For long-time athletes, running means far more than training for the next race; it comes to signify a part of their lives that is constantly evolving in pursuit of this demanding and solitary sport. Whether you’re looking for inspiration before your next marathon or your first run, leaf through some of these powerful memoirs to discover how, among other things, running can change your life.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

“Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day.” 

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Murakami, in his quintessential style, offers intimate insights on running and its lasting influence on his life and writing. Written while the author was training for the NYC Marathon, the memoir contains personal lessons and anecdotes, as well as notes on the sheer physical and mental agony of the preparation. He brings out the poetic and restorative nature of running in a deep, sobering narrative, which is sure to resonate with all those who find themselves intrinsically bound to the sport.

 

Born To Run – Christopher McDougall

“If you don’t think you were born to run you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.” 

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Considered to be among the favorite running books in the world, Born to Run is McDougall’s epic ode to the sport. The book is based on his interactions with the super-athletic Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, famed for running long distances under harsh conditions, without apparent injury or discomfort. Enhanced through digressions in history, culture and science, it juxtaposes modern ultramarathons with running traditions that go back more than 500 years in a riveting account that inspires you to trust your running instincts and take the plunge.

 

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek

“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” 

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In 1999, Scott Jurek took the lead in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run over the Sierra Nevada, and went on to win the title 7 times thereafter. He narrates the story of his Midwestern childhood and transition into a vegan ultramarathoner who swears by his plant-based diet. Besides breaking the stereotype of athletes being heavily dependent on their meat intake, the book covers several of Jurek’s most intense races, along with running philosophies, training tips, practical counsel and personal recipes for runners at all levels.

 

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports – Kathrine Switzer

“I wasn’t running Boston to prove anything; I was just a kid who wanted to run her first marathon.”

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As the first woman to officially run and finish the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967, Switzer is an iconic figure is the world of sports and women’s rights alike. The incredible athlete outlines her life and milestones in this witty and engaging memoir that contain her childhood inspirations, experiences at various races including the 2008 Olympics, her 1974 NYC Marathon win, and much more.

Main image: Rich Orris

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