3 Fantastic Books That Will Get You Running

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life

because you get out of it what you put into it” 

Oprah Winfrey



I remember the first time our PE teacher (physical education for the non-Brits!) said “today we‘re doing a cross country run”.


Cross country” for us was more like a run around the streets closest to our school; so not a spot of nature in sight, just plenty of cars and houses. I hated every minute of it.


At one point during my school years, I somehow got nominated to run an 800m race for the school dragging myself in circles around a field, I hated that too.


In my late teens, I joined a gym and discovered the treadmill and had an aha moment…‘so the problem is running outside, on a treadmill is fine’.


As a self-declared control freak, the treadmill gave me the chance to see what speed I was running, how many calories I was burning, and to be able to create fake hills only when I wanted them!!


And for the younger generation…this was before the days that everyone had heart rate watches and phones that tell you every single detail of your life you could ever wish for!


But on the treadmill, it was always about “exercise” and keeping my body a certain size…if I‘m honest, I didn‘t exactly enjoy that either.


In my late 20’s thankfully I got back outside! Since then my love of running has blossomed and bloomed. Now it’s at a point where it’s no longer only about getting fit, it‘s also about my mental health and so much more.


I was chatting to a friend recently who said for her running has also become a kind of therapy.



“Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing release from whatever other cares the day may bring.”

Jimmy Carter


Long gone are my days of pounding the treadmill, now I always take my fat (and very lovely if I do say so myself) arse outside instead. As a result, it’s also become about connecting with nature – I’m no longer running around the school field just to be clear – and about connecting with myself.


When I first started running more frequently I couldn’t do it without listening to music, but now I love it so much I often switch my headphones off and just listen to the noises around me; or the sound of my own breath; or the pumping of my heart.


And if I’ve been stuck trying to process something mentally or emotionally, I find a lot of clarity during and after a run. To the point where on many runs I have to stop and make notes in my phone because the number of ideas that come to me is insane!


I get into a mental state where I’m not thinking of anything, so then of course suddenly the ideas just start coming. As one of the authors who we’ll explore more shortly would agree…


“I knew aerobic exercise was a powerful antidepressant, but I hadn’t realised it could be so profoundly mood stabilising and—I hate to use the word—meditative. If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.”  

Christoper McDougall


So if you‘ve always wanted to start running or simply want to commit to a more a regular practice, check out these 3 books that will definitely help you on the way…


Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley


Recommended for:

When you need a gentle nudge to get started, like your Mom waking you up with a cup of tea and a piece of toast at 11am on a Saturday morning (to be clear I don’t think my Mom ever did this, but you get the sentiment!)


This book, as you can probably guess from the title, is aimed primarily at women. Not that you couldn’t read it no matter what you identify as of course.


The story is split into two parts, the first covers the authors own running journey from starting up to running marathons…


“My new-found physical ease didn’t merely translate to moving my arse closer to the holy grail of :“looking better in jeans” but to making the world seem smaller, more accessible on foot.

It became – and remains – a delicious pleasure to stride up the lefty-hand side of the escalator in a Tube station, my breathing steady and the strength of my own legs powering me faster to whoever I‘ve chosen to be.

I imagine people wondering how I‘ve done it and the answer is simple: I decided to be able to”


Whilst the second part of the book focuses on women within running history, those who have fought to make it possible for women to compete in running as a sport at a professional level in races across the globe.


Like Roberta ‘Bobbi’ Gibb who in early 1966 received a letter from the Boston Marathon race director stating “women were not physiologically capable of running twenty-six miles, and further more, under rules that governed international sports they were not allowed to” her response was….


“All the more reason to run”


And Joan Benoit Samuelson who pushed insistently “along with the support of her sponsors Nike to make 1984 the first year of the inaugural women‘s Olympic marathon.”


Alexandra Heminsley also gives tips on making sure to get the right running shoes and bra, because let’s face it nobody needs their bosom’s to be flying around everywhere.


Honestly, this book will get you out there wiggling all your jiggly bits like you just don‘t care! Reference above: not your boobs though please ladies.


Whether you want to jog around your local park or even build up to marathons, as this book will highlight…we really owe it to all the amazing women that came before us just to get out there and at least give it a go.



Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins


Recommended for:

When you need a serious kick up the arse, like having a drill sergeant waking you up at 5am on a Sunday morning!


I’ll confess I actually listened to this as an audiobook, whilst a colleague read the book at the same time. We both absolutely loved it!

The one benefit with the audiobook, is that David Goggins also gives mini interviews with the narrator between each chapter to share more details of his story.

It‘s also probably best to note that this book isn‘t completely about running, it covers all aspects of Goggins‘s life from his difficult childhood to his military career.


“We habitually settle for less than our best; 

at work, in school, in our relationships, and on the playing field or race course. 

We settle as individuals, and we teach our children

to settle for less than their best, and all of that ripples out, merges,

and multiplies within our communities and society as a whole.”


But the other information he shares just sets the scene for the other parts that cover his running accolades, physical achievements, adventures and general “what is this crazy mother f*****r going to do now” shenanigans. Oh yeah…and if you’re offended by bad language you might want to give this book a miss!!


This book had me laughing, crying and everything in between. I challenge you not to LOL when you get to the “Oh shit, Goggins is back on the log. I repeat, Goggins is back on the log!”


This book got me out of bed at 5.30am in the morning to do my runs before work, it’s truly a book to stop you making excuses!!


“We all waste so much time doing meaningless bullsh*t. 

We burn hours on social media and watching television,

which by the end of the year would add up to entire days

and weeks if you tabulated time like you do your taxes. 

You should, because if you knew the truth

you’d deactivate your Facebook account STAT,

and cut your cable. 

When you find yourself having frivolous conversations

or becoming ensnared in activities that don’t

better you in any way, move the f*ck on!”


Let‘s get one thing clear, I‘m not suggesting you take it to the extremes that he does in the book – but it definitely gives you an insight to what is truly possible when we put our mind, motivation and commitment into something.


Trust me, if you need a kick this might be just what you need!




Born To Run by Christopher McDougall



Recommended for:

When you can already get out of bed for a run by yourself “thank you very much”, BUT you need that extra inspiration to improve your form or start increasing your distance.


I actually bought this book for my husband and it lay on a shelf untouched for quite a while…until I picked it up and read it myself.


This book was incredible because it goes into so many different aspects of running. It explores our history of running as humans – how and why we are designed for running…


Leonardo da Vinci considered the human foot, with its fantastic weight-suspension system comprising one quarter of all the bones in the human body, “a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”


It compares our running abilities to other species within the animal kingdom and how we differ….


“If you can run six miles on a summer day then you, my friend, are a lethal weapon in the animal kingdom. We can dump heat on the run, but animals can’t pant while they gallop.”


McDougall discusses the equipment we use to run….


“Runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40.”


It covers a lot of detail on the Tarahumara and other amazing running communities in the world….


“The Tarahumara may be the healthiest and most serene people on earth, and the greatest runners of all time.”


They explore the impact of running on our health and the importance of a healthy diet..


“According to Dr. Robert Weinberg, a professor of cancer research

at MIT and discoverer of the first tumor-suppressor gene,

one in every seven cancer deaths is caused by excess body fat.

The math is stark: cut the fat, and cut your cancer risk.”


Plus it gives you a good insight into the world of Ultra marathons and some of it’s most famous competitors such as Scott Jurek….


“Ultra running seemed to be an alternative universe where none of planet Earth’s rules applied:

women were stronger than men; old men were stronger than youngsters;

Stone Age guys in sandals were stronger than everybody.”


The beauty of this book is although there‘s a lot of theory, there is also a beautiful storyline built into it all. I found myself super attached to the people whose journey it follows and I desperately wanted to keep reading to know more.


As someone who was already running on a regular weekly basis, this was definitely the book that got me increasing my runs from a mere 30 minutes to closer towards the 1 hour 30 minute mark – and I’m still increasing those times slowly.



“The only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.”


Christopher McDougall


And I can safely say when that comes to running it’s definitely true! Read? Ready? Run!!!!

Rebecca xx







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Rebecca Flecken

Mother of 2, Wife of 1 - the Founder and Owner of Saja Soul. Self confessed book worm and tea lover!