The holiday season has arrived! If you have a runner in your inner circle, here is the annual exercise of what to get him or her. A customary gift is running gear and gadgets.
What if you changed this year and gave a gift that was practical, entertaining, and enlightening?
Books are an exceptional choice for runners. There are a plethora of books from which to choose. I group running books into five broad categories: History, Biography/Memoirs, Cooking, and General/Training. (I have listed in descending order my reading preference.)
Here are my favorite options for each category, including a bonus recommendation at the end.
Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
$15.90 on Amazon
First Edition Published 2017
On its surface, this book is the story of the University of Oregon’s legendary Track & Field Coach and Nike’s co-founder. At its core, however, this book illuminates a model for how to live.
Bowerman is a durable read that floats by like a great distance runner. Captivating stories from Bowerman's life fill the pages, including World II combat, Steve Prefontaine, Bill Hayward, 1972 Munich Olympics, and Nike's founding.
The book reminds you to Do Something. Do it to the Best of Your Ability. Then, help others Do it Better. More succinctly: JUST DO IT.
Inside a Marathon by Scott Fauble and Ben Rosario
$17.99 on Amazon
First Edition 2018 / Updated Edition 2020
The marathon is hard and painful – whether you are an elite athlete or weekend road runner.
Inside a Marathon by Scott Fauble and Ben Rosario is a rare behind the scenes look at how an elite marathoner trained for the prestigious 2017 New York City marathon. Scott Fauble and Ben Rosario of the HOKA Northern Arizona Elite (“NAZ”) running group based out of Flagstaff, Arizona, are the co-authors. Scott is a professional runner and the principal subject of the book. Ben Rosario is the NAZ head coach and equally valuable subject in the book.
The book has a unique construction. Each chapter details a training week, including workouts and in-depth thoughts by Ben and Scott on the week's performance. Do not forget to read the footnotes! Scott’s personality and sense of humor come to life in these anecdotes. Vivid color photographs fill the book capturing training runs and northern Arizona's stunning scenery.
I give this book my strong recommendation. The chronological narrative of the daily grind of marathon training is familiar to most distance runners. The behind-the-scenes coaching and athlete notes offer a rare, personalized feel to the story.
Run Fast. Cook Fast. East Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky
$19.29 on Amazon
First Edition 2018
Run Fast is a complement to your kitchen cabinet filled with nutritious meals, cooking time savers, and tips on being a better runner. Written by two professional runners, this cookbook is tested and functional.
Running themes comprise the chapters, including Rise & Run, Long Run Brunch, Dinner Bell, and Power Snacks. Recipes target runners and their specific needs. Scattered throughout are running tips and memories, which add a personal touch to the collection of recipes.
Running is my Therapy by Scott Douglas
$8.39 on Amazon
First Edition 2018
Running is My Therapy is a powerful book that will be deeply introspective for many runners who have mercifully stumbled upon running as a therapy to manage negative emotions, anxiety, depression, or addiction. I fall into this camp. This book gave insight into why I run and, more importantly, why I must continue running.
From the book:
"Longtime running writer Scott Douglas marshals expert advice (especially his own, cultivated from more than 110,000 miles of personal experience), and a growing body of scientific research to show how running can make us happier.
How? Everyone knows that running builds stronger muscles and a healthier heart; science now shows it also helps develop a healthier brain. For those struggling with depression and anxiety, a consistent running routine can enhance the mental-health benefits of talk therapy, antidepressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The key to running’s therapeutic power lies in its lasting physiological effects, inducing changes in brain structure and chemistry that other forms of exercise don’t—including the best mood boost in all of sports, thanks to the body’s release of natural pain-relievers.
Running is my therapy is no longer just a mantra for seasoned runners; with science behind him, Douglas presents proven methods so that we can all use running to improve our mental health and live happier—in and out of running shoes."