It’s Wednesday, June 5, and countless runners are hitting the pavement, trails, and tracks in honor of Global Running Day. Whether you are starting your watch for your very first run, avidly read all things Runner’s World, or currently compete as a seasoned professional athlete, this day is for you. Here are seven books to read on Global Running Day to get you in the right frame of mind.
I compiled this list of books to read on Global Running Day because I know firsthand that running is complicated. After I was injured at the very end of senior year of high school, I struggled to connect with running again. The prospect of running again was suddenly overwhelming and exhausting to think about. The one thing that drew me back in, time and time again, was reading.
Run the Mile You’re In: Finding God in Every Step by Ryan Hall
I have a very clear memory from before high school of sitting on the floor of my older brother’s bedroom, reading a Runner’s World article about Ryan Hall while sunlight filtered in through the window. As kid number seven out of nine, raised by two athletic parents—including a mother who ran track in college for a Division I school—and who spent weekends running around at track meets, I knew I wanted to run competitively. Hall’s book today is no less inspiring than the article I read back then.
Hall holds the American record for the half marathon and has competed on two Olympic teams, and yet he did not always dream of whittling down his racing times enough to compete with the best runners in the world. Run the Mile You’re In centers his running journey, his faith, and the immense love he holds for his family.
Kate Fagan’s biography of Madison Holleran is one I wish was around when I entered high school and started running competitively. In my experience running in high school, mental health in sports was not always addressed. I remember watching as my teammates would crumple under the weight of their honors courses, varsity meets, and other stresses, collapsing onto the grass next to the track mid-practice. I wish this book was around back then.
As a successful collegiate runner, Maddy Holleran’s suicide shocked and baffled many. Fagan digs deep into who Maddy was, what led such a promising athlete to end her life, the pressures on student-athletes, and the lack of mental health resources in college athletics.
Running: A Love Story by Jen A. Miller
After my injury senior year of high school, I ran on and off during college; it was challenging to motivate myself to run consistently after ending my high school running career on such a bitter note. Why continue running when I had no coach clocking my times? Reading journalist Jen A. Miller’s book helped me remember why I loved running in the first place. Miller shares the roads she covered as she trained for her first half and full marathons while also reflecting on the complications of her relationships. (And yes, running is a relationship.)
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman
As I got back into running, I needed desperately to laugh. Running can be beautiful—a new way to view the world, hone your body into something powerful, get fast enough to kick the butts of all those annoying boys in your life, et cetera—but it also kind of sucks sometimes. The Oatmeal made me laugh embarrassingly hard as his comics highlight the strange meal choices, unique body types, and unique happenings that take place on runs.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
As a Japanese writer and runner, Haruki Murakami’s book on running has many themes with which I easily identified with during college (as well as today). Writing and running are so intertwined and share many similarities—from work ethic to thought processes while writing or running—which Murakami explores beautifully in this memoir. Murakami writes thoughtfully throughout the book, pushing the reader to examine what they think when they think about running.
As I dove into Becky Wade’s debut, I found we shared three things in common: 1. We had both recently graduated college. 2. We both had an interest in traveling and trying food from different cultures. 3. Running is something we find joy in. While these may seem like relatively common interests, Wade’s book was the first I had dived into in a while that met me where I was: unsure about where I was going while aware each mile run was leading me closer to where I needed to be.
As a college grad, Wade became a Watson Fellow and traveled internationally to immerse herself in running cultures all over the world. In Run the World, she faces clashing time zones, unfamiliar foods, and unpredictable training. Nonetheless, the joy at each peak outweighs the upward climb.
26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From My Running Career by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas
Now, after running four half marathons, I am finally ready to tackle a full. I am terrified, but 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi is a book that gives me both hope and motivation. Known simply as “Meb,” Meb is undoubtedly one of the greats of distance running. His second book brings the reader through each step of his 26 marathons, including an Olympic silver and the Boston and New York marathons where he finished first. Meb shares valuable lessons on aging as a runner, setting multiple levels of goals, and minimizing risks while accepting some things are out of our control.
Would you add anything else to this collection of books to read on Global Running Day? Let us know in the comments. Curious to find out what the pros are reading? Check out which books the 2019 Boston Marathon U.S. Elite Women were reading.