Training the mind is as important as training the body...

...this is something I frequently tell my runners - and it is especially true for anyone that is training for an endurance running event.

Over the years, I've created a habit of selecting an inspirational running book to read, when I'm training for a marathon.  A carefully selected book can give me inspiration and motivation to continue my training - especially when the going gets tough, or other priorities start to compete for my time. 

I particularly like to read books that give an insight or detail first-hand experiences of pushing the boundaries of human endurance. A nice juicy well written book on the topic can make me forget about my own struggles and put my single marathon race into perspective.

Reading these books also helps with my recovery - as I like nothing better than putting my feet up with a good book and a recovery shake after a hard 20 miler. It's a perfect combination of rest, recovery and a motivational boost.

So - here is a list of some of the books I've read - in order of impact on me:

My Top Rated Running Books

#Top Rated


The story of Ben Smith - a man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days and changed his life forever.

I found this to be quite an emotional read for a number of reason's. It triggered some memories of my childhood and also because I've met Ben on several occasions and found him to be one of the most genuine and nicest human beings I've ever met.

#Top Rated

Just a Little Run Around the World

Rosie Swale-Pope's account of her solo - unsupported run around the world. Towing everything she needed with her in a small trailer.

This is a fantastic read, with some real twists and some real life threatening encounters. Her adventurous run also starts and finishes in Wales - which is where I was born.

# Very Highly Rated

Today We Die A Little

The story of the rise and fall of Olympic legend Emil Zatopek. Written by Richrd Askwith

If you don't know who Emil Zatopek was - then you need to read this book.

# Very Highly Rated

Survival Of The Fittest

Dr Mike Stroud's memoirs and reflections on his experiences of running 7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days.

Contains some great information about the humans capacity for endurance and great insights into completing some major adventures with Sir Ralph Feinnes.

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# Highly Rated

Fartleks & Flatulance

David Berridge's account of his multistage ultra endurance runs around the world from extreme conditions in the marathon des sables and self-supported runs in the arctic.

# Highly Rated

Feet In The Clouds

Another book by Richard Askwith. This time it's an autobiographical account of his own attempts to complete the Bob Graham round.

# Highly Rated

Born To Run

Christopher McDougall's account of his encounters with the Tarahumara a tribe of untra runners in the desert canyons of Mexico.

A great book and it's the first place I read about chia seeds - which I now use for fuelling my marathons. 

But I don't agree with the evangelical message for barefoot running. That's another story...


What I talk About When I Talk About Running

Haruki Murakami's memoirs and reflections on his experiences of running.

I've got to be honest I found this one pretty heavy-going. But it does have some inspirational quotes in it and some unique insights into endurance running.


The Road To Endorphia

Joe Dannachie's account of his experiences of running from John O'Groats to Lands End.

If you like cheesecake - as I do, then you'll appreciate Joe's obsession with using them to fuel his running too.

#Not Yet Rated


A book about the limits of human endurance by Alex Hutchinson.

I've not read this yet - but it was on my Amazon Wish-list & I got a copy for Christmas. So this is on my "To-read" list for 2020. I will update this post once I've read it. I'm hoping it lives up to the hype.

Do you want an easy to follow and complete marathon training system?

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If the answer to any of the above is YES, then you would benefit from the Marathon Success System. A fresh and unique online group coaching programme.

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About the author 

Coach D

Hi, I'm Dave. I'm a UK Athletics qualified and licensed Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF), Endurance Event Group Coach and Certified Running Technique Coach. I coach groups and individuals of all abilities both online and in person.

I particularly enjoy coaching beginner and improver runners in the 40+ age range.

I'm also a regular recreational runner and I've been competing in races from 5k to marathon distance for over 30 years.

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The Able Runner

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