Top 5 Books That’ll Get You Psyched About Running

5bRun­ning isn’t always fun. For one, it can real­ly hurt—especially when you’re train­ing for longer races, try­ing to improve your speed and your calves start to burn and lungs tight­en up around mile 10 and you know you still have about 5 more miles left in the day’s run. So some­times a lit­tle extra inspi­ra­tion to get out there and do it any­way is helpful.

Here are the top five books, in no par­tic­u­lar order, that’ll get you psy­ched about running:

Born to Run: A Hid­den Tribe, Superath­letes, and the Great­est Race the World Has Nev­er Seen
By Christo­pher McDougall
Born to Run start­ed when McDougall asked him­self a sim­ple ques­tion (Why does my foot hurt?) and led him to the real­iza­tion that every­thing we think we know about run­ning is wrong. The search for the answer brought him to Mexico’s dead­ly Cop­per Canyons, the home of Tarahu­mara Indi­ans. The Tarahu­mara are a tribe that can run hun­dreds of miles with­out rest­ing and chase down the most ath­let­ic of Olympic run­ners and enjoy them­selves in the process—something most endurance run­ners can’t iden­ti­fy with. Dur­ing his time with the tribe, McDougall dis­cov­ers the secrets of how the tribe stays so immune to injury and sick­ness and also learns to embrace his inner-ath­lete to run a 50-mile race through the heart of the Tarahu­mara coun­try. If Born to Run doesn’t encour­age you to at least go for a jog, noth­ing will.

Once a Run­ner: A Nov­el
By John L. Park­er, Jr.
The only fic­tion on this list, Once a Run­ner is eas­i­ly the best nov­el out there about run­ning. Quen­ton Cas­sidy is a com­pet­i­tive col­le­giate run­ner who is less than a sec­ond away from reach­ing his goal of being a four-minute mil­er when the tur­moil sur­round­ing the Viet­nam War enters the school’s ath­let­ic depart­ment. Inspired by the author’s own col­le­giate run­ning career, Once a Run­ner is an insider’s account of what it takes to be an elite dis­tance run­ner, and while you maybe won’t head out for a 20-mile jaunt after read­ing, you’ll at least want to log a few miles.

Ultra-Marathon Man: Con­fes­sions of an All-Night Runner
By Dean Karnazes
When I fin­ished read­ing Ultra-Marathon Man, I was on a bus ride from Cen­tral Ore­gon back to Port­land and we were severe­ly delayed. What was sup­posed to be a four-hour trip end­ed up being about eight hours. At one point, when we were stuck at the top of the pass and hadn’t moved in about an hour, I thought to myself: What would Dean do? Answer: he’d prob­a­bly run the rest of the way home. Dean Kar­nazes is a machine. He’s the kind of ath­lete who runs 350 miles with­out rest. His ultra-endurance career began on his 30th birth­day when, on the brink of an ear­ly mid-life cri­sis, he threw on an old pair of run­ning shoes and ran 30 miles on a whim. Since then, he’s run the most dif­fi­cult endurance races in the world—he’s even gone to Antarc­ti­ca. While it may not inspire you to get out and run your own ultra-endurance race, Ultra-Marathon Man will absolute­ly inspire you to get up off the couch and run your­self into shape.

Eat & Run: My Unlike­ly Jour­ney to Ultra­ma­rathon Greatness
By Scott Jurek
Scott Jurek is prac­ti­cal­ly super­hu­man. Not only is he a dom­i­nant force in ultra­run­ning, twice win­ning the Bad­wa­ter Ultra­ma­rathon (a 135-mile run through Death Val­ley) and also one of the run­ners in the 50-mil­er with the Tarahu­mara in Born to Run, but he’s also a veg­an. Eat and Run talks open­ly about how Jurek start­ed run­ning (and how much he hat­ed it), his tran­si­tion into ultra­run­ning and how he uses a plant-based diet to fuel his races. This book will chal­lenge you to hit the pave­ment and reeval­u­ate your diet—in which case, you’re in luck, because Jurek also includ­ed some of his favorite recipes.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
By Haru­ki Murakami
When you have a writer like Haru­ki Muraka­mi, it should be no sur­prise that he felt com­pelled to write about his train­ing for the New York City marathon. What I Talk About When I Talk About Run­ning is an inti­mate vol­ume com­posed of old diaries, essays and life advice that’s def­i­nite­ly a depar­ture from the oth­er books on this list. Murakami’s insights derive from the sim­ple act of run­ning is more than enough inspi­ra­tion to get you to lace up your sneakers.

Now get out there!