5 Must Read Books For Ultra Runners
Elite ultra marathon athletes spend decades evolving into the runners they are today. Many grow up as a runner eventually navigating their way into the ultra-running world. Eventually, some put their life long work into a single book. Think about the opportunity to gain experience that may be found on those pages and the amount of time this can save us in our own running career. To have a professional’s 20 or 30 year journey put into 200 or 300 pages of detail is the shortest path to success available. Not only that, but, in ultra running these books help broaden our relatively closed and clouded minds to an entirely new dynamic of living. To read up on these athletes who have forged ahead in human endurance, shattering what we believed to once be impossible is a mind-altering occurrence. Here are 5 books geared towards ultra runners, written by ultra runners, and are an opportunity to broaden your own mind to surpass the limits you might be holding within yourself.
Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Christopher McDougall
Deep in the valleys of Mexico’s Copper Canyon lies a small group of super endurance natives known as the Tarahumara Indians. The Tarahumara tribe is best known for their traditionally long enduring runs, natural eating habits, and injury free lifestyles. Christopher McDougall, an award-winning journalist and passionate runner, set off to learn the secrets of the Tarahumars and delivered them into the pages of his best seller, Born To Run. This is certainly a must read for anyone interested in running in general but specifically for those who are contemplating entering into the realm of ultra marathons. Born To Run discusses not only ultra running itself but also explains the science behind how our species is, you guessed it, born to run. Personally, I read this book prior to entering into ultra marathon training and this unique tale will assist in the expansion of your conscious mind ultimately helping to eliminate self-doubt in running and bring into light what the human body is actually made for, running.
Eat & Run
by Scott Jurek
World famous ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek, specifically known for breaking unbelievable running records through a plant-based diet, writes an epic tale of his journey into ultra marathon running. Within the ultra-marathon running world, he put veganism on the map. Most recently he broke the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikes speed record traveling 2,189 miles, across 14 states with 515,000 feet of elevation change in 46 days. In his book, Scott Jurek not only highlights his extraordinary achievements, but he also takes you on the ride from his steak and potato eating childhood as he evolved into a veganism ultra running lifestyle. If you’re into biography style content and are a vegan athlete or a distance runner yourself, then, this book is an absolute most. Eat & Run uncovers what it actually takes to be a “speedgoat” of running.
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
by Dean Karnazes
Famously known for completing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days and humorously notorious for ordering pizza delivery during his exceedingly long training runs, Ultramarathon man Dean Karnazes writes about some of his most incredible running adventures to date. If it’s winning the Badwater 135 through Death Valley, running 262 miles without rest, or pioneering the first marathon to the South Pole, Dean Karnazes is one ultra runner’s book that any athlete can benefit from. Ultramarathon Man is not only intriguing and inspirational but is written in a style that is both relatable and relative even for a non-ultra marathon runner. This is one reason why he has so elogantley streamlined ultra marathon running, a once unrecognized sport that flew well below the athletic radar. If I remember correctly, I read this one while training for my first ultra marathon. Reading his stories makes the impossible seem much more possible with each turn of the page.
Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss
by Dean Karnazes
The Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes followed up Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of An All-Night Runner with this incredibly remarkable and humorously truthful book filled ironically with 26.2 relatively short stories of 26.2 exceptionally long runs. Known for blazing the trails of the ultra-marathon scene, Dean The Machine brings you frontline and center, deep into his thought process of becoming and developing into one of the greatest super endurance athletes on the planet. It’s an incredible read for those ready to hit the ground ultra running or even for those who seek a glimpse into to the world of endurance sports. Enjoy stories of running through the Australian Outback, Antarctica, or even the plain old streets of New Jersey. I remember reading this book before my first 100-mile ultra marathon. We are surprisingly surrounded by inspiration everywhere, all we need to do is look for it, and in this book, it will be found.
Slow Burn: Burn Fat Faster By Exercising Slower
by Stu Mittleman and Katherine Callan
What an incredibly fresh perspective on endurance running and what it actually takes to run long distance. I love the way this book discusses how we can accomplish more with less effort if we learn how to change our focus. As they say, where focus goes energy flows. Stu Mittleman provides an absolutely fantastic delivery on his effective program for creating an abundance of energy and endurance. Personally, as an ultra-runner I could easily relate. I was already unknowingly practicing much of what he preached and was relieved to view it in a simplified and organized fashion. He stresses the essential points of developing an efficient fat burning metabolism and the importance of keeping your mind in the present while running. Stu is known for winning competitions for 6 day races, breaking the 1000 mile time record, and for running across the United States. The pages of this book are a host to a fresh outlook away from the typical sugar burning, acidic state, that most runners come from and is a great tool for ultra runners to increase their knowledge and develop new strategies. It also stresses the significance of awareness towards your body and its surroundings. Slow Burn can authentically assist a runner to produce results through a simplified process. Just go buy the book and simply execute his strategies. A thumbs up for both novice and experienced ultra runners alike.
The symphony of words that are conducted together within the pages of these 5 books are what delivers us a melody of organically developed inspiration. In addition, the earth-shattering running records held and discussed by these ultra-running authors were once hidden under the radar. The accomplishments are so extreme that people seem not to comprehend or rationalize the magnitude of such an incredibly enduring feats. You see, it’s easy to grasp what it takes to earn a hat trick in hockey or break a rushing record in football, but running 262 miles straight with no sleep just doesn’t make sense to most. For ultra-runners, however, these nonsensical acts thought by most are both inspirational and motivational. It is these kinds of stories that motive us to push the envelope in our own running endeavors blowing past our own personal bests once identified as limits. These 5 books hold a wealth of knowledge that can drive us to our next goal as runners, our next ultra goal, and can provide us with just enough push to take that leap into the unknown and cross that finish line we so desirably seek.