Best Running Books Of All Time in 2023
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Three Books All Runners Should Read
Whether you are already a runner or considering the benefits of running, these three great running books will inform and inspire you.
"The Complete Book of Running" by Jim F. Fixx
Jim Fixx's book was published in 1977, and served to popularize running in America and helped boost America's fitness revolution. His book boasted of the benefits of running, benefits that he obtained through personal experience. He began running at age 35. He was overweight and a heavy smoker. He gave up cigarettes and lost 50 pounds. His book described the physical benefits of running. He introduced running as a way to reduce many physical ailments and to improve and lengthen life. He even devoted a chapter to discuss "the worlds sickest running club," a club of members who had heart disease and had even suffered heart attacks. These members improved their lives with running.
Kenneth Cooper recommended to Jim Fixx that he should have a stress test to examine his heart function but Jim Fixx chose not to do so. Ironically, a few months later, the author of the book credited with starting America's running craze, Jim Fixx, collapsed and died at age 52 of a heart attack while running. Afterwards it was learned that Jim Fixx had apparently ignored warning signs. He had complained of exhaustion to a fellow runner and had told his family he felt a tightness in his throat while running. His autopsy found that he had suffered several heart attacks over the weeks before he died leaving his heart with much scar tissue.
Regardless of the irony of his death, Jim Fixx's book firmly entrenched America in its fitness revolution and remains an excellent and inspiring read.
"Aerobics" by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH., Major, U.S.A.F. Medical Corps
Kenneth Cooper first published "Aerobics" in 1968, and later published an updated version in 1979, "The New Aerobics," which became a popular mass market book. With the popularity of "Aerobics" and "The New Aerobics," Kenneth Cooper became known as the father of aerobics.
Although "Aerobics" is not strictly a running book, it emphasizes running as an excellent aerobic activity. This book describes Dr. Cooper's work while in the Air Force exploring the benefits of aerobic conditioning. Like "The Complete Book of Running," "Aerobics" describes the many health benefits of exercise. In "Aerobics" Dr. Cooper establishes physical fitness levels in terms of one's ability to use oxygen. The distance a person can run in 12 minutes shows what condition the individual is in. The most important benefit of his book is the establishment of a measurement system to ensure healthy physical conditioning. Various activities are broken down into time, distance and frequency to determine points of conditioning. If you get 30 points worth of exercise each week you'll be in good aerobic physical condition.
"The Runner's Handbook" by Bob Glover, Jack Sheppard, and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover
This book was first published in 1978 and has been updated many times. "The Runner's Handbook" is encyclopedic in scope covering running fitness, training regimens, nutrition, running shoes and clothing, weather, kids running, women's running, injury, cross training, strengthening and more. It is a 700 page book packed with information but an easy read.