Spring is here (at least in most parts of the country) and that means outdoor running season. While many of you may have spent the winter on a treadmill, running outside can be a bit an adjustment. Fear not, however, as a few runs on the pavement, and you'll quickly knock the rust off.
The amount of people running races in the United States continues to climb. According to Running USA's annual reports, the number of race finishers in the U.S. was over 18 million in 2019! This includes runners who participated in a wide range of events, from 5Ks to marathons, and everything in between.
We've talked before about the benefits of running, and I also previously wrote about my experience running for 30 days straight. My personal experiences aside, it appears that more and more people are recognizing the benefits of running
Today, we're here to discuss the best books for those looking to train for a 5K, a 10K, or a marathon. Some of our favorites below cover all three, and we also included a link to another website with a 5K training program worth trying.
Whether you're trying to drop a few pounds for that summer beach body or preparing for a local city race, these books should help in preparing both your mind and body to race well. Most importantly, they'll give you the confidence that you're doing the right training at a cadence that keeps you injury free and physically able to handle the miles you're looking to race.
Why Read One of These Books?
In a nutshell, all of the books below can help you with your overall:
Expertise: These books are written by experienced runners and coaches who have a deep understanding of the sport.
Technique: They provide insight into proper running technique, which can help you avoid injury and improve your performance.
Motivation: We can all benefit from some fresh inspiration and motivation to help stay focused and committed to your training.
With that, let's look at our favorite books for those training for a 5k, 10k, or marathon race.
Training for a 5K
The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David A. Whitsett, Forrest A. Dolgener, and Tanjala Mabon Kole
Although the title suggests it's for a marathon, I know a lot of folks that have used this simply to start running consistently.
The book provides a comprehensive 16-week training program designed to gradually build up your endurance and strength, without causing injury or burnout. The program includes detailed weekly training schedules, strength training exercises, stretching routines, and nutrition advice.
The authors also share personal stories, tips, and insights from their experiences as marathon runners and trainers, to inspire and motivate you to stick with the program.
Runner's World Big Book of Running for Beginners by Jennifer Van Allen, Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot
This book provides a step-by-step plan for beginners who want to train for a 5k.
The book covers everything from the basics of running gear and proper running form, to building endurance, avoiding injuries, and developing a training plan. It also includes information on nutrition, weight loss, cross-training, and racing.
The authors, who are all experienced runners and writers for Runner's World magazine, share their knowledge and advice in an approachable and easy-to-understand way. They also include inspirational stories from runners of all levels, making the book relatable.
Hal Higdon's 5K Training by Hal Higdon
This isn't a book per se, but rather a training program that Hal offers on his website. As the longest contributor to Runner's World and the author of 36 books on running, Hal knows a thing or two about training.
Training for a 10K
Run Faster: From the 5K to the Marathon by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald
While not specifically focused on the 10k, this book offers a wealth of training advice and tips for runners looking to improve their speed and endurance.
The book includes detailed training plans for runners of different abilities and goals, as well as advice on nutrition, injury prevention, and mental preparation. The authors, who are both experienced coaches and runners, also provide insights on training methods, such as intervals, tempo runs, and long runs, and explain how to incorporate them into a personalized training plan.
In addition, the book covers topics such as strength training, flexibility, and recovery, which are often overlooked but essential for improving running performance and preventing injuries.
The Competitive Runner's Handbook by Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover
This book covers a wide range of topics, including training programs, race strategies, nutrition, injury prevention, and mental preparation. It includes detailed training schedules for runners of different abilities, as well as tips on how to modify the schedules to meet individual needs and goals.
One thing that I liked specifically is the guidance on race preparation, including tapering, pacing, and mental strategies. The authors also provide seasoned advice on selecting and training for specific races, from 5Ks to ultramarathons.
Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels
This book is widely regarded as one of the best resources for distance runners, and offers detailed training plans and advice for runners at all levels.
The book covers a wide range of topics related to running, including physiology, biomechanics, and psychology, and provides a detailed framework for designing and implementing personalized training plans.
The author, Jack Daniels, is a renowned running coach and exercise physiologist, and the book is based on his decades of experience working with runners of all levels.
The book covers a variety of training methods, including interval training, tempo runs, and long runs, and provides detailed guidance on how to incorporate these methods into a training plan tailored to an individual's fitness level and goals. It also includes advice on nutrition, injury prevention, and race preparation.
Training for a Marathon
Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas
This book is geared toward experienced runners and offers advanced training plans and advice for improving performance and achieving a new personal record.
One unique aspect of the book is its focus on the mental aspects of marathon training, including strategies for overcoming negative thoughts, staying motivated, and maintaining focus during the race.
Hansons Marathon Method by Luke Humphrey
This book presents a unique approach to marathon training that focuses on high-mileage, quality workouts, and active recovery to help runners achieve their goals.
The book is based on the training philosophy and methods developed by the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, a successful running team in the United States.
In a nutshell, the method is characterized by high-mileage training, with a focus on running at a moderate pace for long distances, and incorporating tempo runs, intervals, and long runs. The program is designed to gradually increase the volume and intensity of training over time, in order to build endurance and speed while minimizing the risk of injury.
Run Less, Run Faster by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss
This book provides a comprehensive training program, which is based on a unique approach to training, known as the FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) program.
The FIRST program involves running three days a week, with two days of cross-training, such as cycling or swimming. The running workouts include a speed workout, a tempo workout, and a long run, each tailored to the individual's fitness level and goals.
One unique aspect of the book is its emphasis on the importance of quality over quantity in training. By reducing the amount of time spent running and focusing on high-intensity workouts, runners can improve their performance while reducing the risk of injury.
As always, if you had a book that helped you train for a race, we'd love to hear about it. Drop us a line below.
For those looking to supplement their race plans with a better diet, see our article here for both recommendations on sports nutrition and a cookbook that we've found useful.
Last, if you're looking for races in your area, check out this race list on Running In The USA's website. It's a tremendous resource for different types of runs and distances.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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