5 Books for the Teenage Runner

As summer comes along, it signifies to most teens the end of school’s agonizing workload and heralds a new, brief era of laziness and freedom. To others, it is not the end of their struggles, but the beginnings of a new one: summer running. How one could drag themselves through the blistering heat for miles on end is beyond some people. These books, however, may help you delve into the runner’s mind and learn about what compels them. Perhaps they’ll even encourage you to start going out for brisk, summer jaunts! For runners, these can and hopefully will give you some much-needed motivation to help you push past any laziness or despair you feel in the face of your daily run or workout. Those who’re already gifted with the drive to hit the trails everyday will also benefit from these books’ inspirations.

borntorunBorn to Run by Christopher McDougall
In Mexico’s Copper Canyons, there lives a tribe of Native Americans known as the Tarahumara. These people are renowned for their almost god-like endurance abilities that allow them to effortlessly run hundreds of miles without needing rest and free of injury. McDougall tracks them down in search of their secrets and in doing so, explores running’s history spanning back centuries across the globe. As McDougall discusses today’s ultra-running legends, what modern running shoes are really doing to us, and some of the most astounding feats of athleticism this world has seen, Born to Run is an engaging and intriguing read.


oncearunner Once a Runner by John L. Parker
Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner in a Southeastern university, runs the mile. As Paul O’Neil put it, “A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he cannot carry them out without physical suffering.” And suffer he does. Parker’s novel, originally self-published and sold from the trunk of his car, tells the strenuous tale of Cassidy’s struggle to glory in the 70’s. Thrown off his track team for participating in a protest against the Vietnam War, he falls under the guidance of Bruce Denton, an Olympic gold medalist, so that he can go toe-to-toe with history’s greatest miler. A cult classic among runners, it is an endearing tale of sacrifice, dedication, and challenge like no other.

perfectmile The Perfect Mile by Neil Bascomb
Continuing on the topic of the mile race, we come to Bascomb’s retelling of three men’s pursuit for what was once considered to be a biologically impossible achievement: breaking the four-minute barrier in the mile. Although all three came from wildly different backgrounds, they all sought the same goal with a blazing passion. We follow their prodigious origins in their early school years to climactic international competitions that were held in even higher regard than many modern mainstream sports. Bascomb crafts this legend into a fascinating book that captures the essence of that time period and the heat of the races that happened during it.


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
For many, running is a way to stay in shape and maintain good health. For most others, it is something transcendent. Murakami gives us a gaze into what running can mean as not just a physical exercise, but a mental and spiritual exercise. He recounts with great flourish some of his most impressive races and not what happened to his body during them as much as what was happening in his head. Murakami offers a great, philosophical perspective on running that is not seen very often.


scienceofrunning The Science of Running by Steve Magness
For the intense runner sick and tired of training books dedicated to helping newbies shuffle their way through their first, sluggish 5k, there’s finally a guide for you. Not meant for those weak of mind, will, or body, this book is an intricately detailed scientific look at what’s happening when you run and how to optimize your training to become the best athlete you can. Magness explains how your body responds and utilizes different types of training and how it should be manipulated to maximize your fitness and covers events as short as the 800m to the marathon. Intended for the truly dedicated runner, this incredibly helpful book can help you take your beginning steps to greatness.

–Ira, Greenwood, Teen Blogger


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