The best books about the passion for distance running

Timothy M. Tays Author Of Wannabe Distance God: The Thirst, Angst, and Passion of Running in the Chase Pack
By Timothy M. Tays

The Books I Picked & Why

Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World

By Bill Rodgers, Matthew Shepatin

Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World

Why this book?

Getting inside the head and into the personal life of one of the greatest American marathoners is a treat. Beneath the killer competitor and amazing talent is a fun-loving, big-hearted man. He likes to think of himself as a Peter Pan-type figure or as some pseudo-hippy chasing butterflies, but step onto the track or roads with him and he will burn and bury you just as he has a multitude of elite, sub-elite (e.g., me), and casual marathoners. He's older now, but has morphed into one of the great ambassadors of distance running and no less passionate.


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Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team

By Chris Lear

Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team

Why this book?

Hardcore, Division I distance running at one of the greatest distance-running schools: the University of Colorado, led by the passionate and hyper-competitive phenom Adam Goucher. With passion and suspense, Lear captures the lives of these young men and offers a glimpse of what drives a gifted runner like Adam Goucher and a great coach like Mark Wetmore.


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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

By Alan Sillitoe

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

Why this book?

Regardless of one’s circumstances a passion for distance running both uplifts and gives a degree of control to the runner. This is perhaps one of the most revered works of fiction in the twentieth century. "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" is a modern classic about integrity, courage, bucking the system, and, of course, passion. Many distance runners have a rebellious streak that generally goes unrecognized, that is until you set them loose in a race and then their passion reveals itself that often devastates competitors who mistakenly thought that a domesticated house cat cannot instantly morph into a vicious predator that will take out a nest of sparrows.


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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

By Christopher McDougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Why this book?

The passion for distance running across cultures is expertly told. It does an excellent job of filling the reader with the joy of running, and reveals to us how primal running is. Running is something humans are meant to do; sometimes barefoot. This is a book I read as my own running book was still gestating inside of me. "Born to Run" inspired me to try to capture what McDougall, et. al. captured: The love of distance running; the love of racing long distances.


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When Running Was Young and So Were We: Collected Works of a Sportswriter from the Golden Age of American Running

By Jack Welch

When Running Was Young and So Were We: Collected Works of a Sportswriter from the Golden Age of American Running

Why this book?

Imagine my satisfaction upon learning that Jack D. Welch published a book about the Golden Age of distance running. See, I was there, in the races, far far back, wondering what it was like to be as fast as the elite runners. Now I know. Welch, the co-founder of Running magazine (which I read at the time), approaches the great runners of the day from a journalist's perspective. Fascinating begins to describe it. Engrossing is even better.

I think When Running Was Young and So Were We will be interesting to runners in general, not just runners from the Golden Age, because the love of distance running and the interesting people who participate in it is the same today. What drives people to run? What are driven people like? What are driven people dripping with talent like? Jack D. Welch tells all.


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