Finding Your Running Inspiration

by Laura Cummings

This is the perfect time of year for cosy nights in, when perhaps your evening running regime has slowed down or stopped entirely now the clocks have changed and the weather is turning. If you’re anything like me, the thought of a cosy night in involves a hot tea and a good book!

Running inspiration book: a runner struggles through the mist on the cover of The Finishers: The Barkley Marathons
Inspirational running book: brightly coloured running leggings feature on the cover of The Pants of Perspective
A tiny figure runs on the nib of a pen on the cover of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Reading about running

It wasn’t until recently that I started reading books about running. I didn’t realise how much choice there would be out there and how engrossed I would end up in these reads.

I am not a huge fan of reading about running techniques or anything like that, but I like reading people’s real life stories and adventures of running. I am a big fiction fan and so reading about someone’s anecdotes is quite different and refreshing.

Books about challenge

So far the titles that grab me are by runners who have taken on some great feat, like running the entire length of New Zealand on the Araroa Trail (Anna McNuff, “The Pants of Perspective”) or the “hardest marathon” in the world, the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee.

These really grab my attention as they are such feats of human endurance (and something I am never going to be attempting) but also to realise the errors, failures, and also really funny moments every runner experiences.

What really strikes me is no matter whose story you read or hear, all runners go through the same stresses, challenges and pure joy of the sport.

Runners pound along the pavement in bracing winter sunshine.

Books that inspire silliness

I also believe that reading books like these can really inspire you to not only get out running, but perhaps to try a different type of running, to push yourself harder, or realise a potential you didn’t know you had.

I took some quirky tips from reading Anna McNuff’s story of running through New Zealand, such as buying crazy coloured running pants to liven things up, and choosing to name my new running trainers (Anna and Mo — I had to name one after the lady that inspired it and another after my all-time favourite long distance runner).

Books that inspire bravery

Even someone’s can-do attitude in hard times can teach you how to have that same attitude. The Barkley Marathons really inspired me. I started looking at longer races that included little to no aid on route and must be completed within a time limit.

I am hoping to run a 20 mile ultra-marathon series race next year, whereby you have 5.5 hours to cover the distance and have to be completely self-sufficient along the way. I probably would have never considered a challenge like this, but after read about the way these runners push themselves, I've found the confidence to believe that I too can push myself even further.

Reading into the future

My next running read will be one by my favourite author, Murakami — “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” — and I can’t wait to see where else inspiration will take me.

Originally published 21/11/18

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