20 Best Audiobooks for Running Inspiration

Running can be an arduous task, especially for those who are new to the sport. It can also be a life-giving force for those who are already more involved in the running community. Either way, it’s one of the best athletic ventures to couple with a great audiobook. Listening to the inspirational stories of other runners can be just what you need to push through a difficult jog or set a new personal record. Here are the 20 best audiobooks for running that are the perfect partners for your next workout.

Finding Ultra

Finding Ultra is a motivational true story of Rich Roll’s transformation from couch potato to world-class long distance runner and ultratriathlon contender. When Roll decided to turn his life around, he quit processed foods, focused on eating a plant-based diet, and within a few months, he was already running marathons and training for ultramarathons. This audiobook, narrated by the author himself, sheds light on his evolution. He recounts his experiences competing in some of the most strenuous races in the world, such as the Epic5 Challenge: five Ironman-length triathlons that must be completed in less than one week. This revised and updated edition also includes a new introduction, a bonus chapter, and additional resources.

Eat and Run

Scott Jurek is one of the world’s most accomplished long-distance runners. He has won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run seven times and the 135-mile Death Valley Badwater Ultramarathon twice. Eat and Run is his motivational call-to-arms to future long-distance runners as well as an informational guide to training right and eating well. It even includes some of his favorite vegan recipes. For this audiobook, Jurek teamed up with well-known author Steve Friedman and prominent television star Quincy Dunn-Baker, who narrates the audiobook with enthusiasm. Dunn-Baker, who has a long resume as a television actor, uses his acting chops to embody Jurek’s passion for running.

Ultramarathon Man

In Ultramarathon Man: Confession of an All-Night Runner, Earphone Award-winner James Yaegashi brings the unusual story of author Dean Karnazes to life. Karnazes quit running in high school when his cross-country coach retired and didn’t run again until 15 years later, when abruptly he decided to run 30 miles in gardening shoes. Since then, he’s run numerous ultra marathons, once running 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Karnazes’s crazy antics pepper the audiobook with absurd levity: he once ordered a pizza to be delivered on the route of a marathon that he was running, for example. Listeners will also hear about some of the beautiful landscapes he has experienced through running, from Death Valley to the North Pole, which rounds out the audio experience and helps listeners fully immerse themselves in the story.

26 Marathons

Meb Keflezighi is a world-class runner, a four-time Olympian, and since publishing 26 Marathons, he’s become a New York Times best-selling author too. Keflezighi and Scott Douglas, a writer for the popular magazine Runner’s World, give an in-depth look into the trials, tribulations, and joys of long-distance running. As the title suggests, Keflezighi gives insight into how running has impacted who he is as a person, and offers practical advice about things like running routines and dietary habits. Narrator Holter Graham’s precise pronunciation, even pacing, and relaxing voice are the perfect complements to this engaging story.

The Incomplete Book of Running

The Incomplete Book of Running is a guide geared towards amateur runners written by author and narrator Peter Sagal. Sagal is the host of NPR’s famed radio game show, Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!, and his experience on-air is obvious to anyone listening. His voice is charming, clear, and cheerful, and he reads his words with storytelling mastery. This audiobook is a natural pick for fans of his radio show, but it’s also a treat for beginner athletes, because his bright and pleasant way of narrating makes the idea of running accessible and entertaining.

My Year of Running Dangerously

Listeners may recognize Tom Foreman from his job as a broadcaster on CNN, but his audiobook, My Year of Running Dangerously, steps away from his experience as a journalist and digs into his personal life. It starts with a request from his daughter, who asks him to run a marathon with her. With her encouragement, Foreman started training and eventually ran four half-marathons, three marathons, and a 55-mile race. Though the audiobook is centered around his running, it’s insightful for anyone struggling with the challenges of getting older, losing motivation, or simply looking for a good story. Foreman narrates his story with a gentle authenticity and an air professionalism no doubt derived from years in television news.

Once a Runner

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is different from the other books on our list because it’s a piece of fiction. Its protagonist is Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner who aspires to run a four-minute mile. When the Vietnam War hits, his athletic department is left in turmoil, so he makes the decision to continue his training at a monastic retreat, removed from political and cultural commotion. The religious role that running plays in this novel has made it a cult classic among competitive runners. With the audiobook, runners can listen to the story while practicing their sport. A narrator of hundreds of audiobooks, Patrick Lawlor gives the story a young, energetic voice. His vocal liveliness may help motivate runners to keep moving as they listen to the fast-paced story.

Running Home

Before publishing Running Home, Katie Arnold was most well-known as a contributing writer for Outside Magazine, where she wrote a regular column about raising adventurous children. Her parenting techniques mirrored those of her father, who raised her to live life on the edge. When he died, she was forced to confront her own mortality, and she found the one thing that made her feel alive more than anything: running. Her memoir dives into how running saved her life in this respect—it’s a motivational read for anyone looking to overcome pain and anxiety. Narrated by Arnold herself, the words are poignant and sometimes heart wrenching. Arnold is able to channel the emotions she felt through each stage of her story, and listeners clearly hear these emotions in her narration.

Let Your Mind Run

Let Your Mind Run is not an underdog story. Deena Kastor was already a star runner as a kid, and she ran through high school and college with success at every turn. After college, though, her run-as-hard-as-possible mentality got the best of her, and she came close to experiencing full-fledged burnout. With help from her coach Joe Vigil, Kastor traded her pessimistic way of thinking for positivity, comradery, and joy. Her memoir, co-authored by Michelle Hamilton, writer for Runner’s World, is an honest look into the difficulties that may come with competitive running; runners often develop reckless habits and convince themselves that longer is always better, no matter the pain they experience. Narrating the memoir herself, Kastor tells her listeners that distance may be important, but your mindset is an even more pivotal factor.

How to Lose a Marathon

Joel A. Cohen is a Hollywood screenwriter who has worked mostly on comedies. It is clear that he channeled his background in comedy for How to Lose a Marathon; it is a satirical, albeit motivational, story of a couch potato (Cohen himself) who figures out how to train for a marathon while staying true to his inner-laziness. It exhibits how people who don’t believe in the runner’s high can still benefit from running and marathon training. The audiobook’s narrator, Nicholas Techosky, has been the voice of dozens of audiobooks, but he brings a totally different tone to How to Lose a Marathon. He is sarcastic and dry, with the perfect amount of wit. Motivational running stories don’t typically make for laugh-out-loud audiobooks, but this one is an exception.

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down

Ida Keeling has been through a lot. Born in 1915 in Harlem, she lived through the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movement, and in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, she suffered through the murders of two of her sons. After experiencing so many tragedies, she struggled to find joy in her life, until her daughter convinced her to give running a try. Though she was 101 years old at the time of the publication of Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down, Keeling was still running competitively. After hearing Keeling’s story, listeners are bound to feel the motivation to keep going no matter how difficult life can seem. It’s narrated by actress Lisa Renee Pitts, known especially for her roles in Straight Outta Compton and Her. Pitts employs a lively voice while still bringing a level of maturity and respect to the words of Keeling.

The Long Run

The Long Run is half-autobiography and half-historical nonfiction. Menzies-Pike begins by sharing her own running story. For her, running became a therapeutic device that helped her mourn the deaths of her parents 10 years after the fact. Her transition into a running woman made her curious about female runners of the past. She goes back in time, delving especially into the history of breakthrough women runners such as Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston marathon, asking the question: what attracts women to running? Voiced by television actress and audiobook narrator Olivia Mackenzie-Smith, The Long Run is not only for runners, but also for anyone interested in women’s rights and feminist icons.

Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl is another woman-centered running audiobook. However, instead of focusing on historical figures, author Alexandra Heminsley focuses on her own experience and how it may be similar to those of other women hoping to become runners. Heminsley explains that inspiration and motivation aren’t the only necessities when it comes to running; some aspects are more practical and logistical. For instance, she needed to learn what kind of bra to wear, what kind of food to eat before a run, and even how to deal with chafing. Running Like a Girl is filled with this kind of practical information, and Heminsley believes it can help other women begin their running journeys. Elizabeth Sastre takes on Heminsley’s words and narrates them effortlessly, crafting a listen that’s like having a conversation with a beloved friend.

Into the Furnace

The Badwater 135 is known as the toughest race on foot, and after listening to Cory Reese’s experience running it, it’s easy to understand why. The race goes from the lowest point of elevation in North America, at Badwater Basin, to the trailhead of the highest point in the contiguous United States, the summit of Mt. Whitney. Aside from the distance and the change in altitude, though, there is something else about this race that stands out: the heat. Reese and co-author Luke Thoreson, give listeners a glimpse into the thoughts of somebody attempting this triumphant yet strenuous race. As he narrates, listeners can hear the pain and fear in his voice, but they can also feel the pride and fulfilment Reese feels at the race’s completion.

Running to the Edge

Running to the Edge is the story of one of America’s greatest running coaches, Bob Larsen. Orchestrated by New York Times Deputy Sports Editor Matthew Futterman, it takes the shape of long-form journalism, including interviews with Larsen and many of his protégés. The narrative follows Larsen’s transformation from farm boy running around in fields to world-renowned coach with groundbreaking methods for success. The narrator, René Ruiz, is a prolific audiobook narrator, with an expertise in delivering inspirational stories. Ruiz’s voice is electrifying, and he keeps the story moving at a quick pace, encouraging runners to race until they have absorbed all the advice that this audiobook has to impart.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned author known for novels like Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84, but writing isn’t his only passion: he’s also an avid runner. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is his memoir, and though it’s centered around his love of running and his experiences while marathon training, it touches on various subjects ranging from world travel to the ups and downs of growing older. The audiobook is narrated by Earphones Award-winner Ray Porter, whose relaxed tone helps immerse the listener in this poignant memoir.

Born to Run

In this compelling tale of impressive athleticism, author Christopher McDougall recounts stories of the Tarahumara—a tribe of North American indigineous peoples who for centuries have practiced the seemingly impossible feat of running for hundreds of miles at a time without rest. Travelling to the deadly Copper Hills in the tribe’s native Mexico, the author meets the mysterious and solitary Caballo Blanco and begins studying the ways of the Tarahumara, hoping to become an ultramarathoner himself. Blending engrossing narratives with scientific research on just how much the human body can achieve, Born to Run is a fascinating cultural study, colorful travel memoir, and inspiring running journal all in one. And it doesn’t hurt that narrator Fred Sanders manages to mirror the energy of the Tarahumara in this audiobook, his quick pace keeping listeners engaged from start to finish.

Running with the Kenyans

When Adharanand Finn was younger, he was a natural runner, but as is the case for many runners, he grew up, started a family, and put running on the back burner for many years. Once he hit his mid-thirties, though, he panicked that he may never have the chance to realize his earlier running goals. So, he uprooted his family and moved to Iten, a town in Kenya known for its long-distance training opportunities. This audiobook, his account of the experience, includes anecdotes and advice from Finn himself as well as from some of the running gurus he met during his time in Iten. It’s narrated by John Lee, an actor and audiobook narrator from Birmingham, England. His warm voice, coupled with his soothing British accent, add to the motivational yet relaxing tone of the audiobook.

Running with the Mind of Meditation

Sakyong Mipham is a Tibetan Lama and spiritual leader in the Shambhala community. He is well-practiced in the implementation of physical movement in the art of meditation. In Running with the Mind of Meditation, he offers a guide to helping running contribute to our internal well-being. It is useful for anyone hoping to find inner peace or looking for ways to improve their running practices. Though Mipham has a Buddhist background, he does not limit his audience to any one religion or creed. Neil Hellegers uses a meditative tone while narrating the guide book. He easily becomes a calming running companion for listeners who choose to enjoy the audiobook while running.

Running Man

Running Man is the true tale of Charlie Engle’s rise to running fame, but at points it seems like a Hollywood thriller—and since the author also narrates his own story, the high-highs and low-lows are even more powerful. Engle’s story begins with him as a cocaine addict and alcoholic. After a near-fatal six-day binge ends with him literally dodging bullets, he decides to replace his vices with running. He quickly becomes a well-known actor in the ultramarathon community and completes some of the toughest races in the world, but in 2010, he is sent to prison after being wrongly convicted of mortgage fraud. But convinced not to lose sight of his running goals, Engle continues to run—even in the prison yard.

Finding Ultra

Finding Ultra is a motivational true story of Rich Roll’s transformation from couch potato to world-class long distance runner and ultratriathlon contender. When Roll decided to turn his life around, he quit processed foods, focused on eating a plant-based diet, and within a few months, he was already running marathons and training for ultramarathons. This audiobook, narrated by the author himself, sheds light on his evolution. He recounts his experiences competing in some of the most strenuous races in the world, such as the Epic5 Challenge: five Ironman-length triathlons that must be completed in less than one week. This revised and updated edition also includes a new introduction, a bonus chapter, and additional resources.

Eat and Run

Scott Jurek is one of the world’s most accomplished long-distance runners. He has won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run seven times and the 135-mile Death Valley Badwater Ultramarathon twice. Eat and Run is his motivational call-to-arms to future long-distance runners as well as an informational guide to training right and eating well. It even includes some of his favorite vegan recipes. For this audiobook, Jurek teamed up with well-known author Steve Friedman and prominent television star Quincy Dunn-Baker, who narrates the audiobook with enthusiasm. Dunn-Baker, who has a long resume as a television actor, uses his acting chops to embody Jurek’s passion for running.

Ultramarathon Man

In Ultramarathon Man: Confession of an All-Night Runner, Earphone Award-winner James Yaegashi brings the unusual story of author Dean Karnazes to life. Karnazes quit running in high school when his cross-country coach retired and didn’t run again until 15 years later, when abruptly he decided to run 30 miles in gardening shoes. Since then, he’s run numerous ultra marathons, once running 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Karnazes’s crazy antics pepper the audiobook with absurd levity: he once ordered a pizza to be delivered on the route of a marathon that he was running, for example. Listeners will also hear about some of the beautiful landscapes he has experienced through running, from Death Valley to the North Pole, which rounds out the audio experience and helps listeners fully immerse themselves in the story.

26 Marathons

Meb Keflezighi is a world-class runner, a four-time Olympian, and since publishing 26 Marathons, he’s become a New York Times best-selling author too. Keflezighi and Scott Douglas, a writer for the popular magazine Runner’s World, give an in-depth look into the trials, tribulations, and joys of long-distance running. As the title suggests, Keflezighi gives insight into how running has impacted who he is as a person, and offers practical advice about things like running routines and dietary habits. Narrator Holter Graham’s precise pronunciation, even pacing, and relaxing voice are the perfect complements to this engaging story.

The Incomplete Book of Running

The Incomplete Book of Running is a guide geared towards amateur runners written by author and narrator Peter Sagal. Sagal is the host of NPR’s famed radio game show, Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!, and his experience on-air is obvious to anyone listening. His voice is charming, clear, and cheerful, and he reads his words with storytelling mastery. This audiobook is a natural pick for fans of his radio show, but it’s also a treat for beginner athletes, because his bright and pleasant way of narrating makes the idea of running accessible and entertaining.

My Year of Running Dangerously

Listeners may recognize Tom Foreman from his job as a broadcaster on CNN, but his audiobook, My Year of Running Dangerously, steps away from his experience as a journalist and digs into his personal life. It starts with a request from his daughter, who asks him to run a marathon with her. With her encouragement, Foreman started training and eventually ran four half-marathons, three marathons, and a 55-mile race. Though the audiobook is centered around his running, it’s insightful for anyone struggling with the challenges of getting older, losing motivation, or simply looking for a good story. Foreman narrates his story with a gentle authenticity and an air professionalism no doubt derived from years in television news.

Once a Runner

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is different from the other books on our list because it’s a piece of fiction. Its protagonist is Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner who aspires to run a four-minute mile. When the Vietnam War hits, his athletic department is left in turmoil, so he makes the decision to continue his training at a monastic retreat, removed from political and cultural commotion. The religious role that running plays in this novel has made it a cult classic among competitive runners. With the audiobook, runners can listen to the story while practicing their sport. A narrator of hundreds of audiobooks, Patrick Lawlor gives the story a young, energetic voice. His vocal liveliness may help motivate runners to keep moving as they listen to the fast-paced story.

Running Home

Before publishing Running Home, Katie Arnold was most well-known as a contributing writer for Outside Magazine, where she wrote a regular column about raising adventurous children. Her parenting techniques mirrored those of her father, who raised her to live life on the edge. When he died, she was forced to confront her own mortality, and she found the one thing that made her feel alive more than anything: running. Her memoir dives into how running saved her life in this respect—it’s a motivational read for anyone looking to overcome pain and anxiety. Narrated by Arnold herself, the words are poignant and sometimes heart wrenching. Arnold is able to channel the emotions she felt through each stage of her story, and listeners clearly hear these emotions in her narration.

Let Your Mind Run

Let Your Mind Run is not an underdog story. Deena Kastor was already a star runner as a kid, and she ran through high school and college with success at every turn. After college, though, her run-as-hard-as-possible mentality got the best of her, and she came close to experiencing full-fledged burnout. With help from her coach Joe Vigil, Kastor traded her pessimistic way of thinking for positivity, comradery, and joy. Her memoir, co-authored by Michelle Hamilton, writer for Runner’s World, is an honest look into the difficulties that may come with competitive running; runners often develop reckless habits and convince themselves that longer is always better, no matter the pain they experience. Narrating the memoir herself, Kastor tells her listeners that distance may be important, but your mindset is an even more pivotal factor.

How to Lose a Marathon

Joel A. Cohen is a Hollywood screenwriter who has worked mostly on comedies. It is clear that he channeled his background in comedy for How to Lose a Marathon; it is a satirical, albeit motivational, story of a couch potato (Cohen himself) who figures out how to train for a marathon while staying true to his inner-laziness. It exhibits how people who don’t believe in the runner’s high can still benefit from running and marathon training. The audiobook’s narrator, Nicholas Techosky, has been the voice of dozens of audiobooks, but he brings a totally different tone to How to Lose a Marathon. He is sarcastic and dry, with the perfect amount of wit. Motivational running stories don’t typically make for laugh-out-loud audiobooks, but this one is an exception.

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down

Ida Keeling has been through a lot. Born in 1915 in Harlem, she lived through the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movement, and in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, she suffered through the murders of two of her sons. After experiencing so many tragedies, she struggled to find joy in her life, until her daughter convinced her to give running a try. Though she was 101 years old at the time of the publication of Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down, Keeling was still running competitively. After hearing Keeling’s story, listeners are bound to feel the motivation to keep going no matter how difficult life can seem. It’s narrated by actress Lisa Renee Pitts, known especially for her roles in Straight Outta Compton and Her. Pitts employs a lively voice while still bringing a level of maturity and respect to the words of Keeling.

The Long Run

The Long Run is half-autobiography and half-historical nonfiction. Menzies-Pike begins by sharing her own running story. For her, running became a therapeutic device that helped her mourn the deaths of her parents 10 years after the fact. Her transition into a running woman made her curious about female runners of the past. She goes back in time, delving especially into the history of breakthrough women runners such as Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston marathon, asking the question: what attracts women to running? Voiced by television actress and audiobook narrator Olivia Mackenzie-Smith, The Long Run is not only for runners, but also for anyone interested in women’s rights and feminist icons.

Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl is another woman-centered running audiobook. However, instead of focusing on historical figures, author Alexandra Heminsley focuses on her own experience and how it may be similar to those of other women hoping to become runners. Heminsley explains that inspiration and motivation aren’t the only necessities when it comes to running; some aspects are more practical and logistical. For instance, she needed to learn what kind of bra to wear, what kind of food to eat before a run, and even how to deal with chafing. Running Like a Girl is filled with this kind of practical information, and Heminsley believes it can help other women begin their running journeys. Elizabeth Sastre takes on Heminsley’s words and narrates them effortlessly, crafting a listen that’s like having a conversation with a beloved friend.

Into the Furnace

The Badwater 135 is known as the toughest race on foot, and after listening to Cory Reese’s experience running it, it’s easy to understand why. The race goes from the lowest point of elevation in North America, at Badwater Basin, to the trailhead of the highest point in the contiguous United States, the summit of Mt. Whitney. Aside from the distance and the change in altitude, though, there is something else about this race that stands out: the heat. Reese and co-author Luke Thoreson, give listeners a glimpse into the thoughts of somebody attempting this triumphant yet strenuous race. As he narrates, listeners can hear the pain and fear in his voice, but they can also feel the pride and fulfilment Reese feels at the race’s completion.

Running to the Edge

Running to the Edge is the story of one of America’s greatest running coaches, Bob Larsen. Orchestrated by New York Times Deputy Sports Editor Matthew Futterman, it takes the shape of long-form journalism, including interviews with Larsen and many of his protégés. The narrative follows Larsen’s transformation from farm boy running around in fields to world-renowned coach with groundbreaking methods for success. The narrator, René Ruiz, is a prolific audiobook narrator, with an expertise in delivering inspirational stories. Ruiz’s voice is electrifying, and he keeps the story moving at a quick pace, encouraging runners to race until they have absorbed all the advice that this audiobook has to impart.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned author known for novels like Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84, but writing isn’t his only passion: he’s also an avid runner. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is his memoir, and though it’s centered around his love of running and his experiences while marathon training, it touches on various subjects ranging from world travel to the ups and downs of growing older. The audiobook is narrated by Earphones Award-winner Ray Porter, whose relaxed tone helps immerse the listener in this poignant memoir.

Born to Run

In this compelling tale of impressive athleticism, author Christopher McDougall recounts stories of the Tarahumara—a tribe of North American indigineous peoples who for centuries have practiced the seemingly impossible feat of running for hundreds of miles at a time without rest. Travelling to the deadly Copper Hills in the tribe’s native Mexico, the author meets the mysterious and solitary Caballo Blanco and begins studying the ways of the Tarahumara, hoping to become an ultramarathoner himself. Blending engrossing narratives with scientific research on just how much the human body can achieve, Born to Run is a fascinating cultural study, colorful travel memoir, and inspiring running journal all in one. And it doesn’t hurt that narrator Fred Sanders manages to mirror the energy of the Tarahumara in this audiobook, his quick pace keeping listeners engaged from start to finish.

Running with the Kenyans

When Adharanand Finn was younger, he was a natural runner, but as is the case for many runners, he grew up, started a family, and put running on the back burner for many years. Once he hit his mid-thirties, though, he panicked that he may never have the chance to realize his earlier running goals. So, he uprooted his family and moved to Iten, a town in Kenya known for its long-distance training opportunities. This audiobook, his account of the experience, includes anecdotes and advice from Finn himself as well as from some of the running gurus he met during his time in Iten. It’s narrated by John Lee, an actor and audiobook narrator from Birmingham, England. His warm voice, coupled with his soothing British accent, add to the motivational yet relaxing tone of the audiobook.

Running with the Mind of Meditation

Sakyong Mipham is a Tibetan Lama and spiritual leader in the Shambhala community. He is well-practiced in the implementation of physical movement in the art of meditation. In Running with the Mind of Meditation, he offers a guide to helping running contribute to our internal well-being. It is useful for anyone hoping to find inner peace or looking for ways to improve their running practices. Though Mipham has a Buddhist background, he does not limit his audience to any one religion or creed. Neil Hellegers uses a meditative tone while narrating the guide book. He easily becomes a calming running companion for listeners who choose to enjoy the audiobook while running.

Running Man

Running Man is the true tale of Charlie Engle’s rise to running fame, but at points it seems like a Hollywood thriller—and since the author also narrates his own story, the high-highs and low-lows are even more powerful. Engle’s story begins with him as a cocaine addict and alcoholic. After a near-fatal six-day binge ends with him literally dodging bullets, he decides to replace his vices with running. He quickly becomes a well-known actor in the ultramarathon community and completes some of the toughest races in the world, but in 2010, he is sent to prison after being wrongly convicted of mortgage fraud. But convinced not to lose sight of his running goals, Engle continues to run—even in the prison yard.

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