Stuck in a running rut? If you are in need of some inspiration to lace up your running shoes, then look no further than the running books in this guide.
The handful of books on this list will inspire, entertain and educate you – whether you’re a beginner runner or seasoned pro.
We all have to start somewhere when it comes to running.
I know when I first started running, I found it a struggle at times to find the motivation to go for a run.
I knew why I wanted to run (because it made me feel good) but sometimes telling myself this wasn’t enough to get me out the door!
The books in this guide will provide you with all the inspiration and advice you need to start your running journey or get back on the running wagon.
If you’re looking for running books on the science of running, then check out my guide on 8 of the best books about running to help you run stronger for longer.
Are you ready?
Let’s take a look!
13 of the best running books to inspire you to run
Running For My Life is a heartfelt, authentic and inspirational story of how Cullen transformed her life one step at a time through running.
Stuck in a cycle of disappointment and suffering from depression and bipolar disorder, Cullen put on a pair of old running shoes and set out on her first run.
What comes next is an honest account of the challenges she faces along the way on and off the running track as she trains for a marathon.
I really enjoyed this book because Cullen talks about overcoming negative self-talk and unhelpful thoughts – something I’m sure all runners can relate to.
Cullen instead focusses on what is truly important and shares an uplifting story about the transformative power of exercise.
Jog On is a love letter to running and starts with Bella shortly after the breakdown of her first marriage.
At a low point in her life and struggling to deal with her mental health, Mackie starts running to improve the relationship with herself and get her life back on track.
Mackie advises how to include exercise in your life and make it a lifestyle change that sticks.
She also discusses the impact of running on her life and how it has helped her overcome her own battles with her mental health.
An uplifting, brave and frank account!
Pants of Perspective is a personal account of McNuff’s 3,000 km solo run along the gruelling Aotearoa Trail in New Zealand.
Travelling alone, McNuff faces challenges and overcomes adversity as she scrambles through forests, over mountain passes, along beaches and across swollen rivers.
Pants of Perspective is a voyage of self discovery. An epic tale that combines resilience, adventure, courage and failure all into one.
The second book on this list from Rachel Ann Cullen, but this time the narrative focuses on ordinary people finding the extraordinary through running.
Cullen uses her own experiences as a way to appreciate the stories of others – through tales of grief, trauma and recovery – including what motivates them to run.
Running For Our Lives is an inspirational and uplifting book about the journey that running takes you on.
If you’re looking for a book to inspire you to lace up your running shoes, then this book is for you.
Eat, Drink, Run is a hilarious account of how Gordon found herself training to run a marathon despite not being a runner.
Gordon challenges the concept that you have to be a particular size and shape in order to call yourself a runner.
This book is as much about pushing yourself as it is about taking small steps, ignoring the critic inside your head along the way.
A courageous and honest account.
Born To Run is one of the best running books about how far you can go spiritually and physically.
It’s an inspiring read for anyone – runner or not!
McDougall tells the story of the Tarahumara Tribe in Mexico who are superhuman ultramarathoners.
He tracks down an American called Caballo Blanco who has gone native and now lives with the Tarahumara Tribe as a legendary runner.
The author mixes his experience with the Tarahumara Tribe with research into how and why we run.
McDougall looks at, for example, barefoot running, the pros and cons of wearing running shoes, why runners get injured and what you should be eating as a runner.
A really fascinating read!
This guide from Lonely Planet shares 50 of the best running routes and trails from across the world.
From the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco to The Great Wall Marathon in China, this book reviews everything from short city runs to epic marathons.
The book contains lots of in-depth reviews of routes from across the globe, and shares some similar routes at the end of each write up.
There are also plenty of photos and illustrations of each route.
This book is bound to give inspiration and motivation to anyone – whether you’re a newbie runner or accomplished athlete.
Running Like a Girl is a funny, honest, inspirational and emotional review of one woman’s journey to become a runner.
I’m sure you can relate when limiting beliefs hold you back from running.
It’s as much about facing up to your own demons before you can finally set yourself free as a runner.
Alexandra tells all about her experiences as a new runner – worts and all – and stresses that anyone can be a runner if they want to be.
The second half of the book is about the women who made it possible for women today to run.
Women are were not allowed to run marathons for a long time, with the first women’s Olympic marathon race only in 1984.
A highly recommended read to anyone starting out on their own running journey.
Elise Downing became the first woman and youngest person to run a lap of the British coastline.
In Coasting, Elise recounts her epic journey running 5,000 miles around Britain.
She shares the literal highs and lows and encounters with total strangers who spur her on.
Coasting is one of the best memoirs that makes you want to jump off your sofa and run a few miles yourself.
This is one of the best running books for anyone who longs to experience the sense of connection and achievement that running has to offer.
Jackson became a marathon runner at aged 31 and ran her first 56-mile ultramarathon aged 41.
Her account is about her own journey with running as well as the stories of the runners she has met along the way.
It’s about the triumph of tenacity over a lack of talent, and Jackson proves that running isn’t always about the time you do, but the time you have.
Running the Smoke tells the stories of 26 people taking part in the London Marathon – amateur runners and professionals alike.
It looks at their reasons for entering, their training journeys and their experiences on the day of the marathon itself.
All royalties from the book go to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London if you need more reason to purchase the book.
An inspiring and emotional read!
Don’t Stop Me Now is a celebration of running and all that it gives us – part escape, part self-discovery, part therapy, part fitness.
The author shares the highs and lows of running and falling in love with it, from his first painful run to completing ultramarathons and triathlons.
What’s great about this book is that it features accounts from famous athletes and how they first started their running journey – from world-record runner Paula Radcliffe to F1 driver Jenson Button.
A fantastic read for existing runners and new runners alike.
Beyond Impossible is the incredible true story of how an ordinary woman defeated anorexia and ran her way into the record books.
Anderson starts running at the age of 36 as a mum of three and quickly throws herself into training.
Eventually completing the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert – one of the toughest marathons in the world.
Anderson goes on to complete many more ultramarathons, all building up to her biggest challenge: a 840-mile run from John O’Groats to Land’s End in the UK.
The book summarises beautifully: “This book will inspire beginner runners and die-hard marathon devotees alike, proving that, no matter where life takes you, it’s never too late to achieve your dreams and do the impossible.”
Related: 12 trail running tips for beginners