Ultra running has never been more popular, and we know exactly why. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for becoming an ultra runner but for us, it’s all about pushing our boundaries and continually finding that we are so much stronger than we think! This list of the best ultra running books is bound to get you inspired to run further than you ever thought possible.
There have been countless running and adventure books that have inspired us along the way, but here are what we consider to be the best ultrarunning books within that collection – I love to read and have read all of these ultra running books myself – some, more than once. It’s incredible what some of these ultra runners have achieved and continue to achieve, and reading others’ stories about ultra running only fuels the fire to tackle new challenges and keep pushing the limits of what our minds and bodies can achieve.
“The confidence that comes from ultrarunning is so powerful that it becomes an addiction.”
This selection of our favorite ultrarunning books will inspire you to want to run further than you’ve ever been before. Enjoy the selection and let the good times roll!
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
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- Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
In one of his most ambitious physical efforts to date, Dean Karnazes attempted to run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days to raise awareness of youth obesity and urge Americans of all fitness levels to "take that next step."
"UltraMarathon Man: 50 Marathons - 50 States - 50 Days", a Journeyfilm documentary, follows Dean’s incredible step-by-step journey across the country.
Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of "what it feels like to be truly alive," says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle.
Ultramarathon Man answers...
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
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- RANDOM HOUSE BORN TO RUN
The astonishing national bestseller and hugely entertaining story that completely changed the way we run.
An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?
Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.
Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond
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- Hal Koerner's Gd: Ultrarunning
Ultramarathons don't leave much room for mistakes. Don't learn the hard way: get a jump on training for an ultramarathon with Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning, a comprehensive handbook to running 30 to 100 miles and beyond, written by one of the most experienced and recognized athletes in the sport.
Hal Koerner is among America's best ultrarunners with podium results in more than 90 ultramarathons. In his smart, down-to-earth handbook, Koerner shares hard-earned wisdom, field-tested habits, and insider tips to help you prepare for your ultra.
You'll find guidance on exactly what you need to know to prepare for ultramarathon, including:
- best gear for ultrarunning
- fueling and hydration guidelines
- choosing an ultra
- trail-running technique
- first-aid advice
- beating altitude, storms, and heat
- race-day game plans
- crew and pacer tips
- mental strategies to get you to the finish line
The guide offers three detailed training plans to prepare for 50K, 50-mile to 100K, and 100-mile...
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail
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From the author of the bestseller Eat and Run, a thrilling new memoir about his grueling, exhilarating, and immensely inspiring 46-day run to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.
Scott Jurek is one of the world's best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he's finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning's elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. North is the story of the 2,189-mile journey that nearly shattered him.
When he set out in the spring of 2015, Jurek anticipated punishing terrain, forbidding weather, and inevitable injuries. He would have to run nearly 50 miles a day, every day, for almost...
The Pants Of Perspective: One woman's 3,000 kilometre running adventure through the wilds of New Zealand
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"A thrilling, coming-of-age journey that will make you yearn to go on your own adventures.” - RUNNER'S WORLD
Anna was never anything like those ‘real’ runners on telly – all spindly limbs, tiny shorts and split times – but when she read about New Zealand’s 3,000-kilometre-long Te Araroa Trail, she began to wonder… perhaps being a ‘real’ runner was overrated. Maybe she could just run it anyway?
Travelling alone through New Zealand’s backcountry for 148 days, she scrambled through forests, along ridge-lines, over mountain passes, along beaches and across swollen rivers. Running up to 52 kilometres in a day, she slept wild most nights, and was taken into the homes and hearts of the kiwi people in between.
The Pants of Perspective is a witty, colourful and at times painfully raw account of a journey to the edge of what a woman believes herself to be capable of. It is a coming-of-age story which will lead you on a roller coaster ride through fear, vulnerability, courage and failure.
Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes
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Fuel up like 2017 New York City Marathon Champion Shalane Flanagan.
From world-class marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky comes a whole foods, flavor-forward cookbook—and New York Times bestseller—that proves food can be indulgent and nourishing at the same time. Finally here's a cookbook for runners that shows fat is essential for flavor and performance and that counting calories, obsessing over protein, and restrictive dieting does more harm than good.
Packed with more than 100 recipes for every part of your day, mind-blowing nutritional wisdom, and inspiring stories from two fitness-crazed women that became fast friends over 15 years ago, Run Fast. Eat Slow. has all the bases covered. You'll find no shortage of delicious meals, satisfying snacks, thirst-quenching drinks, and wholesome treats—all made without refined sugar and flour. Fan favorites include Can't Beet Me Smoothie, Arugula Cashew Pesto, High-Altitude Bison Meatballs, Superhero...
The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience
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National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance--on and off the trail
Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. With a storyteller's ear for fascinating detail and description, Davis takes readers along as she trains and sets her record, analyzing and trail-testing the theories and methodologies espoused by her star-studded roster of mentors. She distills complex rituals and histories into easy-to-understand tips and action items that will help you take perseverance to the next level. The Pursuit of Endurance empowers readers to unlock phenomenal endurance and leverage newfound grit to achieve personal bests in everything from sports and family to the boardroom.
Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Deena Kastor was a star youth runner with tremendous promise, yet her career almost ended after college, when her competitive method—run as hard as possible, for fear of losing—fostered a frustration and negativity and brought her to the brink of burnout. On the verge of quitting, she took a chance and moved to the high altitudes of Alamosa, Colorado, where legendary coach Joe Vigil had started the first professional distance-running team. There she encountered the idea that would transform her running career: the notion that changing her thinking—shaping her mind to be more encouraging, kind, and resilient—could make her faster than she’d ever imagined possible. Building a mind so strong would take years of effort and discipline, but it would propel Kastor to the pinnacle of running—to American records in every distance from the 5K to the marathon—and to the accomplishment of earning America’s first Olympic medal in the marathon in twenty years.
Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness, And Balance In Your Running
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“Sky Runner is visually and poetically stunning. A must-read for sky runners and anyone looking to be awed and inspired, as I was.” - Dean Karnazes, New York Times bestselling author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
The ultimate outdoor woman, Emelie Forsberg captures the magic of a life spent amongst the mountaintops. She shares her passion for skyrunning and her accumulated expertise on how to thrive in this demanding sport.
In Sky Runner, Emelie shares her experiences:
- Using intervals, uphill and downhill training, and more to maintain peak physical condition
- Incorporating both yoga and strength exercises into her daily training routines
- Growing her own food and creating her own recipes to nourish body and soul
- Physically and mentally recovering from injury
- Finding balance in her life as a professional, extreme-sport athlete
- Sustaining both motivation and passion in her sport and her life
Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
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- Mariner Books
“In pursuing the mental side of endurance, Jurek uncovers the most important secrets any runner can learn.”—Amby Burfoot, author of The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life
For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. Until recently he held the American 24-hour record and he was one of the elite runners profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run.
In Eat and Run, Jurek opens up about his life and career as a champion athlete with a plant-based diet and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Full of stories of competition as well as science and practical advice—including his own recipes—Eat and Run will motivate readers and expand...
Run or Die
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- Run Or Die
Shortlisted for the 2014 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2014
"The most dominating endurance athlete of his generation." -- The New York Times
An exceptional athlete. A dominating force. An extraordinary person.
Kilian Jornet has conquered some of the toughest physical tests on the planet. He has run up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro faster than any other human being, and struck down world records in every challenge that has been proposed, all before the age of 25. Redefining what is possible, Jornet continually pushes the limits of human ability, astonishing competitors with his near-superhuman fitness and ability.
Born and raised at 6,000 feet above sea level in the Spanish Pyrenees, Jornet climbed an 11,000 foot mountain -- the highest mountain in the region -- at age 5. Now Jornet adores the mountains with the same ferocity with which he runs them. In Run or Die he shares his passion, inviting readers into a fascinating world rich...
Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself
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- The inspiring story of Roll’s dramatic transformation from out-of-shape mid-lifer to endurance machine in a matter of mere months. An edge-of-the-seat look at a series of jaw-dropping athletic feats and a practical training manual for those seeking to attempt a similar transformation. 2013, first edition, 272 pages.
- 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 in.
Finding Ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever
On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.
Plunging into a new routine that prioritized a plant-based lifestyle and daily training, Rich morphed—in a matter of mere months—from out of shape, mid-life couch potato to endurance machine. Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. And following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the EPIC5—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.
In the years since Finding Ultra was...
Running Man: A Memoir of Ultra-Endurance
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Charlie Engle’s “fascinating account of the high and low points of his life as an ultramarathon runner…is uplifting and inspirational” (Publishers Weekly) as he describes his globe-spanning races, his record-breaking run across the Sahara Desert, and how running helped him overcome drug addiction—and an unjust stint in federal prison.
After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren’t far enough, he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for thirty-five, fifty, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race. The Matt Damon-produced documentary, Running the Sahara, followed Engle as he lead a team on a harrowing, record breaking 4,500-mile run across the Sahara Desert, which...
The Road to Sparta: Reliving the Ancient Battle and Epic Run That Inspired the World's Greatest Footrace
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- Rodale Books
The Road to Sparta is the story of the 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta that inspired the marathon and saved democracy, as told—and experienced—by ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author Dean Karnazes.
In 490 BCE, Pheidippides ran for 36 hours straight from Athens to Sparta to seek help in defending Athens from a Persian invasion in the Battle of Marathon. In doing so, he saved the development of Western civilization and inspired the birth of the marathon as we know it. Even now, some 2,500 years later, that run stands enduringly as one of greatest physical accomplishments in the history of mankind.
Karnazes personally honors Pheidippides and his own Greek heritage by recreating this ancient journey in modern times. Karnazes even abstains from contemporary endurance nutrition like sports drinks and energy gels and only eats what was available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, and cured meats. Through vivid details and internal dialogs, The Road to Sparta offers a...
Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance
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- Vintage Books
Christopher McDougall’s journey begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters—an artist, a shepherd, and a poet—abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps across the island that birthed Herakles and Odysseus, and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world.
His search takes us scrambling over rooftops with a Parkour crew in London, foraging for greens with a ballerina in Brooklyn, tossing heavy pieces of driftwood on a Brazilian beach with the creator of MovNat—and, finally, to our own backyards. Natural Born Heroes will inspire readers to unleash the extraordinary potential of the human body and climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to heroic feats.
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.