The 11 best running books

Human Kinetics has published numerous running books, in fact running is our most popular sport. But which are the best running books?

Best running books

As with all Human Kinetics books, these books are written by some of the best running coaches and sport scientists in the world. They are all backed up by science and have proven benefits for professional athletes and recreational runners. Here are the top 11.

1. The Art of Running Faster

best running booksUnderstand the art of running. The way you move, how you structure your training, how you prepare for races and running tactics. This book will also help you build confidence and determination. Think you just need talent and hard work to reach your full potential? This book will teach you about other aspects of running which will aid you in smashing PB’s.

Written by former elite runner Julian Goater, who was at his peak in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His incredible 5,000m and 10,000m PBs stand at 13:15 and 27:34 respectively. In 1981 he won the National Cross Country by almost two minutes and finished fourth in the World Cross. The following year in the 1982 Commonwealth Games he won bronze over 10,000m. For this book, he teamed up with Don Melvin who is well known in running circles as a journalist as well as a pretty decent runner himself.

This book is much more than training tips and motivational stories, The Art of Running Faster is your guide to improved technique and optimal performance. The book features training drills, including interval & hill training, which has had great reviews from fellow runners. Customers often state how this book has opened their mind to new ways of training, it is also written in an easy to understand tone of voice with simple, applicable ideas, so whether you’re a novice wanting to ‘build the base’ or advanced runner aiming to ‘sharpen the knife’ this book is a must-read.

And priced at only £14.99, it’s easy to see why this book tops the list of the best running books.

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2. Daniels Running Formula 3rd Edition

Best running books - Daniels Running FormulaProbably the most data-driven running book in the world. The ‘world’s best running coach’ has written the ‘best training book’ (Runner’s World). Our second biggest seller since it was published in 2014.

Daniels takes a scientific approach to training, using a runner’s current fitness level to define specific intensities and speeds for every workout to produce the best results. Have a read of his specific training programmes. Whatever your level and whatever your distance Daniels can help you improve and put some method into the madness as well as an explanation of why his methods work. He uses his legendary VDOT formula to guide you through training at exactly the right intensity to run stronger, longer and faster. Choose a programme to get in shape, prepare, schedule and peak for a race or regain conditioning after layoff or injury.

The book also has chapters on altitude, fitness and seasonal training as well as a supplementary training section.

Great value at only £14.99.

Best running books - Daniels Running FormulaBest running books - Daniels Running FormulaBest running books - Daniels Running Formula

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3. Lore of Running, 4th Edition

Although this title is now over 15 years old it is still a very popular book, often referred to as the bible of running. It has sold over 25,000 copies in Europe alone, globally this 4th edition has sold just shy of 100,000 copies.

Probably the biggest paperback book we’ve ever published standing at just short of 1,000 pages (932), this book covers a huge amount of research from physiology and biochemistry to running health. As you can imagine these are covered in depth too. It is very scientific in places, although not classed as an academic textbook it has academic literature combined with enthralling, entertaining stories from the field, sharing training models of elite athletes.

Written by Tim Noakes, MD who references numerous scientific research papers on running throughout the book. Tim, himself is a health professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is a veteran of more than 70 marathons and ultramarathons. He is also an editorial board member for many international sport science journals and a former president of the South African Sports Medicine Association. He has won numerous awards for his research including a Lifetime Achievement Award (South Africa’s NRF) and International Cannes Grand Prix Award. In 1999, he was elected as one of 22 founding members of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Science Academy. He is also a member of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, who list him as one of their highest-rated members. Although sometimes controversial Tim has a research background which cannot be questioned. More recently he wrote Waterlogged which questions how much water one should take on before, during and after exercise. He also has his say on sports drinks which is worth a read!

Lore of Running is a groundbreaking text which you will have no doubt of seen in harriers and running clubs wherever in the world you run. Available from the Human Kinetics website for under £20! Which is incredible value for money.

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4. Advanced Marathoning 2nd edition

The marathon – the most popular of all the long distance runs. A tough long race ran by tens of thousands of people every year. London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, all these great cities have annual marathons and all regularly get over 30,000 runners each year. The popularity of this book is in part, no doubt, due to that very reason.

The key to finishing a marathon isn’t a secret: Train long, go long. But what about when you want to race a marathon, then things aren’t so simple. Advanced Marathoning has helped people shave minutes off their PB’s. Predominantly for seasoned runners (racers) but the easy to understand day by day training schedules can be adapted for anyone who plans on running a marathon.

As well as offering training programmes Advanced Marathoning also offers guidance on training components. These include elements of training, nutrition and hydration, recovery, tapering and peaking and race day strategy.

“For anyone serious about running, Advanced Marathoning offers the latest information for optimizing performance. If you are preparing for a marathon, I highly recommend this book.” – Meb Keflezighi (2014 Boston Marathon Champion, 2009 New York City Marathon Champion, 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist)

Former elite runner Pete Pfitzinger has teamed up with Scott Douglas who is one of the best-known writers on the subject of running and is the contributing editor for Runners World.

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5. Running Mechanics and Gait Analysis

Running Mechanics and Gait Analysis comes with an online video and it is the premier resource dedicated to running mechanics and injury prevention. Up to 70% of regular runners will sustain overuse injuries during any one-year period. Therefore, it is imperative to be informed on injury prevention and optimal treatment.

Early chapters introduce readers to the basics of running-related injuries, foot mechanics and shoe selection before progressing to discussions of knee and hip mechanics, ways to influence gait mechanics and technical aspects of video gait analysis. Via a detailed joint-by-joint analysis, the book pinpoints common problem areas for runners and describes protocols for treatment. Later chapters present case studies of injured runners to guide professionals through a detailed biomechanical analysis and treatment recommendations and an overview chapter summarises the interrelationships of movement patterns at each joint with anatomical, strength, flexibility and kinetic chain factors. There are 35 videos analysing gait efficiency. One example below shows a runner who has left pelvic drop.

Bought by not only runners and coaches but people throughout the healthcare industry. It is the most academic book on the list and can even be found in certain universities. It is especially popular for students studying biomechanics.

Author Reed Ferber, received his PhD in biomechanics from the University of Oregon in 2001. He is now a professor at the University of Calgary and co-founder and director of the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary, Alberta. He is a world leader in 3-D gait assessment and technology. He has also won several awards in teaching excellence and has authored or coauthored 43 articles appearing in Clinical Biomechanics, Gait and Posture, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Sport Rehabilitation and other publications.

Ferber teamed up with Shari Macdonald who has worked as a physical therapist specialising in the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries for over 15 years. Shari has a masters degree in biomechanics from the University of Calgary.

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6. Faster Road Racing 

This book will help you find your perfect balance of training, preparation and recovery. We all know how precious time can be especially when you are training for those longer distances. This book will help you make the most of your time and will ensure you progress effectively and safely.

Split into two parts, part one is named Training Components. This is broken down into Elements of Training, Balancing Training and Recovery, Supplementary Training, The Well-Fed Runners Diet, Considerations for Masters Runners and Tapering for Peak Performance. Which we focused on in a recent blog post titled Taper your programme and improve performance for competition.

Part two looks at Training for Peak Performance and this section goes into details for following schedules. it also has sections for different race distances from 5k up to the half marathon, as well as a section for training for multiple race distances.

Written by elite runner Pete Pfitzinger and Philip Latter. Pfitzinger is probably best known for his performances in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic marathons, but he is an impressive runner across all distances, running 5k in 28.41. Pfitzinger is now a respected coach and exercise physiologist he has worked with over 400 Olympic-level and emerging international athletes. Latter is a senior writer for Running Times and a cross country coach. Also a decent versatile runner himself, having strong PB’s from 1500 metres (4:01) to the half marathon (1:12:11).

Another bargain, priced at the lower end of Human Kinetics titles at only £14.99.

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7. Running Form

New for 2018 and already proving incredibly popular. This book is broken down into three parts:

  1. Why running form matters – Analysing traditional views and understand what elite athletes do differently from ordinary runners. This section also informs readers on how to reduce the likelihood of injury with good form.
  2. Assessing and improving form – This section will help you improve your technique work on everything from your foot strike to your posture.
  3. Form factors for running success – Everything from running shoes, strength training, gender and age can impact form and success as described in this final part of the book.

We’ve had feedback from runners who have suffered from injuries in the past due to unknowingly bad form who have said this book has helped them make small changes to improve their form and become more resistant and durable.

The author Owen Anderson, PhD is the coach and manager of some of the best runners in the world, including Cynthia Limo, Mary Wacera, Mary Wangui and Iveen Chepkemoi, to name a few! He is also a well-known author and has written hundreds of articles on running for publications such as National Geographic Adventure and Runner’s World. He has spoken at symposiums and coached all around the world including throughout the USA, Kenya, Japan and UK.

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8. Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training

Our eighth-best running book is Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training. This book has everything you wanted to know about running the half marathon, including where to begin, what to focus on, how to pace yourself and how to avoid injury. It also has excellent tips on how to track your progress and stay on course. Whether this is your first or fiftieth half marathon if you want to improve there is a plan for you.

This inspirational guide is loved by many runners from all over the globe. Beginners tend to love the basic plans Hal offers.

Author Hal Higdon is a legend in the running industry, not only as one of the best selling authors in the industry but he is also a Contributing Editor for Runner’s World and is the magazine’s longest lasting writer, his first contribution was for the second edition in 1966! So you know he has experience.

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9. Running Anatomy 2nd edition

New for 2018, hence why it is only at number 9 for now. Given the success of the 1st edition, we would expect this to be in the top 5 of the best running books within the next year. The Human Kinetics anatomy series of books are some of our most popular. Strength Training Anatomy is our most popular but it is closely followed by the likes of Running Anatomy.

This book has some great clear illustrations as you can see from the video below.

Running Anatomy features 48 of the most effective strength exercises for runners. Which as we know, strength training is vital for runners as we explained in an earlier post titled Strength and Conditioning Training to improve your 5k run time.

Written by Patrick Milroy who is the chief medical officer for the Road Runners Club in Great Britain since 1998. From 1991 to 2007, he was a medical advisor and contributor to Runner’s World. Milroy has teamed up with Joe Puleo who is a vastly experienced running coach based in the U.S. He has worked with runners from Rutgers University (a pretty impressive running club in New Jersey, USA) as well as the US Marine Corps.

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10. Running Science

Spit into 11 parts this comprehensive title is scientific but it is written in such a way that it’s easy to read and understand, unlike an academic textbook. The book covers a vast amount of factors which impact running performance. From genetics to technique and training (featuring week by week programmes) to nutrition and the final chapter talks about psychology. The science in this book is geared towards being a better runner for the most part, but it also gives great insight into running history and what the elite athletes do day in day out. Running Science has a wealth of insights distilled from leading sport and exercise scientists, coaches and runners. Details on technique and tactical guidance are gleaned from this excellent resource.

Author Owen Anderson PhD who also wrote Running Form is highly regarded in running circles and the success of this book lead him to write the new Running Form.

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11. Running Flow

Anyone who has run for a significant amount of time knows that more often than not it can be a psychological battle as much as a physical one. However, once you get into a flow it becomes almost effortless, but what is ‘flow’ and how do you achieve it?Running Flow

Flow refers to an optimal experience during which the mind and body work harmoniously while honed on a specific task. Flow is often associated with peak performance. Flow may sound like a mysterious ephemeral experience, but in truth, it is a highly researched psychological phenomenon. First identified in 1970 by our fantastically named author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he along with the co-authors …. conclude that people who regularly experience flow have happier, more fulfilling lives. Runners have many opportunities to experience flow as the book explains.

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Run and lift

Of course to improve running performance strength training is also important. To find out which are the best strength training books take a look at The best strength training books article we wrote in April.

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About Ryan Parker

Hi, I'm Ryan, one of the bloggers here at Human Kinetics Europe Ltd. (If you want my official title, it's Marketing Executive.) I've always had a passion for health and fitness, having previously worked in gyms and played a variety of sports all my life. Now (as a somewhat of a washed-up athlete) I find myself working at the world’s biggest independent publisher of sport, health, dancex and fitness resources. Which is amazing! Why? Because I get unrestricted access to all the best, most interesting, scientifically-proven writing on sports science. And what's more, I get to share it all with you!

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