The best books about the sport of running

Who am I?

Born and raised in the Boston area, I’ve always loved history and running. Fortunately, I’ve been able to combine those passions for decades as a newspaper sports editor, magazine writer, and author, who has covered the sport for decades; runner, who has run hundreds of races, from the mile to the marathon, including 43 marathons (Boston 23 times); and public speaker and media guest about the sport. I enjoy delving deep into the history of races, athletes, records, etc. – everything within the sport – which has afforded me the great pleasure to meet, interview, and become friends with many Olympians, champions, record-setters, and Hall of Famers.


I wrote...

Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

By Paul C. Clerici,

Book cover of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

What is my book about?

From tasting his own blood while running hard as a Notre Dame miler to producing the top U.S. marathon legends in the epicenter of the running boom of the 1970s and into the ‘80s, Bill Squires not only survived being born with a misdiagnosed and potentially fatal defective heart, but the late-developing skinny kid also amassed numerous track records as a collegiate All-American while struggling academically.

As the first coach of the groundbreaking Greater Boston Track Club, Bill Squires was the key figure in the creation of the greatest generation of American distance runners. Coaching for years at all levels, it is with this vast accumulation of firsthand knowledge and experience that legendary Olympians and major marathon champions dominated the landscape and set the pace for future generations.

The books I picked & why

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Running Throughout Time

By Roger Robinson,

Book cover of Running Throughout Time

Why this book?

As one who loves history and the sport of running, I consistently turn to historian, literary scholar, world-ranked runner, and race announcer Roger Robinson as an ultimate voice when it comes to accurate and accessible running history. He is a true academic, but whose prose and insight both inform and entertain. Along with his When Running Made History book, in which he brings you in the announcer’s booth with him as the voice of some of the greatest races in the past several decades, Running Throughout Time travels deeper into centuries of historical running archives for clarity, truth, and importance. I always enjoy his storytelling and the way in which he presents momentous moments in a conversational manner. They are timeless.

Running Throughout Time

By Roger Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every runner's story is part of a great tradition of running stories. Running Throughout Time tells the best and most important of them. From Atalanta, the heroic woman runner of ancient Greece-when goddesses advised on race tactics-to the new legends of Billy Mills, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Allison Roe (the modern Atalanta), this book brings the greatest runners back to life. It's the perfect runner's bedside storybook.
Colorful, dramatic, alive with human insight and period detail, these stories are also full of new discoveries. Within these pages, readers will find the true story of Pheidippides and the Battle of Marathon;…


Boston Marathon: Year-by-Year Stories of the World's Premier Running Event

By Tom Derderian,

Book cover of Boston Marathon: Year-by-Year Stories of the World's Premier Running Event

Why this book?

This is the literal bible of the Boston Marathon and a true treasure! For anyone who wants to truly know about Boston or learn about its legacy, this is the first stop … for fans, for runners, and for writers. I duly credit this tome in my books because Tom Derderian’s yeoman work is intricate, detailed, and placed alongside non-running history which enhances the impact of each year’s race since its first in 1897. It’s also simply a fun read, too. As one who has run with the best, and has a 2:19:04 Boston best, he has the institutional knowledge, love, and passion that resonates throughout the book.

Boston Marathon: Year-by-Year Stories of the World's Premier Running Event

By Tom Derderian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From running legend Tom Derderian comes a comprehensive look at one of the most storied and celebrated athletic events in the nation, the Boston Marathon.

For more than 110 years, the race has been regarded as one of the world's great racing traditions. From the narrow starting line on Main Street, through the Screams Tunnel, past the coeds of Wellesley, and up the infamous Heartbreak Hill, Derderian chronicles the unforgettable passions, triumphs, and pitfalls of every race in the marathon's storied history. The book also includes interviews and race recaps from marathoning greats such as Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson,…


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

By Bill Rodgers, Matthew Shepatin,

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

Why this book?

Any story about legendary running ambassador Bill Rodgers is worth the read. A U.S. Olympian and four-time winner of the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon, his impact on the sport of running is immeasurable on many levels – shining a light on athlete inequality, repeated hard-earned road-race excellence, expanding the sport to the non-elite, and consistent approachability and promotion. His tenacity as a competitor helped push the sport into “primetime” and beyond. Having interviewed him many times over the years for my books and articles, Marathon Man reads the way he speaks, with honesty and insight. In addition to a Hall of Fame resume, part of his popularity is based on the fact the common runner can relate to many of his battles – a former smoker, blue-collar life, cancer survivor.

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

By Bill Rodgers, Matthew Shepatin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Marathon Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary long-distance runner details his historic victory in the 1975 Boston Marathon that launched the modern running boom

Within a span of two hours and nine minutes, Bill Rodgers went from obscurity to legend, from Bill Rodgers to "Boston Billy." In doing so, he instantly became the people's champ and the poster boy for the soulful 1970s distance runner. Having won the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon four times each, he remains the only marathoner to have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice. Winning the Holy Grail of marathons in an unthinkable record time changed Bill's…


The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success

By David J. McGillivray, Linda Glass Fechter,

Book cover of The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success

Why this book?

The Last Pick is proof positive that anything is possible. He is the race director of the Boston Marathon and Falmouth Road Race. He has his own business which organizers athletic events throughout the world. He has run extraordinary distances for charity, including across America! He is revered, respected, and renowned. But as he unabashedly explains in his life story, he fought hard against many obstacles and slights to develop a level of perseverance and determination that constantly drives his success and benevolence. As evidenced in the book, he has also become one of the finest personable ambassadors of the sport, whether contributing to causes or promoting the many benefits of running. And on a personal note, he wrote a foreword for one of my books.

The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success

By David J. McGillivray, Linda Glass Fechter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Always the last pick for team sports because of his small stature, David McGillivray drove himself to excel at individual sports. When he was 16, he set himself up for the one "failure" that would motivate the rest of his life. He attempted to run in his first Boston Marathon - without training for the event. Not crossing the finish line could have been a crushing blow. Instead, he went on to complete 115 marathons and eventually to become the Boston Marathon's race director. At age 23, McGillivray completed his celebrated 3,452-mile run across the United States to raise money…


Staying the Course: A Runner's Toughest Race

By Dick Beardsley, Maureen Anderson,

Book cover of Staying the Course: A Runner's Toughest Race

Why this book?

If there is ever a life full of lessons on never giving up, it’s Dick Beardsley’s. One of America’s greatest and most accomplished marathoners, he is a multiple champion record-setter and made the Guinness Book of World Records when he ran 13 marathon PRs in a row. With tremendous honesty, he details in his book how a succession of tractor and car accidents and drug dependency nearly cost him his life on several occasions. It is a book about running, tragedy, survival, and redemption. He also wrote the foreword for one of my books.

Staying the Course: A Runner's Toughest Race

By Dick Beardsley, Maureen Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For a moment Dick Beardsley became the most famous runner in the world by losing a race. In the 1982 Boston Marathon, Beardsley, foiled by a motorcycle that cut him off, finished two seconds behind Alberto Salazar in one of the most memorable contests in marathon history. Staying the Course recounts that race and the difficult years that followed, including his recovery from a near-fatal farm accident, his subsequent addiction to painkillers, and a public arrest for forging prescriptions. His story of overcoming obstacles speaks to anyone who loves competition, who has survived catastrophe, or who has pursued a seemingly…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in runners, long-distance running, and marathons?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about runners, long-distance running, and marathons.

Runners Explore 21 books about runners
Long-Distance Running Explore 19 books about long-distance running
Marathons Explore 19 books about marathons

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Running with the Buffaloes, Born to Run, and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner if you like this list.