7 books to inspire you to run

Running has been a muse for many a writer. From autobiographies to fiction, here are seven of the best books for your bookshelf.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Equal parts travelogue, training diary and memoir, Haruki Murakami’s life story gets to the heart of why we run, talking about his life as a long-distance runner and how running fuels and shapes his thoughts as a writer. Reflecting over his career as an author and covering his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York Marathon, it's a brilliant personal meditation on how running and writing can both nurture and feed each other.

Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Starting with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? Christopher McDougall sets off in search of an answer. He learns the secrets of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of the world’s best distance runners, and alongside some excursions to the labs of Nike and Harvard, he discovers the science and spirit behind brilliant runners. Challenged to train for a 50 mile race in Tarahumara country as part of his mission, he discovers that all of us are ‘born are run’

Once a Runner
Now a cult classic and part of a trilogy, John L Parker Jr originally sold his book out of the boot of his car at road races. Exploring what it means to compete at an elite level, the novel follows the journey and life sacrifices of college student Quenton Cassidy, who is on the brink of greatness in the mile. After gaining cult status amongst runners, Parker penned a sequel 30 years later, Again to Carthage, in which his protagonist tackles the marathon distance. Summer 2015 sees the final part of the trilogy published with the prequel - Racing the Rain, a look back at Cassidy’s youth. The inspiration for many a runner over the years, Parker’s books continue to motivate.

Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
'Anyone can be an ultrarunner,’ says Scott Jurek, and in Eat & Run the endurance running legend talks about his career as an athlete and life as a vegan. In between talking about his adventures in the hills, Jurek (seven times winner of the legendary Western States Endurance Run and more) offers practical advice and weaves in his favourite plant-powered recipes. Inspiration for any runner, particularly those following an alternative diet.

Dead Man Running: From Alcohol to Atacama
From a life battling drink and drug abuse to finding serenity and truthfulness in distance running, Isherwood’s novel is a thought-provoking read and example of how running can act as a healer for the heart, body and soul. The tale charts his journey from tentative first steps to taking part in one of the world's most extreme desert marathons in the Atacama Desert.

14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life
‘14 minutes’ refers to the terrifying moment in time when distance running champion Alberto Salazar's heart stopped during a training session. The three-time New York Marathon winner was clinically dead for 14 minutes and unsurprisingly his brink-of-death experience was a wake up call to reflect on his life. Salazar shares his lessons from a life of running and what that crucial 14 minutes taught him about second chances.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
Ultramarathon Man is an insight into the mind of a runner who pushes his body to the extremes in the quest of the legendary runner’s high. Through the energy-sapping heat of Death Valley to the plummeting, penetrating temperatures of the South Pole, American ultra runner Dean Karnazes story – while a bit sugar-coated in American schmultz – is an insight into the extremes of human endeavour. Read it, and suddenly skipping a session just won’t be an option.

Katie Hiscock