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Inspirational Ultra Running Books That Go The Distance

Get yourself to run that extra mile with these powerful books!

Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

Ultra Running is not simply a physical feat, but an emotional and psychological one. It’s about building up to go that extra distance. It’s about mindset.

These books take different perspectives on this incredible ability, and will leave a certain effect on you that’ll make you believe you can do anything.

#1 Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney
At 49 years of age, grief-stricken, chronically depressed Nita Sweeney takes up running with her dog in an attempt to find a way out of the darkness. Her memoir of pounding the roads with her canine companion will entertain and motivate any reader who has ever fallen into deep despair. Whether or not readers want to follow in her footsteps, they will enjoy reading about her journey.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#2 Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
Can’t Hurt Me is a book that’s about so much more than running; it’s about becoming the best version of yourself. Goggins isn’t even trying to inspire us — he’s teaching us how to inspire ourselves, to beat our own self-imposed limitations, and to become unstoppable.

This book was my running companion three times over in audio form. For those who want a sneak preview, I wrote a summary of twelve life lessons from Can’t Hurt Me on my blog.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#3 A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio

A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio
A Beautiful Work in Progress is an incredibly inspiring book about a ‘non-traditional’ runner (Valerio describes herself as overweight) who busts down stereotypes and becomes an ultra-distance runner. This book not only talks about long distance running – including thoughts and experiences from Valerio’s long runs – but it is also an inspiring read.

If you’re new to ultra running, you’ll walk away inspired to hit the pavement/trail no matter your body type or running experience. If you’re an experienced ultra runner, you’ll appreciate and relate to Valerio’s experiences on the trail. Finally, wherever you are on your running journey, you’ll find inspiration to keep pushing through hard times with the author’s words of wisdom.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#4 Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
Scott Jurek is one of the all-time best ultra runners, and he does it on a vegan diet. This is a great read if you are interested in how to train, what to eat, and how the mind of one of the best long-distance runners of all time works. There are even some great recipes throughout the book that anyone can enjoy, not just other vegans.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#5 Run Or Die by Kilian Jornet

Run Or Die by Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet… Enough said. This guy basically invented the sport of sky running and has accomplished feats so amazing that they literally are not believable. His whole mantra is that these experiences are what it’s all about, not the time, or the fame, but being out there, doing something no one else has ever done, but then he crushes any known time just because it’s who he is. This book has a little mountaineering, skiing, and running, so it’s a great read for anyone interested in pushing their limits in the outdoors.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#6 Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
This book is one of the most well-known books about running, and highlights how humans were born to run. That we’ve evolved to be upright and on two feet which means we can cover long distances better than just about any other animal out there.

This follows the tale of an every-day-joe who becomes an ultra runner, and his experience as he adds miles, travels around the globe to discuss running cultures, and his crazy adventures in between. This book will ultimately make you want to put it down, lace up your shoes, and hit the trails.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#7 Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell

Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell
Relentless Forward Progress is a classic ultrarunning 101 type of primer, written by a passionate runner who’s been active in the ultra community for many years. It’s a great read for new and aspiring ultrarunners, as well as more experienced ultra athletes looking for nuggets of helpful information to fine-tune their running.

In an approachable style it covers all the basics of training, racing, gear, and nutrition, including plenty of specific gems like blister prevention, drop bag strategy, troubleshooting electrolyte and hydration issues, and even how to efficiently go to the bathroom mid-run. Advice from elites, interwoven throughout, provides a different perspective and adds interest. The information is practical and actionable.

By the end of this book you’ll have an extensive tool kit for improving your ultrarunning game, and you’ll most definitely be excited to get out on a run. One of this book’s many valuable legacies is its title, a worthy mantra for any ultra athlete slogging through the depths of an absurdly long effort.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#8 Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel by Jason Robillard

Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel by Jason Robillard
For ultrarunning enthusiasts who’ve already read a few books on the subject, this hilarious and irreverent book is guaranteed to offer at least a few new gems. Its informal tone makes for easy reading while imparting some seriously useful knowledge.

Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel is packed with information learned the hard way, including how to find emergency drinking water without a filter, how to run at night without a light, and how to cut things off with an annoying training partner without hurting their feelings. Plus, of course, basics like training, race strategy, and fueling. New and experienced runners alike are guaranteed to learn from this knowledge-packed celebration of ultrarunning experience and culture.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

Contributors to this article
Nita Sweeney from NitaSweeney

Dana Hooshmand from Hooshmand

Laura Durenberger from The Mindful Mom Blographer

Paul Ronto from RunRepeat

Alissa from Exploring Wild

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