Starting your running journey means taking a step into a world that’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and full of a unique kind of camaraderie.
And if you’re like most new runners, you’ll want to delve into as much running knowledge as you can. YouTube running channels provide a ton of valuable info, and running clubs are the perfect place to meet like-minded people.
There’s also a veritable library of running books out there, some informational and other inspirational. There’s no better way to pass a rest day than devouring a great running book and building your knowledge base. Today we’re discussing the best running books for beginners, and if you’re in need of a dose of motivation, these should do the trick!
Our favorite is The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide, by Ryan Robert. It’s a comprehensive primer for beginners getting into running. It covers both the mental and physical aspects of being successful in the sport. It’s written in a casual, conversational tone that makes it easy to get through.
When you’re done reading that one, we’ve got nine more to add to your list! If you get through all of these (we’ll be impressed), check out this list for some extra reading.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide by Ryan Robert
Beginner’s Luck Guide For Non-Runners by George Anderson
Strong by Kara Goucher
1. The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide by Ryan Robert
Ryan Robert is an avid runner and want to encourage non-runners to get into the sport. If you’re new to running or just going through a bit of a slump, its motivating, conversational tone will be an instant pick-me-up.
Robert put this book together from notes he had written to his niece. He’d noticed she was struggling with body image issues, and he felt the need to share his passion for running with her to motivate her to gain confidence.
These simple notes turned into a comprehensive guide to running and doing it right!
There’s not much you won’t find in this book. Looking for advice on running shoes? It’s in there. Want to know what you should and shouldn’t be eating? There’s advice on that too. You’ll also find sections on getting your form right, creating running plans, dealing with injuries, and even using visualization as a tool for running success.
Ryan writes in an easy-to-read manner, and it’s apparent that the book was created on a foundation of love and caring. It feels like he’s talking to you and only you, without harshness or judgment.
Whether you’re an experienced runner or just starting out, this book is a fantastic one to add to your collection.
- Comprehensive guide to every aspect of running
- Filled with essential knowledge for the beginning runner
- Tips on both mental and physical health
- Casual, easy-to-read style
Top Book for Complete Newbies
2. Beginner’s Luck Guide For Non-Runners by George Anderson
We all had to start somewhere, but not all of us had a great, informative book to help us along the way!
The aim of this book is to teach you how to progress from not being able to run down the street without being out of breath to running comfortably and happily for a full hour without needing to stop.
If that sounds far-fetched, you should see the reviews. No matter how bad a runner you think you are, this book has the potential to turn that run-frown upside down and make you a real-life runner.
It’s an instructional guide, and you’ll find everything you could think of, plus more in these pages.
The author begins by explaining what to do before you even strap on your running shoes and head out. In an instant gratification world, it’s refreshing to find a book that stresses how you need to put in the time before actually doing the thing.
Anderson gives advice on gear, how to start anyway if you don’t have the right gear (yet), warming up, cooling down, preventing injuries, treating injuries, the right way to breathe, how to know when you’re ready to move up a level, and the mysterious Golden Key to running.
You’ll also gain access to supplementary videos and a private forum in which the author himself answers questions and interacts.
What better way to get yourself off the couch and on the road for the first time ever?
- Easy to implement 10-week program
- Gold mine of running information
- Video demonstrations on the companion website
- Access to a private coaching forum
Best Book for Mindset
3. Strong by Kara Goucher
There has been a substantial amount of research lately about how important your mental game is to performing well. Train your body all you want – if your head isn’t in the game, you will struggle to be the best you can be. To that end, Kara Goucher wrote Strong to help you gain a mental edge and make sure your confidence is as strong as your quads.
Goucher is a double Olympian. One might wonder what an athlete of her caliber knows about low self-confidence, but the down-to-earth and personal way of writing offers us a glimpse into how even A-list athletes battle with self-doubt.
This book is jam-packed with value, from personal stories told by Olympians and high-profile women in running, to thoughtful additions from Goucher’s own sports psychologist.
The beauty of this book is its practicality. She shares 8 confidence techniques that you can use on-the-go when you need a boost. She’ll also help you start your very own confidence journal.
Be aware that this is not a training manual! It’s geared specifically towards gaining confidence, and the tips and tricks inside can be applied to anything – not just running.
If you’re looking for running tips, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something to help you become more self-assured, then buy it!
- Learn an Olympian’s self-confidence secrets
- Sports psychology perspectives
- Confidence techniques you can use
- Tools to help you begin your own journal
Top Beginner Running Journal
4. Runner’s World Training Journal for Beginners
A training journal could be an invaluable tool for those beginner runners who feel they need structure and routine in order to be successful. Don’t worry – you’re not the only one!
This 52-week journal is loaded with value. Not only will you be getting a daily dose of inspiration, training tips you can implement in your next run, nutrition advice, and learning about real-life running stories. You’ll also be able to record your own progress as you go.
One of the great things about a journal such as this is being able to look back a year or 6 months from now and see how far you’ve come. Are there digital tools that will log some of this info automatically. Yes there are. But many elite runners swear by hand-written journals – it makes you far more aware of the content, and it will become part of your post-run ritual.
- 52-week journal
- Packed with motivation, tips, and advice
- Space provided for notes, diagrams, and stats
- Real-life stories for extra inspiration
Best for Runners Short on Time
5. The 30-Minute Runner by Duncan Larkin
Runners who are short on time will appreciate the way this book is set out. It’s a training guide with techniques, schedules, and guidelines simplified to the extent that all you need to worry about is how many minutes you’re running for.
Although this book does offer some nutritional advice, tips for new moms and single parents, and how to train while traveling, it’s really aimed at helping you get the most out of just 30 minutes of training per day.
- Just 30 minutes per day of training
- Actionable tips and techniques
- Advice for everyone, in every situation
- How to train while traveling
Top Book for Weight Loss
6. Run Your Butt Off! by Sarah Lorge Butler & Leslie Bonci
Quite apart from the lovely pun up front, this book is a good read for runners wanting to get into running for the purpose of shedding a few pounds.
If you’ve ever tried to start running for weight loss reasons, but haven’t been sure where to start or how to keep it up, this is the book for you. Sarah Lorge Butler and Leslie Bonci teach you exactly how to drop the weight and keep it off.
Once you understand the concept behind it, it’s so much easier to stay on track! The authors do a good job of explaining and encouraging, and this book is a must-read for new runners wanting to lose weight.
- Weight loss plan and beginner’s running program
- Sustainable concept and training
- Understand how exercise and nutrition work together
- Science-based concepts
Best Book for Moms
7. Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell & Sarah Bowen Shea
Moms, we know it can be hard to find time to do normal things like eat, go to the bathroom, and have hobbies. That’s why this book exists – to help busy, multi-tasking mothers make running a part of their daily lives without sacrificing other important stuff.
Not only is it a motivating push toward getting into a healthy habit, but it’s an honest look at how being a mom changes things in life, and how to adapt activities and schedules that used to always come so effortlessly.
It’s got an abundance of info on how to train while looking after children, but also tips and tricks for introducing children to running. It’s the perfect mother-running book for moms with kids of all ages.
- Written by mothers for mothers
- Down-to-earth, easy tone
- Practical, smart tips
- Available as an audiobook for busy moms!
8. How to Make Yourself Poop by Meghan Kita
Sometimes we runners can be a little serious about our sport. This little book is the perfect antidote to that!
Running giant Runner’s World has put together this compilation of advice from professionals. While that may sound like something quite formal and serious, it’s actually an extremely well-put-together collection of inspirational tips, quick knowledge bites, and hilarious advice. The perfect mix of serious and ridiculous, but every word is worthwhile.
From how to save yourself from chafing to how to, well, yeah, make yourself poop, and everything in between, this book covers every situation you may (or may not) find yourself in. It has plenty of great information in between the tongue-in-cheekiness.
It’s a snappy, humorous read that will have you laughing and shaking your head as you recognize scenarios you’ve experienced before.
- Humorous and fun
- Packed with good advice and info
- Would make a great gift for a runner
Best for Women
9. Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
Ladies, sometimes you just need a bit of Bridget-Jones-like relaxed reading to spark you into hitting the road again. Alexandra Heminsley writes a comical and yet ever-so-true account of her journey to becoming a runner.
This is running in real life, and she spares no detail. We read about her experience in all of its horror, struggle, and eventual glory, and can’t help but think that we can do the same.
- Humorous and enjoyable reading
- Motivating real-life experience
- Easy reading, like a novel
Top Run/Walk Program
10. The Beginning Runners Handbook by Ian MacNeill
If you’re interested in becoming a fully-fledged runner, this book will get you there in just 13 weeks.
Essentially, this book is a training program for newbies to go from walking to running, and running well.
You’ll learn the ins and outs of training, different methods for different goals, and how to deal with injuries. It also covers all the important things like nutrition, recovery, staying fit while on vacation, and how to include your family in your running.
It’s a practical, actionable book that will give you the tools you need to become a runner.
- 13-week program
- Includes a maintenance program
- Chapter dedicated to running with the family
- All you need to know about becoming a runner
The best running books for beginners are inspirational as well as informational. If you aren’t sure what kind of book you’ll enjoy, or if you’re worried you won’t get time to read them, here are some tips.
How Should I Choose A Good Running Book?
Choosing a great running book really depends on you, your taste, your running knowledge, and how you feel on the day!
If you aren’t sure what kind of book to look for, consider the following questions:
What kind of story are you looking for? Do you want a biographical story or a guide-type book?
Do you have any favorite authors or athletes in the running world? Has anyone recommended one of their favorite running authors?
Ease of Reading
How technical do you want it to be? Are you looking for something that goes into scientific detail about the ins and outs of running, or do you want something more casual and easy to read?
Do you prefer short, snappy books or comprehensive ones? If a thick book is intimidating, then obviously going for the shorter ones would work better for you.
Do you like being able to read whenever and wherever you are? A digital copy might be best for you.
Do you prefer the feeling of a book in your hands and the smell of new pages? If so, would you choose a paperback or a hardcover?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look at pictures! It depends on what kind of book you’re reading, but anything from a guide-type book to a biography is enhanced with pictures.
Any Tips On When And Where To Read?
If you struggle to get through books because you can’t find the time, it doesn’t mean all is lost. You can read your book:
- While commuting on the train or bus
- On the weekend when you get some downtime
- For 30 minutes before bedtime
- Before or after your run for inspiration
- While you’re running on the treadmill
- In the bath (be careful not to drop it in!)