The 17 Best Audiobooks for Running

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Looking for a great audiobook to listen to during your run?

Instead of playing mindless music, you can use your run to check out a great book that both inspires you and provides educational information on your favorite sport.

In this article, we have gathered the 17 best audiobooks you can listen to in order to hype up your running experience. These audiobooks will inspire and motivate you in achieving your goal of becoming a great runner.

About the Author: Christopher McDougall is an American journalist and author. His book Born to Run was named the 2009 best-selling ethnography, and has sold over three million copies. Prior to writing this international bestseller, McDougall was a professional foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, covering wars in Africa. 

His fascination with the seemingly unlimited amount of potential that humans have inspired him to pursue a writing career focused on this passion. His success has led to the current production of this book into a movie.

About the Book: In this book, McDougall shares how he found the tribe (Tarahumara Indian tribe) that taught him how to be a great distance runner. As you listen to the book, it will show you that everything you thought about running is wrong. 

His inspiration for this book stemmed from the tribe’s ability to run extreme distances in excess of 100 miles at great speeds while avoiding injury. After being repeatedly sidelined with the common injuries that impact many American runners, he found the resilience of this tribe’s physical abilities to be something worth studying.

McDougall describes to listeners how he learned to overcome and avoid his running injuries by imitating the technique of the Tarahumara tribe. He argues that the typical cushioned running shoes that Americans use are a principal factor in common running injuries (Tarahumara runners wear thin sandals when they run), which likely explains the extensive increase of running-related injuries since 1972, which is when modern running shoes hit the market.

In addition to exploring the running techniques of the Tarahumara tribe, McDougall examines why humans, unlike other primates, have developed physical characteristics that allow for endurance running. He posits that humans were able to move away from forests and into grasslands by developing the capability to run long distances to physically hunt down prey.

Listeners find that McDougall communicates using a sharp wit and a sense of joy as he talks about everything from Harvard’s high-tech science labs to the deep valleys and frozen mountain peaks in North America, where extreme runners can push themselves beyond any expected limits. This audiobook engages listeners’ minds and serves as an inspiration for runners who need to be reminded that human bodies were made to have the ability to run.

About the Author: Sanya Richards-Ross is a Jamaican-African former international track and field athlete now representing the United States. She is an Olympic legend, as she is the fastest American woman to ever run 400 meters, and a seven-time world championship medalist in athletics.

In addition to her running success, Sanya is an entrepreneur, humanitarian, public speaker, and TV personality. She founded the Sanya Richards-Ross Fast Track Program in Jamaica, whose mission is to train children in literacy, physical education, and healthy eating. Her programs teach and empower children while also providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in life.

About the Book: In this audiobook, Sanya shares all the challenges she faced before finally achieving triumph and victory. These include her 2016 Olympic Trials injury, which forced her to retire just weeks before Rio. This is a great option for those who are religious and look to God for personal strength. 

Sanya’s story inspires listeners to know that God is with them while they are putting their utmost effort into running their races. Her story is able to give runners of all skill levels a sense of renewed strength to live the best life possible.

Sanya details both triumphant and heartbreaking stories leading up to her becoming a world-class runner. Listeners are inspired by her worldwide travels, starting with a childhood in Jamaica and Athens, and progressing on to the Olympics in Beijing and London. 

Sanya offers her unique points of view that she has learned through her victories and losses, leading up to her career-ending injury during the Rio Olympic Trials in 2016. Sanya explains how this devastating event was ultimately able to bring her closer to her final goal of becoming the person that God intended her to be.

About the Author: Originally from Manhattan, Ida Keeling is a legend in the running industry. She is a 101-year-old world-record-holding runner who won not just marathon races, but also life battles. 

Ida was trained by her daughter, Cheryl, who also holds world records in running. In 2016, Ida became the first woman in history at the age of 100 to finish a 100-meter race. Her finishing time of 1:17.33 was seen by 44,469 onlookers at the 2016 Penn Relays.

About the Book: This audiobook is Ida Keeling’s memoir in which she shares her biggest trials in life—how she braved depression, fought for the civil rights movement, and found the strength to move on after the brutal murder of her two sons.

Known as “Miss Ida” throughout her Bronx community, her fierce independence helped her maintain strength through the Depression and Civil Rights movement, which were mere stepping-stones to the battles she fought to seek justice for the deaths of her sons. 

After failing to find justice, Ida lost her sense of strength and hope to carry on. However, after being encouraged by her daughter at the age of 67, Ida began her running career, which brought her a renewed sense of purpose.

Listeners appreciate Ida’s clear message of what it takes to overcome hardships in life. From growing up as a child of immigrants to raising four children alone, Ida offers advice that has stood the test of time, and that she has been able to gather from a lifetime of watching the changes that our country has endured, as well as her lifelong faith in Jesus.

About the Author: Catriona Menzies-Pike is a journalist and essayist focusing on feminism, politics, and literary culture. As a doctor of English literature, she is editor of the Sydney Review of Books. Most importantly, she is a marathon runner. In 2007 she ran her first half marathon, and she has not stopped since.

About the Book: In this book, Catriona shares with us how running helped her cope with the loss of her parents 10 years after they died. While she had not been able to effectively face this tragedy, once she began training for a half marathon, she realized she could make progress with her recovery from depression with the help of running.

As she uncovers her own experience with running, Catriona also explores the history of other women who have turned to running for their mental and physical health. 

She shares her findings of a history of restraint and denial, as running was once thought to jeopardize women’s ability to have children. As recently as the 1960s, women were discouraged to run. However, women showed courage and achieved success in their running.

Listeners enjoy Catriona’s real-life stories of trail-blazing athletes and her analysis of female runners in ancient myths, pop culture, and literature. She shares with the reader why she runs, and why other women do too.

About the Author: Kathrine Switzer is an American author and TV commentator. But more than that, she is a great marathon runner who fought for the rights of women in joining marathons. Switzer is a pioneer in women’s running, as she was the woman who completed the 1967 Boston Marathon against the wishes of race officials. Women were not officially welcomed into that marathon until 1972, but Switzer was out to prove that women have what it takes before the country was willing to accept it.

About the Book: In this book, Switzer shares her 1967 Boston Marathon experience, where one of the event coordinators disqualified her from joining the all-male race. She fought for her rights (with the help of her then-boyfriend) and ended up finishing the race. Switzer shares her struggles and accomplishments as a distinctive woman in the history of sports.

She recaps the childhood events that inspired her to fight for her right to compete in this sport and ultimately win the New York City Marathon in 1974. Listeners find this book to be a thoughtfully written memoir that offers an important life lesson on turning negatives into positives. After listening to this book, you will understand the importance of showing up, working hard, and never quitting.

About the Author: Dawn Dais is a freelance writer and designer known for her various best-selling books. She uses a uniquely sarcastic yet motivating tone in her writing about topics ranging from motherhood to couponing to running. While she doesn’t take herself too seriously, her work offers readers both information and inspiration.

About the Book: In this book, Dawn Dais shares her funny story of how she discovered her love for running. She didn’t like running at first, and it didn’t like her either. But then she realized how running can help someone feel so much more organized in their life. This might be the right book for you if you don’t feel like you were born to be a runner, but also wonder what it would feel like to cross a finish line one day.

Dais lays out a realistic marathon training schedule, in addition to various tips for beginners and funny observations that are often left out of books related to running. She shares personal journal entries to teach aspiring runners about the necessary gear, the art of early morning workouts, the proper way to fuel your body with food, and the great rewards you get from running. The author brings a light-hearted approach to running, which allows listeners to feel more comfortable with their marathon preparations.

About the Author: Jennifer Pharr Davis is a runner, but is better known for her distance hiking. She is also a NatGeo adventurer and an American Hiking Society ambassador. Jennifer has hiked over 14,000 miles on six different continents throughout her career. She has set several records, including the record for the fastest time a woman has ever hiked the Appalachian Trail (57 days and 8 hours), as well as the speed record for the Long Trail (finishing in 7 days and 15 hours).

About the Book: In this book, Davis focuses on women’s strength to endure distance running and hiking. She shares some life lessons that women (and men, too) can use to motivate and push themselves to their limits to achieve their goals.

Davis reveals the secrets behind endurance athletics as she talks about her accomplishments in hiking, backpacking, and trail running. Listeners enjoy her detailed descriptions as she recounts her training and record setting, while analyzing and testing various theories and methodologies that were taught to her.

She teaches complex rituals and breaks down histories into approachable tips and action items that will help you improve your endurance and unlock a newfound sense of grit and perseverance that is needed to achieve your personal bests in everything that you do.

About the Author: Becky Wade is an inspirational romance novel writer, but also a professional long-distance runner. She is known for her lighthearted writing style that is both modern and contemporary. She is a three-time Olympic Trials participant and a California International Marathon champion.

About the Book: In this book Wade shares her exploration experience of visiting different global running communities over the course of a year. She tries to uncover the secrets of successful runners all over the world. After visiting nine countries, staying with 72 host families, and running over 3,500 miles, she is able to explain how fellow runners in other countries approach this sport, and how her experiences can change your outlook on running.

Listeners appreciate learning about Becky’s unexpected adventures, perceptive insights, and detailed landscape descriptions that reveal what distance running looks like around the world. After her year-long journey, Becky incorporated pieces of the diverse training styles she’d learned into her own regimen, which led to a boost in her competitive career. She became the third-fastest female marathon runner under the age of 25 in U.S. history, which qualified her for the 2016 Olympic Trials and scored her a professional sponsorship from Asics.

Becky’s secrets to her running success that she shares in this book offer you an opportunity to change the way you approach your own running. Listeners find Wade to be endearing as she offers an insider’s look at the determination and spirit that is shared by runners worldwide.

About the Author: An award-winning author, Jen A. Miller regularly contributes to the New York Times weekly running newsletter. She is also a contributor to Runner’s World, The Outline, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, and other online magazines. She has completed five marathons in 10 years and enjoys writing honest and witty accounts of her experiences.

About the Book: Running: A Love Story is not your ordinary love story. Miller shares how she discovered running and made it her escape. She tells the story of how this particular sport inspired her to be focused, motivated, and disciplined. She also offers readers tips on the various ways that running can help lead to empowerment.

This book details Miller’s training while also navigating her personal relationships, which had their ups and downs, similar to a marathon route. Miller explains how running has taught her how to push herself, love herself first, and find the independence, discipline, and self-confidence that she didn’t know she had.

Listeners find this audiobook to be unique because Miller is honest, up-front, and approachable in her writing style. She narrates this book in a way that lets you feel like it is just the two of you talking and sharing stories with each other.

About the Author: Haruki Murakami is known for his vivid imagination and unique style of writing, particularly in his clever novels such as Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart. But more than just an iconic writer, Murakami is also a passionate runner—one that treats running as a sacred activity. 

His books—both fiction and non-fiction—have been bestsellers in Japan and internationally, as his work has been translated into 50 languages and sold millions of copies around the world. He has received a variety of awards, including the World Fantasy Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Jerusalem Prize.

About the Book: This book is an autobiography of Murakami’s discovery of running and how it helped him realize his passions in life. He describes how writing and running have intersected and together become his passions. He shares how running shaped his outlook on life and even his perspective on writing.

Haruki Murakami details his training for the New York City Marathon and the progress he made while doing so. He explains to his audience the result of the combination of his two passions, resulting in detailed insights and stories, including the pinnacle moment in which he decided to become a writer. 

Listeners have found this book both funny and philosophical, with moments that are truly reflective. This is a rich and insightful book that elevates people’s innate need for motion.

About the Author: Rich Roll became a #1 bestselling author after publishing Finding Ultra. He is widely known for completing the EPIC5 Challenge (five ironman-distance triathlons on five islands in Hawaii within a week). 

He was an entertainment attorney before dedicating his life to being a full-time wellness and vegan nutrition advocate, public speaker, and worldwide inspiration to others as a transformative example of courage and healthy living.

About the Book: In this book, Roll recounts how he started his remarkable running journey—from being a sedentary, overweight human to becoming a world champion runner. At the age of 40, Roll experienced a defining moment in which he realized his unhealthy lifestyle was something that he wanted to change.

Roll describes the new routine that he adopted, from his vegan lifestyle to his daily exercise regimen. His shift in priorities led Roll to morph from an overweight couch potato into an endurance athlete. 

Listeners learn about this amazing journey that led him to the elite Ultraman competition, in which the world’s fittest humans embark on a 320-mile journey of swimming, biking, and running. Following this competition, Rich overcame the intense task of completing the EPIC5 Challenge in less than a week.

Listeners appreciate learning about the habits, tools, and techniques Roll uses to obtain an optimal level of performance and wellness, including his nutrition protocols. Listeners also learn how they can take the proper steps to shift their mindsets to reach their untapped potential that can lead to success beyond what they thought possible.

About the Author: John L. Parker is a champion runner and bestselling author. He has written for Runner’s World, Outside, and other various publications. He was the Southeastern Conference mile champion in 1970, and has been a US Track and Field Federation national champion. 

His writings have gained a cult following in the running community. Parker initially pursued a career in law before he ultimately decided that writing was his passion.

About the Book: In this book, Parker shares the essence of running and the competition revolving around it. He focuses on one’s devotion to running to achieve excellence. This book is fiction, but it is loosely based on Parker’s running experience in college. It is loved by many because of its empowering message to people (not just runners) all over the world.

Parker presents the story of Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner who dreams of running a four-minute mile. Just as he finds himself on the brink of achieving his goal, Cassidy gets suspended from school. He goes on to generate the resources he needs to continue striving to reach his goal.

The story of this pursuit lets listeners understand what it means to completely devote yourself to achieving excellence. This beloved sports novel has become a rite of passage for a large population of runners, and was recognized as the most sought-after used book in the U.S. in 2008.

This audiobook presents a rare insider’s perspective on the intense lives of elite athletes and distance runners. Listeners find it to be inspiring, funny, and relatable as they hear the story of one man’s goal to become a champion.

About the Author: Chris Lear is a Princeton runner and magazine author. He was a college roommate of Robert Johnson (co-founder of LetsRun.com), who convinced then-head coach Mark Wetmore to allow Lear to document the Buffaloes’ journey towards the 1988 NCAA Cross Country Championships. 

Lear is known for his luck in gaining unmatched access to team practices, tragic moments, and the techniques used by Mark Wetmore, who is one of the country’s most celebrated and controversial coaches.

About the Book: This book is about the University of Colorado’s cross-country team’s 1988 NCAA season. Lear shares the team’s practices, controversial moments, and devotion, and delves into the mind of Mark Wetmore. Lear offers a compelling look inside the victories and heartaches of a national athlete and the men on the team who would stop at nothing to achieve success.

Adam Goucher, a teammate on the Buffaloes’ 1998 cross-country team, was on his way to achieving his first NCAA cross-country title. But in the harsh world of top-tier collegiate sports, he found that blind misfortune sabotaged his dreams. 

In a season full of injuries and the tragic loss of a teammate, the cross-country team was put through unexpected emotional and physical tests. The team’s achievements during this season, even in the face of adversity, led to its legendary reputation.

Listeners find this book to be read with passion and suspense, as Lear offers insight into what motivates a gifted runner like Adam Goucher, and his exceptional coach, Mark Wetmore. This book is a celebration of the sport, and serves as an inspiration to anyone who has been able to beat the odds and follow their dream.

About the Author: Cheryl Strayed is the author of bestselling books Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things, Torch, and Brave Enough. Additionally, Wild was adapted into a motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon. The author’s books have achieved great success and won many awards. She has also been recognized by Oprah, as Wild was chosen as the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

About the Book: Wild is the memoir of Cheryl Strayed—the story of how one woman went on an 1100-mile solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail to find her lost self and discover life again. 

Strayed tells her story with suspense and a unique style, adding in warmth and humor to capture the terrors she endured and victories she enjoyed on a journey that challenged, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Listeners appreciate that this book is emotionally raw and honest. Strayed offers an inspiring narrative of how she found healing in the aftermath of the death of her mother. Even if you are not a runner, you can relate to this story, as Strayed tells an unforgettable story about forgiveness, grief, bravery, and hope.

About the Author: Dean Karnazes is a renowned endurance athlete and bestselling author. He was named by TIME magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.” 

Karnazes discovered his love for running when he was in kindergarten, as he would run home from school each day, and add a little more distance each time. He is known for his achievement of completing the Endurance 50, which is 50 marathons in 50 states on 50 consecutive days.

About the Book: In this book, Karnazes shares his one-of-a-kind, nonstop experience in trekking Death Valley, the South Pole, and the Sierra Nevada. Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes offers listeners insight, openness, and humor that is not often seen in sports memoirs. This book has served as an inspiration to thousands of people to move out of their comfort zones and feel what it is like to feel truly alive.

Karnazes addresses questions that he was often asked during his running journey, including why he runs, what he eats, and how he stays in great shape. Listeners appreciate this honest account of such high achievement.

About the Author: Adharanand Finn is the assistant production editor of The Guardian. He is also a freelance writer and author. His pieces are usually about running, self-awareness, and well-being. He is a former junior cross-country runner and now competes for Torbay Athletic Club in Devon, where he lives with his family.

About the Book: In this book Finn describes his experiences in the training camps of Kenya. A mixture of a travelogue and a memoir, this book reveals the secrets and advice of the world’s greatest runners.

Finn’s experiences combine a new perspective on barefoot running, practical running advice, and his fulfillment of a lifelong dream of running with the best of the best. He recounts his days running side-by-side with Olympic champions, new runners who hoped to one day be successful, and barefoot schoolchildren. 

He introduces listeners to a cast of unforgettable characters, and, through his daily challenges of running and raising his family abroad, is able to pass on invaluable lessons about both running and life.

About the Author: Chrissie Wellington is a four-time Ironman World Champion and a world record holder. But, more important than that, she is a mom and a wife who lives to run and serve her family.

About the Book: A Life Without Limits tells the story of how Chrissie Wellington rose to the top. She shares her journey towards winning the Ironman World Championship on her first-ever try. As a newcomer to running and an unknown athlete to the press, Chrissie’s win shocked people involved with the sport.

In this story, she recounts her rise to success, starting with her childhood in England and progressing to her experiences in the mountains of Nepal and her travels through other countries before being the first to cross the finish line in the Ironman World Championships. 

This first-hand account is inspiring, and details Wellington’s struggles throughout her journey. She also uses this opportunity to use sports to improve her listeners’ lives.

Bonus:

About the Author: William McRaven is a retired navy admiral of the United States Special Operations Command. He spent 37 years serving the US Navy.

About the Book: Make Your Bed was originally a speech to the graduating class of the University of Texas. The speech went viral, and this led McRaven to write about his life as a military servant. 

In this audiobook, he shares the 10 principles he learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges throughout his life. He also explains how listeners can use these basic lessons to improve themselves.

McRaven recounts stories both from his own life and the lives of people he met in the military who endured struggles and made difficult decisions with strength and courage. Told with modesty and optimism, this book gives listeners wisdom, practical advice, and encouraging words to help inspire success, even during times of struggle.

About the Author: Laura Vanderkam is a writer, author, and speaker. Her writings and speeches are usually about work-life balance, parenting, time management, career, and self-development.

About the Book: In this book Vanderkam explains how mornings can affect our whole day. The key to taking control of your schedule is in the way you spend your mornings. Vanderkam tells real-life anecdotes and turns to scientific research to show listeners the importance of the early hours of the day. 

She reveals how successful people are able to use mornings to accomplish things that become neglected later in the day. Being able to get up and get going can lead to victories that improve your health, career, and personal life without disrupting your entire schedule.

Listeners are inspired to rethink their routines in the morning to get more accomplished than they would normally do before lunch.

About the Author: Laura Hillenbrand is the author of two bestselling non-fiction books—Seabiscuit and Unbroken—which have both sold over 10 million copies and been adapted into films.

About the Book: This book is the true story of Lt. Louis Zamperini, who survived the epic events of the Second World War. As a teenager, Zamperini was a runner who channeled all of his struggles and defiance into the sport. This helped him make it to the Berlin Olympics. However, when the war came, he had to become an airman.

After surviving a plane crash and becoming stranded in the middle of the ocean, Zamperini had to turn to courage, endurance, and hope to save his life once again. This biography offers a blend of sports, history, and overcoming adversity to deliver a story of an astounding life lived through incredible times.

Conclusion

If you’re the type of runner who needs motivation during your run, then listening to an audiobook might just do the trick. So be sure to check out one (or a few) of the audiobooks we just listed. Who knows? Perhaps that next book you listen to will provide the inspiration to help you hit your next running goal.

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