Culture11 Dec 2021

Five books to make you rethink your running


Five books to make you rethink your running

At moments, running can be a monotonous sport. The same routes traversed time and again over a long winter block of training. Sometimes all it takes to relight that fire is a good book.

Here are five that will inspire you to get the trainers on once more.


Out of Thin Air by Michael Crawley

Michael Crawley is a talented marathon runner who has competed internationally for Scotland, but it was his trip to Ethiopia that made him fall back in love with the sport. Living with some of the nation’s best athletes, Crawley provides a fascinating insight into one of running’s most fabled heartlands.

From travelling to altitudes where it is difficult to breathe all in search of almost mythical mountain air, to zig-zag runs through dense forests, Crawley introduces us to the almost spiritual association Ethiopia has with the sport.

An awe-inspiring, uplifting read, Out Of Thin Air will bring purpose to those daily runs and a spring in the step for anyone hoping to follow in their footsteps.


Coasting by Elise Downing

Elise Downing’s book starts with the familiar conundrum. A university graduate finding her feet in the working world, Downing faces up to the reality of what her future holds. Her solution, however, is not the typical.

Deciding to run the coast of Britain, Coasting follows her journey round the nation’s shores. It charts the highs and lows of the entire 5000-mile journey, the people she meets along the way and the truths she discovers about herself.

Coasting serves a fitting reminder of how running can provide a great platform to unwind your thoughts, to reflect and ultimately to move forward in a better place than when you headed out the door.


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

An injury to his foot has McDougall in pursuit of a fix. But in searching for an answer, the author draws us to what many see as the birthplace of North American endurance: the Tarahumara tribe and their incredible ultra-running exploits.

The book follows McDougall in his attempt to complete a 50-mile race in Tarahumara territory and sees him try to answer how humans are capable of such extraordinary feats.

A mixture of high-level sports science and nostalgic romanticism will see you plodding along wondering whether you were born to do this.


Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith

Richard Askwith is, by his own admission, no fell-running superstar but his book on the sport provides a compelling illustration of just why so many find the sport so special. One in which the sport’s best and the rest face the same trials and tribulations.

Along his journey trying to complete the Bob Graham Round, a fell-running endurance challenge in the UK’s Lake District, Askwith tells the story of fell-running’s understated stars.

If a book can summarise what it means to be out on the fells, plotting your path, this is probably it.

Feet in the Clouds will have you searching for the tallest hill and making it your mission to climb it.


The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness

In pursing your running goals, it can often feel like you lose balance in your life. When you don’t quite achieve what you are looking for, then it can have a big impact on how you feel. Not just about your running but also about your self-worth.

Stulberg and Magness tackle the notion of passion, how it is important for success but how it needs to be harnessed so as to avoid becoming something obsessive. They talk about the warning signs, how an element of imbalance is necessary but ultimately how you can channel it to your advantage.

Although this book isn’t just about running, it is for all those who feel they’re stuck in a rut and looking for something to freshen up their perspective to their passions.

George Mallett for World Athletics Be Active