at the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver. I’ve read plenty of race recaps and let me tell you, this one takes gold (pun)!

Endure by Alex Hutchinson

Alex Hutchinson’s book takes a look at human endurance at a time when we are seeing the human body and mind exceed every imaginable expectation. Athletes are doing things no one could have believed possible even 15 years ago (see Eliud Kipchoge doing anything at all). The book is divided into three sections. Each section explores history, case studies, and theories related to the human mind, body, and ultimately spirit, overcoming its perceived limits. Being a former Canadian national team runner, as well as a respected journalist for The New York Times and Outside, Hutchinson strikes a great balance between knowing what he’s talking about and knowing how to put in on paper.

Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels

The “World’s Greatest Coach,” Jack Daniels (not the whiskey) has been publishing running books and providing his wisdom to the public for decades. This guide gives the most complete overview of all of his methods for training properly for optimal performance. The text covers precise training plans for races and supplementary training. It also explains his renowned VDOT method for identifying the exact training intensity to maximize physiological development. While maybe at times a bit “sciencey,” this is not a book that needs to be read cover to cover. It can instead serve as a great quick-guide for any questions that may come up concerning your training. At the very least it can serve as a coffee table book that will really impress and confuse your guests.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Not To Be Ignored

  • The Inner Runner by Jason Karp
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  • Running With the Buffaloes by Chris Lear
  • The Sports Gene by David Epstein
  • The Science of Running by Steve Magness
  • The Feed Zone Cookbook by Dr. Allen Lim and Bijou Thomas

Read, run, and enjoy! Take your book smarts and apply them to your next live Charge Run!

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