44 books like Marathon Man

By Bill Rodgers, Matthew Shepatin,

Here are 44 books that Marathon Man fans have personally recommended if you like Marathon Man. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Sam Murphy Author Of Run Your Best Marathon: Your trusted guide to training and racing better

From my list on challenge the status quo about how to run.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a journalist, writing about health and fitness for women’s magazines and national newspapers, I had a strong sense that much of the advice being doled out by personal trainers and other ‘experts’ was dubious, to say the least. I decided to see for myself, embarking on an Exercise and Sport Science degree and training as a running coach. Two decades on, with a handful of running books and a 13-year-strong column in Runner’s World to my name, I still like to delve into the science underpinning physical activity to see if it really stands up, and if so, for who, and under what circumstances?  

Sam's book list on challenge the status quo about how to run

Sam Murphy Why did Sam love this book?

This must be one of the most widely read running books. For good reason – it’s a great read – exciting story, quirky characters – by an excellent journalist.

But at the heart of it lies one question: ‘Why does my foot hurt?’ McDougall’s quest to find out, his deep dive into the evidence underpinning many accepted aspects of the ‘science’ of running, is what influenced me as a runner, and as a coach.

Why do runners wear built-up shoes? Why do runners only move their bodies in one plane of motion and expect to have all-round fitness? Why do so many people lose the joy in running? Why don’t we eat salad for breakfast? If you read this book, and change nothing about your running, I’ll be surprised.

By Christopher McDougall,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Born to Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world's top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe's secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long.

With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while…


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

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

From my list on the passion for distance running.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a boy and then as a young man I was a passionate, compulsive, and hypercompetitive sub-elite distance runner. In middle age I became a clinical psychologist and only then did I come to fully understand my youthful need to run long distances fast and beat everyone that I could. I captured the etiology and passion in Wannabe Distance God.

Timothy's book list on the passion for distance running

Timothy M. Tays Why did Timothy love 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.

By Chris Lear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Top five Best Books About Running, Runner's World Magazine Top three Best Books About Running, readers of Runner's World Magazine (December 2009) In RUNNING WITH THE BUFFALOES, writer Chris Lear follows the University of Colorado cross-country team through an unforgettable NCAA season. Allowed unparalleled access to team practices, private moments, and the mind of Mark Wetmore--one of the country's most renowned and controversial coaches--Lear provides a riveting look inside the triumphs and heartaches of a perennial national contender and the men who will stop at nothing to achieve excellence. The Buffaloes' 1998 season held great promise, with Olympic hopeful Adam…


Book cover of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

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

From my list on discovery & experience of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a runner for 50 years and a coach for 30 years. From 2001-2016 I was the coach of Team USA Minnesota Distance Training Center. During that time I coached 24 U.S. National Champions, including an Olympian & 2 USATF Running Circuit Champions, at 1500 meters, 3000 meters, and 10,000 meters on the track; the mile, 10k, 15k, 10 miles, half-marathon, 20k, 25k, and marathon on the road; 4k, 6k, 8k and 10k in cross country.  Athletes I coached qualified for 30 U.S. national teams competing in IAAF World Championships in cross country, indoor track, outdoor track, and road, and achieved 73 top-three finishes in U.S. Championships. 

Dennis' book list on discovery & experience of running

Dennis Barker Why did Dennis love 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.

By Alan Sillitoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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, and bucking the system. Its title story recounts the story of a reform school cross-country runner who seizes the perfect opportunity to defy the authority that governs his life. It is a pure masterpiece. From there the collection expands even further from the touching “On Saturday Afternoon” to the rollicking “The Decline and Fall and Frankie Buller.” Beloved for its lean prose, unforgettable protagonists, and real-life wisdom, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner…


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

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

From my list on the passion for distance running.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a boy and then as a young man I was a passionate, compulsive, and hypercompetitive sub-elite distance runner. In middle age I became a clinical psychologist and only then did I come to fully understand my youthful need to run long distances fast and beat everyone that I could. I captured the etiology and passion in Wannabe Distance God.

Timothy's book list on the passion for distance running

Timothy M. Tays Why did Timothy love 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.

By Jack Welch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Running Was Young and So Were We as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For many years Jack Welch wrote for Running magazine and Track & Field News, chronicling the extraordinary developments of running during the 1970s, 80s and 90's. When Running Was Young and So Were We is based on his columns from this period and is a unique book - telling the story of how running became a way of life for millions. * It's a book about excellence, inspiration and greatness. Not just what it takes to cross the finish line first, but also the lessons learned along the way. * It's a sports book - offering an up-close and personal…


Book cover of Running Throughout Time

Paul C. Clerici Author Of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

From my list on the sport of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Paul's book list on the sport of running

Paul C. Clerici Why did Paul love 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.

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;…


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

Paul C. Clerici Author Of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

From my list on the sport of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Paul's book list on the sport of running

Paul C. Clerici Why did Paul love 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.

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,…


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

Paul C. Clerici Author Of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

From my list on the sport of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Paul's book list on the sport of running

Paul C. Clerici Why did Paul love 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.

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…


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

Paul C. Clerici Author Of Born to Coach: The Story of Bill Squires, the Legendary Coach of the Greatest Generation of American Distance Runners

From my list on the sport of running.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Paul's book list on the sport of running

Paul C. Clerici Why did Paul love 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.

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…


Book cover of Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon

Nicholas Smith Author Of Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers

From my list on running history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I get it, to most people running isn’t fun, but its simplicity can be deceptive. To some, running (especially when done in nature) can be a spiritual act. To others, it (along with its cousin jogging) should’ve been included in the Geneva Conventions. Me? I’ve been running since the third grade and watching running for even longer. Growing up, the Olympics were required viewing and an interest in running naturally flowed from it. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a runner to enjoy the great many books out there about runners and their impact on sports, culture, and world events. 

Nicholas' book list on running history

Nicholas Smith Why did Nicholas love this book?

Few races match the majesty of the Boston Marathon, often called the “People’s Olympics” for giving everyone who can qualify the chance to compete alongside the sport’s best. Few runnings of the Boston Marathon can compare to the 1982 race, which concluded with a down-to-the-wire finish that separated the first and second finishers by only two seconds. The book profiles both of those runners, Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, their build-up to the race, the back-and-forth of race day, and how the careers of each of those runners fell apart after the race. Dual in the Sun is one of the rare books that makes a two-hour race feel like an edge-of-your-seat sprint.

By John Brant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The 1982 Boston Marathon was great theater: Two American runners, Alberto Salazar, a celebrated champion, and Dick Beardsley, a gutsy underdog, going at each other for just under 2 hours and 9 minutes. Neither man broke. The race merely came to a thrilling, shattering end, exacting such an enormous toll that neither man ever ran as well again. Beardsley, the most innocent of men, descended into felony drug addiction, and Salazar, the toughest of men, fell prey to depression. Exquisitely written and rich with human drama, John Brant's Duel in the Sun brilliantly captures the mythic character of the most…


Book cover of Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon

Marsha Diane Arnold Author Of The Pumpkin Runner

From my list on children's stories about running.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-award-winning picture book author of many types of books, from The Pumpkin Runner to Badger’s Perfect Garden. I’ve always been a reader more than an athlete, but throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed running - running down a dusty Kansas backroad, running to the pasture to call in the cows, running to the stream to climb a cottonwood. When I reached my sixties, I finally decided it was time to run a half-marathon. Partway through the race, I broke my foot! But I persevered. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a little like Joshua Summerhayes in The Pumpkin Runner.

Marsha's book list on children's stories about running

Marsha Diane Arnold Why did Marsha love this book?

Running was magic to Kathrine Switzer. But she grew up in a time when most people thought women were too fragile to run a race, especially a 26.2-mile marathon. The illustrations are vibrant and the text well-written, with a “Pat, Pat, Pat” refrain which expands as Kathrine runs faster and faster. The story revolves around how Kathrine entered the Boston Marathon in 1967 when it was a race for men only. She was almost stopped during the race by an angry Race Director, who also believed women should not run a marathon. Kathrine persevered and finished! Since 2008, more than 10,000 women have officially entered to run the Boston Marathon. 

By Kim Chaffee, Ellen Rooney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.

The compelling collage art adds to the kinetic action of the story. With tension and heart, this biography has the influential power to get readers into running. An excellent choice for sports fans, New Englanders, young dreamers, and competitive girls and boys alike.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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