5 Best Ultra Running Books: Our Top Picks

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Ultrarunning is one of the fastest growing running interests in the world. And every year we’re seeing more great books on the subject.

Are you looking to get motivated or inspired? Want to take on an ultra marathon?

Ultrarunning is any foot race that is longer than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon distance. These races can be anywhere from 50 miles to 100 miles or more, and they typically involve trail running and off-road surfaces.

Ultrarunning is popular amongst runners looking for a new challenge, as well as those who enjoy being in nature and away from city streets and traffic.

There are many benefits to ultra running, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength and endurance, weight loss, and reduced stress levels. It takes endurance, a good training plan, excellent cardio health, and determination to become an ultra runner.

Want to learn more about this extreme form of running?

Here’s our pick of the best ultra running books to get you inspired!

Best ultra running books

The Best Ultra Running Books: Our Top Picks

1. “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner” by Dean Karnazes.

Ultramarathon Man

This New York Times Bestseller book gives an intimate look into the life of Dean Karnazes (author), who is described as “one of running’s most colorful figures”. In “Ultramarathon Man”, Dean reveals how he pushed himself to physical and emotional breaking points and how ultrarunning was the key to unlocking his own potential in life.

2. “Once a Runner: A Novel” by John L. Parker Jr.

Once a Runner

This novel is about a collegiate runner, Quentin Cassidy, who aspires to be the best in the world and must make some tough choices along the way.

This running book not only discusses political and race issues but also illustrates the sacrifices and realities faced by a young, promising athlete. John L. Parker, Jr. was praised for this book by Runner’s World, along with Sports Illustrated (who dubbed it to be ‘one of the best sportsbooks ever written). This book is also a New York Times Best Seller.

3. “Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth” by Adharanand Finn.

This running book was written by journalist Adharanand Finn, who traveled to Kenya to find out how the country’s runners have become so successful. He immerses himself in their training routines, and his book records firsthand what it takes to become a great Kenyan runner.

4. “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall.

Born to Run

In this highly-regarded book, Christopher McDougall, a journalist, takes readers into his world while he strives to unveil answers to many questions, including, does running make us happy?

McDougall provides narratives and proof to back up the answer he feels is correct (‘yes!’) and inspires readers, whether they are athletes or not, to look at the world of running from a unique lens. This book talks about different aspects of running, discusses ultra running and marathons, and accounts for the perspectives of several athletes from all over the world.

5. “Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek

Eat & Run

This wonderful book highlights Scott Jurek’s journey to becoming a well-known ultramarathon runner. It’s full of compelling accounts of strength and endurance and features information about Jurek’s inspiring plant-based diet, too.

How Does Ultra Running Differ from Traditional Running and Marathons?

For one, ultrarunning is more of an endurance activity than a sprint.

The average pace for an ultra runner is 9 to 11 minutes per mile, which is significantly slower than the average 5 to 7 minute per mile pace for a marathoner.

In addition, ultra runners must be prepared to run for long periods, often 10 hours or more, which requires physical training and conditioning as well as mental preparation and focus. Finally, ultrarunning typically takes place on trails or other off-road surfaces, which can be more challenging than running on pavement.

In short, ultrarunning is vastly different from your average 2-mile marathon!

Who is Ultra Running Popular Amongst?

Ultrarunning is popular amongst runners looking for a new challenge, as well as those who enjoy being in nature and away from city streets and traffic.

In general, ultra runners must be in fantastic physical shape. This includes an excellent workout routine–usually a combination of cardio, endurance, and a bit of strength training–combined with experience in prolonged physical activity.

Some ultrarunners are barely adults, and some ultrarunners are seniors! While age doesn’t matter, you must be in peak physical shape before you attempt an ultra marathon to prevent injury or unnecessary stress on your body.

Many ultrarunners have faced declining health or health scares in their lives. Some even live with chronic conditions but have put in the hard work, research, and dedication into working with their body to become successful ultrarunners.

And, reading books written by experts who have been in your shoes is a great way to become informed and inspired while you train (or, while you enjoy the ultrarunners’ lifestyle).

What Are Some Benefits of Ultrarunning?

The benefits of ultra running include improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength and endurance, weight loss, and reduced stress levels.

Overall, as an ultrarunner who is healthy and enjoys the activity, you’ll be in excellent physical shape and have the potential to experience tremendous health and athletic benefits. To prepare for your first ultra marathon, you should consult with a coach or experienced ultrarunner, as there are cautions to take.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of running-related activities, visit our website!

What Are Some Benefits of Ultrarunning


What Are Some Precautions to Take When Ultrarunning?

Because ultrarunning is an endurance event, it’s important to train gradually and consistently to avoid injury. You should also be aware of the potential for dehydration and heat-related illnesses and take steps to prevent these by staying hydrated and running in cooler temperatures whenever possible.

Finally, listen to your body and know when to rest or stop altogether if you feel ill or injured.

Ultrarunning can be extremely rewarding, both physically and mentally, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy while enjoying this amazing sport.

How Can I Train for Ultra Running?

To train for ultra running, you will need to assess your current ability and decide how much time you need (and at what pace) to increase your endurance and strength safely and effectively. You will also need to consider (and possibly reconsider) what you eat to ensure you’re getting enough calories, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients that are key in an elite athlete’s diet.

In addition, you should do strength-training exercises to build up your leg muscles, and make sure you stay in shape; your whole body has to be healthy to be successful at ultrarunning. You will also need to get plenty of rest and recovery time to avoid injuries.

To prepare for an ultra marathon that is, for example, several months away, you should start by slowly increasing your mileage over several months.

Run long distances regularly, and do strength-training exercises to build up your leg muscles. Cross-train with activities like cycling and swimming to stay in shape, even on off-days, and get plenty of rest and recovery time to avoid injuries.

If you are new to ultra running, consider finding a coach or joining a training group to help you learn the proper techniques and stay motivated. There are also many helpful resources available online and in books.

And, as many of the books will advise, nutrition and supplementation may be something worth looking into. You need to ensure you have the strength–and that your body is fueled with healthy foods– to keep yourself moving comfortably!

What Are Some Essential Items for Ultra Running?

Some essential items for ultra running include a GPS watch or tracking device, comfortable running shoes, plenty of water, energy gels or bars, electrolyte drinks, a first-aid kit, and a headlamp or waist light.

And, of course, a few good books to help you learn all about the sport!

Final Thoughts on Ultrarunning

Ultrarunning is a unique and challenging sport that can offer many benefits to those who participate.

If you are looking for a new running adventure, why not consider training for an ultra marathon?

There are many great books available that can help you prepare for your new lifestyle as an ultra marathon runner.

The best running books we listed here are great if you’re looking for inspiration; however, some are more fictional tales than memoirs, which is why we think they are all worth a read, as each book has something unique to offer each reader.

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