Runners can be hard to please when it comes to gifts specific to their sport. This list of captivating autobiographies and timeless classics should make it easier for you to shop for that reading runner in your life. All books on this list are available online at Amazon.
The Animal Keepers (by Donn Behnke)
This true narrative profiles Behnke’s most memorable season as the coach of Stevens Point High School’s cross-country team, in which a first-year runner with developmental disabilities becomes the unlikely hero in the team’s hunt for the state title.
Fun fact: the foreword is written by Stevens Point alumnus and famed American distance runner Chris Solinsky.
14 Minutes (by Alberto Salazar and John Brant)
This autobiography sheds light on the life of one of the world’s best elite athletics coaches. Salazar is currently the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project – track and field’s most notorious training group – and is considered a polarizing figure in the world of track and field, thanks to his athletes’ consistently stellar performances in an era stricken with doping and cheating. This work, however, reveals lesser-known parts of Salazar’s life, such as his upbringing as a shy Cuban-American, his stunning growth as an athlete and a coach and, of course, how he was pronounced dead for 14 full minutes in 2007.
Running With The Buffaloes (by Chris Lear)
Chris Lear could not have picked a better year than 1998 to document the Colorado Buffaloes’ cross-country campaign in the NCAA. The season was filled with trials and triumph, and the book has consequently become very popular among varsity runners everywhere.
Warning: this book will make your running friend want to run much more mileage.
Running With The Kenyans: Discovering The Secrets Of The Fastest People On Earth – (by Adharanand Finn)
In this work, Finn travels to Kenya and immerses himself in the Kenyan lifestyle in the hopes of learning why the small African country continuously produces world-beaters in distance running. While experiencing culture shock throughout his experience, he is entertaining and insightful in his reflections.
Nick Symmonds: Life Outside The Oval Office (by Nick Symmonds)
The autobiography of one of track and field’s most marketable and outspoken athletes holds back no punches. Symmonds covers everything from his self-marketing tactics, to his successful and not-so-successful Olympic appearances, to his experimentation with cannabis in college.
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions Of An All-Night Runner (by Dean Karnazes)
This national bestseller features one of running’s most persistent ultramarathoners and its most infamous stunt man. From running on a treadmill for 24 hours straight to eating an entire pizza while out on a run, Karnazes likes to push the envelope. As a bonus, the book not only profiles Karnazes’s story, but it touches on his future racing plans and offers his diet and training tips (if you, too, want to learn how to eat pizza while running).
Twin Tracks: The Autobiography (by Sir Roger Bannister)
The first man to break 4:00 in the mile takes the reader back to May 6, 1954 – the fateful day that forever changed our perception of human limitation. Bannister also opens up about his career as a successful doctor and neurologist.
Once a Runner trilogy (by John L. Parker)
Once A Runner
Published in 1978, it is known as the running cult classic book of the 20th century. Quenton Cassidy is a university student trying to carve his name in the sport of distance running with the help of hellish training and his mentor, Bruce Denton. The book has received much acclaim and criticism, and it is worth a read.
Again To Carthage
Published in 2008, it is the sequel to Once a Runner. In this work, Cassidy is a successful attorney who is years removed from his competitive running career. It is only after the passing of a friend that he rediscovers his love for the sport. After reconnecting with Denton, he puts the rest of his life on hold in a final attempt to make an Olympic team.
Racing The Rain
Published in 2015, it is the prequel to the New York Times bestseller, Once a Runner. In this work, Cassidy is a high school basketball player in southeastern Florida in the 1960s who slowly discovers a love for running amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.