The best books on running from an ultrarunner

Who am I?

An internationally recognized endurance athlete and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He's run across Death Valley in 120-degree temperatures, and run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he's run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the world's toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.

I wrote...

A Runner's High: My Life in Motion

By Dean Karnazes,

Book cover of A Runner's High: My Life in Motion

What is my book about?

“Dean Karnazes’ writing wakes up the appetite to run long distances. In this book, Dean takes us on a lifelong journey of ultramarathons, through the ups and downs, the friendships and lonely moments, and the struggles and rewards of each race. Dean writes in a direct and intimate way that keeps us reading like he runs -- without stopping." - Kilian Jornet, World Champion Ultramarathoner

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

Why did I love this book?

Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer, Alexi Pappas’ wisdom and wit are beyond her age. This book will have you laughing, crying and cheering, sometimes all at once!

By Alexi Pappas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bravey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer Alexi Pappas shares what she’s learned about confidence, self-reliance, mental health, embracing pain, and achieving your dreams.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE •“Heartbreaking and hilarious.”—Mindy Kaling • “A beautiful read.”—Ruth Reichl • “Essential guidance to anyone dreaming big dreams.”—Shalane Flanagan • “I couldn’t put it down.”—Adam Grant

run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe

When “Renaissance runner” (New York Times) Alexi Pappas—Olympic athlete, actress, filmmaker, and writer—was four years old, her mother died by suicide, drastically altering…

Book cover of Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

Why did I love this book?

A graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law, Rich Roll was a successful attorney, and a trash diving addict at the same time. His discovery of endurance sports helped salvage and remake him.

By Rich Roll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Ultra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Finding Ultra blends Rich Roll’s story of superhuman personal transformation with an amazingly practical guide to plant-based living. It’s also an enlightened manifesto for anyone wanting to transform their life.”—Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Zones books
“An incredible story of mental, emotional, and physical endurance.”—Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Die
On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see…

Book cover of Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes: A Cookbook

Why did I love this book?

Part recipe book, part training plan, and entirely inspirational, Shalane Flanagan is a 4-time Olympian and the winner of the NYC Marathon.

By Shalane Flanagan, Elyse Kopecky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Run Fast. Eat Slow. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From world-class marathoner and three-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and culinary nutritionist Elyse Kopecky comes a whole foods, flavour-forward cookbook that proves food can be indulgent and nourishing at the same time. Finally here's a cookbook for runners that shows fat is essential for flavour and performance and that counting calories, obsessing over protein, and restrictive dieting does more harm than good. Packed with more than 100 recipes for every part of yourday, nutritional wisdom, and inspiring stories, Run Fast, Eat Slow has all the bases covered. Fitness-minded readers will find delicious meals, satisfying snacks, thirst- quenching drinks, and wholesome treats.…

Book cover of Running Man: A Memoir of Ultra-Endurance

Why did I love this book?

To say Charlie Engle has led a colorful life would be putting things mildly. An addict and alcoholic, after nearly losing his life to a hail of bullets, Charlie turned to running as his savior.

By Charlie Engle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit rock bottom after a near-fatal six-day binge ended in a hail of bullets. Then he found running, and it has helped keep him sober, focused and alive. He began to take on the most extreme endurance races, such as the 155-mile Gobi March, and developed a reputation as an inspirational speaker. However, after he made the documentary Running the Sahara, narrated by Matt Damon, which followed him on a 4500-mile crossing of the desert and helped raise $6 million, he was sent to prison after failing to complete…

Book cover of Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Why did I love this book?

Deena Kastor is a phenom that holds American records in every distance from the 5K to the marathon. Let Your Mind Run is a fascinating peek into the mindset of an elite athlete.

By Michelle Hamilton, Deena Kastor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let Your Mind Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Deena Kastor was a star youth runner with tremendous promise, yet her career almost ended after college, when her competitive method—run as hard as possible, for fear of losing—fostered a frustration and negativity and brought her to the brink of burnout. On the verge of quitting, she took a chance and moved to the high altitudes of Alamosa, Colorado, where legendary coach Joe Vigil had started the first professional distance-running team. There she encountered the idea that would transform her running career: the notion that changing her thinking—shaping her mind to…

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