HEALTHY LIVING
02/20/2014 08:51 am ET

9 Books Every Runner Should Read

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The wisdom imparted through running doesn't always come while pounding the pavement. Sometimes, it's gleaned in moments of quiet contemplation and recovery curled on the couch with an ice pack, the occasional chocolate milk and a good book. The stories below might not give you the runner's high you're chasing, but they will give you something to consider throughout the miles ahead.

  • 1
    Title: Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

    Author: Christopher McDougall

    Words to run by: "Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everything else we love -- everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires', it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run."
  • 2
    Title: Running & Being: The Total Experience

    Author: Dr. George Sheehan

    Words to run by: "The distance runner is mysteriously reconciling the separations of body and mind, of pain and pleasure, of the conscious and the unconscious. He is repairing the rent, and healing the wound in his divided self. He has found a way to make the ordinary extraordinary; the commonplace unique; the everyday eternal."
  • 3
    Title: Running On Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America

    Author: Marshall Ulrich

    Words to run by: "[T]hat's where ultrarunners live, in that place where you feel as if there's nothing left, no more energy, no more reason, no more sanity, no more will to go farther. Then you push forward anyway, step after step, even though every cell in your body tells you to stop. And you discover that you can go on."
  • 4
    Title: Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run

    Author: Kristin Armstrong

    Words to run by: "If you stopped yourself every single time you were about to say, 'I have to' and changed it to, 'I get to,' it might change your entire experience."
  • 5
    Title: Once A Runner: A Novel

    Author: John L. Parker, Jr.

    Words to run by: "You see, the actual thing itself is so competitive and serious, I don't think anybody really has a good time right while they are competing. Oh, they like it all right, they like going to the meets, and they like being on a team and the general hullaballoo of being a jock. But when you get right down to it, right while you're doing the thing itself, it ain't much fun. I can't remember a mile in my life that was even mildly amusing."
  • 6
    Title: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

    Author: Haruki Murakami

    Words to run by: "Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life -- and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree."
  • 7
    Title: Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World

    Author: Bill Rodgers

    Words to run by: "Training need not be an all-or-nothing battle, involving punishing track practice, grueling calisthenics, and wrenching interval sessions every afternoon. It could be a fun and easy cruise through the gorgeous New England countryside. It could be an act of freedom by which I could step outside myself and my racing mind. A long run in nature could even be a way to connect my physical body with the unseen spirit of the universe."
  • 8
    Title: Running Like a Girl: notes on learning to run

    Author: Alexandra Heminsley

    Words to run by: "You don't run,' he corrected me. 'But you're more than able.' There was no shadow of doubt in his voice. Hearing it from someone else made me realize: there was nothing stopping me from running but me."
  • 9
    Title: Racing the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Life

    Author: Bernd Heinrich

    Words to run by: "The human experience is populated with dreams and aspirations. For me, the animal totem for these dreams is the antelope, swift, strong and elusive. Most of us chase after 'antelopes,' and sometimes we catch them. Often we don't. But why do we bother to try? I think it is because without dream-'antelopes' to chase we become what a lap dog is to a wolf. And we are inherently more like wolves than lap dogs."

What's your favorite book about running? Let us know in the comments below!

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