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The 6 Best Running Books For Marathon Preparation 2022

Congratulations on your decision to run a marathon! That was the easy part though. Now the real questions come: What is the next step? How to properly prepare for such a toilsome task?

If you are really serious about your goal, you will quickly need to gain some topic-related knowledge and become a better and more efficient runner. In the following weeks and months, you will need to acquire a whole spectrum of different kinds of information about training, nutrition, hydration, or mental preparation. Running without a real plan is simply not enough.

To help you to speed up this exciting learning process, we created a list of the 6 best running books that will prepare you for a marathon in every aspect necessary. If you are serious about running, these 6 running books are a must-read.

1. Daniels Running Formula

Daniels running formula

Daniels Running Formula, first published in 1998 and still considered by many athletes as The Training Bible For Runners is no. 1 on my list. There is not a single more important running book that would teach you more about the training and science behind running than this one.

It will teach you everything you need to know for a successful marathon training and racing cycle. From detailed training plans, types of training workouts, or injury prevention strategies to the importance of proper fueling, hydration, equipment, or even advice on weather conditions – it’s got an answer or suggestion on just every topic related to this sport!

One thing that makes Daniels’ Running Formula stand out is its scientific approach toward every aspect of running. It is not so surprising, knowing Jack Daniels’ background as a 2-time Olympian and then a long-term Olympic athlete coach.

We strongly advise you to get the recent edition of this book in paperback version and go through it as it is really one of the best-running books ever written. An investment really worth making.

If you don’t feel like buying it, we give you an amazing opportunity to get a 20-page book summary that includes all the key information and insights. Simply answer 5 marathon-related questions in our messenger sports quiz and get it for free!

Takeaways for runners

  • running principles
  • types of training runs
  • how to measure your fitness improvement
  • how to prevent an injury and stay healthy
  • preparation for the race

2. Can’t hurt me

Can't hurt me: Master your mind and defy the odds

No. 2 on our list is a book written by ex-Navy SEAL David Goggins. Currently, it is arguably the best motivation book out there. David’s spectacular life story full of child abuse, learning problems, eventual transformation, and incredibly hard work will change the way you look at yourself and the world.

If you are serious about long-distance running, you need to understand that the mental part of running is the biggest part of success. Your body will only go where your mind allows it to go.

This book does a great job of elevating mental toughness and self-discipline – qualities that are so important in sports but yet so rare to see nowadays.

David’s inspiring story will make you face your own life and your own inadequacies. On the way, David gives you plenty of powerful self-developed mind tools to build your mental toughness and self-discipline. This book is definitely a life changer and is currently one of the best-sellers on Amazon. It will give you plenty of mind fuel that you will definitely need during your upcoming marathon preparation and the race itself.

You may also get it as an audiobook with David’s personal commentary after each chapter. Additionally, check Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast with Goggins, this guy has some really good stories and tips to make you a better runner.

Takeaways for runners

  • importance of self-discipline
  • how to develop mental toughness
  • mental tools and tips to get through long races

3. Eat and Run

Eat and Run: My unlikely journey to ultramarathon greatness

Eat and Run, a book written by ultra-runner Scott Jurek and co-authored by Steve Friedman is an absolute inspiration. Steve Jurek is a true hero for all those who are “hungry” and have dreams.

This book will blow away your stereotypes about what a runner should eat to reach optimal performance and what a healthy diet should look like.

It is full of tasty plant-based vegan recipes (such as vegan strawberry pancakes or long-run pizza bread) that will expand your knowledge about what real long-distance runners like Jurek eat. This knowledge will become essential in your next running steps and it will absolutely help you to get the best out of yourself.

Scott Jurek is one of the best ultra runners out there. Not a long time ago, he held the American 24-hour running record – running 165.7 miles! He still holds the record of winning the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile jaunt over the trails of Sierra Nevada, 7 times in a row (between the years 1999 and 2005)!

Also, he was one of the runners profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run, book no. 4 on our list.

Takeaways for runners

  • what it means to be an ultra runner
  • key insights into nutrition, hydration, or breathing
  • plenty of useful recipes for runners

4. Born To Run

Born to run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen

This notoriously famous book, authored by Christopher McDougall is generally considered as one of the best-running books of all time. Published in 2009, the book sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

As the subtitle of the book “A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” suggests, the book presents a story of an incredible journey to the land of the Tarahumara (Rarámuri), an indigenous tribe in Mexico. These native people from Copper Canyons in the Mexican state of Chihuahua have a reputation for being some of the best runners in the world.

Christopher McDougall, a journalist, and an amateur runner as well, experiences multiple running injuries that threaten him to stop running. He gets strongly fascinated by the stories of these people who are known to casually run over 100-mile races without proper running shoes, wearing flat sandals instead.

This amazing book describes an adventure to the land of these super-running athletes. You get to discover the secrets that make them such good runners including plenty of nutrition tips. It is here where I heard the first time about Tarahumara pinole, my favorite fuel when running over 15 miles.

But the book has so much more to offer. The story will caress your running soul and will help you to discover the real love of running.

Takeaways for runners

  • why evolution made humans such great runners
  • how to develop pure love for running
  • how to embrace pain and feel happy at the same time
  • plenty of nutrition and hydration nuggets for long runs

5. Running With The Buffaloes

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

One of the best running books for those who are seriously into running, nr. 5 on our list. Originally published in 1998, the book centers on the story of one of the best cross-country running teams in the country, the Buffaloes.

Chris Lear, an author, and sports writer effectively captures the essence of how a competitive runner’s world may look like. The writer had a chance to experience the whole season with the University of Colorado cross-country running team, from pre-season workouts to NCAA finals. Enjoying unlimited access, he attended practices, daily meetings, read the runner’s personal journals, and interviewed runners and coaches on regular basis.

The book is written as a diary, documenting every day in the life of the runners, running coach, and entire running squad.

The writer does a perfect job describing how running coach Marc Wetmore is able to pass on the motivation to his athletes. He is actually much more than a running coach to them. He is a real source of inspiration. His personal approach and advice go beyond what is expected from him and push each runner to the limits.

After reading this, I definitely developed a deepened respect for every competitive runner. These men and women often persevere painfully through injuries and isolation. They compete and engage in daily training of such proportions that other people would find it insane. They push their body and sacrifice their comfort and life pleasures, all for a sport that in the end, gets so little publicity.

It is one of those inspiring stories elevating team culture where everybody doing their job and working hard towards a common goal.

Takeaways for runners

  • an inspiring insight into the world of competitive running
  • what it takes to become one of the best runners out there
  • plenty of tips and principles that will help runners to improve their training

6. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I talk about, when I talk about running

No. 6 on our list of best running books for marathon preparation is this Haruki Murakami’s famous memoir title. Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer, but also a triathlonist and an ultra runner who, since he started running in 1980, finished more than 20 marathons.

The book is written in a memoir style, looking back to the younger years of the author and the impact that running had not only on his life but mostly on his writing. (he claims he could hardly be a writer unless he would run). It specifically covers the four-month period in 2005 when he was training for New York City marathon.

His stories take us to the places like Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he met and trained with an Olympian runner, or Boston’s Charles river where he was outperformed by a group of young women. His funny, playful, and often almost philosophical writing style is very amusing to read. While he guides us through the book, he explains how running had a crucial impact on his life leading to plenty of triumphs but also disappointments that eventually led to important life lessons.

Murakami, being a masterful yet personal author, with his marvelous lens of endurance running, has a lot to offer to the growing community of long-distance athletes.

Takeaways for runners

  • running may have a tremendous impact on your life
  • physical work often leads to the rise of creativity
  • importance of repetition and keeping the flywheel going
  • plenty of funny running stories

Other worth reading running books

  • Matt Fitzgerald – 80/20 running
  • Deena Kastor – Let your mind run
  • Dean Karnazes – A Runner’s high: My life in motion
  • Alex Hutchinson – Endure
  • Meb Keflezighi – 26 Marathons
  • Adharanand Finn – Running with the Kenyans

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