Best Ultra Running Books

Book rating updated 15.05.2024

Conquer ultra distances! Ranking the best ultra running books of all time – the most popular ultra marathon books a must read.

  1. Born to Run

    24 496 ratings

    The wonder of being able to run through such conditions by the Tarahumara Indians – known as the tribe with the ability to run long distances across the globe – reveals their amazing tenacity. The book is about adventure, personal discovery and scientific investigation. It questions whether those highly sophisticated modern running shoes really have helped or hampered such achievements, and whether simplicity and nature could revolutionize the training of runners. The result is a captivating race that promises to redefine the barriers of human capacity, keeping both eyes on new insights into health, happiness, and the soulful human relationship with running.

  2. Finding Ultra

    6 347 ratings

    Chronicles personal accounts as they turned from an overweight individual to an ultra-endurance athlete. So, get the experience and find out how a real turnaround in one's life can be made through willpower and determination with respect to a change in diet and exercise.

  3. Natural Born Heroes

    4 175 ratings

    It weaves history, deep scientific investigation, and personal narrative together in order to argue that the secrets behind superhuman performance are not really superhuman at all. It makes a foray into the resistance fighters in World War II in Crete and their incredible endurance. It studies the means of natural movement, the ancestral skills, and mental toughness to reach near-impossible physical abilities.

  4. North

    3 625 ratings

    Chronicles the author's record attempt to run the Appalachian Trail. Delves in deep and gives readers some truly honest details of the trials and tribulations—physical, mental, and emotional—that go into completing this epic challenge. Outlines themes of not quitting, self-discovery, and what one can accomplish when they put their mind to it. Preparatory insights, along with gear and how to be adaptable when unforeseen setbacks arise, are also discussed.

  5. Ultramarathon Man

    2 845 ratings

    This bestseller chronicles the author's inspiring story of transformation from a sedentary life to becoming one of the most accomplished ultramarathoners in the ever-growing world of ultrarunning. It shares the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that one has to meet in trying to push back the limits of human endurance. The book provides insights into training, nutrition, and mindset to run across extreme distances. It explores the transformative power of running ultra-marathons and its impact on personal growth and self-discovery.

  6. The Rise of the Ultra Runners

    2 771 ratings

    How did ultrarunning become the fastest-growing sport on Earth, getting so popular among running and adventure books? This book is a combo platter of cultural critique and personal narrative that traces the history of the sport from its fringe roots to the mainstream, embarking on a journey through the crazy personalities and insane motivations that make ultrarunning a movement. It explores the science behind the ultrarunner's feats of endurance, allowing even a seasoned marathoner to run further with less effort. The author's rich narrative of forays into ultrarunning and how testing limits has resulted in personal transformation makes this a compelling read.

  7. The Longest Race

    1 363 ratings

    A memoir by Olympian Kara Goucher about what it was like running in the 2008 Olympic Marathon and her life as an elite runner. Reflection on the physical and emotional tribulations of performing at an elite level and the triumphs and disappointments that occur along the journey. A candid and relatable take on the highs and lows one can go through in the quest to chase after their passions.

  8. Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning

    1 110 ratings

    Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond. The hard-earned wisdom and practical insights of this legendary ultrarunner are shared on training, race strategies, and key skills like pacing, hydration, and mental toughness. It helps people decide which races to run, how to build up a support crew, and how to make sure they recuperate right. Indeed, much is in there by way of anecdote and lessons to be gleaned from his vast experiences in some truly iconic ultras.

  9. Beyond Impossible

    644 ratings

    Chronicling his great feats in ultrarunning, adventurer and record-setting success on some of the world's most grueling tests of human endurance, the author shares the physical, mental, and emotional ordeals of an effort that pushes up against the limits of what many believe is possible, pushing the limits with every kilometer. It is a story about how resilience, determination, and human spirit in adversity can be the vehicles to transcendence, even when others drop behind on race day. This provides a very good example of training, mindset, and goal-setting for the achievement of the seemingly impossible.

  10. The Road to Sparta

    504 ratings

    Reliving the Ancient Battle and Epic Run That Inspired the World's Greatest Footrace - a memoir that recounts the author's experience running the 153-mile Spartathlon, a grueling ultramarathon that traces the historic journey of Pheidippides from Athens to Sparta. Interwoven with his personal narrative, Karnazes explores the history and mythology of ancient Greece, drawing parallels between the endurance of modern-day ultrarunners and the legendary feats of Greek heroes.

  11. 50/50

    440 ratings

    50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days - and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! A memoir chronicling the author's ambitious goal of running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days across all 50 U.S. states. Karnazes shares the physical, mental, and logistical challenges he faced during this extraordinary endurance feat, as well as the triumphs and insights gained along the way. An inspiring testament to the power of setting audacious goals, pushing beyond perceived limits, and embracing the joy of the journey. A must-read for runners and adventurers alike.

  12. Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

    351 ratings

    A complete guide to training for an ultramarathon, with major key areas being: creating sustainable endurance, speed development, and optimizing recovery. Science supporting good approaches to nutrition, hydration, and injury avoidance. Sample plans with case studies from various distances and purposes in ultrarunning. The key features in developing successful, sustainable training programs are individualization and adaptability.

  13. The Ultra Marathon Bible

    184 ratings

    This book provides a great, holistic approach to ultrarunning that many consider to be the best resource for any aspiring or experienced ultramarathoner. It covers all the essential topics, including training, nutrition, mental readiness, and racing tactics. The all-important aspects of endurance development, injury prevention, and fatigue management are addressed in detail. The book offers full personal advice for any distance and terrain, along with training plans, examples, and race-day checklists. All the information is evidence-based and includes the latest research and input from experts in the field.

  14. Sky Runner

    145 ratings

    The book is a narration of how the author went from a small mountain village boy to one of the top skyrunners in the world. It gives an insight into the hard mountain ultra-running world and the way to tackle the problems that come with running at high altitude. Moreover, it touches on the bond running has with nature and self-discovery. Very informative, with very good points about training, mental preparation, and adaptability in moving over technical terrain.

  15. Unleash Your Inner Ultrarunner

    70 ratings

    This must-read among ultrarunning books encourages anyone who feels like trying ultrarunning, regardless of their background. It provides tips on how to psyche up and the right training to help you run your best and surmount the particular challenges and demands of ultrarunning. The book emphasizes the importance of self-belief, adaptability, and perseverance. It offers actionable first steps for beginners to get their mind and body ready to embrace ultramarathons.

  16. Untethered

    58 ratings

    It shares an extraordinary journey of ultrarunning from the first 100-mile race to a record-breaking run across Canada, combining both the gritty and honest account of the challenges, victories, and growth in pushing limits. Chronicles the mental and emotional dimensions of endurance, resilience, and purpose. Discusses perspectives on training, mindset, and how to get balance between the demands of ultrarunning and family life.

  17. Ultrarunning for Normal People

    17 ratings

    It introduces ultrarunning to a general audience, much of it accessible and sensible, covering training essentials, nutrition, top performing gear you need to buy the most comfortable options for ultrarunning that you'll get to keep using even in a half marathon, and race tactics, but also how to fit this all in with work and family, and includes good advice on building up from shorter distances to an ultramarathon. This is the resource that every potential ultrarunner needs, a practical coach in low-key form.


  • What are the best ultra running books ever written?

    These are the top 10 best books for ultra runners of all time and for this year (2024) sorted by rating:

    1. "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall
    2. "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes
    3. "Eat and Run" by Scott Jurek
    4. "Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself" by Rich Roll
    5. "The Rise of the Ultra Runners" by Adharanand Finn
    6. "North" by Scott Jurek
    7. "Running Man" by Charlie Engle
    8. "Out There" by David Clark
    9. "A Life Without Limits" by Chrissie Wellington
    10. "The Extra Mile" by Pam Reed.
  • What are the most popular authors of ultra marathon books?
    • Scott Jurek ("Eat and Run," "North")
    • Dean Karnazes ("Ultramarathon Man," "Run!")
    • Christopher McDougall ("Born to Run")
    • Hal Koerner ("Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning")
    • Rich Roll ("Finding Ultra")
    • Kilian Jornet ("Run or Die")
    • Stu Mittleman ("Slow Burn")
    • Pam Reed ("The Extra Mile")
    • Marshall Ulrich ("Running on Empty")
    • Charlie Engle ("Running Man").
  • What book should you start with to explore the topic of ultrarunning?

    List of must read ultramarathon books for beginners:

    1. "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall
    2. "Eat and Run" by Scott Jurek and Steve Friedman
    3. "Finding Ultra" by Rich Roll.