Great running books, biographies etc

We seem to have now and again a thread on this. As I have not been doing so much running recently with the injury, have been instead trying to keep the motivation going by reading a load of running books. Shame RW have not run an article on this in recent times as it would be good to have a few more ideas as to what to order.

So here are my favourites ( and in soem cases least favourites!) on the shelf of all types (running manuals, biographies etc). Would be interested to see what others have enjoyed/recommend.

Ron Hill autobiographies - simply the best 2 books on running I have ever read. Inspirational and intersting as they are so open and frank also about the mistakes he makes and exact training he was following. Really worth a read

Running with the buffaloes - follows the Columbia University running team throughout a season. Really enjoyable. Easily available on amazon and really worht reading.

Advanced Marathoning - quite an enjoyable read although narrow focus

Road Racing for serious runners - same authors as above but wider focus. Similar ideas and approach to the above.

Flanagans Run - a very enjoyable novel covering a race across the whole of America.

Runners Handbook and Competitive Runners Handbook by Bob Glover - good intorduction books and covers a lot of ground.

Lore of running by Tim Noakes - a book to dip into time and time again covering everything and particularly good on training followed by different elite runners. Really worht havng as your stand alone encyclopedia on running!

Dave Moorcroft, autobiography - enjoyable read for a rainy afternoon

Queen of the track - biography of Liz Mcclogan - did not enjoy it -found the style a bit distant and no impression the author really knw Mccolgan. Mccolgan comes across as very mercenary.

Running with Lydiard - some good ideas and training plans particularly for those interested in base trainng/periodisation but rather poorly edited and repetitive

Running tough by Michael sandrock - an enjoyable look at a series of different training runs that different elite distance runners have used to good efect.

Have got Impossible hero (a biography of Gordon Pirie) and the Coe and Ovett biogrpahies lined up for next but hoping I'll be back to churning out the miles before then!!

Anyway hope someone might find these recommendations useful.



  • Agree about the Ron Hill books.

    Remarkable story, remarkable man.
  • Yeah reading Bob Glover's Competitive Runners Handbook excellent for people who have no coach and train alone
  • RW UK really lacks a bit in sophistication, the magazine is unfortunately all about FLM and mainstream running.

    There are a few more interesting running related books I would add:

    Pre America's Greatest Running Legend - I guess this is a classic

    Marla Runyan: No finish line - Shows whatever disability you have there is always a way

    Running with the Legends - Various chapters about elite runners, Bill Rodgers, Uta Pippig, Greta Weitz, Kip Keino, etc.

    Train Hard, Win Easy - Great insight into Kenyan training, includes lots of training schedules
  • Another two:

    "The Looniness Of The Long Distance Runner. By a guy from London who trained and entered the New York Marathon a couple of years ago. Funny as hell.
    He turns up in a city (no names) and:
    1:Thinks there is a festival of litter in progress
    2: Thinks the whole city is running the 1/2M the following day, because they are all wearing labelled sports gear and shell suits.

    "To The Edge" by Kirk Johnson.About the author running the Badwater Ultramarathon following the suicide of his brother. 135 miles in 120deg heat through Death Valley National Park, finishing 8,300mtrs up on Mt Whitney.

    First read Flanagans Run in the 80s, lost my copy and found another in a 2nd hand bookshop. Must have read it 7 or 8 times now. Have picked it up when things are not going well for a bit of inspiration.

    "Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner" also a great film, with Tom Courtney?

    One for the walkers:
    "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson on the Appalachian Trail with his overweight and underfit buddy. fact, anything by Bill Bryson.
  • The Ron Hill book's are great.

    Impossible Hero is supposed to be as well but I've never read it so let me know how you get on.

    I've enjoyed Linford Christie's book, long time sinice I've read that though.

    I've a Frank Horwill book that is interesting although it's out of print now.

    The Liz McColgan book was published without her agreement & she ask at the time in AW that real fans, not to buy the book, so I never.
    Still waiting for her to write her own version though!

    Advanced Marathoning, I like this book, a lot.

    Cliffe Temple books are quite good, if a little dated now, but he was also a great man to here talk about running.

  • Does anyone know where you can get hold of Ron Hills books? I've tried quite a few places with no success.
  • Long distance information by Julie Welch.

    This is a memoir whereby she uses a long distance run to unlock her past. (By the way each chapter starts with an entry from her RW runners log)
  • Not a running book.... not even really a cycling one, but can recommend 'It's Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life' by Lance Armstrong.

  • Hot Hat, I'm with you on the Lance Armstrong book. What an incredibly driven man.
  • Marky Boy

    I got them by putting a search in the abe second hand book shop internet site. It allows you then to place a request and notifys you as soon as the things come in stock and gives you the price for you to decide whether you wish to get or not. I paid 15-20 quid per book but worth every penny. Only thing I have read that has come near was the running with the buffaloes book.

    Also forgot to mention the book 26.2 also by julie Welch which is a selection of experiences of elite and beginners running London. Very enjoyable.

    Share also the view on the Lance Armstrong book. Another cycling book well worth a read is the Paul Kimmage biography.

  • Oops and one other book worth recommending especially as they have been sending out free recently as scientific approach to marathon training by Renato Canova which you can order from the IAAF site.

  • I read one of Ron Hills books when i was demotivated and it really did lift me. I like reading some of the quotes of runners and also running philosophy. Does anyone know where i can get hold of Paul Tergats running book. Cant remember the title im sure one of you guys can though. I tried ebay. No luck. Any other reccomendations? Books and websites, shops etc.

  • Gosh Tim, i remember Cliff Temple, have a couple of his books

    Only read one autobiography One step Beyond by Chris Moon, just shows you when life deals you a rotten deal, how you handle it as Chris did exceptionally well, shows what type of person you really are

    Running your Best is good by Ron Daws

    Would like to get Glenn Cunningham's auto but its probably out of print and a tad expensive, but his life story is inspirational
  • I can only agree about the Lance Armstrong book. The second one wasn't as good but still worth a read.

    The only other book I know which hasn't already been mentioned on here is "Running High" by Hugh Symonds. It's his record of his (successful) record attempt to run all the British Munroes in one round.

    Makes FLM training look like a stroll round the park ;-)
  • Stu92Stu92 ✭✭✭
    Mike Stround, Survival of the Fittest. Touches on the adventures with Ranulf Fiennes and what the limits of the human body can do. Gets a bit technical at times but feels like a biology lesson, but every one I have given this book too has started running!
  • thanks stranded in turkey. I'll give it a try.
  • The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner - is certainly a good read - although you kind of hope that at the end there is a real kind of "call to action". But instead he ends up sounding bitter and cynical - not wishing to give too much away.

    But definitely a good read for anyone starting running with the hope of doing a marathon some months down the line. i could relate a lot to many of his experiences.
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    What about ...Matthew Parris's "Chance Witness - an Outsiders Life in Politics"....OK, It's not really about running, but he does run a sub-3 London Marathon during the course of the book and runs round Clapham Common a bit.

    Actually, it's a fab read, if you're interested in recent British politics and what really went on behind the scenes during the last Conservative administration. Very gossipy and just to keep the runners interested there are some running pics and he does talk about his training schedules ...

  • More running-inspiration-ware ...

    Sub 4:00 - Alan Webb and the quest for the fastest mile. A bit disappointing, contains hardly any other personal information about Webb.

    ChiRunning - Some good ideas, like what I have read so far. Already applying some of the techniques.

    The Perfect Mile - 3 Athletes, 1 Goal, in <4 mins.

    Staying the course - Dick Beardsley's story, famous Boston '82 (duel in the sun) runner up.

  • From Last to First by Charlie Spedding is excellent. As is The art of running faster by Julian Goater.
  • David J 27David J 27 ✭✭✭

    Feet in the clouds - Richard askwith - my favourite for motivation. 

    Looking foward to reading on of the (or both) of the new    zatopek biographies.

    The Cool Impossible is good if not a bit over enthusiastic . 

    cycling books that are just fantastic sports books - Matt seaton - escape artist, Paul kimmage - rough ride, and Tim krabbe - the ride. All exceptional and worth multiple reads.

  • Mr WorryMr Worry ✭✭✭

    Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, about him becomming an ultra-marathoner, its pretty crazy what ultras go through (marathon is my longest).

    The dirtiest race in history by Richard Moore, about Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the dirty 1980s (has anything changed really?)

    For a more technical book for running inspiration I like: The art of running faster by Julian Goater.

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