Best Women’s Running Books – Inspiring Books by Female Runners


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There are so many great books about running out there, but what about running books written by female runners? As a prolific reader, I’ve read many inspiring running books written by ladies (as well as books written by other male and female athletes and adventurers) and have put together a list of the best women’s running books, which would make great gifts or just a handy list of reads for you to stock up on if you’re interested in reading true stories from inspiring female athletes and adventurers.

Why Not Try Audible Instead: A word about using Audible to read/listen as Audiobooks

If you’ve never tried Audible or haven’t got into audiobooks before, I highly recommend signing up for a free trial! The biggest advantages of using Audible to listen to books, rather than reading them, are that:

  • Get a FREE book. When you sign up for a free trial of Audible, you get 1 free audiobook + 2 free Audible Originals to get you started. After 30 days of your free trial, you get 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals each month for $14.95/mo. If you decide to cancel online at anytime, you get to keep all your audiobooks.
  • Listening to someone narrate the book can be more impactful than reading written words.
  • You can listen to audiobooks and get your fix of motivational self-improvement books while doing other things – boring things that don’t otherwise enhance your life, such as commuting, and doing household chores.
  • You can consume information quickly. If you like to consume information fast, you can actually playback the audiobooks faster than just 1x speed. The faster you play them back, the more the narrator will sound like a chipmunk, but the benefit is you can absorb more information SO much faster than reading a book, or even listening to one at normal speed for that matter.
  • Audible is always with you… If you have your phone with you, you have your audiobooks with you.

Inspiring women’s running books by influential female runners

I have curated this list of inspiring running books to focus in particular on influential female runners and authors who are truly seeking to use their position and experience to inspire and encourage other women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to get involved and realize their potential.

1. Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness and Balance in Your Running - Emelie Forsberg

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We are big fans of Emelie Forsberg and how she embodies being a 'balanced' runner. A pro mountain runner (as well as ski-mo, in winter), Emelie is also passionate about ensuring balance and wellbeing in life in general - and that it's not just about running, but also how you choose to eat and live. This is a beautiful book, complete with inspiring stories, advice on running and achieving balance, as well as stunning images from Emelie's mountain races and adventures. If you get just one of these women's running books, make it this one - it makes an interest read and also looks great on your coffee table 🙂

We interviewed Emelie as part of our Runner Interviews series. Click the link to read the interview: Emelie Forsberg – Runner Interview.

2. The Pants Of Perspective: One Woman's 3,000 kilometre running adventure through the wilds of New Zealand - Anna McNuff

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Anna's sheer energy, down-to-earth personality and sense of humor jumps out from the pages of this book about a one-woman running and hiking adventure across New Zealand. She is without doubt one of the most inspiring female authors when it comes to books about running and tacking big personal challenges, and this is one of the best books out there when it comes to women's running books. I dare any runner to read it and not be inspired to take on your own personal challenge after reading this book, no matter how large or small... and if you need any additional motivation, also consider getting a copy of Anna's other books about her subsequent cycling challenge where she cycled 11,000 miles across all of the US states!

3. Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink - Nita Sweeney

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Proving you can start running at any age, and articulating so eloquently how running can help people improve their mental as well as physical well-being. This female-authored book is very relatable - it is well-documented how many high-profile endurance runners have, or have in the past, also fought their own demons, and that the most significant benefits of running may be, for many people how it can help you overcome them. I love that Nita's book is not designed to inspire you to run ultramarathons, but to simply get out running. This women's running book can be read by someone who has never worn a pair of running shoes before, and gives you that motivation to try them on and get out the door.

For more thoughts on how running can help with mental wellbeing, you may find the following posts interesting:

4. The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience - Jennifer Pharr Davis

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Jennifer is a previous National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, solo female thru-hiker and former record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, so she knows a thing or two about endurance hiking and trail running. This book covers the secrets and habits behind endurance, as she chronicles her accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. I enjoy Jennifer's writing style and humility, despite all of her significant accomplishments. Consider also reading her first book, Becoming Odyssa, which covers her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and the impact this experience had on her life and future direction.

5. Runner - Lizzy Hawker

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National Geographic Adventurer Lizzy is arguably one of the greatest female ultra-endurance runners, from her multiple wins at world-stage ultramarathon races such as the UTMB 100 mile race in the French Alps and the Spartathlon in Greece, to her accomplishments solo-traversing the Great Himalaya Trail, which involves covering the highest mountain range in the world, circa 1,000 miles with 100,000m ascent, crossing twelve 5000m passes. Despite all of her accomplishments, she remains inspired and humbled by the great mountains she traverses, and aims to encourage people to realize the value of challenging ourselves both physically and mentally, the wonder of the world we live in, the richness of our environment and our responsibility to share it.

I also wrote a review of Lizzy Hawker’s book on the blog: Lizzy Hawker – Runner Book Review

6. Believe Training Diary - Lauren Fleschman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas

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Ok so this isn't a book to read, as such, but this running training journal would be a great buy or gift for someone setting a New Year's or new season's running goal. This journal includes designated grids for recording data and times as well as space to process and make plenty of notes, and advice from these two female pro runners.

Other running and adventure book lists

Check out the following links for more lists of inspiring running and adventure books:

One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.


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