5 Running Books I Want to Read

TGIF, right? Aside from running, one of my favorite weekend leisure activities is reading. Unfortunately, my to-read list is longer than my available time! I’m torn between five running books and just don’t know which one is most worth investing my precious free minutes each day.

So for this Friday 5, I’m going to “Ask the Audience”  and get y’all to help me decide what’s next in the queue. Which of these five books should I read next? And if you’re favorite running read isn’t here, definitely feel free to suggest it!

Running with the Buffaloes book cover
Worth the time investment? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Running With The Buffaloes by Chris Lear recounts 1998 season of the University of Colorado cross-country team.  This book appeals to my continuing nostalgia for college running, and I do enjoy a good narrative. Chris Lear also wrote Sub 4:00 about Alan Webb’s high school mile, which I really enjoyed.

2. Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald not only discusses weight loss but also strategies for improving energy and nutrient intake. No, I have no interest in losing weight, but I could certainly do with some improvement in diet, especially since my miles are limited at this time.

3. Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path To Your Fastest Marathon by Luke Humphrey reveals the strategies behind the success of the Hansons-Brooks team at the marathon distance. Many of the Hansons runners were not high school or college superstars and tend to overachieve at the marathon distance, so I’d love for some of that to rub off on me.

4. The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximize Your Performance by Steve Magness takes a technical look at physiological factors that affect our performance. I’m a little afraid this might be over my (sleep-deprived) head but still want to give it a shot!

5. Again to Carthage by John L. Parker is the follow-up (after 30+ years!) to the classic Once a Runner. Without giving any spoilers, this novel follows the hero’s return to competitive running after entering the professional workforce.

So what do you think? Has anyone read these (or other) running books? Want to start a book club?

I'm a 20-year veteran of competitive running, USATF certified coach, mom of a toddler -- and still trying to set PRs. I write about training from 5k to marathon, motherhood and competitive running, and the elite side of the sport. The 5k is my favorite race (16:56 PR) but I've got a score to settle with the marathon.

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  1. I’ve read Racing Weight and Hansons Marathon Method, and really enjoyed both of them. I have several friends who have followed a Hansons plan, and were thrilled with their results. Not everyone achieved a PR, but they all made it through the training without injury, and felt better than usual during the marathon. The Science of Running is on my want-to-read list also.

  2. I love reading too, especially good running books 🙂 I really enjoyed Running with the Buffaloes. It’s a really great story and reads easy and fast! I’m definitely interested in the Hanson’s book and the Science of Running book. If you read Racing Weight let me know what you think. I’m in the eat as healthy as possible, run and let the rest take care of itself camp of weight, so not sure I’d dig that one. Also, I am the last runner on earth who hasn’t read Once a Runner, I think!

    Some good ones I’ve read recently to add to your list: Anatomy for Runners, A life with No Limits (or something like that) by Chrissie Wellington (started kind of slow, but then really sucked me in) and right now I’m engrossed by The Sports Gene.

    Let us know what you pick!

    1. I feel the same about food but I could always use a proverbial kick in the pants to make better choices consistently. (Recently loving Reese’s pb cups a liiiiiiitle too much.)

      I have Anatomy for Runners on my nightstand. It’s a little dense for bedtime reading but I’m slowly getting through it. Totally forgot aboutThe Sports Gene – just requested it from the library!

  3. I’ve read Racing Weight. It seems a reasonable strategy (and I may revisit it if my recomp stalls), but I’m not a fan of his food choices.

    I’ve read Hansons as I’m interested in learning about various training strategies. Can’t remember what I thought of it.

    I’m trying to read Science of Running. Typos, grammatical errors, and writing style are making it a difficult go.

    So … my vote would be for Buffaloes or Carthage. I enjoyed Once a Runner and like “bios.” I’m thinking there’s probably something inspirational there, or at the very least, they’d make good summer beach reading. (I’m going to add them to my list.)

  4. Here’s another to add to your list: “Why We Run” by Bernd Heinrich. It’s fascinating – he’s a biologist and ultra marathoner, and presents some amazing information about the evolution of human running and parallels with other endurance-oriented species in the animal kingdom.

    I loved “Once a Runner” so I’ll have to check out “Again to Carthage”!

  5. I’ve actually read “Why We Run” – forgot about that one. Good read! I enjoyed how he included the sciencey stuff.

  6. No bookshelf is complete without a copy of Daniel’s Running Formula. This is the man that did nearly all the real research in our sport. There are lots and lots of information packed into it and many tidbits to pay attention to: like when he talks about intervals being less than 5 minutes, “this is why I most often assign my men 1200 and 1600m intervals and women 1000 and 1200m intervals”

    I’ve heard The Perfect Mile is worth reading.

    Hanson’s doesn’t say anything you haven’t read before. Yet it is worth owning as a primary training plan reference. One of Luke’s training plans is in the back as an example of how the Hanson team pros train.

    One day we should make a list of the running movies on Netflix.

    1. Jack Daniels is my go-to! I used the first edition to knock 2 1/2 minutes off my 10k and 14 minutes off my marathon back in 2007.