Our favourite running books – as chosen by the Lonely Goat Running Club community

Last year, we asked the members of the fantastic Lonely Goat community to let us know their favourite books about running. We had such a great response – with so many books! – and shared them as part of the World Book Day 2020 celebrations last March.

As today is World Book Day 2021, we decided to re-share the list of ‘the Herd’s’ favourite running books, updated with a few books that have come out in the past twelve months that you might not have read yet.


New releases

These are just five of the best running books from 2020 and 2021 so far.

Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain and Other Big Ideas, by Alexi Pappas

Olympian and film-maker, Alexi Pappas’ memoir-in-essays.

Running in the Midpack: How to be a Strong, Successful and Happy Runner, by Anji Andrews and Martin Yelling.

A book about running for the 99% of us who aren’t at the front of the race! Martin Yelling joined us ‘In the Pen‘ a few months ago.

Why Running Matters: Lessons in Life, Pain and Exhilaration – From 5K to the Marathon, by Ian Mortimer

Historian, Ian Mortimer, chronicles a year in which he learnt 42 life lessons through the act of running.

Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia, by Michael Crawley.

Anthropologist, and 2:20′ marathoner, Michael Crawley, explores just what it is that makes Ethiopian running culture so special.

Today we die a little: Zátopek – Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero, by Richard Askwith.

The author of Feet in the Clouds (see below) returns with a profile of one of the toughest runners who ever lived.


The 2020 Top 10

Without further ado, here are the your favourite books.

1. Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, The Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall.


This might just be the most influential book about running, ever. It spawned the trend towards minimalist footwear and inspired countless runners to run ultramarathons.

2. The Pants of Perspective: One Woman’s 3,000 Kilometre Running Adventure Through the Wilds of New Zealand, by Anna McNuff.

Before ‘Barefoot Anna’ embarked on her recent, inspiring British adventure, she ran through New Zealand and wrote this account of her journey. You can also read our ‘In the Pen’ interview with Anna McNuff here.

3. Don’t Stop Me Now: 26.2 Tales of a Runner’s Obsession, by Vassos Alexander.

Known as the co-host of Chris Evans’ radio breakfast show, Alexander’s book is a celebration of running.

4. Running Like a Girl, by Alexandra Heminsley.

An hilarious account of transforming your life through running.

5. Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession, by Richard Askwith.

The definitive book on fell-running, and one that will leave you yearning to get out in the hills.

6. 401: The Man who Ran 401 Marathons in 401 Days and Changed his Life Forever, by Ben Smith.

Smith’s book shows that anything is possible if you search for what makes you truly happy.

7. The Rise of the Ultra-Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance, by Adharanand Finn.

A journey to the heart of the ultramarathon world and an insight into what can be found at the boundaries of human endeavour.

You can read an exclusive interview with Adharanand Finn in the first of our ‘In the Pen’ articles.

8. The End of the World Running Club, by Adrian J. Walker.

The first fiction book on this list is a post-apocalyptic thriller.

9. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, Scott Jurek.

A running memoir that also include recipes? Perfect.

10. Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth, by Adharanand Finn.

Finn’s second entry rounds out our top 10 and offers an insight into just what it is that makes Kenyan runners so quick.


Also recommended

The following books are all recommended by Lonely Goat Running Club members and are presented in alphabetical order by author’s first name.

  • The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running, by Adharanand Finn.
  • Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, by Alex Hutchinson.
  • Mud, Sweat and Tears, by Bear Grylls.
  • Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, by Bella Mackie.
  • The Ghost Runner: The Epic Story of the Man They Couldn’t Stop, by Bill Jones.
  • Eat, Drink, Run: How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad, by Bryony Gordon.
  • Running Man, by Charlie Engle.
  • From Last to First: A Long-Distance Runner’s Journey from Failure to Success, by Charlie Spedding.
  • One Step Beyond, by Chris Moon.
  • A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey, by Chrissie Wellington.
  • Running With Sherman: The Donkey Who Survived Against All Odds and Raced Like A Champion, by Christopher McDougall.
  • Natural Born Heroes: The Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance, by Christopher McDougall.
  • Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, by David Goggins.
  • Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, by Dean Karnazes.
  • Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory, by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton.
  • Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon, by Ed Caesar.
  • Potential, by Graham Sheppard.
  • No Run Intended, by Hannah E Phillips.
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami.
  • This Girl Can: Tales of a Party-Girl Turned Triathlete, by Helen Croydon.
  • Papillon, by Henri Charrière.
  • Why Running Matters: Lessons in Life, Pain and Exhilaration from 5K to the Marathons, by Ian Mortimer.
  • Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon, by Ira Rainey.
  • Still Not Bionic: Adventures in Unremarkable Running, by Ira Rainey.
  • Run For Your Life: How One Woman Ran Circles Around Breast Cancer, by Jenny Baker.
  • This Mum Runs, by Jo Pavey.
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J. R. R. Tolkein.
  • Run Or Die, by Kilian Jornet.
  • Your Pace or Mine? What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last, by Lisa Jackson.
  • Runner: A Short Story About A Long Run, by Lizzy Hawker.
  • Mindful Running: How Meditative Running Can Improve Performance and Make You a Happier, More Fulfilled Person, by Mackenzie L. Harvey.
  • Run Like Duck, by Mark Atkinson.
  • Running with the Pack: Thoughts from the Road on Meaning and Mortality, by Mark Rowlands.
  • The Runner: Four Years Living and Running in the Wilderness, by Markus Torgeby.
  • Running the Smoke: 26 First-Hand Accounts of Tackling the London Marathon, by Michael McEwan.
  • Beyond Impossible: From Reluctant Runner to Guinness World Record Breaker, by Mimi Anderson.
  • 25 Hours a Day: Going One More to Get What You Want, by Nick Bare.
  • 26.2 Miles to Happiness: A Comedian’s Tale of Running, Red Wine and Redemption, by Paul Tonkinson.
  • Advanced Marathoning, by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas.
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike, by Phil Knight.
  • Running For My Life: How I Built a Better Me, One Step at a Time, by Rachel Ann Cullen.
  • Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle-Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, by Rich Roll.
  • Tea with Mr Newton: 100,000 Miles – the Longest ‘Protest March’ in History, by Rob Hadgraft.
  • Just A Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes, by Rosie Swale-Pope.
  • Run Fat Bitch Run, by Ruth Field.
  • North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail, by Scott Jurek.
  • Running Britain: The Final Length of the World’s First Length of Britain Triathlon, by Sean Conway.
  • The Running Man, by Stephen King.
  • Too Old to Ultra: When a Marathon is Just Not Enough, by Stephen Morley.
  • There is No Map in Hell: The Record-Breaking Run Across the Lake District Fells, by Steve Birkinshaw.
  • The Science of Running: How to find your limit and train to maximize your performance, by Steve Magness.
  • Lore of Running, by Tim Noakes.
  • Pre: The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine, by Tom Jordan.
  • Flanagan’s Run, by Tom McNab.
  • Running Up That Hill: The Highs and Low of Going that Bit Further, by Vassos Alexander.
  • Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, by Vybarr Cregan-Reid.


Thank you, Goats

Thank you to all the Lonely Goats who shared their favourite running books with us. It’s an eclectic mix with something for everyone – reflecting the wonderfully varied interests of our members.

We hope you enjoy working your way through the list!

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