I've come up with my top 10 favorite list in no particular order. I'll be updating this list as I find new or undiscovered material. I'm always on the search for gems I may have missed, so if you have something that you think is worthy let me know as I'd love to check it out. I've put a few comments next to each to give you as sense of my thoughts and you can click each title if you want the Amazon link.
Top 10 Running Books
1) The Art of Running Faster
2) Better Training for Distance Runners
If there is a true classic on the list then this might just be it. Peter Coe wasn't just Seb Coe's Father but an excellent and bright coach that really transformed how many runners (particularly British ones have developed). Word has it that Salazar was also a big fan and has incorporated many of the teachings into his work with Mo Farah and Galen Rupp. I've had this tome for years and was one of the first books I bought. Only last year did I check out the pictures of Seb hefting Olympic barbells and trying to count up the weight he was squatting. The strength training section of this book is one of it's true nuggets. If you ever thought stick thin elite runners were weak - think again.
4) The Lore of Running
The running bible? It could just be. This was my first real running book and I devoured all 944 pages as a teenager. Constantly marking up pages and highlighting sections all the way through. You'll find a wealth of knowledge in here about everything you can think of that's running related. Don't expect training plans or a script though, it's more of a text book on how your body responds to training. You won't be disappointed if you add this to your collection.
5) Run or Die
6) The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing
The second installment on this list from Tim Noakes (just wait until he writes his book on nutrition - due out in a couple of years as I bet that makes the list too). I was drawn to this book at the start of my foray into ultra running and as a way to learn more about hydration needs late in marathon racing. It's a fascinating read, particularly about the history of Gatorade, the trend of hyponatremia and how the media really got behind it. It's slow going in places but there's much to learn and some very simple takeaways. If you have ever had hydration or GI issues then it's well worth a look.
8) Hansons Marathon Method
You've seen the RW article. The one about running your best marathon with only a 16 mile long run. Well, this book puts more meat on the bones of that concept and outlines the strategy behind the Hanson's plan. I was a COMPLETE skeptic when I read this like many of you probably are. It sounded like a get rich quick scheme and too good to be true. The thing is - it works! I didn't go a single mile longer than 16mi before Napa Marathon, ran a 2:56 with almost no soreness after. Quickest recovery post marathon, most fun I have ever had during a marathon and I pretty much had a smile on my face the whole way round. Don't make the mistake of thinking the training is easy. To be able to pull off a quick time you are going to have to work for it in the sessions they outline, but if you are brave enough to give it a go there is much here to learn from your body. It's forever changed how I will train for the marathon and how I think about training and what folks will say as 'the right way to train'. Take a chance and give it a go. What's there to lose?
9) Anatomy for Runners
blog and after taking a renewed focus on stretching and bodywork wanted to check it out. This spoke volumes to me and articulated a lot of what I had been formulating in my mind about the small details I needed to change to become a better runner. He walks you through the basics in a very readable style and outlines a number of tests you can perform to assess your mobility and weaknesses. This is followed up by a series of exercises that you can use to address any problems.
10) You (Only Faster)
Ok, so including this one is a little cheeky. I haven't read it yet. It's on this list as a nod to the man himself, Greg McMillan (no relation and weird that my middle name is Gregg too). If you haven't used the McMillan running calculator prediction tool on his website you can find it here. It's fantastic, and for me accurate to within a couple of seconds across most race distances. Greg has a ton of resources on his website that are 'must reads' for anyone serious about their running. Wendy and I also ran Boston on a plan from Greg so can recommend it to those looking for some extra structure. One of my favorite quotes about training comes from Greg - 'Train optimally, not maximally' and very wise words if you want to stay injury free.
Fats that Heal. Fats that Kill
While not a running or training book, if you have an interest in improving your nutrition and how it might affect your running this is well worth a look. I came across this after experimenting with Udo's Oil and noticing some pretty impressive benefits from taking it. This led me down the path of further research and getting a hand on a copy of Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill. Be warned, science ahead! This can seem like a bit of a text book at times with it's formulas and long chemical names.
For me, I wanted to learn more about fat metabolism, the benefits of good fats and how it might help my performance late in marathons or through ultras. If you have a similar goal or just want to know more about the facts fats play in our life, and how important they are it's well worth checking out.