The best books that describe the discovery & experience of running

Dennis Barker Author Of The River Road: Becoming a Runner in 1972
By Dennis Barker

The Books I Picked & Why

The Self-Made Olympian

By Ron Daws

The Self-Made Olympian

Why this book?

Having quit running altogether because of a lack of improvement and a bad college experience, Ron Daws discovered a different way of running that brought him joy and success. Following the training of Arthur Lydiard, Daws began a road racing career that culminated in making the 1968 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon.


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The Silence of Great Distance

By Frank Murphy

The Silence of Great Distance

Why this book?

Murphy writes about the early years of women’s distance running as women discover their desire and ability to run long, and push for acceptance to participate. It traces the experience of the first competitive female long-distance runners who laid the groundwork for the next generation of girls and women runners to begin to experience the benefits.


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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

By Alan Sillitoe

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

Why this book?

A non-runner begins running in prison and discovers its therapeutic benefits that help him do his time and start him on a journey of self-discovery. Having been an early morning runner for many years, I appreciated the protagonist’s descriptions of frosty early morning runs, which I think are some of the best in literature.


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A Cold Clear Day

By Frank Murphy

A Cold Clear Day

Why this book?

At a low point in U.S. distance running, American Buddy Edelen travels overseas seeking to train with, and race, the best distance runners in the world. He discovers that their secret to success is not genetics but hard training. With the help of a top U.S. coach, he ramps up his training and discovers his ability to handle a large volume of intense training. The result is a world marathon record and stunning U.S. Olympic Trials win.


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The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It

By Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It

Why this book?

Three runners on different continents simultaneously pursue the goal of running history’s first sub-four-minute mile. With little scientific research on distance running to guide them, they discover how to run fast and sustain it for four laps of a track through trial and error. While some of their training techniques have been discarded, others have since been validated by scientific research and are widely used today.


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