8 Best Books About Marathons & Long Distance Running

Whether you’ve never run a marathon before, or ticked off 50 of them, it’s always inspiring to hear from other runners and the tales that played a part in their journeys to the finish line.

Thankfully, there are some great books about marathons, penned by experts and veterans who have travelled the world and seen it all. We’ve compiled our favorite long-distance non-fiction reads, including some excellent running books from authors like Christopher McDougall and Haruki Murakami.

This list of insightful books can be a steady companion on your sometimes lonely voyage of marathon running. While we love all of them, you can pick and choose based on your interests. Let’s take a look at which books make the cut!

Our Pick of the Best Books About Marathons

Best books about marathons

As you will find, even the most famous running books are only ever partially about running. It’s the journey, adventure and camaraderie of spirit that draws the reader in.

We’d recommend these books to all runners, not just those attempting a marathon!

1. Endure by Alex Hutchinson

This book turns out to be more than just about running. It’s also about overcoming the limits of your physical strength and endurance. You’ll find many great tips and advice on using this key feature to go further.

This same trait also holds you back from going beyond the physical and psychological barriers. In the book, the author takes you through each aspect of running, not just the physical but the mental and emotional elements too.

Most of us have already experienced that running is not just about muscle strength, which is even more true with marathon running. When running long distances (like a marathon), you’re exposed to elements like heat, wind, and rain and other factors like cramps, bonking, and thirst.

The in-depth research in Endure is an eye-opener for the rookie and the expert marathon runner alike. Every marathon runner out there will benefit from the scientific approach found in this book.

Cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs have helped many athletes, especially runners, become even better than they thought they could. This book shows you how to be the best modern runner you can be.

2. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

David Goggins is the only person ever to complete Elite Navy Seal, Army Ranger, and Airforce tactical training. But that was only possible through the motivation he got from pushing himself to become better. He made it look easy, but it was not, and he’ll tell you about that in his book.

Every marathon runner who needs some motivation needs to read or listen to this story of motivation. The incredible hard work this ex-Navy Seal put in to overcome a string of barriers to become a formidable athlete will inspire you.

Marathon runners will be motivated and inspired by David’s story, keeping you going all the way to the finish line. He explains the 40 percent rule and how we can tap into our resources to push past using such a small portion of our capabilities.

You won’t regret laying out the few bucks this book costs, as it’ll bring you a lifetime of motivation on your marathon journey. Can’t Hurt Me is a book that will inspire every runner and athlete out there to become the best they can be.

3. Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels

This book has been available for years, and the valuable information has inspired thousands of marathon runners. Many great athletes have considered Daniels’ book to be the marathon bible through the years and made it their go-to book for advice.

If you’re looking for a book that will thoroughly prepare you for marathon running, this book is for you. It helps you get in proper running shape and guides you in preventing injuries while preparing your mind for the challenge.

Daniels’ background as a two-time Olympian and running coach gives you that edge you need. The formula offers a scientific approach to every aspect of running marathons and all you may encounter.

To run stronger and faster so you can run for longer, every marathon runner needs the expert advice of Jack Daniels. He offers guidance on various problems so you can fine-tune your technique. You’ll get advice on everything about running, from 800-meter sprinting to the many miles of the humble marathon.

Marathon runners can learn a lot from this coach, who helped so many athletes to be better runners. And no, this is not the Jack Daniel’s of whiskey fame, before you get any ideas!

4. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Eat and Run is all about eating right for marathon runners, with valuable information from marathon running champion Scott Jurek. Scott is a plant-based vegan and covers this lifestyle choice in his book. The book is available in paperback and hardcover at a very reasonable price, making it accessible to all runners.

With more than three decades of experience in marathon and ultramarathon running, Scott has become a living legend to all that aspire to become runners. His book is an inspiration for both beginners and those who have some miles behind them on the open road.

His knowledge of what is essential for marathon runners to eat to provide them with the right fuel helps every athlete out there. His record of running and winning the famous Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile trail footrace, seven times in a row still stands.

Everything every athlete needs to know about plant-based nutrition for marathon runners can be found in his book, Eat and Run. In the book, he talks about his long career as an athlete and the vegetarian, then vegan diet he followed. This book is not to be missed, even if you don’t follow a plant-based diet. It has many valuable lessons throughout.

5. Running With the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

If you’re serious about running, Running With The Buffaloes should be the chosen companion of every marathon athlete out there. It’s also been on the market for quite some time and has inspired many great runners – so what’s stopping you?

It’s written in the form of a diary where every day of the Colorado cross-country team’s experience has been penned down. Everything is documented, including the experience of the runners, their running coach, and the support team that was involved in this journey.

You’ll find great insight into the life of a runner and what they have to endure and overcome to become the best. This book inspires aspiring marathon runners and experts who need to be motivated to keep going.

You’ll see what it takes to be a marathon runner, and the valuable advice will serve you well along the way. Every essence of the competitive runner is captured in this book by Chris Lear, who gives you a new respect for runners.

6. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

The incredible journey Born To Run takes you on will give you a new perspective on running long distances and how to achieve it. Christopher McDougall introduces you to some of the best runners the world has never met before, the Tarahumara Indian tribe.

This indigenous tribe of Mexico has improved their ability to run hundreds of miles without getting tired or the need for rest. And they achieve this all without using the modern, advanced running shoes athletes claim impact their performance dramatically.

The writer proves that humans were made to run and can do it for hundreds of miles with no adverse consequences. Discover the secrets and nutrition tips of these natives who run for many hours and miles without tiring. We guarantee they will inspire you.

To become the best and compete against other professional, motivated marathon runners, you need to love to do it. The writer will show you how to develop a love for running many miles and how to avoid burnout.

7. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Writer and runner Haruki Murakami decided to keep a record of his training while preparing for the New York Marathon. This journal of his progress led to a memoir that will inspire every marathon runner to become the best version of themselves.

In this book, you can learn about the positive impact running had on the author’s life and how it improved his reality. Long-distance runners can learn a lot from his experience and unique perspective on this sport.

With more than 20 marathons behind him, he has a lot of advice to offer upcoming athletes who need to be prepared. The philosophical writing style of the author will provide you with humorous insights into the life of a marathon runner.

You’ll also find wise, practical advice on preparing for a marathon, which is helpful to every runner. Whether you’re an expert runner or an upcoming athlete, this book will be an inspiration to get you prepared mentally and physically.

8. Young at Heart by Frederick Lewis

Young At Heart is the story of a legend, John Kelly, the Boston Marathon man. He ran the Boston Marathon over 60 times in his life, hence his superhero name. This book is not the same as the ones we mentioned above that provide you with advice and tips but will rather inspire you.

If you’re a marathon runner and have ever considered giving up, read this book, it will inspire you. The author talks about John Kelly, who ran his 61st marathon at the ripe young age of 84. He didn’t do it fast, but he finished it, and that’s what counts.

You will be inspired by this biography of a dynamic athlete who set out to become the best. He may not have won every marathon he ran, but that wasn’t his goal.

This runner is still an inspiration to many generations of runners within the world of marathons because of his determination and perseverance. This book is about accomplishing everything every runner has dreamed about their entire running career, so it will inspire you.

What’s your favorite book about marathons? Let us know if we’ve missed your top read!

Author Profile

Thalia Oosthuizen

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Thalia started running during the the pandemic as a way of getting out of the house. The running bug bit, and now much of her life revolves around everything to do with running - videos, podcasts, studies, books, articles, and interviews. She's also done several courses on running nutrition and mechanics to aid in her training and advising others.
Thalia Oosthuizen

Revel SPorts Contributor

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