Once A Runner by John L. Parker
Eloquent writing and the competitive spirit of distance runners makes this a classic for any runner who has sacrificed parts of their life for running. Set in the 1970’s, the story follows Quenton Cassidy as he gives up almost everything comfortable in his life to train for a 4 minute mile.
It encompasses everything from satisfied exhaustion to extreme disappointment. I’ve found myself returning to the book to read passages that speak to me with knowledge that only other runners would understand their power.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
Though less about running and more about running a business, this autobiography is a must-read for any entrepreneur in the running business.
Knight experienced a tremendous amount of monetary success towards the end of his career, but I found it captivating that he kept persisting in his early years even when all bets were against him. His relationship with Bowerman and Pre are just a tip of the iceberg in how he influenced the running community.
Morelock is a gifted storyteller and recalls many of his adventures with extreme detail as though they happened last weekend. His love and appreciation of ultrarunning is evident through his writing. He passed away in February, but left us a legacy of wit and humbleness in his stories about the trails.
Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong
At the age of 16, Lomong came to America after abduction, escape, and years of living in a refugee camp. His story of surviving each hardship makes his rise to the Olympic Team that much more compelling. The struggle to adapt to an American way of life and a new sense of normal is page-turning.
Runner: A Short Story About a Long Run by Lizzy Hawker
Hawker is likely one of the best female ultrarunners of all time and it very likely that you have never heard of her. A Brit who discovered her love of scrambling up and down mountains quickly translated into winning races, she writes about her incredible rise in the running community.
Hawker doesn’t necessarily run to win though; she articulates her desire to push her body and mind to the limits. Her ability to push through exhaustion and pain are both incredible and inspiring.
How Bad Do You Want It? Master the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald
Though not exclusively about running, Fitzgerald uses plenty of endurance sport examples to discuss the psychology of competition. The book is broken up into chapters of various athletes and how they faltered at different points in their careers.
Fitzgerald is excellent at putting the reader in the moment and there are relatable situations in each of his examples.