What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningBy Haruki Murakami 1 of 8
What do runners think about as they pound the pavement? In his memoir, Murakami lets us inside his head as he ponders everything from his 2005 New York City Marathon prep, to aging, to the meaning of life.
Read it when you want to get philosophical about running and life.
Favorite quote: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you're running and you think, 'Man, this hurts, I can't take it anymore.' The 'hurt' part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself."
Listening time: 4 hours, 23 minutes
The Long RunBy Matt Long 2 of 8
In December of 2005, a bus hit New York City fireman Matt Long as he was cycling to work. Doctors initially gave him only a 1 percent chance of survival and weren't sure if he would ever walk again. But Matt was determined, and in his memoir, he describes the three years of hard work it took to run the 2008 New York City Marathon.
Read it when you're feeling bummed about a minor injury or unmotivated to get out the door.
Favorite quote: "I survived because I had trained my heart to do the same: survive. Becoming an Ironman had kept me from becoming a dead man."
Listening time: 8 hours, 39 minutes
Born to RunBy Christopher McDougall 3 of 8
The author investigates the world's best runners and what makes them so good. He follows the The Tarahumara Indians in Mexico and examines their incredible health and running ability. McDougall traces running all the way back to its prehistoric roots and makes the case that we were, in fact, born to run.
Read it when you're considering signing up for an ultra (or the next time someone tells you that running will ruin your knees).
Favorite quote: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
Listening time: 11 hours, 7 minutes
Once a RunnerBy John L. Parker Jr. 4 of 8
This popular novel was originally self-published in the 1970s and sold out of the back of the author's car at races. The protagonist, Quenton Cassidy, details the intense training and sacrifice necessary to compete at the collegiate level. His pursuit of the sub-4:00 mile will inspire you to give running your all.
Read it when you're gearing up to run a PR.
Favorite quote: "You don't become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many day, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials."
Listening time: 8 hours, 38 minutes
UnbrokenBy Laura Hillenbrand 5 of 8
This book tells the incredible story of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was a troubled teen, but running set him on the straight and narrow and he eventually earned a spot in the 1936 Olympics. Like many young men, Zamperini was drawn into the fighting of World War II and his running dreams were put on hold. During the war Zamperini was marooned on a raft for weeks and eventually spent time as prisoner of war, but his grit and will to survive never failed.
Read it when you have a very long run planned. Zamperini's endurance will provide a double dose of motivation.
Favorite quote: "A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain."
Listening time: 14 hours
Girl on the TrainBy Paula Hawkins 6 of 8
This psychological page-turner took the book world by storm in 2015 and for good reason--multiple unreliable narrators and countless plot twists will have you running "just one more mile" to find out what happens. Once you finish this one, consider similar thrillers like "Gone Girl," "Luckiest Girl Alive," and "Before I Go to Sleep."
Read it when you want to get lost in a good book and have the miles fly by.
Favorite quote: "I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head."
Listening time: 10 hours, 59 minutes
War and PeaceBy Leo Tolstoy 7 of 8
Has this Russian tome always been on your to-read list? If you're gearing up for a new training cycle, now might be the time to give it a go. Yes, it's long (very very long), but think about how accomplished you'll feel when you finish your training AND what some call the greatest novel ever written.
Read it when you're staring down months of long runs.
Favorite quote: "A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, 'Today I'm going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep."
Listening time: 61 hours 8 minutes