The best books on why people run when not being chased

The Books I Picked & Why

Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, and Live Happier

By Scott Douglas

Book cover of Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, and Live Happier

Why this book?

I love Running Is My Therapy because in it, best-selling author Scott Douglas gives us the science behind what I and most of the runners I’ve met have found: running boosts your mood. While I’m not the geeky research nerd he is, I love statistics and citations. Scott shares real world examples and backs them with studies showing why people feel better when they move. While I have my own experience of running, knowing the “good vibes” I felt during and after a run wasn’t just “in my head” (it’s in my brain), helped ground my experience in reality. Plus, Scott’s an excellent writer and a friend to the running community which makes his book even more of a joy to read.


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The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (Volume 5) (The Oatmeal)

By The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman

Book cover of The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (Volume 5) (The Oatmeal)

Why this book?

Much of my struggle with any form of exercise stems from lack of self-confidence and poor self-image. In his humorous collection of comics, best-selling author “The Oatmeal” lays out what goes in inside most runners’ (and many non-runners’) minds. Food! Weight! Getting lost! Oh my! By poking fun at this somewhat insane sport that I’ve come to love (which many nonrunners call punishment) and his naming of that inner critic as “The Blerch” made me feel seen and heard. It’s truly a classic and one of his best works.


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Once a Runner

By John L. Parker

Book cover of Once a Runner

Why this book?

This exquisitely written novel allowed me to imagine that I too could be an Olympian. The author and the main character understand. Long, slow, miles. No. I don’t run as far as Quentin, the main character, but especially while I was training for that first ultramarathon (31 plus miles), the main character’s voice was in my head. And, while reading those passages, I felt as if he was in mine.


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Still Running: The Art of Meditation in Motion

By Vanessa Zuisei Goddard

Book cover of Still Running: The Art of Meditation in Motion

Why this book?

As a long-time meditator, any book which combines running with meditation speaks to my heart. In this gorgeous book about her passion for running, her long-time Zen practice, and the workshops she teaches on Zen and running, Goddard has created a tight, lovely, primer for how to infuse movement with meditation. In these pages, she shows how running can be about so much more than exercise. It can help end suffering.


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The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life

By John The Penguin Bingham

Book cover of The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life

Why this book?

John “The Penguin” Bingham’s words of inspiration were exactly what I needed when I began to run as an “adult-onset athlete” (his words.) His books are funny and inspirational, informative, and well-written. This is by far my favorite of his many books. Those early months were tough but some days, courage is what it still takes to keep myself out there on the trails and roads.


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