Running Novels

Asian female student sitting on floor in the library, Open and learning textbook from bookshelf

Running is one of the most effective forms of exercise. However, if you find it hard to go out and run, you can gain much motivation and inspiration by reading other peoples’ running stories. 

Here we have found the most inspiring running novels that you must read.

10 Best Inspiring Running Novels

Born to Run by Christopher Mc Dougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Buy On Amazon

Born to run is a non-fictional work by Christopher Mc Dougall, an all-time best seller and considered the most influential running book.

This is a story that took off when casual runner Christopher Mc Dougall (Author) was searching for a cure for his foot injuries and came across an article on endurance running of Tarahumara and set on a journey to meet them.

Tarahumara is a group of indigenous people living deep in Copper Canyon, Mexico. This tribe was away from the modern influences and lived a very peaceful minimalist life and a healthy low protein diet.

The thing that attracted the author was their love for ultra running for hundreds of miles in their minimalist homemade sandals, “huaraches.”

The story also shows how Caballo Blanco (central figure of the story) struggles to hold a race between the Tarahumara and seasoned runners. And the training and preparation of the author for the race.

This book impacted the runner’s society and showed how primitive diets low in protein and high in fruits and vegetables fuel ultra runners.

It also emphasized the natural running stride and how cushioned shoes had slowed down runners. This led to Nike launching a minimalist line called Nike Free.

Overall this book is a mix of the Tarahamua story, ultra-marathon runners, and the science of distance running. Born to run is also available as an audio book for listening on the go.

Running With Sherman by Christopher Mc Dougall

Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America
Buy On Amazon

Running with Sherman is another famous non-fictitious story by Christopher Mc Dougall. The story revolves around a rescued donkey who was then trained by the author to run long-distance races.

When the author adopted the rescue donkey named Sherman, he was in terrible shape, and his hair was falling out. This was when the author decided to train Sherman to run a long distance to rehabilitate him.

When the author heard about buro races where humans and donkeys run together, he decided to enter the world championship race in Colorado.

Several runners were recruited to run together during Sherman’s training to form a human-animal-nature bond. This story tells us that with passion and dedication, everything is possible.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (Vintage International), Book Cover May Vary
Buy On Amazon

The memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is an insight into Haruki Murakami’s training for the New York City Marathon.

He also writes about his personal life, marathon journeys, training experiences, and people he met along the way.

The portrayal of his routine that led to his success as a seasoned runner and how he progressed from a natural pace runner to the fastest pace is very inspiring.

A large part of this book has journal entries of Murakami written when he was training for the New York City Marathon.

He talked about his weekly training mileage and running six days a week for an hour each day.

Overall, this memoir reflects the writer’s insights and recollections in funny, playful, and philosophical tones and his obsession with writing and running.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami is available as an audio book.

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Running the Rift: A Novel
Buy On Amazon

Running The Rift is a true story of a Rwandan runner Jean Patrick Nkuba his quest for running and survival in the Rwandan genocide.

Jean Patrick Nkuba was a natural-born long-distance runner. He dreamed of winning the country’s first Olympic medal and bringing salvation to his fellow countrymen. In his quest, he sprinted across the hills and plains of Rwanda.

During his training, tensions between Tutsi and Hutu started to escalate. Being a Tutsi himself, Jean Patrick Nkuba saw his dream dwindle.

Due to constant curfews and roadblocks, running for him becomes impossible. He had to change his identity to cross the roadblocks at one point.

But when the genocide started, he had to flee to save his life and couldn’t do much to keep his tribesmen safe.

This book is a remarkable representation of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide and how running played a role in saving Jean Patrick Nkuba’s life.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.

Once a Runner: A Novel
Buy On Amazon

Once a runner is a fictional masterpiece of John L Parker Jr, which is one of the most loved running novels ever published.

It is a story that revolves around Quenton Cassidy, a runner at a fictional university who has a dream of running a 4-minute mile.

But his dream is cut short by the turmoil in the 60s, Vietnam War, and his suspension from the college track team.

When Quenton Cassidy is suspended from participating in the athletics meet, he gives up his scholarship and goes into a hermit retreat.

He then trains for the university annual track meet, which he considers a race of his lifetime because seasoned runners were participating in that event.

The former gold medalist Bruce Denton helps him train for this big event where he takes down John Walton with 3 minutes 52 seconds to a mile.

Overall this is an inspiring and funny story of a runner who wanted to achieve his goals after a setback. And every runner can relate to this story because of the challenges they face in achieving their goals.

Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside With Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, And The University Of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team
Buy On Amazon

Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear is a journal-type story that follows the University of Colorado cross country team practice for the 1998 season and participating in the men’s NCAA cross country championships.

This story revolves around the cross country team with a primary focus on Coach Mark Wetmore, Chris Severy, and Adam Goucher, the top runner on the team.

The writer Chris Lear writes about the rigorous training plan of Coach Mark Wetmore, team practices, and private moments of the team.

In the 1998 season, Adam Goucher was hoping for his first-ever NCAA title while the team was aiming for the first-ever national team title.

However, their season was marred by injuries and the loss of a fellow runner, which tested the team mentally and physically.

Despite the tragic loss of a fellow runner Adam Goucher went on to win his first NCAA cross country title.

Shut up and run by Robin Arzon

Shut Up and Run: How to Get Up, Lace Up, and Sweat with Swagger
Buy On Amazon

Shut up and run: How to Get Up, Lace Up, and Sweat with Swagger is a book by Robin Arzon, who is an American ultramarathon runner.

This book is a motivational guide for every beginner and seasoned runner. There are a lot of tips and tricks along with a vivid visual motivation for runners of any experience level to train for different types of running races in the world. 

This book cum journal also has a combination of a fitness manual, a training regimen, and self-help advice with inspirational quotes that has training tips and techniques for mental and physical preparation.

The author has included recommendations for running gear, such as picking the best running shoes. 

Overall this book is a remarkable work for runners of every level. It has information on every aspect and practical advice, tips, and recommendations, and all of this information is easy to grasp.

Run Like a Pro (Even If You're Slow) by Matt Fitzgerald and Ben Rosario

Run Like a Pro (Even If You're Slow): Elite Tools and Tips for Runners at Every Level
Buy On Amazon

In the book Run Like A Pro Even If You Are Slow, the author Matt Fitzgerald and Ben Rosario bring new techniques for beginner runners to train and achieve like pro-level runners to achieve personal best.

Both Fitzgerald and Ben Rosario are elite running coaches who know running inside out and want to close the gap between amateur and professional runners.

One of their philosophies in training for running in this book is the 80-20 principle. The runners have to do 80% of runs at a lower intensity and 20% at a higher intensity in this training program.

It is the best way to train for all levels of runners and the best way to prepare for distance running and endurance sports such as cycling and tri athletics. Along with the 80-20 principle, there is advice on cross-training exercises.

A large chunk of this book is dedicated to running. Still, readers can find portions on rest, recovery time, nutrition, pacing, and stress management.

Overall this book is an excellent read for beginners and pro-level runners. With the running methods provided in this book, anyone can accommodate those in their daily routine and train to become a pro-level runner.

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
Buy On Amazon

Finding Ultra is the story of Rich Roll (Author), a middle-aged man 50 pounds overweight and an alcoholic who decided to change his life and who he was.

He began his plant-based regimen, including a plant-based diet, disease prevention, and exercise physiology.

Within 90 days, he was running, and one day he went on to complete the distance of a marathon and continued his routine for three months.

Two years later, in a shocking move, he participated and finished 11th in the Ultraman running competitions, considered one of the hardest race in the world, with a 320-mile triathlon spanning three days.

After three years, he did it even better and finished 6th. He also took on the EPIC5, a 5 Ironman distance triathlon.

Rick Roll became the most prominent advocate of a plant-based diet, and his book Finding Ultra is a true inspiration for vegans and couch potatoes to go out and become experienced runners at any stage of their lives.

Running Rewired by Jay Dicharry

Running Rewired: Reinvent Your Run for Stability, Strength, and Speed
Buy On Amazon

Running Rewired is the work of Jay Dicharry, who is an endurance sports physical therapist and a running coach.

He digs into scientific research on different workouts any runner can adopt into their workout routine.

The book starts with how runners put a lot of hard work into their workout routine. The author goes by saying, “virtually every runner I’ve ever met would be better served dropping one run a week and adding some skill work instead.” 

In later chapters of the book, the author focuses on strengthening exercises for running, posture fixing, and improving mobility. And there is a step-by-step guide on how to do them.

In this book, readers will find 15 workout routines that they can adopt into their training routine and see their results in 6 weeks. Furthermore, there are 11 sets of joint mobility and posture stability and 83 exercises to build strength.

This is a book for those runners who want to adopt a new training regimen and strengthen their mobility for better running.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of reading running novels?

Reading running novels has many benefits, and the biggest of them all is motivation and inspiration for running. Runners can also learn many tips and techniques for their training routine and get to know what type of gear their idol runners wear for running competitions.

Which running novel is the all-time best?

Born to run is considered the all-time best-selling running novel, and over 3 million copies have been sold.

What is the 80-20 rule in the running?

The 80-20 rule refers to a runner’s weekly training time where 80% is spent by running at a natural pace and 20% at the fastest pace. This rule is adopted by almost all runners, whether beginners or seasoned runners.

Are running novels available as an audiobook?

Most running novels are available as an audiobook online, and some are available free on Audible.


Some people run to stay fit or challenge their endurance, while others leave a story behind that inspires and motivates millions.

Whether you need motivation or improve your running routine, the best running novels we mentioned have everything for newbies and professional runners. So make sure to grab your favorite copy and get inspired.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *